No character in the Star Wars franchise has become quite so popular so quickly as The Child, or as most of us have come to call him, Baby Yoda. While merchandise for the character was slow to get off the mark in order to avoid spoilers for the first episode of The Mandalorian, dolls and other toys are now finally hitting the market, but you can be sure that Disney will be looking to capitalize on the character's popularity through other channels as well, which made one recent report that The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are likely to make their way to Disney theme parks like Disneyland and Walt Disney World, far from surprising.
The initial report came from an In The Know interview with Paul Southern, Lucasfilm's SVP of Licensing, who said fans could expect the characters in the theme parks "in the very near future." However, the original story has since been pulled entirely, putting the state of Baby Yoda at Disneyland a bit in question.
There are a number of reasons why the story might have been pulled. The most obvious of which is that something in it is inaccurate. It could be that Paul Southern didn't say what he's quoted as saying in the article, or that the quote was taken out of context and implied to mean something that wasn't intended. Or it could be that Southern was simply incorrect, and Disney doesn't want people to look forward to something that isn't planned. It all could have stemmed from a misunderstanding.
If that's the case, then maybe Baby Yoda and Mando aren't on the way to Walt Disney World after all.
Of course, the opposite is also true. It could be that Lucasfilm's SVP spoke a little too freely and let the cat out of the bag on the theme park plans before Disney was ready for the public to hear them and the company asked to have the story taken down for that reason.
And so, we have two different reasons why this quote is no longer published, and they lead to very different conclusions.
It certainly seems likely that a Mandalorian/Baby Yoda Meet-and-Greet experience is something that would very much be on the radar of the powers that be at the theme parks. The show and the characters are incredibly popular so why wouldn't they fine their way to Anaheim, Orlando, or even the international parks?
At this point, because The Mandalorian is still something of a unique piece of Star Wars media, as the first live-action Star Wars series, debuting on the still relatively new Disney+ streaming service, there's no precedent for how characters are being treated in the park. If this was a new MCU movie we would expect to see a costumed character appear in the parks when the film was released, but we don't have that history here, making things a little less obvious. Should we expecting most Disney+ characters to get park walk around characters? We just don't know.
It likely wouldn't even be all that difficult to put something together. I would envision a Mando/Baby Yoda paring looking a lot like the Star-Lord/Baby Groot Meet-and-Greet that took place at Disney's Hollywood Studios a while back. That consisted of a live performer in the Star-Lord role, who stood next to a table where a Baby Groot animatronic was located. Considering a simply baby Yoda animatronic is now a piece of for sale merch that you can buy, all Walt Disney Imagineering is doing is making a more complex version. Which for them isn't exactly difficult.
The bigger issue would be where to put them? Because Baby Yoda, in this hypothetical scenario I'm creating, would be a complex animatronic, he would likely need a stationary location. This would be a photo op where guests go inside a building, rather than something just set up on the street. If it were just the Mandalorian, he could walk out in any theme park, take pictures and then walk backstage, but with the animatronic that wouldn't be as easy to do.
And where would you put it? While the knee jerk reaction is to say, Galaxy's Edge, of course, that doesn't really work. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is specifically themed to be set between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, while The Mandalorian takes place decades earlier in the Star Wars timeline. Baby Yoda isn't a baby by the time of Galaxy's Edge. Although that fact just opened up a lot of possibilities for things that could be done in Galaxy's Edge with these characters.
The obvious location would be the Star Wars Launch Bay, the location already houses photo ops with various Star Wars characters and there's one at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. They're both separated from Galaxy's Edge, but they've become the home of all things Star Wars that aren't directly connected to the sequel trilogy. Although, the recent decision to end a Star Wars themed stage show at Disney's Hollywood Studios could indicate plans to shift that material out of other areas of the park. The Launch Bay has always felt like something that was a placeholder designed to put Star Wars someplace, in the park. Although, if it did go away, then finding a home for these characters would become a bit more difficult.
If this story was entirely accurate and we are going to be seeing Mandalorian characters in the parks in the very near future, than we can expect some sort of official announcement before too long. The design of a Baby Yoda animatronic might take some time, though it's possible we could get The Mandalorian as a solo photo op first, with The Child added later once he's ready. Since Mando never takes his helmet off, any cast member of appropriate height could play the role once they have a costume designed.
We'll have to wait and see just what happens, but with Mandalorian set for a currently filming Season 2, and more guaranteed beyond that, there's probably no serious rush. Mando and Baby Yoda will still be current characters even if they don't show up in the park for a year or more.