It’s been Disneyland Paris’ worst kept secret of late, but Season of the Force is now officially been confirmed to be happening. From January 2017 guests entering Walt Disney Studios Park will be immersed into the Galaxy Far Far Away as Star Wars takes over Production Courtyard for the very first time. For Star Wars fans such as myself, this is fantastic news and I for one am certainly dreaming of an early winter trip to experience it all.
The question of timing has been one that DLP fans have speculated every since Season of the Force started making its first rumblings; when exactly would this take place? Will they run the event over the Christmas period – perfectly tying in to the December Star Wars blockbuster Rogue One – or will they opt for a later launch in the new year in order to catch the re-opening of Star Tours? Oddly, it seems management has went with neither of these options and instead gone for the awkward, in-between period between the first spin-off movie and the rebirth of the Discoveryland E-Ticket. You may think this is the part where I run off on a glorious rant of how the decision makers have once again messed up and lost out on an opportunity, but no. Disneyland Paris have played this smart I believe, and could even be unintentional geniuses with their scheduling.
From reading the press release there is one strong theme apparent, the season is well a truly cemented in the sequel trilogy timeline of the Star Wars saga. We have several references to the First Order first seen in The Force Awakens as opposed to the original trilogy’s Imperial antagonists, with Ep. VIII’s secondary villain Captain Phasma leading her own show. It’s been no secret that Disney intend to tie all future Star Wars attractions and park experiences to the newer movies (even our Jedi Training Academy is loosely themed to the Resistence base on D’Qar) but confirmation of this for Season of the Force has made the decision to run it in January onwards a great one.
For those who don’t know, Rogue One is very disconnected to the sequel trilogy with a 30+ year time gap between it and episode VII. The heroes are different, the villains are different and above all else the tone will be different. While there’s no denying Rogue One is going to be a major financial success – it is a Star Wars movie after all – there is a risk of alienation with the general audience who are unaware that this is a spin-off of the original 1977 movie and not a Force Awakens sequel. For Disneyland Paris, it is paramount that as little confusion occurs as possible. If this season were to run right through the release of Rogue One, DLP would run the risk of confusing guests why the likes of Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera and Director Krennic aren’t appearing in WDS while these other characters we didn’t see on the big screen are. Once Season of the Force kicks off on 14th January, the Rogue One dust will have just settled, the movie will probably be out of cinemas and fans’ mindset will start to focus on the next in the sequel trilogy timeline.
Speaking of fans’ mindset, there is also the small matter of Star Tours to take into account. While Season of the Force isn’t strictly appearing in Disneyland Park, there’s no denying the attraction is easily the major Star Wars presence in DLP. Taking the possibility of delays out of consideration, we’re expected to go back to our Starspeeder adventures on 17th March 2017, just in time to catch the final few weeks of SotF. These 3 months of Star Wars celebration within Disneyland Paris is the perfect opportunity to raise hype for the attraction and more than likely see the majority of bookings happening towards the end of the event to tie in with the refurbishment completion. It’s also not unrealistic to expect the new Force Awakens scene to appear in The Adventure Continues from day 1; automatically tying the attraction to the sequel trilogy and therefore our new season.
Building hype towards the continuation of the new trilogy may seem premature, after all the currently untitled episode VIII isn’t hitting theatres til 9 months after SotF ends… Or is it? As outlandish as it may sound, Lucasfilm’s astounding speed at wrapping up principal photography has put the movie very much so ahead of schedule, and with John Williams reported to be already in the sound room composing the soundtrack rumours have starting speculating that the next instalment of the sequel trilogy could reach us as soon as May 2017; tying in nicely with the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. While I don’t personally believe this the plan with episode VIII the sheer possibility of this happening could prove invaluable for DLP. If – and I really mean IF – the movie were to be pushed forward to May, that would mean DLP would be riding that marketing train all the way to the station. I see no reason that if Season of the Force proves successful it will continue to run concurrently but silently alongside the 25th Anniversary, a quiet bonus feature to the resort and the little ‘extra’ for what is the Studio’s 15th birthday.
Just think about that for a moment, while the whole world gets back into the Star Wars buzz as Episode VIII trailers hit the web, Disneyland Paris will be close to bursting with Stormtroopers, Phasma and maybe even a few more familiar faces of the upcoming movie. Even if this rumour doesn’t come to light and the film keeps its Decemeber release date, DLP can still bask pre-release hype if SotF is extended, and that’s not even including the reopening of Star Tours, the very realistic idea of Kylo Ren being added to Training Academy and anything else that could be hidden up managment’s Jedi robe sleeves.
Disneyland Paris actually tying in with a major film release? It’s either the stuff of science fiction, or the force has reawakened and is stronger than ever!