In 2019, Star Wars will open two parks: one in California at Disneyland and one in Orlando at Hollywood Studios. To make way for these interactive experiences, old pieces of the parks have been demolished. Big Thunder Ranch is Disneyland is gone, as is the Honey, I Shrunk The Kids playground in Orlando. In their place, an approximation of a galaxy far, far away is taking shape. And since Star Wars fans are nothing if not persistent, some have taken to renting helicopters to get aerial views of how things are progressing.
Case in point: A fan who goes by the Twitter handle Biorecontruct. On June 4, 2017 he posted dozens of images from high above Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Ostensibly he was checking on the progress of Toy Story Land — the other major construction development under way at the park. Due to open in 2018, Toy Story Land is much further along, as evidenced by the near completion of the Slinky Dog Dash coaster. You can also spy the Alien Swirling Saucers off to the side. (Clicking makes the image much larger).
So why am I talking about Toy Story Land when this article is about Star Wars Land? Because only when you see the scope of the former can you truly understand how massive the latter is. Toy Story Land is not some minor addition: it’s two brand-new rides and an update of Toy Story Mania to compensate for the ride’s popularity. The new addition will house shops, food vendors, and character meet-and-greets. Keep that in mind and then behold the power of the not even remotely functional yet Star Wars Land. (Again, click to embiggen).
Based on the image above, Star Wars Land looks to take up nearly the same acreage as the rest of Hollywood Studios. That’s not even counting the construction across the road — which houses both the expansion of the parking lot and new cast member structures. Star Wars Land is truly massive. By comparison, Toy Story Land looks, well, like a toy. The Tower of Terror seems quaint and the current Star Wars attractions (on the right above the pink Muppets 3D building) seem tiny. Having been on the ground recently at Hollywood Studios, neither the Endor Forest through which guests enter the Star Tours ride nor the Tatooine shop they exit through feels small in person.
Back in 2015, Disney stated Toy Story Land would take up around 11 acres while the two Star Wars expansions — one in California and the other in Florida — would each be 14 acres. Someone who is better a geography than me can tell us if the Hollywood Studios version looks only three acres larger than Toy Story Land.
Even if it’s “only” 14 acres, Star Wars Land will still be larger than the recently opened 12-acre Pandora expansion to Animal Kingdom. And as the videos of that park have shown, Disney’s Imagineers are taking immersion to a whole new level with the latest theme park upgrades. One can only imagine they’ll take the lessons learned from building Pandora.
Is it 2019 yet?