It's official: the Death Star with mouse ears is closer to becoming fully operational! The news is out that Disneyland (and its cousin in Orlando) will soon be expanding to include a Star Wars-themed land. Walt Disney Company CEO and Chairman Bob Iger revealed the plans Saturday during D23 Expo at Anaheim's Convention Center. It's caused a stir rivaled only by the anticipation of the forthcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. Updates to Tomorrowland's already existing attractions like Star Tours are due later this year and ground is expected to break on the brand new 14-acre site in 2017.
This is the part where we have to point out the unpopular, Downer Debbie obvious: While Disneyland builds, Anaheim will continue to socially decay around its current city council's focus on a tourism-based economy.
"We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever," Iger, who made $46.5 million last year, raves in a press release. "These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance."
But why buy expensive Disneyland tickets for that when such a battle is literally going on in Anaheim just outside the theme park's gates!
And speaking of gates, the Star Wars expansion is intimately tied to the sweetheart entertainment tax ban (especially on admissions) Disney recently got from the city. Last month, the Mickey Mouse resort crew packed city hall. Council members Jordan Brandman and Kris Murray, whose campaign coffers were stuffed with Disney dollars, dutifully did their bidding.
In exchange for an initial billion-dollar investment pledge, the theme park got a guaranteed 100% reimbursement for the next 30 years should voters ever pass an entertainment tax, future general fund revenues for an increasingly Latino city be damned! They'll get an additional 15 years for a half-billion more in expansions. Score a big one for the dark side of the force.
Where was Admiral Ackbar when you needed him to warn, "It's a trap!" during public comment?
While Star Wars fans anticipate new attractions like one based on Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, Anaheim's NIMBYS conspire against a county homeless shelter being established within city limits. A new report released last month notes that OC's future economy will boom with jobs that are mostly a bust, especially in tourism where 97% of them are set to pay less than $40,000 a year.
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Last but not least, the social milieu that burst into riots in 2012--the same year Disney bought out the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion--largely remains unchanged. Anaheim's Latino youth can't even point to a new community space, like SanTana's El Centro Cultural de Mexico, that has emerged from the ashes of police shootings and protests.
It's abysmal, but hey, there's a Star Wars Disney expansion on the way! Maybe the cinematic franchise's own story lines can inspire an emerging generation of "rebel scum" to take it all on. After all, didn't tiny Ewoks on Endor help bring down the Empire by slinging rocks and logs?
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2