D23 Expo- Day 2: Galaxy’s Edge

One of the big announcements of the day came while we were in line to check out the Star Wars theme park expansion model. The Theme Parks and Resorts presentation was going on at the same time and the press was going gangbusters with updates. While in line we saw this: “Star Wars Land Has a Name: Galaxy’s Edge!” What whaddaya know? The exhibit was titled “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!” How’s that for a sly reveal?

The model wasn’t the only thing on display, although it deservedly got the most attention. Imagineers were on hand all over the exhibit to answer questions and give more detail about what guests could expect from the expansion.

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Imagineers rotated throughout the day to continuously offer context and answer questions. A few also wandered around pointing out features and also offering answers to guest questions.
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An Imagineer explains what the land will be like and answers questions from guests. Among the tidbits we heard were the size of the land (14 acres), the attractions (a Millennium Falcon ride as well as another possible flight simulator type ride), and the immersive experience (Cast Members will speak and interact with guests as if they exist in the Star Wars galaxy).

There was a real working droid, which we were told would be one of many interacting independently with guests. The most intriguing part of the expansion was the interactive element that made it more than just a place to stand in line and purchase stuff, but more like a role-playing adventure. Guests could interact with everyone from the shopkeepers selling souvenirs to bounty hunters roaming around.

The droid we saw moved independently, seemed somewhat aware of its surroundings (it did not bump into obstacles and even seemed to approach guests inquisitively), and followed a programmed path (it would go out, interact with guests, then return to a mock-up of a “charging station” and plug in for a minute before repeating). It was a delight to interact with I can only imagine what it would be like to have a few of these roaming around Galaxy’s Edge.

Below are some of the displays within the exhibit. Naturally they didn’t have everything available nor were they completely forthcoming about what it all meant, but they were fairly open about their plans and we left feeling excited and eager for what comes next.

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A wider look at Galaxy’s Edge. This shot is from the Eastern side of the land, closer to Fantasyland. While there won’t be a giant backdrop behind the land to suggest a different planet, the planned environment will mask buildings and structure such as the Mickey and Friends parking structure from view within the land.
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There appear to be distinct areas with Galaxy’s Edge: a more undeveloped, forested landscape where the Millennium Falcon is hiding and a bustling city where you can presumably find shops and eateries.
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On the Western side, closer to Big Thunder Mountain, you can see the wild landscape that blends in the Frontierland. With the mountains is a cave hiding the Millennium Falcon.
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On the Western side, closer to Big Thunder Mountain, you can see the wild landscape that blends in the Frontierland. With the mountains is a cave hiding the Millennium Falcon. Below is a tunnel that forms one of the entrances to the land.
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A view through the tunnel entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. As a former theatrical designer I appreciate the scaled guest models to give a sense of size.

 

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A construct for Galaxy’s Edge that will be a Resistance station. Because the time period of Galaxy’s Edge is during the Sequel Trilogy you can expect interactions and confrontations between the Resistance and the First Order.
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A landspeeder that may or may not be something guests can play with. Due to the incredibly detailed experience Disney has planned it is entirely possible that this is just a background prop and something guests can only look at.
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The Piece of Junk herself: the Millennium Falcon. Disney had already announced a flight simulator attraction based around piloting the Falcon. Considering how small the cockpit it I wonder if it will be akin to Mission: Space in Epcot in that each guest gets a “role” in the flight: captain, co-pilot, navigator, C-3PO?
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A first order Fleet Transport Vehicle that looks suspiciously like a ride vehicle. Is this part of an unannounced attraction?
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First Order Stormtrooper Armor. Guests can already see First Order Stormtroopers in Disneyland and Disney Hollywood Studios, but the binoculars appear to be new. Might the First Order be searching for something/someone in Galaxy’s Edge?
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A Cast Member costume styled after a First Order Lieutenant uniform. I love the detail but I feel for the poor Cast Members who’ll wear these in the summer (tough luck Florida Cast Members).
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Musical instruments. We weren’t able to ask an Imagineer whether or not these would be playable by actual people or if these were meant for animatronics or props. I used to play the clarinet so I dig the middle instrument. 
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A rendering of what appears to be a food stall. Imagineers said Cast Members would interact in character with guests. I’m guessing they’ll get tired of explaining to guests that “credits” could mean New Republic, First Order, U.S. Dollars, or Disney Gift Cards.
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Not sure if all of that stuff will be on display as props or if it will be replaced with pineapple, pickles, and churros in the future.

 

 

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I love that they’re included the requisite Mickey ears on the child. Mickey Mouse defies space and time.

 

The fact that so much of the Star Wars universe will be there for guests to experience and interact with is exciting but also intimidating. Disney has already pushed the opening date back once and I for one am not opposed to them doing so again if they need more time to get it right. Disneyland’s space constrictions post a unique set of challenges that will hopefully not hinder the development of the land’s narrative and unfolding experiences.

The expansion model reflects Disneyland. At the time Imagineers were expecting that a model of the Disney Hollywood Studios expansion would be put on display in Florida. The Disneyland expansion encompasses 14 acres in what was once Big Thunder Ranch and a large swath of backstage areas. Guests will enter from Big Thunder Trail where the red rock hoodoos and pines will blend into the otherworldly landscape of Galaxy’s Edge. In Florida the plan is to take over what was once the Backlot Tour area and transform it into Galaxy’s Edge. The size and attractions will be identical to Disneyland’s version.

There was a lot of take in but we weren’t rushed and were encouraged to ask questions. We left counting down the days until 2019 and promising that the two park tickets we received after the Live Action Film Presentation would go to two very deserving young ladies who love Star Wars

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