Biggest Disney Rumors for April You Need to Know
This month, we have at least some idea of the direction Disney will take with Star Wars Hotel. It’s the most tantalizing rumor of the year!
Welcome to…Galactic Journeys?
Whenever I discuss Disney decisions with casual fans, one of the concepts I stress is the importance of theming. No matter the Disney department, employees seek to transport fans to an entirely new place. Disney sells escapism across its brands.
This premise is most evident at the theme parks, where guests enter the Happiest Place on Earth or the Disney Bubble, places where the outside world ceases to exist, at least for a time. When done correctly, this illusion begins the moment that you enter the hotel. Now that Disney is almost 20 years into the new millennium, they have higher expectations for themselves, and the same is true from their fans.
From the moment that park officials announced a Star Wars hotel, they placed pressure on themselves. Fans of The Force won’t settle for a standard resort or even one that seems impressive by Disney standards. These guests expect to feel blown away by the new property, and Imagineers can only achieve this goal through the best theming possible.
Apparently, the underlying concept of Star Wars Hotel will involve some sort of tourism theme. Earlier pictures showed that guests will depart via a docking bay to some “transportation” system. In Disney terms, this means shuttle buses or the like. From a theming perspective, however, the company needs guests to believe that they’re approaching a land nicknamed Galaxy’s Edge. They can’t pull off this trick unless visitors buy into the illusion.
To help guests accept that they’re touring the Galaxy’s Edge, the current rumor is that the transportation shuttles are part of the Chandrila Star Line. While this name is unconfirmed, its lineage hints at a viable explanation. In Star Wars lore, Chandrila is the birthplace of Ben Solo aka Kylo Wren. It later became the capital of the New Republic. WDWNT has some early mock-ups of possible logos for Chandrila Star Line, something that suggests Disney’s serious consideration of this name.
The other aspect of Star Wars Hotel that’s interesting is the rumored name. It’s internally referenced by some as Galactic Journeys: A Star Wars Adventure. You’ll notice that neither the word resort nor hotel is a part of that title. It’s all part of the theming, which dictates that you’re a traveler in deep space, not a Walt Disney World tourist. Should Disney choose this name, it’d be the first time in the history of the company that an official resort didn’t have some sort of acknowledgment that it is a hotel.
While these rumors are far from confirmed, the sheer volume of whispers about theme creates a layer of intrigue. Disney’s D-23 convention is less than four months away. It’s entirely possible that a crucial part of the event is a revelation about Star Wars Hotel. Don’t be surprised if these two names, Chandrila Star Line and Galactic Journeys: A Star Wars Adventure, are at least partially correct.
Speaking of Star Wars…
Disney surprised a lot of people when they unveiled their plans to roll out Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in phases. From a business perspective, the move is brilliant. Disney controls the flow of traffic more by keeping guests in a more confined space, and they turn over guests more in the process.
With only one attraction, some people will ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and then leave soon afterward. I’m not saying that MOST guests will do that, but every little bit helps during those early days.
Down the road, Disney renews excitement for Star Wars Land with the opening of each new phase. We expect at least three. Phase two will feature Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, while phase three will presumably focus on Star Wars Hotel. There’s a bit of mystery involving Rise of the Resistance, though.
Rumors have circulated in recent months that Imagineers are suffering unexpected delays with the attraction. It’s a perfectly understandable turn of events. Everyone who has walked through the ride building has commented on the stunning size of it. Analysts have suggested that it’s at least the size of an aircraft hangar.
From a technical perspective, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance employs the most advanced technology ever. From a corporate perspective, Disney just completed the purchase of most Fox assets in one of the most expensive transactions ever. Funds are tight at the moment, while the resource demands for the second Star Wars attraction are outrageously high.
What we’re witnessing circles back to the earliest days of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Disney always runs into liquidity issues when theme parks open. Once the parks are in operation, they pay for themselves as well as future developments. Disney’s determined that they can redistribute some of the money that they’ll gain from Galaxy’s Edge back into the themed land. So, they’re going with what they have in phase one.
The Future of Rise of Resistance…and a Guess about Its Opening
In terms of quality, this decision improves Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Imagineers will have more time and more resources for the project. Cast members have reportedly struggled with the challenges of the ride vehicle and need those extras to address the matter. Disney’s asking more of the Rise of the Resistance ride carts than any ever before. They’re trackless, something that the company hasn’t done much in North America.
The First Order Fleet Transport, as the ride cart is called, comes complete with a black R2-D2-style droid as a driver. The trackless technology adds a bit of variety, as the path will differ on each ride. These extra permutations require a corresponding number of additional tests. And then there’s the fact that a pair of life-sized At-Ats aim and fire at your vessel while you drive down the path.
Communication has been one of the issues with preparing Rise of the Resistance. The ride carts communicate via a sophisticated kind of WiFi. When they get too far apart or lose signal, the vehicle automatically shuts down. Since the trackless technology leads to a circuitous path, there are a lot of possible dropout spots right now. These places require troubleshooting to eliminate.
Disney’s by all accounts at or near the testing phase with the ride vehicle. They need to verify that every possible path works perfectly, and that’s at least part of the cause for the delay. If Imagineers were working on only one ride, they could likely make the deadline. Since the Millennium Falcon attraction must be ready first, however, they’ve had to direct resources there first.
The delay gives Imagineers a greater opportunity to forget the bigger and better ride. So, it’s a net-positive for park guests. Also, the prevailing belief is that the Disneyland version will still open at some point in 2019. The Walt Disney World one may as well, although it’s understandably less certain. Right now, I’d say that it’s a pure coin flip whether Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance this year.