Last night, during a special preview of D23 Expo 2017, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled a first look at the gigantic, richly detailed model of the Star Wars-themed lands under development for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This model will be on display in Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ “A Galaxy of Stories” Pavilion at D23 Expo throughout the weekend. Check out our Star Wars Land model photos from the unveiling and find out everything we learned from studying the model and items on display.
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Photos From The Model
And now, time for some observations…
The world is under the occupation of the First Order. We see First Order banners around the city, and stormtroopers patrol the land. A First Order TIE Fighter sits in a corner of the world.
The Resistance has a secret base. As you get away from the city, near the lush jungles and waterfalls, is a secret Resistance base. This is probably where you can sign up for a mission with the Resistance, and the entrance to the Battle Escape dark ride is probably located over here somewhere.
The land features a lot more ships than I had expected. In the far left-hand side of the model is the Resistance base, which features an X-Wing, A-Wing, Poe Dameron’s Black X-Wing and some new carrier ship. That’s four full-sized ships in just one corner of the land. On the other side of the map is a full sized black TIE Fighter, as well as the huge Millennium Falcon hidden in the docking bay in the back. I’m betting this will be the entrance to the Millennium Falcon motion simulator attraction. I wonder if most of these ships are just photo ops or if they will have interactive elements…
Three different entrances offer very different experiences. The entrance to the left near the Resistance base comes from Critter Country and offers a more landscape rich park style entry, while the other two entrances come in the form of tunnels which transport you into the world much in the same way the arch at the end of Cars Land transports you into Radiator Springs.
Droid dealers? Near the Big Thunder entrance is an area with a bunch of droids, including one that looks like BB-8. Maybe this is where the locals sell astromechs? I’m betting this is an area where you will get some personal interaction with some droids.
Second story walkways are probably more than just scenery. The model shows some second story walkways, which aren’t likely open to park guests. I’m guessing that some stunt performances may take place on the rooftops and these walkways.
A big market in the center of the land. In the middle of this world is an enclosed market with small streets. We’ve seen the interior of the market in many of the early concept art pieces.
Is that a big hunk of a crashed ship? Closer to the Resistance base is a huge hunk of metal that may or may not be a big part of a former space ship. We couldn’t see what was inside the shell, but I’m guessing its either an eatery or a queue for the Battle Escape ride.
What is that Resistance Turret for? Close to the Resistance base is a DF.12 Com Turret which we’re told “is a reliable defense for Resistance encampments and temporary air bases.” What is this installation for? Is it an interactive game? Perhaps it’s an augmented reality experience where you can shoot TIE Fighters who are trying to land on the planet?
We might see some Cantina Aliens playing alien instruments. Among the items on display in the exhibit is a trio of musical instruments that we’ll likely see played in one of the world’s entertainment spaces. The tag on the display says that “the local music instructor is a master of many musical instruments, including the brass chindinkalu, 5-string quetarra and whiffloonorp.”
The ride vehicle for the Mission Escape dark ride revealed? Also on display is a “First Order Fleet Transport.” The tag says that “within the First Order fleet, troops, officers, and personnel transverse the interiors of massive ships using small transport vehicles. Piloted by astromech droids, these vehicles are programmed with ship schematics and security access codes.” I’m pretty sure this is the ride vehicle, or one of the two ride vehicles, that guests will encounter in the land’s dark ride. The vehicle fits eight people in two rows of four, and I expect each will have a different animatronic droid at the helm.
The A-Wing has a story. The A-Wing we see near the west side of the land may have a story deep in Star Wars canon. A display tag tells us that this RZ-1 model was the preferred fighter of Resistance ace L’ulo L’ampar, a character who has been prominent in the Shattered Empire and Poe Dameron comic books.
Star Wars Land is HUGE. This 14-acre theme park land is much bigger than I could have ever expected.
What is this Landspeeder for? Another model on display was a landspeeder, which accordinag to the info tag, was “built from scavenged parts” and “customized to withstand the unquie peculiarities of a planet’s terrain.” It also notes that “Raiders use vehicles like this to explore uncharted lands for valuable salvage.” So will we see raiders in parts of this world driving a landspeeder?
What is that large backstage door for? One thing I noticed is a rather large backstage door in the center of the land, leading to a rather large canyon. I wonder what this will be used for. Will there be parades in Star Wars Land? Perhaps this is where the large alien creatures and Landspeeders come from?
New Concept Art
- * Here, we see an alien cook in one of the land’s eateries. I wonder if this will be an animatronic or an actual costumed character. Notice all the seafood on display and the fantastic wear and tear on the location.
- * Here we see a dealer with what appears to be a bunch of weapons and gear. Perhaps you need to gear-up for a mission in the land. Also notice the holographic map being projected on the ceiling, probably another aspect of the role playing adventures offered in the land.
- * Here we see one of the many streets within the land, possibly an entrance to one of the eateries, and in the foreground is one of the droid characters we may encounter.
- * Concept art of the Resistance base on the outskirts of the city. A Resistance officer watches from a perch high above for First Order ships.
- * Here is a look at inside the market at the center of the land. Notice the droid and layered theming.
At the opening of the exhibit, Chapek touted that the land would be more immersive than anything they’ve ever created:
“To say we are excited for the Star Wars-themed lands to open in 2019 is an understatement. All along, we have said this will be game-changing, and through the model we can begin to see how truly epic these immersive new worlds will be.”
Chapek will share new details about the project during the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Hall D23 Presentation on Saturday. We will be in attendance, so please check back on Saturday afternoon for the exciting new details.
Update: Straight from D23, we were able to take a close-up look at new merchandise showing off elevation drawings from Star Wars Land. And while these are cool on their own (fans of theme park design and engineering rejoice!), there are some details here worthy of nerdy examination. Let’s take a closer look.
First up is a large building with a “rooftop dome” and a giant (air control?) tower, but that’s not the most exciting thing to see. That would be the Millennium Falcon parked in the hangar below. This is almost surely the ride building housing the attraction that will place you in the cockpit of Han Solo’s famous ship, letting you live out your childhood fantasies of making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. While the ride itself will be a motion simulator attraction, this drawing suggests that you’ll be able to check out a lifesize Falcon up close.
The second building seems to be called the Foundry and it’s not clear what it’s supposed to be. However, that name and the building’s basic shape suggest that this could be a heavily themed gift shop of some sort, maybe a place where you can buy elaborate Star Wars props and replicas?
The final image is fairly self-explanatory: this is a Cantina where you’ll be able to eat and drink and just chill out in theStar Wars universe for a bit. We’ve heard that this establishment will utilize staff in full make-up and costume who serve you in-character, so this will be a place worth checking out.