7 Minutes of Star Wars Rebels and news of a Star Wars Theme Park?!

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Get an extended preview of the new Star Wars show coming to Disney XD and lotsa talk about an all Star Wars theme park.

Now normally, I wouldn’t bother posting anything related to a Star Wars cartoon. Much like Agents of Smash or a Rainbow Party, I’m not saying the kiddies aren’t entitled to them, but I’m ain’t coming. But you know what? All of this Episode 7 Star Wars news (and an ample amount of free time) has me in an ultra-receptive mood for anything with an X-Wing or a lightsaber. Not only did I watch this extended clip of the upcoming Star Wars Rebels (it’s fine) I’m actually wondering how much I may’ve missed out on with Clone Wars/Saga animated fare. It’s all on Netflix, right? I hated that CG movie, but I heard it got better… COMMENTS!

Way more in my wheelhouse is the news of a “significant Star Wars presence” increased within the Disney Parks, to be announced some time next year, which much of the web has interpreted as a self contained Star Wars theme park. Well, I sincerely doubt that’s happening. The only way that even makes sense any sense, even theoretically, is with Orlando’s Disney Hollywood Studios, having lost its MGM-branding, its waning classic movie identity, and generally plateauing attendance. But even then, that’s a massive, billion dollar undertaking with little shot of a return for years to come, plus I also doubt such a plan that costly involves a single coast. In case you’ve never looked at Disneyland on a map, it’s completely out of room to grow. Disney’s California Adventure was only possibly following the destruction of 50-year-standing staff facilities and is only now on its way to generating a profit after over a decade of trouble and transition (into basically PixarLand.)

What I love, and the reason I’m writing all this, is that what’s probably going to happen is right there in Disney CEO Bob Iger’s vague statement made during the official conference call that launched a billion news headlines today.

“When we grow ‘Star Wars’ presence, which we will do significantly, you will see better bets being made that will pay off for us than were made in the past”

Many of you probably know the Disneyland project was as absolutely fucking insane gamble in the 1950s, but Walt’s fearless perseverance in the face of rational logistics is why the man’s idolized. Yeah, it worked, but it almost didn’t. Disney rather dangerously invested the vast millions they’d earned throughout several decades in the entertainment business in a thoroughly untested theme park model, but it still wasn’t enough. Nowhere near it. One of the things Walt had to compromise along the way was auctioning off parts of the yet-to-be-built park, including a giant investment from the now Disney-owned ABC network, and the corporate sponsorships of attractions and entire areas.

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(According to legend, Walt hated this idea from the beginning, and although you can still see the evidence of the compromise today in Disneyland, and Epcot was practically built of the model, Disney World/Magic Kingdom’s near-complete lack of corporate-sponsored rides is the proof of Walt’s original intent.) Without these corporate subsidies, neither Disneyland, nor it’s global counterparts would exist. And no Disneyland attraction was a bigger victim of ballooning costs and failed expectations than this one:

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Originally envisioned as a science fiction escape built within a whimsical prototype of the unseen future, Tommorowland was and still kind of is the most troubled area in Disneyland’s proud history. Every other area in the park, Frontierland, Fantasyland, etc., had some basis in reality, and more importantly, a somewhat well-defined model and cost attached to for bringing imagination into reality. Due to the enormity of costs and grandscale vision, Tomorrowland’s couldn’t even be completed in time for Disneyland’s 1955 opening, and almost everything involved in the area suffered serious compromise and delay as it struggled to become a reality.

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What Tomorrowland was left with was presenting human-scale dioramas of the future, essentially glorified science projects, and what electronic/technological company wouldn’t want to pony up and take part of what Uncle Walt was assuring millions of annual Disneyland’s attendees was America’s future? More so than any other themed area of Disneyland, Tomorrowland fell victim to so many corporate sponsorships, it’s practically been defined it ever since. Where once stood Disneyland’s tallest structure, an airline-sponsored Rocketship, is now home to more shuttered rides and unfinished attractions than any theme park in Disney’s history or otherwise. The dusted bones of an unrealized futuristic vision. Attractions that hold out only as long as a sponsor is willing to pay. What’s remained the most consistent in Tomorrowland is equally bittersweet: WONDERFULLY FUTURISTIC… uh, automobiles and submarines? But even worse, a horribly crass showcase for mass-produced gadgets available at Wal-mart and TV shows coming this fall to ABC (Fuck you, Carousel of Progress!)

