Disney blends fresh with familiar in Galaxy's Edge

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The marketplace area in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
The marketplace area in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Disneyland will welcome guests to a land from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens Friday, May 31.

The new themed land is set in Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, previously unseen in the Star Wars universe. The decision to pick a new location was deliberate, executives said Wednesday at a media event previewing the land.

"One of the things that we decided very, very early on is to build a new place, a place that was not a memory of somebody else's Star Wars story," said Scott Trowbridge, creative executive with Walt Disney Imagineering.

The planet guests will visit when they enter Galaxy's Edge is remote. The outpost is frequented by smugglers, traders and adventurers who want to avoid the First Order, which rules the galaxy with force and fear. It's set in the time of the most recent Star Wars movies, with nods to other time periods in Star Wars franchise history (like the iconic trilogy that started it all, released in the 1970s and 1980s, and the late 1990s-early 2000s prequel trilogy).

First look: Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland

At 14 acres, Galaxy's Edge is the largest themed land Disney has ever built. It is designed to be immersive, so visitors can live out their own Star Wars stories, said Carrie Beck, Lucasfilm's vice president of animation and live action series development.

Disney created Galaxy's Edge with over 200,000 square feet of rockwork and around 260,000 square feet of themed plaster in each location. The land boasts more than 7,000 props.

Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm's vice president and executive creative director for Star Wars, said the land's designers used real-life places to create Galaxy's Edge, visiting destinations like Istanbul and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona for inspiration.

Familiar Star Wars characters will be featured throughout the land, like Rey, Chewbacca and the Stormtroopers. Aliens, droids and other inhabitants will be scattered about.

The music throughout the land was composed by John Williams, the man behind the iconic scores for the Star Wars films.

There are a number of Star Wars-related Easter eggs scattered through the land that fans will enjoy finding. For instance, look for the dianoga -- the creature in the Death Star's trash compactor in "Star Wars: A New Hope" -- in a tank above a drinking fountain.

Galaxy's Edge will feature two main attractions: "Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run," which will open with the park, and "Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance," which will open in Disneyland and Disney World later this year. 

On Smugglers Run, guests will pilot the legendary Millennium Falcon spaceship on a mission for the smuggler Hondo Ohnaka. Before piloting the ship, guests will be able to spend time in the main hold and lounge, featured heavily throughout the Star Wars films. 

Then, they will take on the role of either pilot, gunner or flight engineer, and pilot the ship. Their actions will have consequences; if they don't do well, the ship's hallways will display damage as they leave. And, if they were using the Play Disney Parks app to interact with the land, cast members might make mention of their performance on the ship.

Disney said Smugglers Run marks the first time anyone has built a full, complete version of the Millennium Falcon.

Droids roasting meat at Ronto Roasters.
Droids roasting meat at Ronto Roasters. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

No official date has been released for the opening of Rise of the Resistance, but Disney said it will open in both parks by the end of 2019. The attraction, described as "one of the most ambitious, advanced and immersive experiences ever undertaken by Walt Disney Imagineering," will put guests in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

Food and beverage

Food has become an attraction of its own in recent years at Disneyland and Disney World, and Galaxy's Edge will be no exception. There will be a number of locations where guests can purchase some 50 distinct food items.

As Batuu is a remote planet and less populated, Disney said the food style emulates a "farm-to-table feel" often found in rural communities.

Oga's Cantina is the main watering hole in Black Spire Outpost, featuring beverages like the Bloody Rancor and the Carbon Freeze. Guests might recognize the droid in charge of music at Oga's Cantina -- it's DJ R-3X, the former pilot of Disney's "Star Tours" attraction. Composers and musicians from around the world created music for the cantina.

"The Cantina, it's an experience," said Michele Gendreau, director of food and beverage at Disneyland Resort. "It's an attraction. It's a place to enjoy music. It's a place to visit."

Ronto Roasters, named after pack animals that live on the planet Tatooine, uses a pod racer engine to fire up a barbecue pit. Pod racers were featured in 1999's "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace."

The Milk Stand will feature the iconic blue milk from the film franchise, as well as green milk (both are nondairy drinks).

Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo will feature new and unusual dishes, like Smoked Kaadu Ribs (smoked and sticky pork), Fried Endorian Tip-Yip (a chicken dish with roasted vegetable mash and herb gravy) and Batuu-bon (a chocolate and coffee dessert).

Mobile ordering will be available for Ronto Roasters, Milk Stand and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo.

Retail

Galaxy's Edge features unique merchandise throughout the location. Disney said almost 700 unique items will be for sale throughout the land.

"The approach to merchandising for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was, in the beginning, so exciting and so intimidating at the same time," said Brad Schoeneberg, Disney Parks' director of merchandise strategy and new park experience development.

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The interior of Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada

At Savi's Workshop, guests can create their own customized lightsabers in more than 120,000 possible combinations. They can choose from four lightsaber themes (like "peace and justice" or "protection and defense"), and use unusual parts and pieces to create their lightsaber. Guests will be guided through the immersive experience by a group called "the Gatherers." Reservations may be required.

The Droid Depot will be another immersive experience where guests can create their own droid with more than 280,000 possible combinations of droid parts. Once completed, the droid can interact with certain features throughout Galaxy's Edge using Bluetooth technology.

Unusual items will be on sale at Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities. At the Creature Stall, which Disney describes as an "exotic market stall," guests can take home a "unique companion," like a Porg or a Kowakian Monkey-Lizard.

Guests can find Galaxy's Edge-appropriate clothing, like robes, tunics and belts, at Black Spire Outfitters. Toys and games will be available at Toydarian Toymaker. At the Jewels of Bith, guests will find apparel and local goods. First Order Cargo will include First Order-branded accessories, toys and vehicles. Similar goods themed to the Resistance will be available at Resistance Supply.

Notably, none of the merchandise sold within Galaxy's Edge will be branded with "Star Wars." Schoeneberg said that concept -- creating hundreds of new products without "Star Wars" anywhere -- seemed crazy at first, but the branding is unnecessary when guests are actually in a Star Wars environment (and, of course, Star Wars-branded merchandise is available at a number of other locations throughout Disneyland Resort).

Digital interactivity

Galaxy's Edge will be fully integrated with the Play Disney Parks mobile app, which will become a "Datapad" when guests enter the land. They will have an individual profile and will earn credits for things they do in the land using the Datapad.

For instance, guests can interact with droids, scan the contents of containers like cargo crates and collect virtual items, translate written languages throughout the land, and eavesdrop on characters' conversations. 

There is also a multiplayer game, "Outpost Control," occurring several times daily throughout Galaxy's Edge. They can also play a game in the queue of Smugglers Run.

Asa Kalama, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, described Black Spire Outpost as "the ultimate playset," with the Datapad bringing it all to life for guests. He also said that, when guests interact with the Datapad, the residents of the outpost might just start to gossip about their exploits.

Reservations required 

Reservations are required to enter Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland from May 31 to June 23. The only reservations still available are to guests staying at a Disneyland hotel during that time. Each registered guest will receive one reservation. 

After June 23, Disneyland will use a virtual queueing system to give guests access to Galaxy's Edge. The Disneyland app will enable guests to request entry into Galaxy's Edge with a "boarding group" once they've entered the park. They will get a notification when they can enter (boarding groups' statuses will be displayed around the park).

Galaxy's Edge opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida on Aug. 29. Except for a third entrance to the land at Disneyland, the areas will be nearly identical.

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