D23 Reveals the new Star Wars Land: Where science and technology meets mythology and imagination

I’ve been saying it for quite a long time and for fun you should go back and read what I first said about this topic way back in October of 2012—but this year at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California Disney finally unveiled their elaborate plans for Star Wars Land.  The immense impact that I think this has on the human race is incalculable.  It’s not just another revenue stream for Disney’s massive media company, it is a launching point for new ways in thinking about mankind’s role in the cosmos and it is a jaw dropping culmination of imagination, engineering and philosophical debate all splashed down into a reality created from myth to be shaped by minds into an actual future.  What they revealed to me at D23 exceeded my expectations by a lot and it is certainly worth talking about.

I remember when I was a kid what it was like to ride the submarine at Disney World way back in the early 80s for the 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea exhibit.  It was I thought really well done.  I loved that Jules Verne classic both in novelization and the Disney film and it was very fascinating to me as a young pre-teen to see that ship in some scale that represented reality.  To be up close to it, to touch it, to ride inside it as it went slightly under water was something I’ll never forget.   And that was the case for much of Disney World back then, I had seen all these movies and at the early days of the Disney World’s Magic Kingdom before even the Epcot Center was built really launched me into adult pursuits mixed with adventure, a very detailed love of engineering, entrepreneurship, and literacy.   Even though I knew the exhibits were not real it always fascinated me to the level that Disney Imagineering was able to simulate what the imagination could create and apply real engineering marvel to those creations taking our minds from conception to reality.

I’ve always loved Star Wars maybe more because of how the movies were made than in what the stories actually said.  Most of my youth I watched and read of how my favorite movies were made and Star Wars filled my mind with technical details of how simple things were made into big things to make those films appear to be set in a galaxy far, far away a long time ago.  Largely, Star Wars was shaped by the Imagineering at Disney World because what they were able to do early on at Disney was carried directly into the production of Star Wars so the enormous market potential created by Disney Imagineering is really incalculable.  It is extremely difficult to know how deeply our modern society has been affected by just the very rudimentary exposure that we’ve seen in technology from 1970 until the present.   So by applying the same trajectory of thought, what they have been exploring in “Imagineering” at Disney over just the last decade is truly uncharted ground.  There are literally millions of young people inspired into the sciences by their experiences at these amusement parks.

When Universal Studios did their multipark Harry Potter experience I knew that we were unlocking a whole new theme park experience.    If Disney World set the stage for how these theme parks took movie magic and made them into a reality then Universal Studios took things to the next level and what they did in Orlando at Universal Studios with the literature of Harry Potter, first from the books then to the movie experience was just phenomenal, and it continues to be.   A visit to Universal Studios in Orlando is a trip into the imaginary worlds that Jules Verne and H.G. Wells could have never comprehended as a reality for young people.  And if you visit the NASA complex at the Kennedy Space Center you’ll quickly see how much reverence they have for the author Jules Verne.  The book From the Earth to the Moon framed early engineers and scientists at NASA and the rocket program before the space agency was created, into flying to the moon.   The human imagination is a very powerful tool and many of the products we see today are a direct result of our ability to think then make those imaginings into some sort of reality.

Well, Star Wars went several steps further in what had previously been done with imaginative thinking and once Disney acquired the property I had a feeling they would do something with Star Wars that would put it on a grand scale.  And now, at D23, they have shown us the model of what they are building—a 14 acre deep dive into the depths of extreme imagination.  The Disney Imagineers have been given a free hand to create something with Lucasfilm that will take visitors not only into the films that are so popular, but into a story they can then invest in themselves.   These Disney people weren’t just trying to duplicate some memorable events from the movies but they are going several steps further—and what they are coming up with will have explosive results on our human population.  I can only imagine what impact it will have on young minds visiting these Star Wars Lands in both Anaheim, and Orlando by having their minds ignited toward careers spawned from that experience.

You have to remember dear reader that while all this Star Wars stuff is going on at Disney, in new movies, theme park worlds and video games, NASA has been given the green light to return to space working with the private industry.   President Trump literally wants to return to the moon just a year after Disney opens up this new Star Wars Land—so space is going to be on everyone’s minds very soon.  I can say that I’m presently looking at what role I can play in this new space race as a grown adult.  There will be opportunities to build hotels and factories in space, on the Moon and on Mars over the next twenty years so for me as an adult it will be very fun, and stimulating to visit Star Wars Land and bridge reality to what the imagination has come up with there.  The idea of space ports interacting with many different species coming together over a vast galaxy is a strong philosophic concept that must be reconciled before actual science takes us to those places—and as the news of these phenomenal events begin to fill our basic reality soon, these fantastic theme parks are literally going to inspire us in ways that From the Earth to the Moon couldn’t.  I don’t think these Star Wars Lands are just for fun and excess—I think they will actually advance our technology and science by inspiring young people in ways that we’ve never experienced as a species thus far in our evolution.

I always enjoy the news that comes out of D23 and other science and fantasy conventions whether the topics are theme parks or from Fantasy Flight Games where our imaginations are stretched out for comprehension of new ideas massaged in brand new ways.  But this year is quite different.  If you combine the science and imagination of what Disney has been planning now for over five years—from when I first wrote about this story—with the optimism of the Trump presidency—we are talking about some very special days ahead for us all.  Even those who don’t think much of the Star Wars movies will find that the basic spill over of that fantasy will flow directly into our science of tomorrow—and THAT is a very exciting prospect that leaves me hungry for each new day and what might be revealed yet to come.

Rich Hoffman

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