June 5, 2017 – It’s been three months since we posted our last Star Wars Land construction update for Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
With the successful May 27th opening of “Pandora – The World of Avatar” (a.k.a. Avatar Land) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Imagineers and construction crews can now fully focus their efforts on erecting Star Wars Land. The 14-acre themed area, within Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is expected to open sometime in late 2019.
The following photos show accelerating progress with basic building foundations and new vertical construction. The photo below is an overview shot taken June 4, 2017, showing both Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land construction as well as newly cleared land for additional parking. In addition, the bottom right corner of the photo shows a temporary construction road which may morph into a new main entrance road. A new interchange will direct traffic from World Drive or Osceola Parkway directly into the expanded parking lot.
To keep things in perspective, below is a not-to-scale layout showing where the Battle Escape and Millenium Falcon attractions will be in Star Wars Land. A long berm will block visual sight lines between Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land.
Crossing Through an Expanded Muppets Courtyard
Before entering Star Wars Land, guests will first have to cross through an expanded Muppets Courtyard. One boundary of the larger courtyard will be the last standing remnant of the Streets of America, a building façade connected to the now-closed Writer’s Stop and the still-open Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant.
The above photo is intriguing for several reasons, confirming some rumors (the building façade will not be torn down) while inviting new speculation (Club 33, anyone?)
The Streets of America building façade will not only remain; it also appears the structure is being transformed into a functioning building. Recent photos of various paint test swatches on the building front as well as the addition of steel beam reinforcements strongly suggest that the structure will have a new purpose.
Speculation includes the opening of a
Club 33 – not to be confused with D23, the official Disney fan club. The ultra-exclusive Club 33 has initiation fees of $25,000 to $100,000 as well as annual dues of $12,500 to $30,000, depending on your membership level. Club 33 already exists in New Orleans Square at Disneyland as well as at Tokyo Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland.
Disney announced in April that Club 33 would be coming to all four theme parks at Walt Disney World by the fall of 2017. One initiation fee and annual dues will cover admission to all four Club 33 locations at Walt Disney World.
As for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, some are speculating that the Club 33 entrance will be placed somewhere in the former Streets of America façade. Another possibility is the now-shuttered Writer’s Stop, which is adjacent to the façade.
An expanded Muppets Courtyard could feature a live-action Muppet show from the second- or third-floor windows of the revamped façade. A similar-type show – “The Muppets Present Great Moments in American History” – can now be seen at Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square.
An expanded courtyard offers many more possibilities. The open-air space could temporarily hold throngs of guests prior to each day’s rope drop. The courtyard might also feature roaming Muppets characters, kiosks, mobile vendors and temporary stage performances.
Visualizing the Main Entrance to Star Wars Land
Once guests get past the Muppets phalanx, they will go through a large doorway or entrance in the berm. According to Scott Trowbridge, the leader of the Imagineering team working on the Star Wars Land project, guests will then catch sight of familiar-looking desert outposts, marked by low, circular buildings. Guests then enter into an exotic market.
In an interview with Bloomberg published April 19th, Trowbridge said, “It’s this exotic marketplace. It’s like a souk street market filled with stalls where you can buy fragrances and spices and clothes and toys and equipment from all across the galaxy, sometimes from the black market. But don’t ask too many questions.”
And, yes, there will be a cantina where you will be served by exotic aliens. Trowbridge promises, “You’re going to see aliens. You’re going to see droids. You’re going to see beasts.”
Just past the bazaar, “travelers” (Disney-speak for you, the guest) will see a First Order spaceport and an ancient forest compound. Look around, and you just might see certain members of the Resistance.
And beyond that? The two main attractions, a Battle Escape adventure and the opportunity to pilot the Millenium Falcon. More details will likely be unveiled in July at Disney’s D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.