Anticipation has been high for the Star Wars-themed expansion lands being built at Disneyland and Disney World, but it hasn’t been clear when fans will actually be able to venture into the new parks. Today that got a little clearer, with Disney officially announcing the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be opening at Disneyland in summer of 2019, with the Disney World version of the park following suit in late fall.
Disney parks have incorporated Star Wars rides and other elements for years, but Galaxy’s Edge promises to be a more more ambitious project than anything the company has attempted before. Rather than being a one-off ride or themed area, Galaxy’s Edge is intended to be an entire immersive world, giving guests the experience of actually stepping into the Star Wars universe itself. There will be no Disney employees in the cantinas and shops of the park, for example. Instead, there will be locals and smugglers that inhabit Batuu, the planet the park is set on, while guests find themselves wrapped up in a battle between the Resistance and the First Order. Not only that, but the rides themselves are designed to be part of a larger interactive adventure that guests can go on. Do a poor job flying the Millennium Falcon in the park’s flagship attraction, for example, and a guest may find themselves called out — or celebrated — by a character later in their visit.
The move from traditional theme parks to more immersive environments has been taking off over the past decade, with Universal Studios planting a flag in the ground with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and Disneyland playing catching up with Pandora: The World of Avatar. But Disney is also looking to up the ante. Along with the Star Wars expansion lands, Disney is also working on a Star Wars-themed hotel for Disney World. That project will allow guests to literally eat, sleep, and breathe Star Wars throughout the entirety of their visit, as they take part in an interactive adventure than can stretch from the hotel, to the park, and back. If pulled off successfully, the hotel concept would essentially be Westworld for Star Wars fans — but there’s still no word on when that project will be opening.