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Arts and Entertainment

Here's An Inside Look At Disney's New Immersive Experience 'Star Wars Land'

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Say what you will about Star Wars, but when it comes to the practice of world-building, there's no other franchise that does it on such a grand scale. Even if a Star Wars movie were to be stripped of all its recognizable characters and planets, you'd still recognize the universe that the saga takes place in. There's the swoosh of the starfighters flying by, the buzz of the lightsabers as they get activated. All the sights and sounds are unique to the galaxy that Lucasfilm has been constructing for over four decades.

This is the spirit that the upcoming Star Wars Land—set for a 2019 release in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World—will be founded on. This was evidenced by a number of big reveals that took place during a panel at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando this past weekend. We'll get to the tasty morsels of details in a bit, but touching on the overarching theme of the land, the main idea will be a wholly immersive experience, one where your actions are met with consequences. "Everything about it is total immersion," Rian Johnson (who directed the upcoming The Last Jedi) said of the attraction in a video (below) that Disney released on Saturday.

As for some of the intriguing things that we were promised over the weekend about Star Wars Land:

  • As noted at Collider, the land will be an entirely new planet. The info is scant at the moment, but we do know that Disney "imagineers" constructed the planet out of scratch. Panelists at the Star Wars Celebration described the area as a “remote frontier outpost," which means that you won't only find Jedi and Stormtroopers, but also an unsavory crew of pirates and bounty hunters.
  • We'd gotten word before that there'll be a Millennium Falcon. So that's nothing new. But now we get news that you'll actually be able to pilot it with your friends. This means that the fate of the ship is in your hands. While we assume that there'll be safeguards to prevent you from flying into an asteroid five seconds into your ride, the condition of the ship will largely depend on the skills (or lack thereof) of you and your crew.
  • This leads us into one of the more interesting aspects of Star Wars Land: immersion and the consequences of your actions. As reported at The Verge, if you return the Millennium Falcon in bad shape, a character might give you some flack about how poorly you did (hey! it was our first time flying a smuggler's starship!). Furthermore, that character may talk trash about you to the new band of pilots walking in. Also, falling in line with the idea of total immersion, Star Wars Land is expected to let you weave your own story. Want to be part of the Resistance? Or maybe a lame, poorly-paid bureaucrat in the First Order? Or maybe just a regular schmuck battling heartburn after eating a giant turkey leg? That'll all be up to you, as you'll get to pick the factions you want to join.
  • You may be able to take part in an epic battle. At the Celebration, the audience were treated to a stunt workshop in which a woman fought off a number of stormtroopers. As noted at The Verge, the workshop presentation, combined with the fact that you can pick a faction, suggests that Star Wars Land may host epic battles in which you can participate. Scott Trowbridge, creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said that park-goers could be thrown into the "the middle of an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”
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Also, a final thing of note, while some of us old-schoolers may prefer the original trilogy, the new Star Wars Land will cull a lot from the new films (while taking a nod at the Star Wars franchise as a whole). Which is to say that a lot will be packed into the new attraction. "This project is the most ambitious project I've ever seen in the history of Walt Disney Imagineering. It is on a scale that is unprecedented," said Chris Beatty, executive creative director of Walt Disney Imagineering.