Downtown Disney's WonderGround Gallery shutters, Galaxy's Edge merch fills space

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When Disney acquired Lucasfilm there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about how Disney would destroy Star Wars. I was more concerned about the opposite, that Star Wars would destroy Disney through metastasis. I hate being right.

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I went to Disneyland right after the merger, and the park was already full of bizarre crossover merch like Mickey-hats where the base was an R2D2 dome, or lightsabers with Mickey Fantasia wand hilts. Most fans seemed to love it, but I just felt put off. Like nothing matters anymore and all culture is just branding now.


To be fair, though, there has always been Star Wars merch. Not like that’s anything new? It’s just more disnefied now?

The difference (for me, at least) is that when I go to a Disney park I’m looking for a classic Disney experience, and the unwelcome intrusion of Star Wars (and Marvel, for that matter) branding everywhere I look is jarring and off-putting.

Okay. I can understand that. Did you feel the same about the Muppets, though?

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Yep, Muppets too. (And I say that as someone who loves the Muppets.) They always seemed shoehorned in to me, but since they weren’t omnipresent it wasn’t a big deal. In contrast, Star Wars and Marvel branding was pervasive the last time I went to a park.


What is a “Classic Disney Experience” though? The parks have always had a lot of non-Disney IP, often in the form of intrusive corporate sponsorships from companies ranging from Monsanto, General Motors, AT&T, etc. Even Aunt Jemima was a meet-and-greet character at a pancake house there in the 1960’s. At least now Disney actually owns the Star Wars / Marvel IP, so they’ve got more control how it’s used.

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The corporate sponsorship was always there, but unlike the Star Wars/Marvel IP no single corporate brand was as pervasive as Star Wars/Marvel has been. There was an eclectic World’s Fair vibe to it. If you didn’t want to engage with any particular corporate brand, you could walk away the pavilion and it would be out of sight. You can’t really escape Star Wars/Marvel at the parks anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day they replace Master Gracy’s portrait at the Haunted Mansion with a picture of Kylo Ren.

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Agreed. Although I mainly have to say that because the Muppets are basically an afterthought. Outside of one (damn good) item - Muppet Vision 3D - they never appear again in the park. I’d do a lot for a meet and greet with Kermit, considering you can interact with BB8 and baby Groot.

I haven’t been there in a few years - has the spread from Disney Hollywood Studios continued? With all the movie stuff focused there, it was ok, but I saw it bleeding in (Avatar in Animal Kingdom, at night, for example) when we last went.

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They’re trying to compete with Universal Studios, which simply does it better. But that’s because it’s a movie-themed park.

Also, their Suess-themed area is out-freaking-standing. And I don’t say that just because I got a picture with both the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch hanging out with me at the same time.

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Never saw the Muppet Mobile Lab? It was awesome, and was remotely puppeteered in real time by Dave Goelz.

No I didn’t, but I would have loved to have seen it!

Is that more of an issue with DisneyLand than WDW? I don’t recall much Star Wars in the WDW Magic Kingdom park when we visited last year.

I haven’t been to WDW since 2008, so I can’t comment there - but the last time I was in DL Anaheim was four years ago, and Star Wars was already encroaching on the vibe, even while they were just beginning to work on Galaxy’s Edge.

Orlando’s Downtown Disney/Disney Springs had separate stores for each last time I was there.

Not sure if it still exists, but the Star Wars virtual reality attraction by The Void is highly worth the $25. Both Downtown Disneys had them at one point.

It’s currently closed at both locations, and with concerns about COVID-19 I would guess that something that involves strapping shared equipment to your face will remain closed for a long time.

Before closing they added a couple different offerings including a marvel themed experience and a Wreck-it-Ralph game, so it wasn’t just Star Wars anymore.

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