Disneyland pleases George Lucas and his fans with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Fans cheered as Luke Skywalker stood in front of the Millennium Falcon.
“OK, Chewie, let’s fire up the Falcon!” actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke in the 40-year-plus “Star Wars” franchise, yelled to Chewbacca, his Wookie companion who has piloted the ship.
The Falcon started to roar, then puttered out.
“This is a little bit embarrassing. Is there someone who knows how to fix this thing?” Mr. Hamill asked.
That’s when Han Solo stepped up and got his ship going.
“She might not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts,” Harrison Ford, the longtime star who portrayed the smuggler-turned-hero, told Mr. Hamill.
With that, Disneyland officially launched the long-anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a 14-plus-acre land behind Frontierland. It’s the largest theme park land in Disney’s history.
The land, which was dedicated Wednesday in the Millennium Falcon Courtyard and opened to the public by reservation Friday, features the first full-scale model of the Millennium Falcon. Another one will be in the other Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which will open Aug. 29 at Disney Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The land is set on Batuu, the newest “Star Wars” location.
Think of it as the Wild West of space, an uncharted region beyond all known star systems. This is where you’ll find Black Spire Outpost, an infamous port for smugglers, traders, adventurers and scoundrels.
“It gets a little scandalous here at times,” bartender Kirktracy Hill told the News-Press inside Oga’s Cantina while Rex, the droid who used to pilot the Starspeeder 300 run to Endor for Tomorrowland’s Star Tours, played tunes as the DJ.
“We get both the good and the bad here. We try to stay prepared for anything,” Mr. Hill said in the bar, which is the first Disneyland outlet outside of the private Club 33 to serve alcoholic drinks. Choices vary from Yub Nub, which includes rums and citrus juices, to Bloody Rancor, a bloody mary.
“If a fight or any kind of craziness breaks out, we usually have undercover reinforcements,” Mr. Hill said, adding that he had heard rumors that Han Solo and Boba Fett, the bounty hunter after Han, have been there.
Later that day, two guests in the cantina did get into a lightsaber fight, but it ended in laughter.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge features two rides — Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, a simulator ride in which passengers get to pilot the ship and fight the enemy, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which will open sometime later this year.
It’s enough to make George Lucas smile.
“You did a great job,” the “Star Wars” creator told Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger during the Disneyland dedication ceremony, which also included actor Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian).
“Coming from you, that means a lot,” Mr. Iger replied.
The ship behind them set the stage for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Guests walk into the building behind the ship and into a long queue to see an Audio-Animatronics figure, Hondo Ohnaka, from two animated series, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels.” Hondo, a “legitimate” businessman (i.e. smuggler) working with Chewbacca, explains the mission of retrieving cargo.
Afterward, a Disney cast member assigns each passenger a job. The cockpit has two pilots, two engineers and two gunners. The pilot on the left can make the Falcon go left or right. The pilot on the right can make the ship go up and down and take it into hyperdrive.
The gunners fire laser cannons and, for snatching the cargo, a harpoon.
The engineers must press flashing buttons to repair damage as quickly as possible.
The News-Press tested the three jobs during a media preview and found being a pilot was the most fun — and the most challenging. You have to react quickly to avoid collisions in this ultimate video game. The ship shakes if you hit an asteroid!
Afterward, Hondo comes on a screen to tell you the credits you earned — and the damage you caused. As you exit in the halls, you’ll see the ship’s now a mess.
Reporters riding the ship agreed it was fun and loved the attention to detail, including the Dejarik (holographic chess) table in the back of the Falcon, just like the one seen in the movies.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and the upcoming Star Wars: Rise of Resistance are the most ambitious attractions Disney has ever attempted, Scott Trowbridge, creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, told reporters during a panel.
“Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance puts you in the middle of an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance,” he said, adding that guests will confront the villainous Kylo Ren.
Disney and Lucasfilm staff told reporters that as they created Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its marketplace, they visited Turkey and Morocco to study open-air markets.
“We actually got to see how a street market grows by layers and layers,” said Doug Chiang, Lucasfilm’s vice president and executive creative director.
Mr. Chiang noted the work also included visits to the London interior sets used for filming the Millennium Falcon in the latest “Star Wars” movies.
“One of the things that’s so wonderful about the films themselves is they’re so real. There’s this dream of being part of the story,” Carrie Beck, vice president of animation and live action series development at Lucasfilm, said.
“We thought a lot about how all of us fans might want to interact with the galaxy,” she said. “You might see yourself as a smuggler or scoundrel. You might see yourself as a Jedi, Sith or Stormtrooper.”
Visitors will encounter Chewbacca, Stormtroopers, Kylo Ren and representatives of the evil First Order and the heroic Resistance in the land, where the words “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” never appear on any of the merchandise.
For “Star Wars” characters, Batuu is a real place and not part of a fictional story, explained Brad Schoenberg, Disney’s director of merchandise strategy and park experience.
The interactive quality is stressed at the land’s Savi’s Workshop, where fans assemble their own lightsaber, or the Droid Depot, where customers build their own droid.
They can use the Play Disney Parks app to hack into the land’s droids or to scan for contents inside containers and translate languages.
All that interactivity can make you thirsty, maybe for a beverage that showed up in “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” (1977). You saw Luke drink it.
Michele Gendreau, director of food and beverage for the Disneyland Resort, said all that she and her staff knew from the movie was the color.
They decided Blue Milk would be a planet-based product, a frozen blend of rice and coconut milk with dragon fruit, pineapple, lime and watermelon.
Another beverage, Green Milk, popped up in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” (1983) and “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” (2017). Disney also made that a frozen fruity beverage.
Hungry guests can look for a former smelter droid turning a spit of meats in Ronto Roasters, which serves a Ronto Wrap, which features roasted pork, grilled sausage, peppercorn sauce and tangy slaw. You also can visit Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo or Kat Saka’s Kettle, which offers popcorn.
Of course, you need chocolate this far out in space, and the land offers desserts such as a Batuu-bon.
Visitors can also adopt a Porg, Loth-cat, Kowakian Monkey-Lizard or other stuffed animals at the Creature Stall. They can buy robes, tunics and belts at Black Spire Outfitters or purchase plush characters, games and models of space vehicles at Toydarian Toymaker.
More merchandise is at Jewels of Bith, First Order Cargo, Resistance Supply and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.
As you walk around, keep your ear out for new music created by longtime “Star Wars” composer John Williams.
A day in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge really does feel like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
IF YOU GO
All reservations have been booked for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, with the exception of those for guests at Disneyland Resort hotels. Beginning June 24, reservations will no longer be required.
Hours vary by day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Anaheim. Seedisneyland.disney.go.com/calendars/month.
Ticket prices vary by day. Annual passes range from $399 to $1,399. To purchase, go to disneyland.disney.go.com.