ORLANDO, Fla. — Visitors to Disney’s “Star Wars”-themed land in Orlando can stay immersed in a galaxy far, far away by spending two nights in a themed hotel that will be called “Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.”
Details about the project were part of a two-hour presentation on Disney Parks & Experiences at the company’s D23 Expo, which included updates on a Spider-Man ride, a Moana attraction and an overhaul of the Epcot theme park.
In the “Star Wars” hotel concept in Orlando, guests will board the Halcyon, a “legendary ship with an unparalleled level of service,” said Ann Morrow Johnson, creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering. Resembling the experience of taking a cruise, guests check in at a terminal at Walt Disney World and enter a launch pod for a simulated trip into space to board the Starcruiser.
A Starcruiser with fabulous views
Once there, visitors interact with an alien crew, learn about the ship’s navigation and defense systems and train with a lightsaber. They’ll also enjoy a “port day” at Batuu, the fictional planet of Disney’s “Galaxy’s Edge” land opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando this week. (Disneyland’s “Star Wars” land is already open.)
Disney has emphasized the interactivity of the new “Star Wars” land, and the hotel extends that idea. The choices made on the Halcyon “affect how your ‘Star Wars’ story unfolds,” Johnson said.
Many details about the hotel have yet to be announced: Disney did not reveal when it would open, how many rooms it will have or its galactic prices. The company did note that every room will have a stellar view — a digital screen that looks out into the cosmos).
New at Epcot: Mary Poppins, Moana and more
Beyond “Star Wars,” Disney outlined major developments to Epcot, which opened in 1982 as a futuristic World’s Fair. To revitalize the aging park, Disney revealed a slew of plans: a Moana attraction called “Journey of Water,” a Mary Poppins attraction in the United Kingdom pavilion, and an overhaul of the 37-year-old “Spaceship Earth” ride, housed inside the park’s iconic geodesic centerpiece.
Epcot will also debut two new nighttime fireworks shows — “Epcot Forever” and “HarmonioUS,” the latter described as “the largest nighttime spectacular ever created for a Disney park.” The park is also being reorganized into four neighborhoods: World Discover, World Nature, World Celebration and the existing World Showcase.
Epcot, which some fans think has lost its direction in recent years, is undergoing “the biggest transformation of any park we’ve ever accomplished,” according to Bob Chapek, DIsney’s chairman of parks, experiences and products. The new Epcot will be “more Disney, more family, more timely and more relevant,” he said.
Marvel to play a starring role
Marvel is going to play a bigger part in Disney theme parks, connected by a single story arc across several international properties.
Previously-announced Marvel lands in Disney’s California Adventure park and Disneyland Paris will be called “Avengers Campus” and “become part of an interconnected, global story” that also involves a third Marvel location at Hong Kong Disneyland.
But don’t expect an “Avengers Campus” to open a location at the flagship Walt Disney World resort in Florida: a 1994 agreement gave Universal Studios exclusive rights to operate a Marvel-themed land east of the Mississippi River.
In another awkward intellectual property dispute, Disney revealed a Spider-Man ride coming to “Avengers Campus,” despite the recent news that the Disney’s talks with Sony to renew film rights to Spider-Man fell through. In the ride, guests “sling webs to help Spider-Man collect Spider-Bots that have run amok.”
Disney Genie to show you the way
The modernizing of Disney Parks didn’t stop at new rides and lands. The company unveiled a new digital product called Disney Genie that recommends custom itineraries for “princesses, thrill seekers and foodies,” automatically making dining reservations and securing Fast Passes.
Other announcements included a Cirque du Soleil show based on the art of Disney animation coming to Walt Disney World, a new port of call for Disney Cruise Line on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera, and the name of Disney’s fifth cruise ship: The Wish.