Some of the new adventures will come far sooner than later. There will be things for both adults and children.
Or both at times.
Coming later this year: Star Wars Launch Bay will take you into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There will be special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with favorite Star Wars characters and buy merchandise.
Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and in Tomorrowland at Disneyland park.
Both experiences will be available for you to take a look this year. Or so Disney says.
Walt Disney World’s next year will feature a new fireworks spectacular set to the score of…what else…the Star Wars moves. It will be featured on weekend nights.
Coming up: music and movies
Other upcoming events include Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosting a special ticketed event on December 17 to celebrate the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The event begins at the AMC Disney Springs theater at 7 p.m., with event attendees having a confirmed seat for one of the first few showings of the new Star Wars movie between 7 and 8 p.m.
After the movie, the event moves to Disney’s Hollywood Studios where guests will have access to the new Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tours and a DJ Dance Party from 11 p.m. through to 2 a.m.
At 12:45. There will be a preview of the new Star Wars fireworks show that will be opening as part of Season of the Force in 2016.
Tickets are available at www.amctheatres.com/starwarswdw.
In another direction, Star Wars is also now at sea.
A newly themed area in Disney’s Oceaneer Club now provides children with an out-of-this-galaxy experience. Inspired, Disney says, by the Star Wars saga.
Sorry, adults, this is for the ages 3 through 12 group.
In it, kids are transported to a far away galaxy at Star Wars.
This includes the Millennium Falcon experience, which here is a Force-filled play area inspired by the spacecraft.
Upon entering the spaceship, kids join the Rebel Alliance in the epic battle of good versus evil by assisting with navigation of the space vehicle.
Sitting in the cockpit, children can pilot the super-cool spaceship through hyperspace. They can also trigger lightspeed jumps to different locations around the galaxy.
In Millennium Falcon, children can express their creativity through Star Wars-themed crafts, games and activities.
They can also watch episodes from the new Disney XD animated series, Star Wars Rebels, on a large screen or virtually join the rebellion at gaming stations featuring the series’ adventures.
The options continue during a shipboard version of the popular Jedi Training experience that invites young Jedi hopefuls to learn lightsaber moves from a Jedi Master.
Star wars takes visitors to a new dimension
In another galaxy, you probably heard that the sale of tickets for Star Wars: The Force Awakens smashed box office records.
Tickets for the movie set to start Dec. 18 crashed sites like Fandango and MovieTickets.com.
Major theater companies AMC and Regal, which owns Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres, also experienced website crashes because of the intermittent demand.
AMC said it sold out 1,000 shows in less than 12 hours.
AMC Disney Springs 24 in Lake Buena Vista sold out. A separate, $95 ticket to the film that included an after party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios also sold out.
On the dark side, however, is a robust would-be secondary market.
A quick trip to eBay reveals people selling tickets to screenings for hundreds of dollars.
Seeing stars at $2000 a ticket
Someone is selling three tickets to one event for $2,000.
Someone in North Canton, Ohio is offering two tickets to the screening in their hometown.
The seller is promising a “VIP treatment,” including a limo ride to and from the theater, and a hotel night if the person is from out of town.
The price? Ten thousand dollars.
The fervor has also been found on social media. After a recent trailer, there were more than 17,000 tweets a minute when the trailer aired and over 1.1 million tweets in the next few days.
Facebook reported that 1.3 million people had 2.1 million interactions related to Star Wars within the first hour of the trailer screening.
The 2-minute, 35-second spot debuted during ESPN’s Monday Night Football halftime and was made available online immediately after. Overnight ratings for the game show a definite viewing spike during halftime, suggesting that many tuned in solely for the trailer, not the Giants-Eagles game.
Signs and more signs
So that does not tell you a lot, admittedly, about how Star Wars will shape up as an attraction in Orlando and California.
But what about the upcoming movie?
What is the new “Star Wars” movie about?
Moviegoers and others have been clamoring for an answer since the revival of the franchise was announced in 2012, when Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion.
We know that principal photography ran from May to November 2014 and that locations ran from Abu Dhabi to Skellig Michael island in Ireland (as well as Pinewood Studios in Britain).
We also know that Episode VII is not part of the title. The later is officially “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
But the filmmakers have kept the plot as safely tucked away as the plans for the destruction of the Death Star. A few details have trickled out, from cast announcements to the most recent trailer, which debuted on Oct. 19 and provided a few more clues.
We can spill some details.
