Coming to Disneyland and Disney World.
Now, obviously, this is just the announcement. They haven’t even started getting ready for ground-breaking, much less actual construction. Realistically, we’re going to be looking at four or five years before they get done building anything. Because, for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out, construction the last thirty or so years has to drag on and on and on. And just as an indicator of what I’m talking about; the Empire State Building started excavation on 22 Jan 1930, and was opened for business some 16 months later on 1 May 1931. Yes, an entire skyscraper in less than a year and a half. I don’t know why it’s unreasonable to wonder why later projects take three or five times as long. Cars Land took six years before it was opened.
But let’s move past that. Let’s think of the fun. Recently I had the pleasure to fulfill a lifelong dream and visit Disneyland, the actual Disneyland that Walt created and walked in. It was as much fun as you can probably imagine. Right next to Disneyland is a second park Disney calls “California Adventure”, or DCA, and within DCS is a themed area called Cars Land. Now, I don’t care if you don’t like the movie; that’s not what this is about. I do, but that’s not what this is about either.
What Disney has done with Cars Land is recreate Radiator Springs in real life. They took the town from that movie and turned it into a real thing that you can walk through. The details are amazing, down to the smallest things. The traffic light has the “every third one’s slower”; I sat there on one of the benches and timed it. The buildings are all real buildings, not false fronts; you can go into Flo’s Cafe or Sarge’s Surplus Hut. At dusk there’s a little show where all the neon on the stores turns on while “Life’s a Dream” plays over the area’s loudspeakers.
And all the ‘usual’ Disney touches are present as well. The area in front of the Cozy Cone motel hosts cars from the movie; Lightning McQueen, Mater, Red, Doc, and more all appear in real life and pose for pictures and interact with guests. These are not static cars; their eyes move back and forth, for example. They talk to people.
The whole experience is completely amazing. A completely fictional world translated into a real one, a real place you can really move through. If you do like the movie, then it’ll obviously mean a lot more than if you don’t.
That’s why Star Wars Land, which is what they’re currently calling it, has me so excited. Oh – My – God. The pattern Disney’s Imagineers have established with Cars Lands, applied to an entire park themed for what’s probably the most popular fictional franchise in the world? It’s just . . . trying to think of all the things they might do is the kind of thing that brings one stumbling to a mental halt. Getting to sit and have a drink in the cantina, or walk through Luke’s home on Tattooine (hopefully pre-Stormtrooper visit, since I imagine the burned out bodies of Owen and Beru would be off-putting for sensitive guests)? God forbid a walkthrough of the Millennium Falcon, or sitting in the cockpit of an X-Wing? Being able to stroll across the Death Star’s throne room, or a Star Destroyer’s bridge? Cloud City? Endor?
Seriously, please; take my money. Let me go to Star Wars Land. I sat in a theater when I was four years old and watched that infamous text scroll, was awed by how big the Star Destroyer pursuing Princess Leia was, and cheered when Han showed up in time to clear the way for Luke to blow up the Death Star. I am one of the millions of people who have grown up with Star Wars. I’ve attended fan conventions for thirty years. I’ve watched the 501st march down Peachtree Street in formation. I’ve seen countless cosplays in person, most okay, a few bad, some beyond amazing. Fan art, fan fiction, the Expanded Universe novels that’ve now been declared non-canon (mostly a good thing, IMO; a lot of them are bad), the Prequels, the OT re-releases in the late 90s, the Clone Wars cartoon . . . it’s amazing how much can be done with a handful of movies and a tv series here and there.
It is one of my most favorite things ever, in the whole wide world; ever and ever. To see the Disney magic brought to Star Wars, to see it brought to life? To be able to walk through it as it’s brought to life not by fans on a budget, but by professional Imagineers and trained performers who’ll perfect the immersion impact for us awestruck guests? I really don’t feel like it’s possible to gush too much about this. I really want them to pull the lead out, toss the stops, and get it built. I will definitely find a way to organize another west coast trip to see it at the DCR, and I’m only about eight hours from Disney World as it is.
Bring that galaxy far, far away to me. To all of us. And hurry up about it!