Extinct Attractions – Star Wars: Path of the Jedi

Welcome to Extinct Attractions. The holidays may be over, but this week we’ll be looking back at an attraction based on a series of films that became a holiday mainstay in the later half of the 2010s.

There was a lot of speculation that Avatar: The Way of Water would disappoint at the box office, but it has quickly proven that those doubts needed to be put to the side. It took the film just three weeks of release to become the highest grossing film of 2022, with the chance to become just the sixth film ever to reach $2 billion looking increasingly likely. That would make James Cameron the undisputed king of the box office with three of those six films being produced and directed by him, including the only two originals (Titanic and Avatar).

All three of James Cameron’s movies were released in December, but there was one more December release to make the $2 billion club: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars film released by Disney, and the company pulled out all the stops to try and increase excitement for the film. Disney had only owned Lucasfilm for three years at that point, but they knew that they needed to amaze with their first effort, so they asked their friends at the park to rise to the challenge by creating Star Wars Launch Bay and today’s featured attraction, Star Wars: Path of the Jedi.

With no version of Galaxy’s Edge near completion, many Tomorrowlands around the world had a Star Wars takeover, with Star Wars characters walking around plus the transformation of Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain. I remember going after all of these new experiences had opened and just being so excited for the inevitable Star Wars land that we all knew was coming.

Interestingly, Star Wars: Path of the Jedi was only open in two of the four parks that it would call home when The Force Awakens opened on December 18, 2015. The attraction first opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on July 4, 2014, taking the place of Sounds Dangerous, the Drew Carey audio show. Less than a year later, the show also opened in the Tomorrowland Theater at Disneyland, taking over Captain EO’s second run in the park on April 17, 2015.

Internationally, it took a bit longer for Path of the Jedi to debut, with its first appearance coming as an opening day attraction at Shanghai Disneyland on June 16, 2016. The final iteration opened in Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris on May 7, 2017, replacing the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival and bringing us to our grand total of four versions running at once.

Star Wars: Path of the Jedi was pretty simple in concept, but brilliant in execution. As opposed to trying to tell the story of Star Wars chronologically, the film basically followed different themes from the films, with the actual footage jumping from the prequels to the original trilogy quite frequently. There were Light Side and Dark Side sequences as well as parts that touched on family.

I thought that this approach was really smart because presumably most of the people visiting the attraction were pretty familiar with Star Wars and didn’t need a rehashing of the story yet again. Instead, the films served as a true hype vehicle for Star Wars, especially with the added laser effects that shot around the theater.

Path of the Jedi kept its opening 8 minutes static, but every couple years, the last two minutes would be updated with the trailer of whichever Star Wars film was coming up next. I’ll be frank, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so I would frequent these shows quite often, especially as it got closer to release time, so I could just be filled with the spirit of Star Wars. The entire experience was basically just a hype show, but I didn’t really need much more than that because it worked for me each and every time.

But eventually that initial enthusiasm around Star Wars ended, and the shows began dropping like flies. Disneyland Paris’ version closed first on March 5, 2018, not even lasting a full year because Mickey’s Philharmagic was moving in. Next, Hollywood Studios saw its version close its doors on December 21, 2018, so that Vacation Fun, the follow up short film to Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway could take over. In Shanghai Disneyland, the attraction closed along with Star Wars Launch Bay in June of 2019 and does not seem to have a replacement as of now.

Disneyland’s version has a little more interesting history, with the attraction occasionally closing for long periods to serve as a preview theater for upcoming movies. However, it always came back, lasting until January 27, 2020 and making it the only version of the attraction to still be open when The Rise of Skywalker was released.

With Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and Hollywood Studios and no new Star Wars film coming in the near future, it was time for Path of the Jedi to fall like the Empire. It served its purpose well though as both a hype machine and people eater and for that we can be forever grateful. And oh yeah, we still have the movies.

Via Bored Panda 

As always, don’t forget to check out my interactive maps of the Disney Parks throughout the years where you can watch or learn more about all the attractions from every Disney park around the world.

Thanks for reading and have a magical day!