If you’re near Disneyland, you have probably felt a disturbance in the Force. Season of the Force kicked off on November 16, and the special event is all about celebrating Star Wars. The Star Wars Launch Bay is one of the galactic additions to Tomorrowland; it’s a place to view exhibits from all eras of Star Wars, to shop for exclusive merchandise, to meet characters from the saga, and to test drive Disney Infinity and get exclusive Launch Bay content for the game. I attended an early preview event so I was able to capture photos of the space and exhibits without the crowds, and you can come along for the ride.
When you walk into Star Wars Launch Bay, your eyes are going to go straight towards The Force Awakens props and statues on display. It’s tempting, I know, but head to the right and pause to catch the five-or-so minute Launch Bay video playing on a loop. The short features Lucasfilm employees such as Kathleen Kennedy and members of the Story Group as well as directors of the next few Star Wars films talking about how the universe is connected. Once you’ve been educated, head to the display cases and start drooling.
You’ll see a few interesting tidbits regarding The Force Awakens. A placard for the hero lightsaber wielded by Finn talks about how someone salvaged the lost lightsaber from the depths of Cloud City—that person has quite the luck. Another placard for Kylo Ren’s lightsaber discusses the design and the quillons, or crossguard blades.
There’s also a placard called “Phasma Accessories” that made me grin from ear to ear.
The rest of the Launch Bay includes nods to the prequels, the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels. Several models of vehicles are on display, as well as some costumes. Past the exhibits, the Launch Bay opens up into a spacious cantina area. Wall sconces featuring the heads of 2-1B and battle droids provide dim lighting, and the walls are covered in graphics and Aurebesh. I have faith that an enterprising fan will have all of it translated to English soon.
Once you’ve leaned on the bar in the cantina for a smooth photo op, you can head into a gaming area to try Disney Infinity and get a code for park-exclusive Toy Box levels. Then, it’s time for meet and greets. The queues for meeting Chewbacca and Darth Vader go past more exhibits featuring items like Sabine Wren’s helmet, Poe Dameron’s helmet, and Ahsoka Tano’s lightsaber. Even if you’re used to seeing Chewbacca and Vader cosplayers at conventions, I recommend taking time to get in line to meet them. It’s Disney, so the costumes are spot-on, and the interactions are immersive. A Wookiee hug from Chewbacca made me smile so much my cheeks hurt, and an encounter with Darth Vader made my heart race with fear. The meet and greets take place in separate areas, and different characters will likely step in for photo ops.
The Star Wars Launch Bay tour ends with a gift shop—you could head right to the gift shop first, of course. You’ll find high-end collectibles and some exclusive merchandise. Look through this gallery and drool over all the offerings and visit the gallery below to see more of the Launch Bay’s exhibits. I think it’s worth the wait to tour the Star Wars Launch Bay, but I recommend letting the initial crowds subside so you can enjoy unobstructed views of everything.
Will you be stopping by Disneyland to experience Season of the Force? Let me know in the comments.
Images: Amy Ratcliffe