Disney To Buy Lucasfilm, Are Theme Park Attractions Far Behind?

Written by Dusty Sage. Posted in Disney News, Features

Tagged: , , , ,

frontpagepic_StarWars

Published on October 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm with 77 Comments

In an oddly timed announcement in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, Disney has announced that they’ll be acquiring Lucasfilm for just over $4 billion. This brings Star Wars, Indiana Jones and an empire of stories and characters into the Disney realm.

Disney has already confirmed plans to film Star Wars Episode 7 for a 2015 release and increase the production schedule of future Star Wars films. Beyond that, there was no official word. However, sources close to the deal indicate that multiple interests are at play which certainly include the theme parks and possibly ABC as well.

For years, Imagineers have been designing concepts for Star Wars and Indiana Jones related attractions, lands and even entire theme park concepts. A rapid introduction of new Lucas content into the parks is practically assured. Expect chatter, rumors and leaks to follow as Disney tests interest in its newly purchased treasure trove.

While this purchase makes a great deal of sense for Disney, which has a track record of building and promoting franchises, StarWars has a rabid fan base which is already beginning to seethe with worry that their universe will be Disneyfied and diminished (Disney had to fight similar concerns when it purchased Marvel). Disney fans are much more likely to be supportive of the deal as Star Wars attractions and festivals are already a major part of the Disney experience.

Lucas will also provide Disney with the magic bullet it needs to battle the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which Universal Studios is doubling the size of in Orlando and building in Hollywood. The boy wizard poses such a serious threat to Disney’s theme park dominance that Bob Iger was pressured to ink a surprise deal with James Cameron to build an Avatar Land at Disney’s Animal kingdom and other Disney parks. That news was met with general disappointment from Disney fans and investors. The Lucas Star Wars opportunity should vindicate Iger and cement his legacy as a visionary leader of the Disney company. Under Iger’s leadership of Disney, the company has mended fences with many partners alienated by Michael Eisner and has successfully purchased PIXAR, Marvel and now Lucasfilm. That’s a massive amount of viable franchise content, enough to boost Disney profits and growth for many years to come.

Why was Disney in such a hurry to make this announcement on a day of tragedy, when even the stock market was closed? It should not be lost on our readers that the leak of plans for the upcoming Avatar Land and the announcement of the Lucasfilm purchase come just days before Universal’s highly anticipated announcement about upcoming theme park plans on Thursday. Poor timing from a sensitivity standpoint, but effective when it comes to stealing thunder from Universal.

Now, we turn to you, our brilliant readers. Aside from the inevitable slew of Star Wars films which are sure to follow in rapid succession, what else would you like to see? TV shows, theme park rides, merchandise? What are the ideas and concepts which have you most excited (or even worried) about the Disney Lucasfilm deal?

About Dusty Sage

Dusty is the founder and CEO of MiceChat.com. When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty stays busy as the Executive Director of both the Walt Disney Birthplace AND the Dick Van Dyke Foundation. He also run's O-Zell Soda (the company originally operated by Walt Disney's father and at which Walt once worked). If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]

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  • DaHatTrick

    Instead of making a Carsland at DHS, make a Star Wars one

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      And instead of rushing an Avatar Land, build a Star Wars land first. Or better yet, build us a whole Star Wars park.

      Disney just bought the only franchise which is bigger to me than Harry Potter. Way to go Disney. You just made me love you all over again!

      • MichellenMickeyM

        Where’s the like button on this thing!! I agree with all you have written. I love HP, but SW is my all time favorite!

      • OriginalMousekteer

        No, build “all of the above”.

        Cars Land belongs at DHS WAY more than at DCA–DHS can expand its borders, DCA can’t. The biggest criticism of DCA that you never hear is that they have been wasteful with limited real estate. There are NO services under- or above-ground.

        Avatar has tremendous possibilities–remember, Cameron produced two of the most spectacular films ever! And both times the industry nervous nellies were predicting certain failure. I have a suspicion that the Avatar sequels may fare better than Matrix or Pirates.

        I would love to see a SW land, park, or any new attraction. I would love to see the Captain EO theater at Disneyland demolished and that area turned into a spaceport under a glass ceiling with the following: moving the Jedi Academy to that location (configured more like the original 1977 Space Mountain Stage), a retheme of Space Mountain as a Jedi Pilot trainer, an expansion and retheming of Pizza Port, and re-orienting either the Star Tours entrance or exit fronting it.

      • johnwege

        I actually really hope they continue the Avatar Land plans at DAK. Really looking forward to it. Also I would love them to put a Star Wars Land in DHS; just do both, not one or the other.

    • OriginalMousekteer

      OTOH…

      Can you imagine a dark ride omnimover SW “zoo” at DAK? Hosted by 3P0? With counterpoint by Yoda?

  • DaHatTrick

    I think instead of Cars Land, they should build a Star Wars Land at DHS

  • Gn2Dlnd

    I really hate the idea of Cars Land being replicated at Hollywood Studios, I’d be really excited by a Star Wars Land going in instead. Maybe this could be a way to shelve the Avatar Land idea… *crosses fingers*

    • Wreckless Abrandon

      Agreed! To step into THE Cantina would be awesome as an actual eatery! Or even walking through the Death Star and having a blast door shut in front of Storm Troopers charging at you???

      Definitely a better idea than Avatar. And to give DCA and DHS unique lands would be awesome!

