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Will the 'force be with' Disney's new Star Wars-themed park?

Star Wars Launch Bay concept art, coming soon to Disneyland and Disney World.
Star Wars Launch Bay concept art, coming soon to Disneyland and Disney World.
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Star Wars fans at Disney’s annual D23 Expo in Anaheim got a big surprise this weekend. CEO Bob Iger unveiled plans to build Star Wars themed parks at Disneyland and Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The announcement was met with mixed feelings from fans of both franchises.

KPCC traffic associate and self-dubbed ‘vice-chancellor of all things nerdy,’ Jennifer Miller was there for the announcement. She tells Take Two’s Alex Cohen she was floored by the news.

“To me it was a dream come true. Since I was four-years-old and I went to see Return of the Jedi with my father for the first time, I’ve always wanted to be able to go to this universe and touch these buildings and interact with these characters and these people, and now I’m going to have an opportunity to do that. I can’t wait. It can’t come soon enough.”

Justin Bolger, host of the podcast, “Star Wars with Friends,” says he’d heard rumors, but no one was expecting Iger’s announcement to come so soon.

“To be able to immerse yourself in this world for the first time -- in this incredible fashion -- put on by Disney Imagineers and people who make it their business to deliver these kinds of experiences is mind-blowing.”

While excitement was high supply among Star War fans, some Disney devotees were a bit skeptical. Miller says her friend, who was also present for the announcement, wasn’t completely sold on the idea.

“Her concern is that having one land that is totally devoted to one franchise is going to take away from Disney’s vision for Disneyland … My feeling is that Star Wars is not just a movie franchise, it’s not just about television, it’s become a culture unto itself.”

Conversely, she notes that some Star Wars fans have expressed concern about Disney’s commercialization of the franchise. But Bolger says he’s been pleasantly surprised at how well Disney has governed the brand, since acquiring parent company Lucasfilm in 2012.

“There is a large degree of quality control over all of it, from the content itself to the message around that content. That’s exciting for someone like me, who hasn’t seen the franchise managed this well as long as I’ve been a fan.”

Disneyland in Anaheim will begin construction in 2017. No opening date has been set.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.