‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will enthrall casual observers and diehard fans
BY BRIAN R. MCDANIEL
SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
It wasn’t a long time ago in a galaxy far away. It is the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – a new attraction located at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was first introduced at California’s Disneyland Park in May, but it is now here at the Florida park. This new attraction that will amaze old and new “Star Wars’’ fans. About five years in the making, this 14-acre attraction is the largest single-themed land expansion in Disney Parks’ history.
For the “Star Wars’’ fan, the craze at the two attractions include interactive workshops and nine different retail locations with over 700 unique items.
As you walk onto this attraction, which is called the Land, the atmosphere is as if you walked on to a movie set for “Star Wars.’’ The set is designed to take place at a location called the Black Spire Outpost on a new “Star Wars’’ planet called Batuu.
There were over 7,000 props created to provide this authentic look. Eric Baker, the creative director whose responsibility was to gather and purchase these props from all over the world to give it the special “Star Wars’’ look, said to me, “I am so excited, especially to see the kids’ faces when they walk in the park.”
Well, he won’t just see the kids’ faces – he will see the adults faces too, especially those who have been fans for over 40 years.
Chewbacca, ships and more
In addition to this exciting Star Wars terrain, you can’t forget about the “Star Wars’ characters. Throughout the day, you may interact with those characters, such as Chewbacca, Rey, the Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren.
Melanie Gagne, production manager, said there could be about 20 characters on the Land per day, engaging with guests. The other amazing feature is observing life-size iconic “Star Wars’’ ships and vehicles, which include the A-wing Starfighter, the First Order TIE Echelon, and the iconic Millennium Falcon.
There is currently one major attraction, The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This is where guests climb into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and participate in a wild galactic ride through space.
Disney partnered with Lucasfilm to create the vision for this ride to give everyone an unforgettable, bumpy experience. The Millennium Falcon is one of the most recognizable “Star Wars’’ ships from the original trilogy, flown by two of the most famous characters – Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Therefore, the experience of stepping foot on-board and seeing the famous Dejarik chessboard and memorable workstations, then walking to the cockpit will delight the older fans the most because it brings back memorable scenes from the “Star Wars’’ movies: “A New Hope’’ and “Empire Strikes Back.’’
The ship has also been seen in the newest trilogy, which will help build excitement for the younger generation. The ride consists of six people with three different interactive roles: pilots, gunners and engineers who have to respond in real-time to make the ride run as smoothly as possible.
There will be a sense of great satisfaction from all who ride the Millennium Falcon – from crazed fans to non-fans.
Lightsabers and droids
Other than the characters, the most recognizable things from Star Wars are the lightsabers and robot droids. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge brings both of those to the guests. Building your own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop is a fun experience that will bring excitement to all fans.
They get to pick from four different themes where they’ll bring the heavy gadget to life. You can purchase your custom-made lightsaber for around $200. Guests also have the luxury of constructing their own droid in a special interactive experience at the Droid Depot.
There’s also the choice of building a droid from the BBseries or R-Series, like BB-8 or R2-D2.
Since these droids are so iconic, this merchandise workshop will be great for everyone: “Star Wars’’ fans and random Hollywood Studios guests. In this workshop, the droids that are built can interact with similar astromech droids.
Unfortunately, you have to purchase first to customize your droid and go through the process, but the end result is rewarding.
Blue and Green Milk
As with the entire Walt Disney World experience, the Galaxy’s Edge attraction will not be complete without food and merchandise to purchase. At Oga’s Cantina and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, there’s a diverse range of beverages and food.
A must-have is the Ronto Roasters, which is a delicious barbecue-type wrap. You can also cool down by visiting the Milk Stand, which offers Blue and Green Milk. They are actually colorful frozen drinks portrayed to represent the milk that Luke Skywalker drank in “A New Hope’’ and “The Last of the Jedi’’ movies.
Plenty of memorabilia
In addition, there are many retail locations to purchase unique “Star Wars’’ memorabilia. Two popular areas will be the Resistance Supply and the First Order Cargo to purchase pins, hats, badges, shirts, and more. But hardcore fans will go berserk at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.
This store allows guests to purchase rare and mysterious Jedi and Sith artifacts.
For example, if you don’t purchase a custom-made lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop, you can purchase legacy lightsabers, which are replicas of lightsabers held by Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren and others.
The store has Jedi and Sith accessories and antiques, such as Kyber Crystals, paintings, mugs and the Emperor’s robe and cane.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a great memorable experience that will engage all guests. However, what may be disappointing to casual or movie-only fans is that the land mostly focuses on an unfamiliar theme.
The theme of the park barely focuses on the first and second trilogies. You will not see a Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Anakin Skywalker, Mace Windu or Darth Vader characters. So, there is not much to recognize, including merchandise, surrounding those trilogies.
Even though Galaxy’s Edge takes place during the new trilogy, there is some exclusion from that trilogy as well. Nevertheless, the theme is still built around the First Order and Resistance.
Therefore, at Galaxy’s Edge, the newly created planet called Bakuu and the specific location – the Black Spire Outpost – as well as some characters, are new to all.
Books, films, attractions
You can learn more about this theme and story from newly produced “Galaxy’s Edge’’ books and comics. Lucasfilm and Marvel approached writers to help create this world in other media.
Marvel Comics, which controls the distribution of the comics, will release five issues. One of the newly released books, “Black Spire’’ by Delilah S. Dawson, is the prequel to the Disney Galaxy’s Edge experience and a story between “The Last Jedi’’ and the upcoming movie “Rise of Skywalker.’’
It stars a young Black woman named Vi Moradi, who is a spy and intelligence officer for the Resistance. She is recruiting for the Resistance, and you may be recruited while visiting the attraction. Dawson said it was “mind-blowing” to see a character she has created, roaming and being incorporated in the park.
The project cost $1 billion and there’s more to come.
Hollywood Studios is adding another major attraction to the Galaxy’s Edge land, The Rise of the Resistance. It will be opening on Dec. 5.
Brian R. McDaniel of McDaniel Marketing Group is an entertainment and marketing professional based in Ormond Beach with experience and knowledge in brand and publicity events. He wrote this review for the Florida Courier.