It’s an unfortunate situation: To accurately represent an idealistic future, Tomorrowland would need massive, expensive, and most importantly, frequent overhauls, something no other area of Disneyland requires, and yes, really puts a damper on that “classic” vibe the parks give off in undulating waves.

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Another sad aspect of Tomorrowland is what I love most about it: It’s as a relic of what our grandparents thought the future would look like. In between Star Tours and Space Mountain are the remains of America’s Space Race – the Rocket Age! – and all of the other unsophisticated gadgetry that makes Tomorrowland the closest any of us will ever get to walking onto the Venture Bros’ compound. Again, I love that, but it’s also made Tomorrowland one of the least popular and least trafficked areas in every Disneyland. In short (he said after 1000 words), Tomorrowland is an investment that has never paid off for Disney, and almost assuredly the “bad bets” Iger is referring to above. Reconfiguring Tomorrowland will always bother me a little, but doing it with Star Wars is the biggest no-brainer in the history of easiest decisions ever made. Not an entire theme park, but an entire, very large area of Star Wars-themed glory that can benefit all five Disney Parks throughout the world.

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As long as this is getting, I really wanted to make a brief mention above regarding other areas in the Disneyland have existing frameworks to work within, because it’s the biggest, perhaps the sole reason I’m okay with a Star Wars conversion. It’s important to remember because it what makes Disneyland special (or sickening brand synergy if you wanna be a cynical dick about it) compared to other theme parks. There are characters and fictional icons everywhere, even if you don’t recognize them. Disneyland IS fan service. Disney was enjoying massive success with Davy Crockett on TV back when Frontierland debuted, Fantasyland is built in the image of the villages found in Disney’s earliest animated classics, and even things as simple as a carousel and a fucking train are from Sword in the Stone and Dumbo (Casey Jr, whom you can hear in Laser Time’s break FYI!) Tomorrowland didn’t have the luxury of being based off anything, because Disney has NEVER had a successful sci-fi property on which to do that. Now it does. And yes, it should also go without saying the prospect of looking up and seeing an AT-AT walking over my head makes me so happy I could shit my pants.

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12 thoughts on “7 Minutes of Star Wars Rebels and news of a Star Wars Theme Park?!

  1. I fucking love that the new cartoon of Star Wars and potential news of Star Wars at Disney were both Trojan horses to your spiel on the parka history and Walt’s hatred of Epcot.

    As for the CGI show, I bowed out of Star Wars completely after Ep. 3 but I too have heard good things about the show. My only issue is that I can never tell how attached to the franchise people who liked the shore were and how they felt about the smelly, wet abortion of a prequel trilogy.

    Besides, the Mass Effect franchise completely replaced my love and attention anyways!

  2. I could never get into the animated Star Wars cartoons, but I’ll always have big amount of love for it’s universe and the last time I was in Disneyland they had just redone Star Tours and even had Star Wars live show things where they would involve kids going on in Tomorrow Land so it feels like they’re already moving closer to increasing it’s presence there.

    That being said though, I don’t think people should discount that other Disney owned sci-fi thing that looks really cool… Tron. I’m sure if Disney put their minds to it they could probably make the coolest Tron neon lights madness ride possible. Just saying that regardless of how much anyone actually liked the most recent Tron movie, you can’t deny that being in a ride where you’re immersed in an aesthetic as close to the movie as possible would be pretty amazing.

  3. Don’t let the CG Clone Wars movie turn you off from the show itself. I’ve been a long time fan of the show and I can honestly say the show is for Star Wars fans young and old. The show gets better with every season, besides season 6 which has a mix of good and mediocre episodes. The writing stands out more with every season: Anakin is a likable character not a brat, you begin to care about recurring Clone troopers that have their own personalities, the few political episodes don’t bore you to tears, and the show feels like a world. The show isn’t afraid to kill off characters, show clone troopers getting mowed down, or present a complicated view of the Clone War. I think any Star Wars fan would enjoy this show and most of it is broken up into three to four episode arcs which are easy to sit down and watch. Not to mention the animation gets really good after the first season.

    1. Agreed! I hated the Clone Wars movie but found the show to be far more on par with what Star Wars used to be, actually delivering on the otherwise wasted promise of the prequel trilogy. I’d even say it overtakes the other, often more well-regarded Clone Wars series (the 2003 mini-series helmed by Genndy Tartakovsky) – this coming from a guy who LOVES Samurai Jack. The 2003 series is still great but to ccomedy’s point the more recent Clone Wars does a much better job of fleshing out the characters. Now, when I watch Ep 4 and hear Obi Wan talk of Anakin as a good friend, I think of the Clone Wars series, not Episode 2’s complete and utter fumbling of the two as any sort of pair.

