JTA reader Aaron H sends us an image of the latest Disney Droid Factory Halloween Droid: R6-W1CH found at his local Disney Park.
Disney is always working on new tech to improve the experience of theme park visitors. One of these new technologies is an actual retractable, illuminated lightsaber that activates just like you know it from the movies at the push of a button. Guests who will book a stay at the Galactic Starcruiser hotel (scheduled opening is in 2022) will actually get a chance to wield these brand new lightsabers in something like a lightsaber dojo. It is not yet known if an actual toy will be made with that tech that can be bought anywhere or if this is something you’ll only see in parks for the time being. Click through to see a short clip of the new lightsaber in action and find out how it all works!
One of my favorite Disneyland blogs, Endor Express, shared some wonderful photos of the new Galaxy’s Edge trading post in Downtown Disney, Anaheim. Will you be going to the outpost any time soon? What exclusive items would you like to buy the most? Let us know in the comments!
Construction for the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience (aka the Star Wars hotel) is underway in Orlando, Florida. The Disney Food Blog released an article about the construction a short while ago and they feature photos taken on location by Jeff Vahle, the President of Walt Disney World Resort. Check out this one photo of the bunk beds posted on Vahle’s Instagram. Click through for one more photo of the room!
While Hong Kong is far away it may be of interest that Disney will have to close their Disneyland in Hong Kong once again. It had only re-opened about a month ago, but a surge of new Covid-19 cases in the city, 52 on Sunday, to be precise, resulted in renewed social distancing measures ordered by the local government. Disney will have to close the theme park on July 15th. Meanwhile, re-opening plans for Disneyland in Anaheim, which was meant to re-open in July (just like Disney World in Florida) were postponed indefinitely, actually, California announced a new lockdown on Monday. That leaves Disney World in Orlando for those mouse enthusiasts who like to live dangerously.
Disney depends a lot on revenue from their theme park division, it was 26 billion USD in 2019, which is almost 44% of total revenue. And without any meaningful revenue from movies or cruises, Disney doesn’t have too many sources of revenue left, licensing, merchandise, TV networks, and Disney+, although the streaming service won’t generate any profits for years to come.
It may actually be a long time before theme parks open again across the world or can operate at full capacity, which makes revenue based on merchandising and licensing all the more important, even though it’s only a modest source of revenue usually for Disney. Disney will release their numbers for the quarter in early August. Analysts believe net loss for the quarter may be about $1.4 billion USD. That’s a lot of Star Wars figures Hasbro would need to sell extra to make up for the missing theme park profits…
The Disney theme parks in the US will re-open in July, with several caveats however. Click through for more details!
We talked about the original plans for Galaxy’s Edge a few months ago. Back then it was reported that the Star Wars theme park was to be about the Original Trilogy, and that Bob Iger changed his mind when The Force Awakens was released, when he saw first footage. Now it turns out that this is not the whole story. Former Walt Disney World Vice President Dan Cockerell was a guest on the WDW Radio podcast and there he talked about how events unfolded. And it turns out that the reports from a few months back left out one important detail: a meeting Bob Iger had with Kathleen Kennedy. Click through for more!
The ongoing coronavirus crisis has now reached the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Today it was announced that the park will close its gates on March 14th and that it will not reopen for the remainder of the month. The hotels will be open until March 16th (Monday) to allow guests to plan for their departure. It is unknown if Disneyland Anaheim will actually reopen in April or not. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida remains open for the time being. Nevertheless the coronavirus will certainly hit Disney’s theme parks division very hard and 2020 may turn out to be a horrible year for the company. Because not only theme parks are affected, but movies as well. Pixar’s latest movie “Onward” had the worst opening of a Pixar movie ever. Other studios postpone the release of their movies. Perhaps Marvel Studios will be affected too. Black Widow will be released in late April / early May, but if things have not improved by then its release may be postponed as well. Bob Chapek certainly has his hands full now managing the crisis. Let’s hope Disneyland will actually reopen in April and that things will improve. However, in all likelihood, the epidemic will get worse, we have not reached its peak yet according to several experts. Stay safe!
UPDATE: Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland Paris in France will also shut down now!
It’s official (and not unexpected), there will be a special Disneyland After Dark: Star Wars Nite during this year’s Star Wars Celebration. It’s not clear if this will be reserved for Star Wars Celebration attendees, or open to the public. From what I can tell, this will be open to the public, but might possibly have a limited number of tickets reserved to purchase by Celebration attendees. Read all about it right here. Are you attending SW Celebration this year? And if so, do you plan on also buying a separate ticket to this event? Let us know in the comments!
