There's good news and bad news for fans of Disney's Hollywood Studios. The bad news is that Star Wars Weekends -- the annual Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) event that takes over the park on weekends in late May and early June with parades, character dining opportunities, and celebrity meet and greets -- is toast. Disney revealed on Monday that it's nixing the annual event.
The good news is that there will be a lot of Star Wars-themed attractions coming to the park, a lot sooner than many were expecting.
The media giant unveiled plans this summer for Star Wars Land, a 14-acre expansion that will be anchored by an e-ticket attraction where guests pilot the Millennium Falcon. Disney hasn't offered an opening date for Star Wars Land, suggesting that we are several years away from debuting.
There will be many ways for park guests to scratch their Star Wars itch before that, and Disney detailed some of those experiences earlier this week.
Star Wars Launch Bay was announced back in September, but now we know that it will take over the recently shuttered Animation building come Dec. 1. We knew all along that it will be loaded with franchise exhibits including Star Wars: The Force Awakens props, but on Monday we found out that Chewbacca and Darth Vader will be there for meet-and-greet opportunities. I guess Disney's taller character actors will be in for a bit of work.
Star Tours, the ride simulator that has been at the park since 1989, will feature scenes based on the new movie in a few weeks. Its kid-friendly Jedi Training experience is being updated, launching as Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple in early December. It will lead to the training of young guests to be part of a stage show where they battle Darth Vader and a villain from Disney XD's Star Wars Rebels series. A Star Wars: Path of the Jedi film will get non-fans up to speed with the Star Wars saga. There will also be a Star Wars-themed fireworks launching in January.
In short, there will be a lot of Star Wars going on as the highly anticipated seventh installment of the Star Wars movie series plays at a local multiplex near you. That's a good thing, and not just because of the obvious synergy. The theme park will generate excitement about the movie, just as the film will get folks to show up at the park to check out the themed additions.
It's just as well because Disney's Hollywood Studios has become Disney World's least visited theme park. It's been closing several attractions, in theory to make room for the Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land additions that will open in a few years.
Chief Operating Officer Thomas Staggs recently announced that construction would begin on Star Wars Land next year. It's why the park's signature seasonal attraction -- The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights -- won't be returning next year. It's also apparently why Star Wars Weekends is going away, even though one would think that if it was really material to the theme park operator's plans it could have relocated many of the events.
The next few months will be interesting, especially since many of these cheap and likely temporary Star Wars additions will be carrying the load for a park that has few remaining rides and shows to entertain guests. Star Wars in 2016 is shaping up to be the equivalent of Frozen at the same park in 2015. Sure, it's an improvement for many, but Disney better hope that it doesn't burn out the franchise before it gets a chance to start shining under its watch.
Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.