The Definitive Timeline Counting Down to the Opening of Disney's 'Star Wars' Lands
This is the timeline all the way up until the park openings.
It's not a trap. We're closing in on the highly anticipated opening of Disney's Star Wars-themed lands, and lifelong fans will need to use force to contain their anticipation for these parks, which will be unveiled in 2019.
A visit to “Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge” — the official name for both Star Wars lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World — will bring with it a new level of immersion never before seen in themed entertainment. Not only will park staff be completely in character (with alien creatures among them), but visitors will become citizens of the land's trading post, carrying a reputation with them as they explore the park.
Guests can trade with the locals, order kooky cocktails at the cantina, and even visit the local resistance base before piloting the Millennium Falcon. Add a marketplace packed with unique food, merchandise and character appearances into the mix and you'll find any lack of faith disturbing, because this one's the real deal.
Though we're excitedly counting down the milestones en route to the grand opening, there are still plenty of Star Wars experiences to be had at Disney parks until then. Star Wars Launch Bay, offering meet-and-greets with beloved resistance sidekicks Chewbacca and BB-8 and chilling interactions with Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, is open on both coasts, and Disney's Hollywood Studios features “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” a one-of-a-kind show with phenomenal visuals, large-scale pyrotechnics, and fireworks each night. There's also Star Tours, the beloved ride which, as you'll read below, will be even more thrilling later this year.
When Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens, it'll be worth the wait, but while we anxiously count down the days, we'll be looking forward to these milestones along the way:
Disney unveils a model of its Star Wars-themed land at D23 Expo, giving excited fans their first glimpse at its marketplace buildings, massive scale and full-sized Millennium Falcon, which one of its two attractions is based on. The other attraction, which puts visitors in a battle between the light and dark sides on a star destroyer, introduced its ride vehicle as a droid-piloted cart and the promise of being one of Disney's most physically enormous rides.
With “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hitting theatres on December 15, guests at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will enjoy a new sequence tied to the film within every “flight” on Star Tours. Just as with the release of “The Force Awakens,” fans can also expect newly themed food, entertainment and possible character meet-and-greets to make their way into the parks, in addition to exclusive events and screenings.
Disney Cruise Line sets sail on its first of fifteen Star Wars Day at Sea sailings beginning on January 4. The celebration brings padawan-worthy meals, activities and entertainment on board, as well as meet-and-greets with familiar faces like C-3PO and R2D2, fireworks at sea synced to John Williams' famed movie score and the ship's horn blaring that familiar melodic tune.
D23 Expo returns to Japan from February 10-12. Though the fan convention has never been a major source of news announcements — those are typically saved for its biennial "sister" expo in Anaheim — it very well could be the last before Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, bringing significant reveals with it.
“Han Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which focuses on the origin story of the famed smuggler-turned-resistance hero, hits theatres on May 25th. There won't be as much integration within the theme parks as with the main films, but similar to the “Rogue One” premiere — which turned Epcot's Spaceship Earth into the Death Star for one night only — Disney fans can expect at least a few exciting events tied to its release.
Star Wars Celebration, the annual Star Wars fan convention in Orlando, Florida, that often brings noteworthy announcements, skips a year and will not return until 2019. With Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge a year away, news is likely to come in other more unexpected formats.
Sometime in 2019:
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens at Disneyland, unveiling the first experiential theme park land of its kind to fans in Anaheim, California. The Florida version of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, which is located at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, will open in 2019 as well, at a later date than its companion.
“Star Wars Episode IX” is released to theatres on May 24, 2019. It's possible that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will tie its opening to with the film debut, but whether or not the cantina is in full service, fans can expect at least some festivities in the parks surrounding the movie release.
The biennial D23 Expo 2019 fan convention arrives in Anaheim, California. It was here in 2015 that Star Wars Land was officially announced and in 2017 that its full-scale model, name and details were released, so if Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is not yet open by then, expect all major news, announcements and details to drop here.
A completely immersive Star Wars hotel opens at Walt Disney World Resort, debuting the company's first-ever "360 vacation" concept. With costuming, dining and a view of the stars out each window, the resort brings guests directly within the world of Star Wars through an adventure that unfolds over a multi-day stay. Though the resort is anticipated to open in conjunction with the theme land opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but no date has yet been confirmed.