The all-important story line
We know the film is set 40 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. And the most recent trailer refers to those events as the stuff of legend to youngsters like Finn and Rey.
In the trailer, Han Solo says:
“It’s true, all of it: The Dark Side, the Jedi, they’re real.”
The trailer also shows the bad Kylo Ren setting eyes on the charred mask of Darth Vader, hinting at his reverence for Vader and his motivations.
The Galactic Empire of the previous films has now led to a group called the First Order (read leader Kylo Ren).
We also know that Kylo Ren is not the name the character was born with.
In interviews, film participants spilled the beans: Kylo Ren got his name after joining a group called the Knights of Ren. The First Order is opposed by the Resistance, in which Poe Dameron is a pilot.
The stars are a mix of rising names, franchise veterans and fresh faces. The new leads include the runaway stormtrooper Finn (played by John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley).
Reprising their roles as Luke, Leia and Han Solo are Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Joining them are Oscar Isaac (as the X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), Adam Driver (as the new villain Kylo Ren), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) and Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata, a C.G.I. character rendered through performance capture).
Simon Pegg and Max von Sydow are also on board, but their characters have not been revealed. Two unknown actors, Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen, were hired after an open casting call.
Old Droids and New Droids
Expect more of C-EPO and R2-D2, of course.
Anthony Daniels is back, donning a new C-3PO suit, and Kenny Baker, the man inside R2-D2, has also returned.
But a new droid is being introduced BB-8.
And of course, Chewbacca will not be hidden away, either.
Significant parts of the film seem to be set on Jakku. The Star Wars databank page describes is as “a frontier desert world” and “home to thieves, outlaws and scavengers.”
In ships, The Millennium Falcon is back. And on the Dark Side, the Finalizer is one of the ships used by the First Order. There’s also Kylo Ren’s Command Shuttle. X-Wings are flown by the Resistance, TIE Fighters by the First Order.
J.J. Abrams was brought on as director, though he initially refused the job, according to the New York Times. But he was successful with the films in 2009 and 2013.
So Lucasfilm’s president, Kathleen Kennedy, persuaded him to take the reins on the latest film.
Michael Arndt was the first screenwriter announced on the project, but when Abrams came on, he added Lawrence Kasdan. Film fans will know his name because he is a highly successful writer and director. The pair reworked the screenplay.
Kasdan’s credits include two of the original three Star Wars films: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
How big an event was the original Star Wars when it came out in 1977? Toys tell one version of the story (and show the instant popularity of the concept).
Kennar Products was the company licensed to make Star Wars action products. But production fell behind.
No toys ready for all important Christmas season?
What could be worse?
But Kenner rallied.
It inserted gift certificates into boxes guaranteeing delivery of the figures between February and June of the next year.
Children across the country received IOU notes under their family’s Christmas tree.
Christmas was saved…you might say.
This was a new era in toy promises.
Lucas as toy maker
So much so that director George Lucas later likened himself to a toymaker. And he was not kidding.
“The relationship between Star Wars and its fans extends beyond collectibles and conventions to what can be understood only as a form of ownership,” writes the New York Times.
Lucas, incidentally, always seemed to know his audience.
He turned down chances to do more relevant films in the late 1970s such as protest flicks or movies with a message.
“Rather than do some angry, socially relevant film, I realized there that was another relevance,” he said in one interview. He added that was even more important. It was:
”Dreams and fantasies, getting children to believe there is more to life than garbage and killing and all that real stuff like stealing hubcaps — that you could still sit and dream about exotic lands and strange creatures.”
He specifically sought out science-fiction fans for Star Wars. And 20th Century Fox, its distributor, advised exhibitors to use science-fiction displays in public libraries to reach youngsters on summer break in the wake of that first movie in 1977,
Distributor Fox also urged exhibitors to try to rope in college students in language suggesting that this was a flick meant to be seen in an altered state: “If ever a motion picture was guaranteed to catch and send the imagination of college students soaring, it’s Star Wars.”
How successful were they?
For one measure, most films are in theatres for about four months. But Star Wars has lingered far beyond that in repeated updates.
All of this is odd enough if you also figure in one more factor.
Lucas and the studios
Director Lucas has never been a fan of movie producers and/or distributors. He has been highly critical of them.
But he negotiated a highly favorable and unusual deal with the studios to profit from all the films following Star Wars (he apparently has no similar misgivings about theme parks since he signed agreements with Disney).
No question The Force has been with him. We will all hope it continues to be so. ###