One of the advantages of having a Disney blogger wife is that I get the inside scoop on goings-ons with the company that owns Star Wars, Marvel, and a few successful theme parks. This past weekend I attended the D23 convention in Anaheim and woke up way too early to get in line for the big keynote on live action films over the next few years. It was a lot of fun. I got to see J.J. Abrams, the Star Wars episode VII cast (including Harrison Ford), Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong’o, and more.
They didn’t have much to add about Star Wars and weren’t ready to give us another trailer so instead, they gave us a cool movie poster and unveiled the fact that Disney is going to build 14-Acre Star Wars themed lands in Disneyland in California and Hollywood Studios in Florida. All we saw was concept art and a short video but it looks to be really fun. At several points during the presentation Bob Iger (Disney CEO) mentioned how the experience will be immersive. Not only will you go into a cantina, you’ll interact with the wretched hive of scum and villainy while you are there.
Having visited Universal’s Harry Potter World last year, I can’t help but feel that this immersive Star Wars experience is a direct response. Universal did such a great job with Harry Potter. It was the first time I was truly impressed with a non-Disney theme park and I’m sure Disney took notice. After the presentation I spoke with some Disney Imagineers and when I raised the issue of Universal’s Harry Potter you could see that they were more than a little “motiviated” to exceed it with Star Wars. Let’s hope that Disney corporate gives the Imagineers the budget and support they need to deliver.