  • Gn2Dlnd

    Huh. Guess I’m not the only one! :D

  • A113PoCfan

    If Star Wars does not kill Potter, I don’t know what will.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      I don’t think that Star Wars will “Kill” Potter, but it will certainly allow Disney to gain the upper hand again in the theme park wars (if they spend the big bucks to do it all the right way instead of the cheap way).

      • Marko50

        I’m thinking that may depend on whether it’s built in Anaheim or Orlando…

  • Malin

    Disney no longer needs to worry about Avatar. If the next three Star Wars Movies are hits. Then it can build plenty of park projects on this franchise alone.

    • mainejeff

      “If”??????……….LOL.

  • CupcakeTerror

    I would be happy to see Star Wars get it’s own land and more Indiana Jones pictures. :)

  • JediPrincess

    So excited for this news!!!! I have been hoping for a long time that Disney would build a Star Wars land or theme park! This news makes it pretty likely! I always thought that they needed Star Wars to go up against Harry Potter. Even though Carsland turned out to be awesome, it is not at all the same scope of Star Wars. I really hope they build an entire Star Wars theme park. Each land could be a different planet! Sooo excited!!!!!

  • Country Bear

    This really opens the door for Disney to be looking at additional gates in all areas that it currently has theme parks. Star wars is a strong enough property to have its own park(s) with multiple lands and amazing experiences. I think Iger has really nailed this one down properly. Very exciting times are coming!

  • a-mad

    Great assessment, Dusty… I am curious, however, on your sources for a couple of items related to Avatar Land. Where was it confirmed that Iger was “pressured” to ink the Avatar deal? Or is that speculation? Same thing on the “general disappointment” of said deal from Disney fans and shareholders. Sure there were going to be detractors… at the same time, there were many who championed the idea of adding an immersive new themed world based on one of the most popular movies of all time. I’m just wondering how you came up with that summation – poll? article?

    Nevertheless, I’m thrilled with this news, and feel that further rides, lands (and perhaps even parks!) related to Star Wars will be a welcome addition to Disney’s theme park universe. Let’s also not forget Indiana Jones! With Star Wars, Indy, Avatar and the Marvel movies, Disney has put themselves in a great position to provide incredibly themed experiences for many years to come.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      I may not have worded that well a-mad. Iger felt pressure from Wizarding World to do something big at WDW. And the pressure led him to make the decision to go with Avatar, even though he hadn’t discussed those plans with Imagineering first. He made a gut instinct call on it and it has caused a lot of grief for many in the company who are being forced to shoehorn in a project that many of them don’t feel passionate about. But since this article wasn’t really about Avatar, it didn’t expand on that notion.

      There were more cheers today at Disney over Star Wars than there were boos over Avatar when it was announced. A a very good thing in my opinion.

      Star Wars benefits on being hip, cool, promising and nostalgic all at once. It’s something that young and old alike all have some passion for. Really the perfect property for Disney and a major feather in Iger’s hat.

      • OriginalMousekteer

        “Star Wars benefits on being hip, cool, promising and nostalgic all at once. It’s something that young and old alike all have some passion for. Really the perfect property for Disney and a major feather in Iger’s hat.”

        Wow–really well said, Dusty (and you already know I’m a fan). It really is the perfect property–I can’t even begin to estimate the value of a major studio owning ILM, Skywalker Sound, and the other Lucasfilm technical assets. The difference between Eisner and Iger is that Eisner made too many decisions based on his personal whims–putting the European park in Paris as opposed to the plan from 1973 to build in the South of Spain, over-paying for world-class architects for projects that are largely hidden from the public (however beautiful, TDA notwithstanding), and enabling self-indulgent diletantes like Pressler (“OK, let’s throw out everything Walt Disney learned about building a theme park–just because we can!).

      • a-mad

        Thanks for that input, Dusty. Interesting stuff, re: Avatar Land, Iger, etc.

        Ultimately, it would be cool if Disney is able to do BOTH Avatar Land and further development of the Star Wars franchise – as long as they are able to integrate the properties well into their theme parks, and create massively entertaining attractions for all ages that set the creative and imaginative bar high. My hope is that Avatar Land continues forward, and knocks the socks off us all.

        One can hope!

  • sergiocaCador

    Well I’m not a big fan of star wars. Although I love seeing Goofy as Darth Vader.

    I don’t think star wars is good enough for an entire land, as Cars Land is. Cars land must go to orlando as well…

    • Wreckless Abrandon

      If you don’t think Star Wars is good enough for an entire land then you GREATLY “Underestimate the Power of the Dark Side.” But seriously, the movie franchise has lasted over 30 years and people would love to visit the locales of that universe as much, if not more than Carsland.

      I’m not a fan of the Cars Franchise, but I love the land. Why? Because it’s immersive and really drops you into another universe.

  • mratigan

    I think we found a way to fix tomorrowland

  • suzie7755

    They need to change the Innoventions building at Disneyland (old Carosel of Progress) into a rotating Death Star

    • Jeedai Infidel

      Oh this! A million times this!!!

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      That building is toast Suzie. No bringing it back. One way or another, it’s going to be leveled.

  • MrsMonroe

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tooncity

    How about turning Epcot’s Spaceship Earth into a GIANT Deathstar. The tourist can take turns at firing that Planetkilling laserbeam at Universal Studio’s.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      LOL – Keep your hands off my Spaceship earth! ;-)