Disney invited a few people to check out the brand new “Rise of the Resistance” ride at Galaxy’s Edge (Walt Disney World). YouTube Channel Ordinary Adventures captured their tour on video. And while not the whole ride could be filmed, the 20 minute video will show you most of the ride, including highlights from the part that is set on the First Order Star Destroyer. Click through for the video and a few more details!
We’ve come across information about the Disney Droid Factory Build A Droid attraction. Apparently, protocol droids may have not gone over as well as the astromech droids, and at the moment, there are no plans to add more protocol droids into the line. In fact, the Droid Factory protocol droids will be going away soon. The estimate is that the theme parks have a couple of months yet before the stock sells through. Rumored but not wholly confirmed is the idea that Disney Parks will return the popular astromech droids with a whole new collection shortly. It also unconfirmed if future collections will fall under the Droid Depot banner moving forward, but I imagine that’s a given at this point. If we learn more, we’ll be sure to share it with you. Check out the entire collection RIGHT HERE in our Research Droids Reviews.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the story yesterday: Catherine Powell, who oversaw Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World and Disneyland, is leaving the company, her position will be eliminated altogether and her staff will now report directly to Bob Chapek, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences & Products. The Hollywood Reporter article implies that Howell’s departure may have something to do with the drop in theme park attendance, following the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. Click through for some more details!
Last night saw the dedication ceremony for Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando. And today the park is officially opening to the public. So people on the east coast now have a chance to check out Galaxy’s Edge as well!
It remains to be seen if the Walt Disney World addition will attract more visitors than the counterpart in Anaheim. Also, just like in Anaheim, the Rise of the Resistance ride is not ready for prime time yet. The ride will be opened in early December, until then the only ride will be Smuggler’s Run.
You can watch the dedication from last night on the Disney Parks YouTube channel by clicking on the photo below. You also get to see one scrapped feature of Galaxy’s Egde in action: remote controlled droids. On stage you can see R2-D2, BB-8, Hondo Ohnaka, Vi Moradi (that character on the right, featured in the Black Spire novel) and the Disney Chairman of Parks, Experiences and Products, Bob Chapek.
Will you visit Galaxy’s Edge in Florida?
In yesterday’s article you learned that Galaxy’s Edge was originally meant to feature the Lucas era, but that was changed about a year into the development phase, when Bob Iger said Star Wars land needs to be about the new content. But this is not where the changes stopped. A lot of things were planned for Galaxy’s Edge that were cut as late as 2018, and once you find out what the cut content was about you have to wonder if removing the features was the right decision. So click through to learn what other features and attractions Galaxy’s Edge was supposed to have!
Now this is somewhat of a surprise. Former Disney Imagineer J Daniel Jenkins was interviewed for the Dreamfinders podcast and revealed that Galaxy’s Edge was originally supposed to be about the Original Trilogy, featuring one or two planets from those movies. But then all things changed when Bob Iger saw dailies for The Force Awakens and decided that the new Star Wars land must be about the new trilogy and feature the newly created Disney content. Click through for more info!
Website WDNT, which reports on all things Disney theme parks in the US, revealed pricing for a stay at the upcoming Star Wars hotel in Florida. According to the article a stay at the Star Wars hotel is meant to resemble an immersive trip on a space ship, so think of the Star Wars hotel less as a hotel and more like a cruise ship, complete with a view into space from your own cabin and high-end dining in the evening. For this all windows will be virtual reality displays. A unique bus shuttle that completey shields you from the real world, and which is meant to resemble a space capsule / shuttle, will transfer guests from the “hotel” to Galaxy’s Edge, the bus, too, will not have windows, but displays, similar to the Hogwarts Express at Universal, so you can completely immerse yourself in Star Wars and pretend you are no longer on Earth.
However, since this experience is not a hotel like any other, you have to book at least for 3 days / 2 nights. Single nights will not be available. But this all inclusive trip (you don’t need to pay extra for dining and beverages) doesn’t come cheap. According to WDNT’s sources price for one person starts at $3,300 for the 3 day / 2 night trip. If you max out cabin capacity with 5 passengers it makes the stay more affordable, price per person comes down to $1,440 then. So if you plan on traveling to a galaxy far, far away, it’s best to ask some friends as well to come along. A more expensive first class cabin will also be available, but pricing for it is unknown. Head over to WDNT to read more about the hotel and to check out a lot more concept art and photos. This experience will certainly be very unique. However, you have to be patient, it may still take several months or even a few years until the hotel is finished. It’s still under construction.
