It’s been a big year for Star Wars fans: from Baby Yoda to the end of the Skywalker saga to a country that transports us to that universe far, far away, 2019 is full of blockbuster Star Wars milestones.
Here at TravelPulse we have followed the progress of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge since it opened in October at Disneyland and in August at Walt Disney World. Earlier this month, the country’s flagship attraction, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, was opened at Disney World (Disneyland’s counterpart opens January 17).
Now, with the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, marking the completion of the trilogy in which Galaxy’s Edge is set, we watch without spoiler the impact of the latest film on telling stories in the country.
If you’re not aware of the story behind Galaxy’s Edge, here’s a summary. Instead of an iconic Star Wars film location, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering established the land on Batuu’s remote outer edge planet, giving guests an empty canvas to feel inside the story.
“Everyone knows what happened on Tatooine … on Hoth … We know those stories … but we also know that we’re not in those stories,” says Scott Trowbridge, Walt Disney Imagineer, and lead creative power behind Galaxy’s Edge.
Visitors to the country become travelers of the current Batuu and the commercial center, Black Spire Outpost, a once bustling trade route that is now a shelter and meeting place for smugglers, adventurers and people who have the first order ” involutions”.
“When we sat down five and a half years ago to design Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we thought the country was an active space port,” said Jon Georges, executive producer of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. “And you arrive on the planet Batuu today so that all characters can appear. They can come and go as we are today as visitors to that planet. “
But not just a character – to date, in accordance with the timeline of the country, you only see Rey, Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, First Order stormtroopers and officers and resistance fighter Vi Moradi. For the first time this week, R2-D2 was also seen as roaming, but that is not yet a normal phenomenon.
About that timeline
Officially, the current Batuu takes place between “The Last Jedi” (TLJ) and “The Rise of Skywalker” (TROS). But for the little ones for detail, disbelief will have to be suspended or must be overwhelmed by the inconsistencies – Rey wears her tlj costume, while Kylo Ren wears the mask he destroyed in “The Force Awakens.””
Guests shouldn’t be worried about this, says Doug Chiang, Vice President Lucasfilm and creative director.
“Galaxy’s Edge is supposed to be set after Episode 8, before 9, but we also make it so that it’s very common so it fits in to the entire Star Wars universe,” chiang says. “We wanted to keep it very ambiguous intentionally.””
For the most part, this timeline ambiguity makes sense. Even if the timing doesn’t run completely synchronously, we always take a masked Kylo Ren over a face character that doesn’t hold a candle to Adam Driver.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, the second attraction of Galaxy Edge, has a short timelessness. The Falcon is docked at Black Spire Outpost for repairs and Hondo Ohnaka, the Weequay pirate in charge of keeping an eye on chewie, sends riders off-planet to do a little smuggling. This storyline holds up well enough during the episodes 7-9.
Not so for Rise of the Resistance, the ambitious new attraction with as many as four different zipper systems, a reported 65 audio animatronics and clocks after almost 20 minutes. (Check out our inner look at this groundbreaking attraction.)
“We thought it was important to deliver on the epic cinematic scale of Star Wars,” georges says. “So [Rise of the Resistance] had to be this lifelike, fully immersive experience.”
In order to achieve this, Georges explains, commitments had to be made to the story. “At some point, you have to put a ring in the ground and say I’m going to tell this particular story,” he says. “You can’t keep anything open, because you have to decide which audio animatronic figures you want to build and what sets you want to build and all that kind of thing.”
Without spoiling the ride, we will simply say that while the experience is seamless in its immersion – with guests becoming Resistance recruits and starting and ending their journey at Batuu – things happen during the ride that doesn’t always run synchronously with what’s going on outside in the country.
Enter “The Rise of Skywalker””
Once you’ve seen ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, these irreconcilable conflicts between the ride and the country feel less important. The plot of the film goes irrevocably beyond what has been established on Batuu, with the country and everything clearly cemented before the TROS.
In other words, once you’ve seen the movie, immerse yourself in the story about Batuu means a step back in time.
So when should I look at ‘The Rise of Skywalker’?
If you haven’t seen Episode 9 yet and you’re going to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge soon, we’d say it’s more fun to experience Rise of the Resistance before you’ve seen the movie. Numerous scenes from both the ride and the film are in the same spaces, so watching the film after you’ve been physically on the sets of the attraction makes TROS even more fun.
Have you seen it yet? No problem. Rise of the Resistance becomes more nuanced once you’ve seen TROS – there’s a big surprise in the movie that makes it fun to watch the dialogue very carefully during the ride.
What’s new now that the movie’s out?
Little. Because the country is in front of the film, it is a spoiler-free zone. Two new lightsabers from the film are on their way to Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, but both dates back to before the events of TROS, so they still fit into the country.
Outside Galaxy’s Edge, the classic Star Tours attraction now includes a scene from TROS, as well as the nightfireworks and the project show “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There is also many merchandise tied to the film available in stores outside the country at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Given that so much has been made that Galaxy’s Edge is an open book for guests to ‘live their own Star Wars story’, ‘Rise of the Resistance and’ The Rise of Skywalker’ and the clear timelines they draw in the proverbial sand – are great shakes that concept.
Make no mistake, this does nothing to detract from the impact of the country – it’s breathtaking – of Rise of the Resistance – it’s breathtaking. Instead, we hope that this easing of the country’s commitment to a strict story and a timeline will potentially open up to even more possibilities.
If the country and its sights bring us back in time, we hope that one day Disney will consider bringing classic characters like Darth Vader and new favorites like the Mandalorian into the country, even if this means a story.