Downtown Disney signage

Disneyland Resort has had to get quite creative when it has come to keeping business going during the pandemic. The two theme parks have been closed since March and there's no indication when they might reopen. Only Downtown Disney, the shopping and dining district, has been open to guests, but even that has undergone significant changes in the last year. In an attempt to give visitors access to special Disneyland merchandise from Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the WonderGround Gallery was recently transformed into Star Wars Trading Post. While this gave guests the chance to buy things that hadn't been available for months, it removed the ability of guests to see, nevermind purchase, some really amazing Disney-themed artwork. Soon, however, that ability will be back as Disneyland has announced the Star Wars Trading Post will be moved and the WonderGround Gallery will reopen.

It was more that a little upsetting when the WonderGround Gallery was transformed into the Star Wars Trading Post. While it's understandable that many might want to buy some of the merch that has been exclusive to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the WonderGround Gallery was always worth a visit when you were at Disneyland, even if you weren't in the market for artwork. There was some amazing work on display, and you could always pick up a mug or a t-shirt if a numbered print was a bit outside your price range. It will be great to see that art return. And for the people who will spend money on that art, it means the talented artists will make some money.

The Star Wars Trading Post will be moving to the former location of the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. The restaurant closed back in 2018 when Disney had plans to build a new hotel in the area. The hotel plans eventually fell apart, but not before the cafe and several other retail spaces were cleared out. The space has remained vacant since then.

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On the one hand, the shift to the Rainforest Cafe space makes a lot of sense as it was a vacant area anyway, but it makes one wonder why that space wasn't used initially. Certainly Disneyland Resort would likely want to lease that space to somebody new, and there may have been hopes such a thing was possible. However, with the economic consequences of the pandemic expected to last for years, it could be the resort has decided it's unlikely any major retail or restaurant partner will be interested in expanding to Downtown Disney any time soon.

The question now, is when will people be able to buy Galaxy's Edge merchandise from actual Galaxy's Edge? While Disneyland reopening in 2021 seems likely at this point, whether it will happen early or later in the year is still a big question. Of course, even if that does happen, it's possible that the Star Wars Trading Post will still remain open. If the retail space isn't needed for another reason, there's not much reason to close it down even after the park opens. It will certainly make more money per square foot with the Trading Post than it will if it's empty.

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