At a recent media event, I had the chance to step behind the construction walls of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and take in the work in progress for myself. While it’s clear there is still a long way to go, what I saw was very impressive.
While we were only allowed to walk in about 50 feet into the area that will be the Resistance Camp, we could look across the land to the Black Spire Outpost area. There was a lot of work to be done, but what was clear was how much detail the Imagineers had put into the 14 acres. I was also impressed with how much space there actually was in the land.
I’m sure it will feel incredibly crowded once guests are allowed inside, but for now it felt bit, encompassing, as Batuu, a distant planet in the Star Wars galaxy would.
The building we could see is the entrance to the land’s marketplace. While a lot of work remained to be completed, we could already make out the Aurebesh writing on the outside of the building. Additionally, you could see marks where things like blasters and explosions had left their mark on the walls buildings of Batuu.
The other element that really stood out were the cliff walls. They’re somewhat lower on the Resistance side, but still tower above the ground level. On one side, they hide the huge show buildings that house the two main attractions, on the other side they cliffs are tree-lined to help obscure some nearby show buildings in other parks of the park.
We spoke with one of the Imagineers who escorted us the land and she reminded use that the same production team that worked on the cliffs of Radiator Springs at Disney California Adventure came to Walt Disney World to create the cliffs at Pandora – The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney has brought back those same craftsmen and artists to build the cliffs of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Their work has improved over time. To me the cliffs of Pandora – The World of Avatar are a huge leap over Radiator Springs and the cliffs at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge represent another gigantic improvement.
There’s so much more detail and the use of plant-life to augment the cliff wall’s texture is a lot more natural (although the plants have an other-worldly feeling about them suitable to the Star Wars galaxy).
When you enter the land via the Grand Ave entrance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios you pass through this tunnel that’s been carved, almost melted, out of the rock with special tech and you can see the occasional mark of a blaster or mining tool that adds a level of realism that impressed me. The thing is, they weren’t anywhere close to being done adding details when I was in the land. It’s only going to get better, richer, and contain deeper, more layered storytelling.
We also had a chance to talk with Chad Stachnik one of the Project Managers from Disney Imagineering working on the land. We asked him to describe what guests will encounter when entering Batuu.
Disneyland’s version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set to open later this month with cast member previews starting soon and press and media previews coming up before the grand opening on May 31st. You can get a feel for what the finished land will look like from these recent aerial videos.
Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge differs from Disney’s Hollywood Studios in a few small ways and one large way. The small ways is that Disneyland’s has one more entrance into the land than Disney’s Hollywood Studios and a slightly smaller forested area since the Rivers of America is right there. The big difference is in the orientation of the lands. Disneyland’s will be in full sun in the morning and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ will get full sun in the afternoon. Accordingly the painting and shading on the cliffs and spires of Batuu have been slightly changed in hue and color to best suit the natural light.
Disney CEO also gave us a brief look inside the land with a few photos posted to his Twitter account over the weekend
Best way to impress your friends…give them a personal tour of @starwars Galaxy's Edge!#stevenspielberg, #jjabrams, Kathy Kennedy with Imagineer & Galaxy's Edge creator, Scott Trowbridge. pic.twitter.com/e3jFH2Cd2b
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 11, 2019
Nice to have friends like that, eh!
How excited are you to visit the first land entirely themed to Star Wars and that galaxy far, far away?