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Putting mouse ears on the Death Star

November 11, 2012
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

There was a great tremor in the force a few weeks ago when it was announced Disney would be purchasing Lucasfilms and announced it had plans to begin work on a new trilogy for the "Star Wars" franchise.

The Internet and news outlets were abuzz with excitement and astonishment about this development.

For me, while I didn't necessarily expect the announcement at this point, it wasn't really a shock and I'm sure there were probably those who had been expecting it for quite some time.

For years now, George Lucas, the man who built the company from the ground up as a result of the creation of his world set in a galaxy far, far away, has expressed an interest in stepping away from the bright spotlight which has shown on his life.

It also really isn't much of a surprise Disney would be the one to make the purchase.

Disney and Lucasfilms have had quite a business partnership going for several years as it is, with the Star Tours ride featured at some of the parks worldwide.

In addition, anyone who has ever taken the backlot tour at Hollywood (formerly MGM) Studios has seen the collection of props from the franchise, with movie-used Snow Speeders and Sand Skiffs displayed out along the tour roadway. Walking into one of the buildings brings visitors face-to-face with the costume of Darth Vader himself.

In fact, there have even been appearances by the dark lord of the Sith and a regiment of Storm Troopers at the parks.

As noted, the Internet went wild with numerous comments posted and photo memes created. Some of my personal favorites included a shot from EPCOT Center with the Death Star put in the place of Spaceship Earth, complete with a monorail tram in front, and a picture of Han Solo, foot outstretched on a cantina table with the name Andy written on the bottom of his shoe, as if he were a toy from the Disney movie "Toy Story."

But, what does it all mean for the future of the franchise?

Well, as mentioned, Disney wants to get the movies going again with plans for a new trilogy.

Rumors are circulating that Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are both interested in returning.

Of course, that would all depend on the films themselves. It might be set in the same universe but follow a different story altogether.

For years, fans have been left wondering what happens after the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, with many books, video games and comics created to help fill in the gaps.

Some are considered official while others are not.

It also could be huge for the Disney parks.

For anyone who has visited Walt Disney World, for example, they know the company owns much more land than what is actually being used for the parks.

My sister and I actually got into a bit of a conversation over this the other day. She is by no means a science fiction fan, but she actually brought up some good points.

One of the big draws in Orlando during the last few years has been the "Harry Potter" section at Universal Studios, with a variety of themed rides and attractions based off the book and film series.

What if Disney eventually does the same with "Star Wars?"

There could be a special section set up in one, or each, of their parks, or perhaps the creation of a new park entirely, built specifically to mirror the franchise's universe.

The Mos Eisley cantina could be recreated as one of the restaurants, complete with animatronic musicians playing that famous melody.

Maybe there could be an Ewok village built for the kids to play.

They could have an underwater ride like the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" attraction which used to be at the Magic Kingdom, with riders getting a glimpse through the oceans of Naboo.

For those who want to spend some money, there could be a shop where they can build their own souvenir light saber.

The sky would be the limit, and I'm sure Disney's imagineers could come up with many more ideas to draw in the tourists.

Plus, with Disney's other properties, it could mean further expansion into film, television and comics.

Ultimately, the purchase will mean greater strength to Disney with another massive property under its belt, and the possibility of the franchise being able to continue for generations to come, even if the architect of that distant universe isn't around.

Only time will tell how fans will greet each new component.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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