As if you needed an excuse to make the five-hour trek to Disneyland, the new Season of the Force has temporarily taken over half of Tomorrowland to essentially give Southern California a (superior) version of Walt Disney World’s annual Star Wars Weekends—and, of course, whet the appetite for The Force Awakens. If you can think of a better promotion in cinema history, well, you’re wrong and here’s why.
The long-standing Star Tours motion simulator has been refreshed with characters and a scene from The Force Awakens. Nearby, the 10-minute Path of the Jedi features a fantastic Skywalker edit of the 1977-2005 movies, enhanced by the Tomorrowland Theater’s special effects. Across the plaza, the Launch Bay allows visitors to study and snap film memorabilia, play Xbox and tablet games, peep a tease from the upcoming Rogue One film, and interact one-on-one with a hammy Darth Vader, a huggy Chewbacca and an imposing—but infrequently/randomly appearing—Boba Fett. Outside, prepare for surprise Stormtrooper raids, or build your own souvenir lightsaber inside Star Traders gift shop. And your kids will beg to be picked for the 23-minute Jedi Training Academy at the Galactic Grill, which now offers Star Wars-themed fare and souvenir cups.
However, the centerpiece attraction is Hyperspace Mountain, which dresses up everyone’s favorite roller coaster in Star Wars drag. The overlay is expertly choreographed to launch riders into a climactic battle with Imperial fighters, from whizzing spaceship projections and oncoming laser firepower to the hyperspace simulations, with John Williams’ famous score playing from start to finish. Never would I have imagined that my greatest Space Mountain ride would happen long after adolescence, or that the timeless coaster could even be improved, but Disneyland and Lucasfilm have managed a miracle. Let’s hope they wield the Force to similarly inspired effect when they build the forthcoming Star Wars Land.