We recently took to the air for a different perspective on some Walt Disney World projects including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster, and Disney Riviera Resort. As we continue our aerial coverage today, we wanted to provide an update on the planned immersive Star Wars hotel.
To recap, Disney is planning on creating an immersive Star Wars themed hotel that will put guests into their own Star Wars story and “seamlessly” connect to the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney promises that the Star Wars hotel will be unlike anything they’ve done before in the space, putting guests into their own mission (and clothing) for the ultimate Star Wars experience.
Some concept art released shows the immersive environment that Disney plans to construct for their guests.
Here’s a look at the site from our latest helicopter tour.
A 1000′ perspective shows the Star Wars hotel plot as it sits south of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This area was previously swampland until it was reclassified as part of an October 2015 land clearing permit.
The land clearing permit from 2015 referenced above actually played quite a big role in the timeline of the Star Wars hotel project. Prior to the land clearing for the hotel, the site actually served as the dumping point for tons and tons of dirt that has been used for Toy Story Land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and the parking lot expansions. Here’s a look at the Star Wars hotel site back when it functioned as the excavation conveyor belt drop off point for dirt relocated from across World Drive.
As you can see in the above photo, the Cast Member parking lot expansion that is now complete had to be built up with tons of dirt. The reason that the Star Wars hotel is just a plot of dirt at the moment is because of the timeline of other projects that required the dirt from the conveyor belt seen above. It’s likely that the Star Wars hotel will not open at the same time Galaxy’s Edge does because of the fact that they could only start work on the hotel portion of the plot just a few months ago.
Increasingly lower point-of-views show how close the plot of land is to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Chances are that you would never have noticed the work going on during a normal trip to Hollywood Studios. According to permits filed with the state, the hotel will only be two stories tall making it very unlikely it will be able to be seen from within the guest areas of Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Here’s a stacked photo of the Star Wars hotel plot and the Cast Member parking lot that needed to be filled in and completed before work on the hotel could begin. The show buildings for the Battle Escape attraction and the Millennium Falcon attraction can be seen in the extreme left of the photo below.
Turning our attention to just the Star Wars hotel site, we can see that site preparations are still taking place.
Last time we saw the plot of land from the ground, all of the dirt now seen on the site was actually in the yet-to-be-built nearby Cast Member parking lot. The hotel site was leveled at that point. With the completion of the Cast parking lot, the dirt can be used to fill the hotel site as needed.
As mentioned above, Disney has stated that the upcoming Star Wars hotel will connect “seamlessly” with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Beyond that, they haven’t provided any details on what that might mean for guests. Due to the proximity of the hotel to the land itself, it’s very likely that the seamless connection will mean that guests will be able to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge directly, bypassing the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios including the main entrance. Having direct access to Galaxy’s Edge means that guests will be able to continue their Star Wars story from the hotel directly into the new 14-acre land.
So, where would this connection be? There are a few theories floating around, so we’d like to take a look at the possibilities from 600′ up in the air.
The first theory is that the guest entrance to the land will be in the space between the Battle Escape and Millennium Falcon attractions. Based on the aerial photo below, we can safely rule this out as a guest entrance. It certainly appears to be a typical backstage area, and we’d expect to see more support for guest traffic beyond a single door.
A more likely entrance for the hotel would be south of the Millennium Falcon attraction, where there is more space for a guest entrance. Here’s a look at the area in question. In the below photo, we can see the Millennium Falcon show building on the right side of the image, a backstage building in green, and then the start of what will likely be buildings to support the cantina.
A closer look reveals two areas of interest that could serve as backstage entrance gates. The more obvious entrance can be seen on the left side of the purple structure and is currently serving as a gate for some cherry pickers to enter the land. A more hidden entrance would be on the far right of the below photo. If this were to be the entrance that Star Wars hotel guests use, it would likely drop them off right in front of the Millennium Falcon and could even serve as a backstage entrance to the attraction where you’ll pilot the famous ship.
Here’s another angle of the likely entrance for Star Wars hotel guests that transports them to a point that’s next to the Millennium Falcon. The entrance is seen on the opposite side of the purple building, under the black spire theming.
Of course, all of this is speculation until Disney provides more details. We could potentially hear more from Disney in the coming months, as a permit filed with the state points to a current schedule that “proposes to begin construction in late 2018 and complete work in 2020.” It’s worth noting, however, that the ending timeframe in the permit doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll see the hotel open in 2020.
As always, stick with us for the latest on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and many more projects, updates, and reviews from Walt Disney World.