One of the biggest worries fans had was what Disney would do with the franchise. Would they destroy it? Would the take away the essential Star Wars-ness of it? Would they make it so kid friendly that Jar Jar's antics would seem highbrow in comparison? Would they burn, pillage, stomp on and otherwise destroy it all? Take one look at Walt Disney World, and you'll see the answer is no.
One of the most popular rides in the park is Star Tours. It was recently give a much need upgrade and it's better than ever. The ride is so popular that it spawned the hugely popular Star Wars Weekends each year. There's even a Jedi Academy where kids get to train as Padawans in what is one of the cutest stage shows in the park. Disney is already doing Star Wars right.
Lucasfilm and Disney both have marketing machines that work in overdrive. It's not like the Star Wars universe will be tainted by some perceived selling out. Rancho Obi Wan has a warehouse, a warehouse, of collectibles and they still don't have everything! Disney fans are equally passionate collectors so the company already "gets" these fans.
I saw this with the Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom card game at the park. It lets you fight villains with a series of collectible cards. You get one free pack a day, fight your villains at assigned portals that have snazzy animation, and try to save the park. There were people with boxes full of these cards, eagerly trading with each other and giving away their duplicates to little kids. Disney knows collectors and I can't wait to see what they have planned for the new movie. Ah, the movie.
The originals were loved by everyone that had a pulse. The second trilogy was loved and hated in equal measure. All that we hated about that second trilogy didn't destroy the franchise. Clearly, it's got a lot of life in it yet and Disney is going to try to keep it going with the next film. Will they mess it up beyond all reason? I say no.
There is probably more pressure to make this movie right than there has been on any movie, ever, and Disney is fully aware of the fan skepticism. The thing is, they've got an amazing talented team of individuals who I believe will do everything possible to make the fans happy. Their Cast Members are passionate about the Disney company and I think they'll be no less passionate about their part in the Star Wars franchise.
I heard Guests and Cast Members talking about it as I wandered through the park and there was a general feeling of excitement. Sure, everyone is a bit nervous, but they were also excited and optimistic about what was going to happen next. They all want it to succeed and that's half the battle.
Disney is an energetic, vibrant, creative organization. They've made truly memorable characters, movies, television shows and games. There is no shortage of talent and enthusiasm and you could see it in the parks from ride operators to food service workers to sanitation workers happily handing out Mickey stickers to kids.
They take pride in their company and know how to create a memorable experiences for guests. They also know how to maintain the integrity of a franchise. Don't forget, Disney has been around a lot longer than Star Wars. And they know how to appeal to casual fans and hardcore collectors alike.
I'm not sure exactly what to expect from Disney's Lucasfilm purchase, but I am confident that whatever they bring to the table, and especially the movie screen, will make Star Wars fans the happiest fans on Earth.