Possible plans for gondolas, Star Wars resort in the works at Disney

ORLANDO, FLA. (WSVN) - There are plenty of changes coming to the “happiest place on Earth,” including upcoming Star Wars and Avatar-themed lands. Now some new hotel and transportation options are rumored to be in the works.

On the heels of the much-anticipated Star Wars expansion comes the latest rumor: this time, about an immersive, Star Wars-themed resort.

While Disney had not made any official announcement, Walt Disney World Radio host Lou Mongello tells Fox 35 that the company has sent out a survey to gauge interest in a possible all-inclusive resort themed around the immensely popular galactic stories.

“Not only are the rooms themed to Star Wars, but the entire resort is as if you were inside a giant space ship — light saber training and as much Star Wars as you would like,” Mongello said.

The rumor fits in with Disney’s announced Star Wars plans. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced in February that the theme park would open its Star Wars area in 2019.

Another rumored improvement that could make its way to the parks: a gondola lift system to transport guests across the massive property, similar to the original Disney Skyway that once graced the skies above Magic Kingdom.

“This is definitely not official from Disney, but it has been rumored it is going to connect guests in the Epcot and Epcot resort areas with Caribbean Beach Resort,” Mongello said. “I think the handwriting is on the wall. The timing is appropriate, with a lot of the construction.”

Disney’s Star Wars land was first announced in 2015 and is currently under construction at the park. Disney says the land will include attractions and entertainment alongside aliens and droids. The attraction represent the parks’ largest single-themed land expansion ever.

Meanwhile, Disney theme parks have a big summer ahead of them with major new attractions opening May 27 based on two movies, one about the Marvel Comics superheroes from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the other about the lush alien world of Pandora from the James Cameron film “Avatar.”

The Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! attraction opens at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California.

Pandora — The World of Avatar is a 12-acre land opening at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

But the creative designer behind the attractions says you don’t need to know anything about either movie to enjoy them.

“This is not a revisitation of a plot line of a film you already saw,” said Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde at an event Monday in New York City previewing the attractions. “This is your opportunity to go to an amazing world and have adventures of your own. … The story is about you.”

The premise of the Guardians of the Galaxy ride is that the Guardian superheroes have been captured and riders must participate in an adventure with a character called Rocket Raccoon to free them. “It is a prison breakout story,” Rohde said. The ride incorporates multiple scenarios for resolving the story line so that riders have a slightly different experience each time they go through it.

Guardians of the Galaxy is located in a redesigned drop tower structure that once housed the Twilight Zone of Terror.

At Pandora, there are two rides plus retail and dining components. Riders on Avatar Flight of Passage fly through the forest on the backs of creatures called banshees to participate in a tribal coming of age ceremony. Riders on the Na’vi River Journey move through the bioluminescent forest on a boat, guided by a mystical singing figure.

Rohde described Pandora as an “obsessively real” environment that “reacts to the change of day on its own.” The sounds of creatures in the forest change from day to night, and the Pandoran plants glow by night, Rohde said. Rohde took his team on field trips to Hawaii, Bali and China for design inspiration from real landscapes and cultural touchstones.

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