Star Wars: The Disneyland Experience

If this is any indication of how the series is going to go, count me out.

The first reaction to Disney acquiring Star Wars a few years ago was mostly shock. Darth Vader in a Mickey hairband? Didn't really work, did it? But we figured we'd wait and watch. Nothing could be worse than Jar Jar Binks, after all. And when The Force Awakens and Rogue One hit the theaters, fans weren't as disappointed as they thought they'd be.

Now, with at least two more Star Wars films in the pipeline as well as a Han Solo prequel plan, Disney seems to be adding their own flavour to the franchise. And if my recent experience at Disneyland is any indication, this means the tried-and-tested done-to-death Disney formula will prevail. You know what it is, it's the whole "churn out more movies and spin-offs for the sake of selling tons of merch and opening new rides until everyone has had just about enough" way of doing things.

But back to the Star Wars experience at Disneyland, or as they call it, "The Season of the Force." It seems like a tired attempt to live up to the legacy of Lucas and Spielberg. The attractions are mediocre, with the exception of their rollercoaster "Hyperspace Mountain," and in a nutshell, hovering between mildly interesting and rather boring.

Attraction number one. "The Path of the Jedi."

Rating: "It's a trap!"

Rating: "It's a trap!"

 Rating: "It's a trap!"

They put you in a room with a giant screen, and show you Luke's path to becoming a Jedi. This essentially means a 15-minute long trailer of ALL the Star Wars films (except Rogue One obviously), mixing and matching various shots from Qui-Gon kneeling before the laser doors in Phantom, to Anakin glaring at us with yellow Sith-eyes in Revenge of the Sith, to Luke igniting his first saber in A New Hope, to Han Solo in his younger and older avatars from the original trilogy and The Force Awakens, to Rey battling Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens with Obi-Wan's commentary about the Force from A New Hope. Also the seats shake slightly to match any intense on-screen motion and there are sometimes flashes of light when the on-screen battle shots happen.

Oh and did I mention it's not as orderly as that?

Sitting through fifteen minutes of haphazard “nostalgia” is kinda tiring. Especially if you're a Star Wars fan and you know how Luke became a Jedi anyway. And if you're not, it's even worse because the whole thing makes no sense in its gloriously jumbled avatar. (I had my grandmom accompanying me, and she slept through it, so she unofficially seconds that statement.)

Attraction number two. "Star Tours Experience."

Rating: "You want a cuppa Jawa juice or something?"

This was okay-ish. It's essentially just another VR/alternate 4D motion ride. You're put into a "tour ship" at a "tour base" with C3PO in command, along with R2-D2. You're told you have a Rebel spy under cover on board (aka a picture of a random audience member) and hence Imperial stormtroopers are chasing you. R2's constant disobedience of Threepio's desperate instructions to not make any hyperspace jumps or engage in space battles get rather unfunny after a point. You make random hyperspace jumps from the Tour base to Kashyyyk to Geonosis (which inexplicably has the Death Star orbiting it, which you escape from) to finally landing on a Rebel cruiser where Admiral Ackbar congratulates you for bringing the spy home safe. Very skippable. One bright spot though, is that they have moving models of Threepio and Artoo which look rather impressive, so a few points for that.

Attraction number three, the last one I went on. "Hyperspace Mountain."

Rating: "This thing really moves!"

If you like good roller coasters, Hyperspace Mountain doesn't disappoint. It's basically the old Space Mountain indoor roller coaster in a Star Wars battle suit, but damn, it suits it well. You start off with the main theme blaring around you, which is really nice. Your roller coaster ride is supposed to be an X-wing battling a Star Destroyer and some TIE fighters. You have twists and turns and drops in near-total darkness, with awesome projections of battle scenes and TIE fighters coming at you and blasting at you, which makes the roller coaster experience all the more worthwhile. Call me old school, but I prefer an actual roller coaster to any VR stuff, and that's why this scores way high. Be warned though, this is the most popular of the rides at Disneyland and wait times can go up to an hour.

Overall rating: Generally grievous.

Disney's taken their old attractions and basically just rebranded them into Star Wars skins, and thrown in a few Star Wars merch stores that sell made-in-China stuff. This doesn't really work though. It's like they put absolutely no thought into it and applied a Mickey Mouse/Toy Story recipe to a fabulous franchise. They had such a wonderful chance of doing something amazing with the Star Wars brand for Disneyland and they just didn't. I just hope that attitude doesn't extend to the actual films. And if the recent prequel/sequel releases like Pirates of the Caribbean (Dead Men Tell No Tales) and Finding Dory are any indication as to how they're gonna handle the upcoming movies, especially that Han Solo prequel, may the Force please stay far away from me.

 

-Sooraj


Captain's Log: Sooraj once cosplayed as Ash, and he makes music which you can check out on his Facebook page or YouTube channel.