July 6, 2013 – Do you believe in the coincidental generation of a single idea from multiple sources? History suggests this is possible, such as the debate over who really invented the first man-controlled flying machine. (Was it really the Wright brothers at Kittyhawk?)
As a longtime Disney fan and Annual Disney Passholder, I’ve long discussed with friends the idea of a Star Wars-themed land in Orlando — either as a fifth theme park on Disney property or, more likely, an expansion of the under-attended Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And this idea of mine occurred well before the Oct. 30th, 2012, announcement of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilms, Ltd.
So fastforward to this year’s 2013 Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: During the four-weekend event (May 17 to June 9, 2013), I heard from other Star Wars buffs of their conviction that a “Star Wars Land” expansion is inevitable and will occur at Hollywood Studios. The logic is highly persuasive:
● For years, numerous guests and observers have been complaining that Disney’s Hollywood Studios has too few attractions. With the fourth lowest attendance numbers of Disney World’s four Orlando theme parks, Hollywood Studios desperately needs a shot in the arm.
● Hollywood Studios already hosts the popular Star Tours II simulator ride attraction. And next door on either side is the Jedi Training Academy (needs to be expanded to meet high demand) and the smallish Tatooine Traders merchandise store (REALLY needs to be expanded to relieve crowd congestion and capture lost potential sales).
● Then there is that incredible waste of space toward the back side of Hollywood Studios, including: the largely empty Streets of America and the empty false storefronts; the tired Lights!Motor!Action! stunt show; and the 1970s-style Studio Backlot Tour. SHUT THEM ALL DOWN, BULLDOZE THEM, AND REBUILD WITH AN ALL-NEW “STAR WARS LAND”!
● A Disney cast member recently confirmed to me that the Muppet Vision 3D show (25 minutes long) has been slated for closure. (Perhaps more room for STAR WARS LAND?)
● Since 1997, Disney has been hosting the popular annual event, STAR WARS WEEKENDS. And George Lucas has several times visited Hollywood Studios to oversee or bless the (re)opening of the Star Tours attraction and otherwise consult with Disney. This has been a long, steady partnership in the making.
● Some years ago, Disney announced it was going to build an AVATAR-themed attraction or land at Animal Kingdom. But seriously, folks?!?! While I understand Disney’s and Avatar’s (Director James Cameron) shared focus on the environment, note that as of 2013, no ground has been broken yet. And you cannot build a successful attraction based on ONE film. Does anybody even remember what the film AVATAR was about?
● Competition from UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT is forcing Disney to up its game. It’s no secret that Universal experienced its best year ever (well, at least up to that time) in 2010, with the successful opening of THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER. And now flush with cash, Universal has been going gangbusters in expanding Harry Potter and opening new attractions.
Disney now has a golden opportunity to push back with a STAR WARS LAND. Kill several birds with one stone: (1) Revitalize and maximize profits at Hollywood Studios; (2) Steal back some of the siphoned-off tourist dollars from Universal; and (3) Fully realize the moneymaking potential of its $4.05 billion jugernaut acquisition from Lucasfilms, ltd.
You can troll the Internet and find more hints of things to come. The website, EasyWDW, for example, has been dropping hints of a Star Wars expansion at Hollywood Studios. Click here to read more. (scroll down toward the bottom)
But take heed: Disney is like the Titanic. While Disney is huge and impressive, it isn’t quick to turn and takes a while to execute a decision. Let’s pray that this dream of a STAR WARS LAND doesn’t sink.