Star Wars: Season of the Force is about to take over Tomorrowland at Disneyland. While you will still be able to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, and the Autopia, most of Tomorrowland is being transformed into Star Wars Land (at least until the real thing is built). It officially opens on Monday, November 16th at Disneyland with a date “TBA” for Walt Disney World although it appears WDW will not get the full makeover treatment that Disneyland has received. In prepartion for the launch of this “new” area, here are the three things I most look forward to:
Hyperspace Mountain – When Ghost Galaxy came out as a Halloween overlay for Space Mountain, it was REALLY cheesy. Poorly done, it looked slapped together. For another theme park it would have been fine, but compared to the work Imagineers can do, it didn’t hold up. However, over the years, it has been improved. While still not as comprehensive as Haunted Mansion Holiday, it turned out far better than it has been. Based on press reviews of the attraction, it seems to be very similar to Ghost Galaxy, but hopefully will not be simply TIE fighters in place of space monsters. Brady McDonald of the LA Times said there was one effect where a TIE fighter appears to be coming right at you “reminscient of the boulder scene in the Indiana Jones Adventure.” That would be cool.
Star Tours – With a new added scene featuring Finn and BB-8, the Starspeeder 1000 heads to the planet Jakku as seen in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens previews (the one with the big star destroyer). Why they are still using the Starspeeder 1000 and not the 3000 or even a newer model is not clear. The paint job and current design of the Starspeeder is still the 1000 model, but the 1000 was repainted and made to look less advanced to fit the theme of the most recent Star Tours journeys. It wouldn’t make sense that they wouldn’t use 3000 model ships…unless that’s part of the plan. I guess we’ll see. Regardless, getting sort of a sneak peek at the upcoming movie will insure lines for this attraction all day.
Star Wars Food – Disney has transformed Tomorrowland Terrace into Galactic Grill with new menu items to go along with the new look. Personally, I can’t wait to try the Darth Tamale (served only at breakfast). It looks REALLY good and is just another example of how Disney theme parks are forerunners in every aspect of the theme park experience. Another yummy looking item is the Jawa Turkey Sand-Wich on Bantha Blue Milk Bread. It just looks fun to eat. The outdoor vending carts have some new items including a Darth Vader Cotton Candy Helmet and a BB-8 Sipper with your choice of frozen lemonade. Both carry a steep price tag, but are unique to the parks, well made, and fun. I shelled out the money for BB-8 since my daughter is a huge fan, but you’ll have to wonder if it’s worth the $16 price tag. It is super cool and when closed, the seams align perfectly but the straw doesn’t move very well in the sipper so you’ll have to wait for your frozen lemonade to thaw a bit before being able to finish it off. The $5 light up X-Wing which is supposed to light up your drink doesn’t work well with the sipper, but is lots of fun anyway.
Although there are definitely cool things about Season of the Force, it doesn’t do much to hide the fact that Tomorrowland needs a major makeover. The Peoplemover track is still an eyesore. The Magic Eye Theater has been used as a way for Disney to promote it’s latest films and Path of the Jedi is no different. Although it summarizes the events of the Star Wars franchise for someone who isn’t acquainted with it, it isn’t more than a lead in to The Force Awakens. And Innoventions has been retooled as Star Wars Launch Bay, but is more of a museum with photo ops. It would be great if the Imagineers instead took an exhibit like this to the next level and did something on par with Marvel’s Avengers STATION instead of just another walk-through, but the props they have within are very cool. They’ve done a nice job with the signage for the area with the exception of the huge Season of the Force signs as you enter Tomorrowland. It feels like they did it more to mask the uselessness of the Peoplemover track than anything else.
Overall, the two attractions upgrades will make this area somewhat fresh and new and something to look forward to. I know I’ll still be looking forward to riding the revamped Star Tours and Space Mountain. And the Disney restaurant team has done amazing jobs in the past, so I’m looking forward to Galactic Grill. But hopefully, when the new Star Wars area is built, they will do something amazing and new with Tomorrowland. It really needs it.