      It’s not perfect, mind you. Admittedly I’m only 3 seasons in (and not about to stop) but there have been a few duds. One in particular starring everyone’s favorite Jar Jar can be skipped entirely. It’s as bad as a single episode about Jar Jar could possibly be.

      On the other hand, some very strong episodes do surface rather quickly. Series opener “Ambush”, for example, immediately sets the bar way higher than the movie. Further, they very wisely decided to give some sprawling battles the benefit of multiple episodes, really driving home the epic nature of the clone wars itself. And then of course there’s Anakin and Ahsoka, characters you do start to connect with and embrace, itself a miracle considering the source material (both CGI and live-action).

      You may have to dig in a bit, but give it some time and patience and it won’t be long before the Clone Wars series proves itself worthy. When, as a kid, I thought of how awesome it would be if Star Wars had its own TV show, I’d say Clone Wars is the show that I imagined. Which is something in the aftermath of the prequel trilogy, especially given how well it has adopted that setting, taking steps to set things right.

  4. I fucking hated the clone wars CGI cartoon and this doesn’t look any better.
    It has nothing to do with nostalgia I just hate the awful CGI uncanny valley art style this and clone wars used.

  5. That cartoon clip looked alright, nothing too mind-blowing though.

    I also never really paid attention to the Clone Wars, although I heard it was pretty good. I’ll wait a season or two with this new show, see if it pans out.

  6. I’m still not really loving the idea of Tomorrowland becoming a Star Wars Land. Tomorrowland does very much need an overhaul though, the entrance is a massive traffic jam, the themeing is pretty poor compared to the other areas of the park, and Jesus Christ that Microsoft raped Carousel of Progress (YOU CAN PLAY DISNEYLAND KINECT ADVENTURES INSIDE DISNEYLAND!). I’d almost say take out Autopia if your going to add in a Star Wars area Yeah it’s one of the only rides left from opening day, but it’s a huge amount of space for something so… mediocre. With the Michael Jackson show closing down just recently, they could have some Star Wars themed show in there, but it might be too similar to Star Tours. I’m betting that Disney wouldn’t want to shell out for a new major attraction and would rather have a “meet X character from the new movie” similar to what they’re doing with Marvel. Overall, I’d prefer a refresh to Tomorrowland, rather than a Star Wars overhaul. Also, this poster is about 6 inches from my monitor:

  7. ‘Way more in my wheelhouse is the news of a “significant Star Wars presence” increased within the Disney Parks, to be announced some time next year,’

    almost guaranteed to be announced at D23. It would be cool if you could somehow head down for it again Chris. Meeting you there last year was a highlight of my convention going experience.

  8. This was a nice write-up. I enjoy reading about the contextual history of weird pop-culture stuff, of which Disneyland counts.

  9. I’m really loving the insight into all things Disney that you provide, Chris! Getting a bit more background on Tomorrowland really just makes me sad about how much that portion of the park fell short of Disney’s vision for it. While it would be unfortunate to completely lose the wonderful mid century modern flavour and view of the future that Tomorrowland was intended to have, I’m right there with you on being stoked about seeing Star Wars brought to the park, and agree that it could provide Tomorrowland with the direction and vision that it’s currently lacking.

    But if they dress up a bunch of midgets in fucking ewok costumes, I’m out.

  10. Clone Wars is utterly fantastic. It’s honest to god the prequel movies we should’ve got, based on character with great action sequences and wonderful explorations of the Force, the underworld, the war, all great. As for what you should watch:

    Clone Wars the movie and Season 1 are okay to, well, shit. The only episode you need from S1 is “Rookies” by the great Paul Dini.

    After that the seasons just get better and better. Season 2 is all great, Season 3 has a few dodgy episodes in the first half but otherwise is amazing, and the remaining seasons are solid gold.

    The fact that Disney buying LucasFilm caused an abrupt end to the series has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and for that alone Episode VII and Rebels have a LOT to make up for.

    The fact is Chris: Clone Wars is not a cartoon. It’s Star Wars, period. What the prequels should’ve been. They often don’t even feel like they’re for kids, in the same way Batman: The Animated Series sometimes got. Watch it.

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