December 21, 2015
Star Wars - Season of the Force at Disneyland
Disneyland recently kicked off Season of the Force, a celebration for all things Star Wars. There was an update to Star Tours, the Star Wars ride that has been in the park for many years, an overlay to one of the existing attractions, Space Mountain and the opening of the all new Star Wars Launch Bay, a destination that allows fans to get up close with some Star Wars characters and props from the movies. I was there when it opened and took plenty of photos, so here we go, but be warned, it is quite photo heavy.
So the smallest change that was made was adding the planet Jakku to the mix of possible locations that guests could visit. Here, as the Starspeeder 1000 makes its way down to the surface, an explosion occurs and then the Starspeeder gets overtaken by the Millennium Falcon, which is being pursued by Tie Fighters. The Falcon pulls off some fancy moves, going in and out of the crashed Star Destroyer that we have seen since the trailers, with your Starspeeder close behind. The Starspeeder crashes and then the scavengers then come out to strip the Starspeeder bare, but before they can you are out of there and then BB-8 appears to give you a mission and then you are off to your next destination.
While not a major addition, it is very cool to see them adding a new scene to an existing attraction, which means that with a new Star Wars movie on the cards each year for a while, there should be more to come. The ride also commanded around a 60 minute wait throughout the day, sometimes breaking the 100 minute mark, so it was proving to be very popular. As you make your way around Tomorrowland, Path of the Jedi is the next experience, located just before the entrance to Hyperspace Mountain, it was billed as a way for fans to see the journey of Luke Skywalker, sadly it comes off as a high school project, ending with the trailer that was released a few months back, it was the weakest portion of the whole event. Of course, once you are past that Hyperspace Mountain is ready for you.
Hyperspace Mountain takes the existing Space Mountain attraction and adds a Star Wars overlay, similar to what they do for Halloween. Here guests are surveyors and are being sent to scan the planet of Jakku from space, with squadron Blue-77 there for support. Well things don't go as planned and the First Order is there, it is better if you watch the ride for yourself.
The ride is really good, the track is the same layout of course, but when a Tie Fighter buzzes past, only to be blasted by an X-Wing moments later, you can't help but smile.
Located in the center of the action is the Tomorrowland Terrace, an eatery that was putting on special Star Wars inspired food, but in front of that is the all new Jedi Training Academy, where younglings can learn the ways of the force. What has been in places for years has been updated, and now those who want to take the next step must face their fears, which come in the form of Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister, you can experience that below as well. It is a fun show and clearly aimed at children, but its enjoyable for all ages.
The centerpiece for Season of the Force is the Launch Bay, there are lots of props, taken from the new movie and the classic movies. There is a store for fans of the Saga to purchase a range of collectables and a section where everyone can go hands on with Disney Infinity and play some toy boxes made exclusively for the Launch Bay. Here are some shots taken from the Launch Bay.
The shop had crowds a plenty as people were looking at some action figures, collectible homewares and even authentic replicas of Darth Vader's outfit, for a small $4000 USD.
And of course, there was that gaming stations, which were busy every time I saw them. I managed to snap one shot in between kids playing on them.
Here is a nice video shot by Inside the Magic that takes you all around the Launch Bay, including into the cantina that does nothing and a special guest at the end.
At night, the entire land was bathed with lights, with each side representing a different side of the force, the light and the dark sides. The entire celebration of Star Wars was done really well, if you exclude the Path of the Jedi show, while not the most elaborate of events, its a nice start for bringing Star Wars into the Disney Parks. Of course the same event is happening at Walt Disney World and while they don't have Hyperspace Mountain, they do have a fireworks show.