Significant ‘Star Wars’ Presence Planned for Disney Theme Parks

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The Walt Disney Co. plans for “a far greater ‘Star Wars’ presence” in its theme parks, company chief Bob Iger said Tuesday.

The first look at new attractions based on the sci-fi franchise, beyond “Star Tours” that currently operates at several of its parks, will be revealed next year, Iger said during a conference call with analysts to discuss Disney’s record third quarter results.

The move comes as Disney is readying to release a new “Star Wars” film in theaters starting Dec. 18, 2015, that J.J. Abrams is currently directing.

Lucasfilm and Disney also will host Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim on April 16-19, while “Star Wars” is expected to have a major presence at the D23 Expo, Aug. 14-16, again from the Anaheim Convention Center.

Disney opted not to inject more “Star Wars” into its parks until its $4 billion acquisition of the company was complete. Deal also gives it the Indiana Jones franchise, already represented by a ride and stunt show at Disney’s resorts.

During the call, Iger said when Disney now decides to build new attractions, “the likelihood of their success is greater” when they’re branded. “When we grow ‘Star Wars” presence, which we will do significantly, you will see better bets being made that will pay off for us than were made in the past,” adding that leveraging the collection of popular franchises and properties that the company owns for rides and experiences will deliver “better returns than we saw in the past.”

SEE ALSO: Disney Reveals Look of ‘Avatar’ Theme Park at Walt Disney World

Disney has enjoyed a considerable uptick in attendance after the introduction of new rides and themed lands designed around its popular film properties. The “Cars”-themed land at California Adventure, which was part of a $1 billion overhaul of that park, has been a major draw to that park since it opened; an expansion of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom is now complete and has guests lining up for hours to ride the “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” ride in Orlando.

“Toy Story” themed lands are now also attracting guests at Disney resorts in Hong Kong and Paris, while “Avatar” rides are being built inside Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, also in Orlando.

“These are attractions that pull people from I’m going to go to a Disney park someday to I want to go this year,” said Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo, during the call.

Although ESPN is a major moneymaker for Disney overall, the company has a limited presence inside the company’s parks. It does operate several ESPN Zone restaurants at its Downtown Disney entertainment complexes.

“In general, the experience people want is more of a storytelling experience, not necessarily a sports experience,” Iger said. “The presence (of ESPN at the parks) doesn’t seem to be that obvious.”

When asked if Disney was looking to broker new licensing deals with other franchise owners for attractions the way it did with James Cameron’s “Avatar,” Iger dismissed the notion, citing properties owned by Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm,

“We don’t have to license from third parties,” he said. “We own them all.”

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  1. Ben Ohmart says:

    I’m a big Disney fan. And a Star Wars fan. Open a SW theme park. I don’t want to see it in Disney theme parks. Star Tours never fit.

  2. ktest098 says:

    They should use the train tracks around Disneyland as a base to build a speeder bike ride. you could have it wind between trees, have a passenger have to fire a blaster at chasing stormtroopers – it could be spectacular.

    • they will never replace the train just based on the pure fact that Walt Disney loooooooooooooooooooove love love loved trains and the train system is always used by a ton of people to get around in the park, they will never ever replace that train system, EVER.

  3. ITTTY IT says:

    AGAIN????????????

  4. Reblogged this on Quantum Multiverse by @Jedi_Knut and commented:
    Star Wars is so huge that it should be able to support its own parks, stores and more. I can’t wait to see what sort of rides and restaurants are developed for this new addition to their already packed and popular parks.

  5. MickeyMad says:

    Well Mr Iger, I will believe you are building new attractions once you actually build them. “Revealed next year” seems to be your and Rasulo’s code for we’ll be making an announcement that we are starting to design something that you might see open after 2021. Your reputation on building any premium attractions in your U.S. parks during your tenure is very limited (Carsland). Your regular customers, sorry, Guests, would appreciate you investing in them a little more on occasion. Doesn’t look like your profits would be negatively impacted by reinvesting in a new E-Ticket every three or four years in each of your parks. Likely wouldn’t hurt your bottom line or reputation either. You might want to take a harder look at that.

    • Do you realize what a HUGE amount of planning this will entail? Give them a break!

      • starwarsfan101 says:

        You realize that they could have been planning for some time now and probably didn’t start today. I would like to see a Star Wars area but I am not going to waste $10k to wait for hours in line. Fastpass+ is a joke…

  6. Longbowhunter says:

    Disney is getting their lunch handed to them by Harry Potter in Florida. If they hope to compete with the boy wizard,they need to go big or go home. Star Wars is,at the end of the day,the bigger-more widely known-franchise. They have the IP…question is,are they willing to spend the $$$ to make the most of it?

    • Sunshine says:

      Dude, Disney’s Animal Kingdom alone makes more money that both Universal Parks combined. I’m a Potter fan but get your facts straight please.

      • starwarsfan101 says:

        Universal is really bringing it, and without numbers your comment has no credibility so, evidence please. Disney is so run down and the cast members are so arrogant and pompus that it is only a matter of time before Disney starts to take a hit at WDPRO. Many of us who used to visit yearly or held annual passes have stopped visiting because the experience has degraded so much. It really has become the money machine Walt never wanted it to be, and that is a sad fact that anyone can verify by pricing and visiting Disney World.

  7. Reblogged this on WordPress.com and commented:
    Cool!

    • I agree Disney’s two parks are always packed to capacity… does this guy even go to the disney parks?

    • itzafig@mac.com says:

      You may want to rethink your answer, Dude. Granted each Disney park outperforms any individual Universal Park; however, if you want to combine both Universal Orlando Parks attendance, then the numbers change drastically. The only Parks that outperform the two Universall parks combined are Magic Kingdom, Disney Tokyo and Disneyland. That’s it. AK is way out of the running when put up against both Universal Florida parks. Source: http://www.teaconnect.org/pdf/TEAAECOM2013.pdf

  8. Paul lane says:

    Except..except Indiana Jones is the best ride st Disneyland.. There’s that.

  9. MWH1980 says:

    “During the call, Iger said when Disney now decides to build new attractions, “the likelihood of their success is greater” when they’re branded.”

    I sometimes lament that this is the direction that anything new regarding theme park attractions seems to be heading.

    When one looks at Disneyland in its opening day, most things regarding previously-made storylines or productions from Disney, was largely relegated to Fantasyland. These days, nothing new has really been announced, unless it has a theme tied into something that is already widely known. Hard to imagine that in this day and age, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion would not be given the go-ahead, unless they had a popular movie made before-hand.

  10. Joel says:

    With the on-going mess that is Tomorrowland, this sounds like a great opportunity. Take it!

    • Karen says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. While I agree that Tomorrowlamd need some serious help, I don’t think that Star Wars is appropriate for Tomorrowland. Firstly because it takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Secondly because it’s arguably more a fantasy than a Science Fiction. And most importantly, it does not represent the optimistic vision that Walt had for the future. It is, after all, star WARS. Let’s not forget what it means. I think Star Wars deserves it’s own theme park. To try and shoehorn it into Tomorrowland is a massive mistake.

      • tom69huck says:

        Yep, Star Wars def. needs its own park! A fifth park at WDW would be amazing and it could be replicated at Disneyland as well if they wanted to do so, because Universal is already putting HP stuff in CA too. They’re not going to add too much Star Wars at FL’s tomorrowland I believe, hopefully nothing at all, putting it in the Star Wars area already in HS and only that area unless they just move it all to a new park. BUT I believe Star Wars may take over about half of Disneyland CA’s tomorrowland. Watch and see!

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