We had the chance to check out Galaxy’s Edge for ourselves last week. Click through for our non-biased review and experience of the new Star Wars land. If you’ve been, we’d love to hear your experience too in the comments! All-and-all, it was a fun experience and I’m looking forward to going again in the future.
What exactly is going on at Disneyland Anaheim and Galaxy’s Edge? We talked about an alleged lack of visitors to the theme park before, when several YouTube videos were released that showed a surprising lack of people in the park. Some commenters here on JTA pointed out how the YouTube videos were taken early in the morning, when the park is more empty than later in the day. But on Twitter several people also pointed out how empty both Galaxy’s Edge and Disneyland Anaheim seem to be this summer, and one mother of a theme park employee even posted that Disney is cutting down working hours for some employees, due to a lack of visitors.
But now AZ Central has posted a story on their website using aerial photos of company Nearmap. The photos were taken on July 4th and show Galaxy’s Edge from above, with individual people clearly visible. And the park is more or less empty. These photos were not taken early in the morning, but in the afternoon, as you can tell by the shadows. Click through for more info!
While roaming the interwebs, Google picture search and subsequently finding some old articles from 2015 and 2016, I stumbled across a map for a proposed Star Wars Land theme park, made years ago, before Galaxy’s Edge was actually announced by Disney. Now, some of you may already know about all this, but maybe there are also some, like me, who see or hear about this for the very first time. So I would like to show you a fanmade map of a Star Wars Land theme park that never was. The question I have for you is: would that have been something you would have loved to go to? And do you think we might still eventually get a much larger Star Wars theme park in the future or has the time for that passed for good? Click through for the full picture and a few words about it!
Website Slashfilm posted a story yesterday about suprisingly few people at Galaxy’s Edge. On top of that there are also reports about Disneyland being unusually empty and having very few guests, resulting in surprisingly low wait times for the various rides and attractions, less than 5 minutes. So what is going on here? Click through for possible explanations!
Reports have hit media outlets all week about the newly-opened Galaxy’s Edge. You can also check out the official report over at StarWars.com. Do you have reservations during the limited opening? Or, are you going when it’s fully open to everyone? Let us know your thoughts! I will be in Anaheim in August and am contemplating a visit…
The LA Times posted their full walkthrough of Savi’s lightsaber workshop on YouTube, in the embedded video you will see what it’s like to build your saber, from beginning to end, including the full experience and performance in the workshop! The only thing the video doesn’t show is that on Batuu nobody refers to Savi’s workshop as a lightsaber workshop, so if you ask for directions and want to know where you can build your own lightsaber you will instead be referred to Savi’s scrap business, which serves as a front so the First Order doesn’t get wind of it. The saber will cost $200 plus tax. After the jump there are some more videos providing a good look at the other highlights from the park, such as the Droid Depot!
Anyone who wants to check out what the Smuggler’s Run ride in Galaxy’s Edge is all about should watch the embedded video. The video will give you an almost complete walkthrough of the ride, the (very long) queue, your meeting with Hondo, how you enter the Falcon and finally the ride in the cockpit. If you plan on going to the park anytime soon and don’t want to be spoiled, then don’t watch this video. If, however, you want a good look at what Smuggler’s Run is all about, then definitely watch this video. It will not show the entire ride, there are some jump cuts, but enough that you get a good idea of how the ride itself works and what it’s all about. Click through for some more details after the jump!
Update: Video of the cockpit view for the full 5 minute run has been added!
There is a new short Disneyland Resort YouTube video, which is not listed yet on the channel, that will give you another good look at Galaxy’s Edge. All you have to do is add a lot more people to the scenes in the video to know what it’s like to walk the alleyways of Batuu or to relax in the local cantina. It does look amazing and the design certainly breathes Star Wars.
Now the only remaining question is how much fun it will be to share this experience with countless other people while the kids are thirsty, hungry or both. Some of the alleyways look rather narrow, I wonder how many people will be admitted to Galaxy’s Edge at the same time. Galaxy’s Edge opens May 31st, but only visitors with a reservation can go to Batuu. So maybe Disney will limit the number of people who can visit the theme park to make the experience less stressful. There is no Fastpass available for the rides and you can’t make any reservations for the Cantina, this will probably only work if not too many people crowd Galaxy’s Edge at once or else some frustration would be guaranteed. To avoid overcrowding Disney will enforce a time limit, visitors have a four hour time limit and have to wear colored wristbands that will keep track of time. Once your time is up Stormtroopers will escort you off Batuu. Disney doesn’t say however, what will happen if guests resist the Stormtroopers. Will actual security drag visitors away or will the Stormtroopers simply open fire? Should any of you go to Galaxy’s Edge please send us your experience reports and photos!
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