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When Disney purchased Lucasfilm we all knew it was only a matter of time before Star Wars became a bigger part of Disney's theme park business. The next step in that transformation was almost literal, as the famous Spaceship Earth globe at Epcot Center was turned into the Death Star for a special event in advance of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Check it out.
Disney World held a special event last night just over a week before the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in theaters. Mads Mikkelsen was in attendance as were the all black Stormtroopers. Previously being referred to as Imperial Death Troopers, we now know they're officially called Advanced Weapons Research Troopers, which is quite a mouthful, but ultimately, it just refers to the facility that they're tasked with guarding. This is the location that the Rogue One team will be tasked with infiltrating in order to steal the Death Star plans. We have seen them called Death Troopers elsewhere officially, so we're guessing that's some sort of rebel nickname for them.
The creation of the Death Star was done with projectors, and while the dimpled surface of Spaceship Earth can still be vaguely seen underneath the projections, the setup does a remarkably good job. There's no indication that this will become a regular feature of Epcot's evening entertainment, though we're sure crowds would show up to watch the Death Star appear every night.
Along with the newly designed Epcot centerpiece, Disney World announced a host of Star Wars related events and attractions that will be starting to run at the parks, primarily at Disney's Hollywood Studio, where the new Star Wars Land is currently under construction.
While you can criticize Disney for essentially taking ownership of most of western pop culture following purchases of both Marvel and Lucasfilm, there is something truly fun about being able to go to one place to become immersed in everything that you love, from Disney music to superheroes to Jedis.
Expectations for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story are quite high. As the first standalone film the franchise has ever produced, nobody is quite sure how fans will respond to it. The pre-sale of tickets crashed websites, which is a good sign, but it's still not clear if the film will have the broad appeal that Star Wars: The Force Awakens had. Also, the fact that it hasn't been nearly as long since we last saw a Star Wars movie could count against it, though it's hard to say how much.
We're excited both to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and to check out all the cool new Star Wars stuff at Disney World. One of them won't require planes tickets and hotels, so we'll have to settle for checking out Rogue One when it arrives in theaters December 16.