Drink in the cantina. Tangle with a bounty hunter. Befriend a Loth-cat. Dodge blaster fire. Fly the Millennium Falcon.
You’ll be able to live inside your own Star Wars story at Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge, a whole new type of immersive theme-park experience opening in 2019.
Stretching across 14 acres, this expansion to the current parks in Florida and California includes two rides, a cantina restaurant, along with new stories, creatures, smells and plenty of high-tech effects that will bring the fantasy universe to life. Disney is also building a luxury Star Wars hotel in Florida for guests to role-play in costume, adding even more layers of story possibilities.
Watch the video embedded here for an in-depth look, and read up on more details below:
Where is it and when can I go?
The land is being built inside two of Disney’s parks: Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios near Orlando, Florida. Each version will be similar in design.
Disney has not announced an exact opening day, but the one at Disneyland will open first in summer 2019. The land in Florida at Hollywood Studios will open in late fall 2019. The opening date of the Star Wars hotel in Florida has not been set.
What’s the story behind Galaxy’s Edge?
Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm teamed up to create a whole new planet and backstory for the themed land. At Galaxy’s Edge, guests are on the planet Batuu in an area called the Black Spire Outpost. It’s a crossroads for travelers, adventurers and smugglers in the Outer Rim region of space.
Disney describes it as a haven for the galaxy’s most colorful and notorious characters, and a place to avoid the expanding reach of the First Order — the evil faction headed by Snoke and Kylo Ren from the latest films.
The unique spires of the land are the petrified remains of ancient trees. The most notable is called the Black Spire, a landmark for travelers to use as a meeting point.
Is Batuu in any other Star Wars stories?
The planet was invented for the theme parks, but is now being woven into other Star Wars stories as canon. The upcoming novel “Thrawn: Alliances” makes reference to Batuu. And the Black Spire also got a brief mention in the movie “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” when the droid L3-37 tells Lando Calrissian he couldn’t find the Black Spire without her.
What about the rides?
There will be two rides. The names have not been announced, but Disney has shared a few details.
In one ride, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Guests step aboard a Resistance troop transport ship, and afterward the story puts them on a Star Destroyer with a battle in the hangar bay. The ride vehicle holds eight guests and is designed to look like a small transport vehicle used by the First Order. Disney is building two giant AT-AT walkers for this attraction. On a recent press panel in Florida, one of Disney’s Imagineers described it as the most epic attraction ever designed.
The second ride is a Millennium Falcon flight simulator. Riders will be flying Han Solo’s famous ship, flipping switches and shooting blasters — controlling it all yourself. Disney is working with Nvidia to develop new technology that can render graphics for the ride in real time.
Your performance on the Millennium Falcon will affect the ending. Perform with skill and you’ll get rewarded. Bring the ship in banged up and you could be put on the list of a bounty hunter named Harko — and it may mean trouble if you show your face at the local cantina. Actions on the ride can follow you as you walk through the land.
Cantina? So I can drink?
Disney confirmed there will be a cantina restaurant. The only menu item confirmed right now is blue milk, which Luke Skywalker drank in A New Hope.
As for entertainment, fans of the Disney’s Star Tours ride may recognize the DJ. The astromech droid RX-24, known as Captain Rex of the original star speeder simulator ride, has a new gig mixing beats at the cantina. Maybe he’ll be a better DJ than he is a pilot?
Will there be famous characters to meet?
Although this is a whole new storyline to the franchise, some popular characters do make appearances at Batuu. Disney confirmed guests will see Chewbacca, BB-8 and Nein Nunb, a rebel alliance pilot from Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Meet new creatures — and take one home
In the park you’ll find a creature stall where different beasts from the Star Wars franchise will come to life, some never seen before outside of literature. One of the creatures is the Loth-cat from the Star Wars Rebels animated series. Disney’s creative team has said there will also be creatures you can adopt to take home.
The main marketplace is run by a Toydarian, a species you may recall from The Phantom Menace. A few bits of merchandise have been unveiled, including caps and shirts featuring the DJ droid, Rex — and some items are now for sale.
How can I stay in the Star Wars hotel?
Details are limited regarding the hotel, which Disney describes as a luxury resort. (In other words, better start saving up your galactic credits now.)
The resort is being built right next door to the Star Wars area in Florida, on the south side of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’ll be seamlessly connected to Galaxy’s Edge, so guests can just spend their whole stay in this fantasy universe.
Disney calls this resort a “multiday adventure.” Insiders speculate that this may work like a cruise, with guests checking in on the same day to get everyone in sync with in the same storyline. But we have yet to learn exactly what activities guests can expect, how many rooms it will hold, what will it cost, or when it will open.
Can we use lightsabers? Will there be holograms? What effects can we expect?
Disney hasn’t revealed the secrets to any special effects we may see, but perhaps some clues can be found in recent patent applications.
What will space windows in a hotel look like? Maybe it will use layered, transparent displays, as described in this patent application.
Disney may also be working on technology to create the illusion of blaster fire traveling through the air, and holograms that float by bouncing images off reflective surfaces.
For now, we’ll have to use our imaginations until it opens next summer.
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