In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- Changes are coming to the attractions in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
- Disney’s new theme-park land has won a Grammy.
- And more!
Now that both coasts’ versions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are up and running, it’s not time for Walt Disney Imagineering to sit on their laurels and let things unfold without making some tweaks. Over at Walt Disney World, one of the biggest changes will be coming on February 19. That’s when Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will be part of the FastPass+ service in Orlando. Up until this point, there’s been a whole lot of lining up as early as possible, but if you’re traveling to Disney’s Hollywood Studios starting in that back half of February, the experience will change for you and you’ll need to have room in your FastPass+ plan for the scrappy spaceship.
You might read that story and be thinking, “Well, that’s all well and good for the folks in Orlando. But I’m a Disneyland visitor, and I would really rather not have to wait in a long line, or a slightly less long single-rider line.” You might be hoping that if Smuggler’s Run is getting FastPass+ in Orlando, it might get a FastPass in Anaheim. Well, for now, I hate to disappoint you, but…no FastPass has been announced. This current plan could easily change — frankly, depending on how things go with Rise of the Resistance in Anaheim, the plans might change sooner than expected. But you’ll just have to accept that a long line is in your future. For now.
If you’ve read this column long enough, you may know that one of my favorite parts of the Disney theme parks, hands down, no questions, is their music. Music is a major key of any theme-park experience, even if it’s not always something that’s top priority on most guests’ minds. But music was also key at Galaxy’s Edge, where none other than legendary composer John Williams created a special suite for the theme park. And it worked well enough to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Composition, which has to be a first for theme-park music. Hear it for yourself on Apple Music.
In more serious overseas news, the Disney theme parks have been affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus, originating in Wuhan, China. Out of a sense of precaution more than anything else, both the Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland parks have been closed for the last few days, and will remain closed indefinitely. In one key difference, the Hong Kong resorts are still open; Shanghai’s parks and resorts have both closed. It’s hard to imagine that anyone at Disney is thrilled about this scenario, but the severity of the coronavirus seems strong enough that losing a few days’ worth of money is the best-case version of this event.
So, with Hong Kong and Shanghai closing their Disneylands for the time being, there’s just one Asian Disney resort operating at full strength: Tokyo Disneyland. But even with Tokyo Disneyland open, Disney has made concessions to concerned cast members and allowed them to wear sick masks “on stage” (for the uninitiated, that means the guest-facing parts of the resort). It’s going to be an arguably jarring sight to see for guests, but the kind of thing that both will comfort everyone, and a necessary time to break a rule or two from Disney’s list of how to dress as a cast member.
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