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SYFY WIRE Theme Park News

Theme Park News: Mickey Mouse‘s wild ride and X-Wing drones rise over Galaxy's Edge

By Carlye Wisel
Doodle of a cartoon train with Goofy as conductor!

Hello!! I am currently coming down from a week at Walt Disney World by, well, going to Disneyland's Candlelight Processional on a school night so maybe I'm not detoxing at all. It was very cool and I almost can't believe they still do it because it is seemingly an infrastructural nightmare, but for me, a gloves-wearing Jewish person who is absolutely delighted to be in the audience? It's heaven! (But not literal heaven, I'm not sure of the religious implications of that, wow I'm digging myself into a Christmas-sized hole.)

Behold: a few deep-rooted thoughts and tales from spending the past week on the hallowed ground of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in honor of Rise of the Resistance's triumphant debut, as well as rubbing elbows with SYFY WIRE's own Jordan Zakarin, who, as expected, is great! (Editor's Note: I, Jordan Zakarin, did not request that this be in the copy, but I don't mind it.)

From drone technology to Dan Levy's dad and beyond, here's this week in theme parks:


At long last, Walt Disney World debuted their massive new Star Wars attraction last Thursday and it was quite a phenom worthy of planning a vacation around. (Living under an X-Wing and had no clue? Find our coverage from the opening here and here.) There was some additional news out of this past week's Rise of the Resistance-focused media blitz that went overshadowed, though, most of which came by way of calendar updates.

Start tossing money into a shoebox under your bed now because Star Wars Hotel, legally dubbed Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, will officially open in 2021, DuckTales will replace Phineas and Ferb in Epcot's World Showcase Adventure and most importantly, we were finally given an opening date for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway, which will debut on March 4, 2020.

Switching gears from the most advanced attraction of all time may feel sudden given that it's not even been open a week, but I am all in on the mice parade, baby! No one sums up my feelings about this new attraction more perfectly than theme park expert Arthur Levine, whom I had the pleasure of touring a tiny portion of the attraction with:

Rise of the Resistance is an incredible attraction, sure, but this one? This could also be the real fuggin' deal. There's so much more I want to say (and so many rumors I want to address), but therein lies the problem, really. It's a weird time in theme park reporting where writing about certain attractions sits so closely to absolutely ruining them by doing so.

For Disney World rides like Slinky Dog Dash or TRON LightCycle Run or even Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, hearing a critic wax on about the ride's highlights or downfalls didn't take away from the experience, but with these newfangled attractions, I don't know, I can't help but think it somewhat does.

There's no way to "spoil" something like summer 2020's Ratatouille ride Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, whose Epcot-bound on-board thrills aren't at all affected by how much you know going into it. But, with these multifaceted story-focused journeys relying so heavily on experiential cinematic scenes unfolding in front of you, that urge to be satiated with details is the same instinct that may inevitably take away from the ride in its entirety.

I walked the interior of the former Great Movie Ride last week (it's nearly the same, but with homages to Mickey Mouse shorts in lieu of movie props) and witnessed the entire pre-show, which was an absolute delight. There's a toe-tapping new song, a snippet of a clip and a wonderful immediate reveal, yet even in that little bit, there's an effect so good that I won't outright spoil it but cannot wait to discuss at length.

Ratatouille ride Disney World

For a ride touted as being wholly unique with near-3D imagery, promises of "entering" the cartoons and details of a rumored ride vehicle so unusual I'm choking down details and getting acid reflux, I think it's worth hopping on the Goofy-conducted hype train for this one before its March 2020 opening.

If you're willing to know what happens inside the ride, this OC Register story outlines vehicle and scene details in its second half, and that pre-show surprise is revealed in this one, but I contend it's worth the wait. Odd to promote amusement abstinence in our golden age of Internet, but still, this one's surprises are so tantamount to its charm that I'd stay away and avoid what you can.


