63 years ago Walt Disney had a vision. After mastering the animated movie, Disney wanted to bring the ultimate family theme parks to America. He bought a 160-acre site in Anaheim, California and after just a year of construction Disneyland’s grand opening, featuring twenty attractions, was televised live on ABC and watched by 70 million viewers, whilst 28,000 people, most of which managed to gate crash, were in the park.
Today a much larger Disneyland Park gets around 100,000 daily visitors, and I was one of them earlier this week, but was very fortunate to do what 100,000 people are unable to, and got a behind the scenes ticket.
The Walt Disney Company is one of the planet’s most recognizable brands and fortunately one of my companies clients. We travelled down to Anaheim on Monday night from Los Angeles, and spent the majority of the day there. Last year we got to see inside their Burbank studios, yesterday Anaheim, one of six administrative and creative headquarters the company has around the world.
We stayed at the recently updated Grand California Hotel and were treated to a VIP experience, albeit we were working, and we couldn’t completely rid ourselves of our jackets and throw our Mickey ears on.
Two Star Wars Galaxy Edge attractions are being built in parallel in California and Florida. Both are due to open next year, with the one in Anaheim being first next summer. The 14-acre land will rely heavily on social interaction and will be a maze of virtual reality with one of the most immersive environments in Disney theme-park history.
Star Wars Galaxy Edge is being created as a world where guests will be convinced that they have stepped into a film. It will be a faraway home to smugglers, risk-taking traders and other ‘residents’ that have found themselves on this mysterious planet of Batuu on the Outer Rim.
Guests will find members of the Resistance as well as the First Order, factions featured in the The Force Awakens. Droids will also circle the park and visitors may be asked to pick a side, a decision that could affect their whole experience.
The new land will include two of Disney’s more technically advanced attractions. One will dump guests into the middle of a battle, and the other will allow a crew to pilot the fabled Millennium Falcon.
Disney long cornered the market in imaginative experiences, but the new Star Wars parks sound literally on another planet to tea-cup rides, jungle cruises and haunted houses.