Ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2011, fans and park visitors have been anxiously awaiting to hear how Star Wars would be implemented into Disney’s many theme parks. As Variety is reporting, the news may not be what some longtime fans hoped for.
In a brief discussion with Walt Disney Co. chief Bob Iger, it was revealed that the new attractions at Disney parks will be based around the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, and not the original trilogy. In fact, the delay in any kind of work from the Disney’s Imagineering team was solely because they needed to wait to hear J.J Abram’s vision for the seventh Star Wars film before they began to work on the corresponding attractions.
“We couldn’t tell them what was new,” Iger said, until Abrams was finished developing and producing the sequel. “I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future,” referencing upcoming sequels and spinoff films. “Now we have a sense of what’s in ‘Star Wars 8,’ and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”
Disney also hopes that these new attractions, along with other marketing, will help them reach the massive untapped audience in China, which did not have nearly the theater presence when the original films came out in the ’80s as the country does now. The Shanghai Disney Resort, which will be the first Disney park in mainland China, is scheduled to open in 2016.
Before you get out your lightsaber pitchfork and rabble over not being able to ride in a spinning Vader-helmet or throw a ball into the sarlacc pit, it might be a good idea to wait and actually see what rides we get first. It’s hard to imagine anything Star Wars-related not having something Vader themed, and Iger did say that it would blend old films with the new – meaning that there may still be some minor sections of rides that involve the original trilogy.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not quite as simple as “Disney owns Star Wars.” They purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to future Star Wars films, but 20th Century Fox still technically owns distribution rights for the original trilogy, so there may be some legal hurdles required to use them in the physical attractions.