Disney's team of Imagineers just unveiled a bunch of new stuff about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, their upcoming theme park expansion heading to both Disneyland and Disney World later this year. Star Wars Celebration is in full swing down in Chicago and one of the biggest panels taking place this weekend was for this attraction. What's it going to be like to actually visit a galaxy far, far away in real life? We now have a much better idea and it's going to be even more amazing than any of us could have possibly imagined.
Josh Gad, a renowned Star Wars fan, in part thanks to his videos harassing Daisy Ridley for The Last Jedi spoilers, was brought out at as the panel's special host. A video played ahead of time featuring the Frozen actor trying to sneak his way into Galaxy's Edge, which was quite amusing. But most of the panel was spent with Gad grilling the Imagineering team for info on the parks, which proved to be quite successful.
The basics: Galaxy's Edge takes place on a planet called Batuu, which is new to the franchise. Those on stage said they picked a new planet because they wanted to taper something that could specifically capture the experience they want to bring to fans. They want it to feel like we've actually stepped into the movies. Specifically, we're going to be situated at Black Spire Outpost. The story group worked a lot to fold this into the larger universe, with tons of tie-in comics and novels coming down the pipeline to further establish this location's importance in the larger Star Wars universe.
Chris Beatty, Margaret Kerrison, Doug Chiang, Asa Kalama, Scott Trowbridge and Matt Martin were all on stage to discuss the finer points of the Disneyland park expansions. Martin is actually part of the Lucasfilm Story Group and a big part of his job was making sure that the story being told at Galaxy's Edge actually fits into the Star Wars Canon. Just like everything since Disney took over, this counts. What we will encounter and experience at the park will truly be a part of the larger story within the franchise. So, in a way, we can all be part of it, as cheesy as that sounds.
Concept art was shown throughout the event (and I've included photos I took at the panel below). Some of it had been shown before, some of it new. Certain images were more telling than others. One of the more interesting images is from one of the restaurants on site, which features a massive, repurposed engine from a pod racer. So what's it been repurposed for? It's going to cook what was referred to as "space meat" for attendees. It's a fun detail and surely everyone will be curious to see how that works in practice.
A good chunk of time was spent on the two main attractions that will be at the parks; Smuggler's Run and Rise of the Resistance. The former will allow fans to actually pilot the Millennium Falcon. What we learned is that the outcome will entirely depend on the crew in the cockpit. Everyone will have a unique job. Piloting decisions will be up to the crew. If the crew does a bad job, the ship and the outcome of the mission will reflect that. The hallway of the Falcon will look tattered and broken, for example, if the crew does a bad job. We also got a glimpse to the animatronic Hondo (The Clone Wars, Rebels), who looks very authentic and is once again voiced by Jim Cummings.
As for Rise of the Resistance, we were treated to a brief teaser for what is expected to be a very long ride. The Imagineering team didn't want to spoil it, but they made it clear that this is going to be one of the most ambitious experiences they've ever undertaken. This won't be just a minute or two. It's going to be a whole thing. The story centers on those on the ride being recruited into the Resistance. They're then captured by the First Order and taken aboard a Star Destroyer, before making a harrowing escape. Much was made of the painstaking attention to detail. While they still want to play things close to the chest, Rey, Chewie, BB-8 and Kylo Ren will be involved. This particular attraction won't be open when Galaxy's Edge first opens up to the public. No specific open date was revealed.
One huge draw for fans will be the merch. A character by the name of Dak Endar (spelling unclear at the present time) runs a shop on site where fans can barter for various items. Much was made of how many Easter eggs are hidden in this shop. There's also another store ran by someone named Savvi (again, spelling unclear), where fans can build a one of a kind, very unique lightsaber. We didn't get to see the actual, final product, but it sounds very in-depth and like a dream come true. Also expensive, probably. We were shown some of the drinks as well, including the much-hyped Blue Milk (also Green Milk). No word on what it tastes like. Something new we were shown was some exclusive Coke stuff that will be packaged up in Thermal Detonator-esque balls to help them fit into the landscape. But it's still just good old Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite inside.
Another huge reveal came when they talked about DJ R3X, the robot who used to host Star Tours. He's been repurposed as a DJ in the new cantina and we were played a couple of tracks that will be heard on site. One was done in the style of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, the cantina band from A New Hope, and another was much more modern, coming from an all-droid band. Very importantly, Paul Reubens, who voiced the droid for Star Tours, is coming back to do the voice for the park. On that same note, they tracked down the original Nien Nunb voice actor to return, which was actually quite a difficult task, as he had sort of disappeared for a number of years. It was also revealed that Frank Oz will voice Yoda, which got a huge response. They then played us a bit of John Williams' new music, which sounded very authentic.
For the very hardcore fans, there is an app called Play that will come with a Star Wars data pad that fans can utilize to enhance the experience via hacking (or slicing, if you will), translation and several other cool features. There's also a game that can be played using one's phone that allows visitors to choose if they want to help the First Order or the Resistance. The Imagineers talked about how it's all about making sure fans can live their own best Star Wars experience, with as little or as much depth as they choose.
Of note: the Star Wars hotel was not discussed at this time. So we'll have to wait for further word on that The big takeaway, to put it simply, is that this is going to be a more immersive experience than any fans ever likely imagined possible. It's probably going to set us back more than a few bucks. Though, that will probably be money well spent for many fans. Galaxy's Edge opens at Disneyland on May 31. Be sure to check out our pics and videos from the panel below.