As impressive as the billion-dollar box office success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is, it’s just the beginning of the Walt Disney Company’s plan to expand and extend the Star Wars brand. Next up on the company’s to do list? Dedicating 14 acres of its California theme park to “Star Wars Land.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, construction on the Star Wars-themed attraction—the largest expansion of its kind in the theme park’s history—will begin this month, and mean a few beloved rides and attractions will close (some permanently, others for at least a year). On January 11, the park will cease operations on several major attractions, including Big Thunder Ranch—home to a barbecue restaurant, petting zoo, and the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree, all of which will close permanently. (A California family with close ties to Disneyland has adopted the animals from the petting zoo.)
Other Frontierland attractions, including Fantasmic, the Disneyland Railroad, the Mark Twain Riverboat, and the Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, will close temporarily during construction. The new “Star Wars Land” will replace a portion of the park's Frontierland.
Star Wars’ infiltration of Disneyland has already begun, with the Jedi Training Academy for kids and the “Season of the Force” celebration, which kicked off this past November. In addition, Tomorrowland’s Innovations building has been converted into a Star Wars Launch Bay, while other Tomorrowland attractions like Star Tours and Space Mountain (now called Hyperspace Mountain) have been renovated to feature special effects and imagery from The Force Awakens. There’s even The Galactic Grill, which offers Cheese-3PO Burgers and Jawa Turkey Sand-Wiches served on Bantha Blue Milk Bread.
“We are excited to begin the work that will lay the foundation for the future Star Wars-themed land at Disneyland," a Disney spokesperson said. "With our continuing Diamond Celebration entertainment and the new Season of the Force offerings, there is so much for guests to do during this time."
At the moment, there is no firm completion date for “Star Wars Land,” but educated guessers believe it will open sometime in 2017—just in time for Star Wars: Episode VIII to break all sorts of new box office records.
[h/t Los Angeles Times]