There's always a big *opening moment* when a new theme park attraction debuts, especially in the case of Star Wars: Galaxy' Edge, whose phased and bi-coastal openings will in total yield four. California's debuted with a stunt show and Florida's had a Honda Ohnaka live character kicking off the action — one-night-only occurrences, for which Disney often gets flack for on Twitter — but Rise of the Resistance's opening moment was different. No, not because it actually performed to public crowds both nights following the press event, but for another reason: it featured, for the first time, X-Wing drones flying over Batuu. (Cool!)

The drones were later confirmed to have been created in collaboration with Boeing, which offered limited detail about their inception. It marks the first time Walt Disney World has incorporated drones into its property in this way since Starbright Holidays, a seasonal partnership with Intel which flew 300 of 'em over Disney Springs' lagoon.

The X-Wing drones are not likely to be nightly at this moment in time for a multitude of reasons I can't quite spell out here, but having them hover over the back berm of the land beyond Rise of the Resistance (AKA: far from crowds) was an exciting addition to the land, even if only for a few nights. Either way, their existence bodes well for what's to come in a hopeful move to make Galaxy's Edge more reminiscent of the films in ways beyond its detailed structures. (Case in point: Disneyland just added droid soda carts like Walt Disney World's.)


YES there is a groundbreaking new Star Wars attraction that just opened at Walt Disney World, YES people will be paying money to be locked into a LARP hotel with limited accessible outdoor air and love it and YES, a bajillion new things are coming to Epcot, but among the major Walt Disney World news last week was a little announcement that meant the world to me. (Sadly, it wasn't that the woman in go-go boots is likely to remain in Spaceship Earth 3.0, as but I digress.)

The news, which caused me to audibly scream WHAT?! at a table in a near-500 person banquet was the revelation that Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara will be replacing Martin Short in the new Canada Far & Wide Circle-Vision film landing at Epcot's Canada pavilion. A legacy of Canuck comedians has now looped in our Waiting for Guffman would-be stars, the Norwich Terrier-showing Flecks in Best In Show and, of course, the beloved Moira and Johnny Rose from the most important show of the decade, Schitt's Creek.

Sure, they're also the iconic voices of Dory's father Charlie and The Nightmare Before Christmas' Sally respectively, but here, in this house? In this wonky corner of the web where I am somehow allowed to shout at fellow theme park fans? It makes all of Catherine and Eugene's work canon. Sorryyyy! I don't make the rules, except I do and it does. (Ed. note for Ed.: I apologized in advance, Jordan!!!)

I will be calling the Canada pavilion's Trading Post by its new proper name, Rose Apothecary, will deem Disney's nearby Beach Club Resort the new Rose Motel and I SWEAR if the new menu at Beaches & Cream isn't a full four fold-out pages long, I will take it straight to guest services!!!

Still, as absolutely thrilled as I am to waste my time listening to comedy's best platonic couple extol the virtues of the Canadian landscape, it's a better sign of what's to come, which is comedians riding high in this generation permanently featured within the Disney parks. Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams and Ellen DeGeneres all had a hand in attractions of past years, so how abouts some John Mulaney, who was just at the parks? Or Ali Wong, who also happens to star in ABC's American Housewife?

Pixar films are stocked with comedic talent but alas, we remain, completely free of Lewis Black erupting in anger throughout the entirety of Walt Disney World. (Disneyland has a couple small homages, but ya know what I mean.)

This is nothing short of a triumph and the result of very good casting on Disney's behalf. Thank you for this. Thank you!


Do you know how many stars have to align to hit this perfect storm of humor and virality? To place a tweet early Monday morning that brilliantly mimics something that happened over the weekend that still happens to be relevant, obtains corporate approval quickly enough, and nails the exact right Twitter channel and caption in this deeply funny tweet?! It's an internet miracle! Give this person a promotion to the top!!


- Never thought I'd be into animated tree technology but here I am.

- I don't know what we did to have Amy Sedaris within Star Wars canon but we are blessed!

- As always, I recommend reading both of the L.A. Times joints about last week's Star Wars opening.

- A brilliant runner-up for tweet of the week.

- The unexpected fallout of watching so much of The Imagineering Story? Being able to find many of the (very clutch) '90s looks on Etsy.

- The good news is you can finally order that Baby Yoda plush. The bad news? It likely won't arrive until April.