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Disneyland Article
Will Star Wars Galaxys Edge At Disneyland Succeed In Taking Us To A Galaxy Far Far Away

Source:Orange County Register
Author:Robert Niles
Dateline:July 19, 2017
Posted:July 24, 2017
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Will Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland succeed in taking us to a galaxy far, far away?

So now we have a name and more details about Disneyland's upcoming Star Wars land. Titled "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge," the new land will attempt to do something that no major themed land has done before.

It will expand a franchise's universe, instead of simply attempting to recreate it.

Previous lands, such as Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Disney's own Cars Land and Pandora: The World of Avatar, depicted iconic locations from their franchises in wonderful, practical detail.

But Disney's new Star Wars land won't attempt to take you to Tatooine, the Death Star, Coruscant, or any other familiar world from the Star Wars universe. Instead, Disney is creating an all-new world - at the galaxy's edge - upon which to set its land.

But will that be enough to satisfy fans?

Creating a new world that sorta, kinda looks and feels like Star Wars - but isn't actually one of the franchise's settings - is the type of move a competing park would make when building a knock-off "Space Battle" land. With the investment it is making here, Disney can't afford for its visitors to feel like they're visiting anything less than the real thing.

The nature of the Star Wars universe made the decision where to set its Star Wars land an especially difficult one for Disney's Imagineers and executives.

Setting a Harry Potter land at Hogwarts was a no-brainer for Universal. But the Star Wars movies blew up the two Death Stars - the series' most iconic settings. Imperial Stormtroopers torched Luke Skywalker's Tatooine home. Alderaan, Scarif and Jedha are gone, too.

SeaWorld Orlando proved with its Antarctica land that theme park fans don't go for desolate, icy settings, so Hoth is out. Bespin's Cloud City wouldn't work on the ground. No one in the Star Wars community seems to want to acknowledge anything having to do with Ewoks, so that takes out Endor. And just how real was Dagobah, anyway?

So we will get a new world; one that seems to evoke the Takodana outpost that Han Solo, Chewbacca and Rey visited in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." But it's the authenticity of the experience that elevates Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter above all other theme park lands - a standard that Disney wants to reclaim for itself with Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Hogwarts in Universal's land looks like Hogwarts from the movies. The Three Broomsticks looks like The Three Broomsticks. The entire village of Hogsmeade looks like it came straight from the films.

The two new rides Disney is building within the land will reference iconic scenes from Star Wars movies. One will allow visitors to ride on the Millennium Falcon, while the other will place riders on a Star Destroyer.

Disney has promised that Chewbacca and BB-8 from the films will appear, and - as an Easter egg for long-time Disney theme park fans - so will Captain Rex from the original version of the Star Tours ride. We know from watching the construction of the new land that full-scale Imperial or First Order AT-AT walkers will be part of one of the rides, as well.

But Disney needs the entire experience to feel authentic in order to create something that does not feel inferior to what fans can experience up the road at Universal with Harry Potter. Fans can't just feel like they are stepping into the Star Wars universe when they board one of the rides. Disney needs them to feel that way as soon as they enter the land itself. Otherwise, it's just another land at a theme park; not the creative step forward for the industry that Disney wants it to represent.

Setting the land in an original world puts Disney a step behind in that effort, as it needs to establish the authenticity of the new world within the franchise as well as building a visually amazing and engaging space. It's an even tougher task than Universal took on with Potter and that Disney did with its previous single-franchise themed lands. But Disney executives seem almost giddy about what they're doing with Star Wars.

Leave it to Disney not just to try to top the competition but to jack up the degree of difficulty, just for the heck of it. It's an audacious plan. One might even call it out of this world.

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