Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge - an inside look at Disney's Westworld-style venture

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge - a look into Disney's most daring experience yet

What is to come from the new Star Wars-themed area?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

As a Star Wars fan, it has now become my life goal to check out the Jedi-themed resorts being built by Disney.

I’ll tell you what I want to see. In the hotel bar, I’m hoping for a Mos Eisley-style cantina, complete with the iconic music that came with it.

Down the main hall, I want a stormtrooper procession, just like in Return of the Jedi. For all of the attractions, I want to be able to pilot something, like an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon, and I want to have a lightsaber duel. Everyone must be in costume.

You might think these wishes seem like pure fantasy, dredged from the depths of the impossible. But, incredibly, most of them are going to come true.

For Disney's plans for two new Star Wars resorts - one at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and the other at Disneyland in Anaheim, California - take immersive to a new level. If you've watched the TV series Westworld, the vision will look very familiar.

Everything will be themed around the iconic pictures and scenes from all seven – soon to be nine – films of the series. You’ll even get to dress up like an individual who would have come from the galaxy far, far away, complete with your own unique storyline. Employees will be in character and the windows will only show space, to create the feel of being in a spaceship.

There are two key attractions announced thus far. One – guests at the resort will be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon as it undertakes a top-secret mission, which I won’t deny I am extremely happy about. The second will throw participants headlong into a middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order, two rival organisations brought to prominence in the latest film, The Force Awakens.

You'll be able to visit the cantina, where you can sip blue milk while that rather repetitive song blares away in the background. And, if the teaser images are anything to go by, a number of the films' iconic protagonists will be milling around, including Admiral Ackbar and BB-8 (which we can only assume will be played by an actual robot).

A forthcoming exhibition at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in Burbank, California, is to show artwork, media, and models to illustrate what the company plans to build. This will serve as a taster for the resorts themselves, which will open in 2019, coinciding with the release of the last film in the series, Episode IX

Will the attraction live up to expectations? Well Disney certainly has pedigree when it comes to pushing the envelope and embracing new technology. It's most recent blue-riband release, Pandora – The World of Avatar, features a boat ride that takes you through a bioluminescent forest identical to the one shown on the planet of Pandora in James Cameron's film. It also gives guests the chance to ride a banshee – a flying creature in the movie.

Pandora, which opens in May, harnesses 3D motion simulators in addition to a number of high-tech gadgets, and Star Wars fans can expect more of the same from the new project, particularly given that Disney owns Lucasfilm. Scott Trowbridge, who has been appointed lead designer on the Galaxy's Edge development certainly has form; while working for Universal, he oversaw the creation of the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the first-ever attraction to blend moving vehicles with synchronised film projectors and 3-D technology. For his new assignment the budget is certain to be huge, so Trowbridge will have carte blance to build something equally impressive.

Safe to say, this new project is every Star Wars fan’s dream. I, for one, am already pricing up flights to Orlando.