New Disneyland Concept Art Revealed for Star Wars Land

by Todd King, contributing writer

A Time to Celebrate

It's raining Star Wars. In the past week, the Star Wars Celebration convention took place in London, a "sizzle reel" for Rogue One was released, a trailer for season 3 of Rebels came out, and a new piece of concept art for Star Wars land at Disneyland got posted. This is all very exciting… for the future. Most of the recent media is for things to come from our favorite galaxy. It is hype, it is anticipation, and it is all to play on our emotions and to make fanboys geek out and start discussing these ideas that will soon become experiences. Like a good novel and a page-turning mystery, all these concepts are being revealed to us at precise moments to generate suspense to see the final picture. What's so exciting is that all these things are part of our Star Wars story.

We remember times like these—the wonder and the waiting—because we are on a journey that we hope will end with pure delight.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" – Celebration Reel. Star Wars YouTube Channel.

At Celebration in London, Gareth Edwards showed us a behind-the-scenes reel for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and it was posted online for all to see. This video is kindred to the one we saw one year ago at the San Diego Comic-Con showing some of the process of making The Force Awakens. Fans noted that the footage emhasizes the use of real sets and practical effects to add the kind of realism of the original trilogy, and also serves as a response to those who said the prequel trilogy relied too heavily on computer-generated imagery.

This new sizzle reel about Rogue One seemed to have a similar emphasis, but also offered new and risky elements to the franchise; perhaps as a response to criticisms of The Force Awakens being too similar to the original movies. The footage itself was great and showed new environments for Star Wars, like grasslands and beaches, and also included familiar sets like the Death Star. Our heroes are often shown here in disguise, necessitating the covert operations and code-breaking schemes to break into the Empire's strongholds and take the key to unravel this mysterious superweapon. Such images evoke the heist genre of movies. And then there are the big battles on the beaches where our intrepid team gets some back-up from soldiers, evoking the genre of the war movie. Overall, it is looking like the story is going to be more complicated than we imagined. And that is a very good thing.

Also shown at Celebration was a new proper trailer for Rogue One, but it was for the attendees' eyes only. Any leaked video footage of that trailer didn't last but 20 minutes online before being taken down everywhere. Lucasfilm and Disney intended it only for the crowd there, and again, shows how careful the companies are with revealing the right information at the right times for the right people.

Again, they are writing a story in which we're the readers; this isn't just a game of selling tickets anymore. Supposedly, the trailer did confirm that Darth Vader will indeed make some kind of appearance in the new movie. We all know that this isn't something akin to bringing the character back from the dead; it is confirming that the character was alive and kicking at this point in the Star Wars timeline. And now he will play a role in this story that has heavy implications on his first motives: find the stolen plans to the Death Star.

Star Wars Rebels Season Three Trailer (Official). Star Wars YouTube Channel.

Rebels Season 3

Disney's Star Wars Rebels seems to be really gaining steam and if the trailer for the upcoming season 3 is any indication, it is sure to please fans of both the now-legendary Expanded Universe and of the Clone Wars series.

First of all, the big news is the cionfirmation of character Grand Admiral Thrawn's appearance in the new episodes. One of the earlier Expanded Universe novels was the "Thrawn Trilogy" (or the "Timothy Zahn Trilogy") that began with Heir to the Empire where Thrawn was the main villain. Because of his cunning and lust for revenge, he was a popular character among fans. Not only that, but the Thrawn Trilogy was at one time considered to be the spiritual sequel trilogy to the original trilogy of movies.

The story of the books took place soon after the battle of Endor that concluded with the film, Return of the Jedi. These stories captivated readers and really kicked the literary Expanded Universe into high gear. Many storylines and character arcs of the Expanded Universe began with these books. Although many fans were disappointed that it was deemed to be no longer in the Star Wars canon after the Disney acquisition, the appearance of Thrawn now returning to the canon (and as an important antagonist) is a welcome idea that will hopefully persuade fans to give the new show and the new canon another chance.

Second, Rebels continues to bring back storylines and characters from the popular Clone Wars series. In the trailer, we see a surprising turn of events, with Darth Maul (brought back to life in Clone Wars) playing an important role with our hero, Ezra. The Mandalorians also return with their cool armor and their tendency to be mysterious in their allegiances. All these ideas are not just continuations of previous ones, but are matured incarnations of them in the new series.

Finally, nothing in the trailer showed the fate of Ahsoka Tano, last seen in a lightsaber duel with her former master, Darth Vader. We hope and expect it to be addressed, but anything about it is still a mystery at this point. And that's a good thing.

The Star Wars Themed Land's latest artist concept drawing show the layout of the experience as it will be in Disneyland. Photo by Disney/Lucasfilm

Star Wars Land Concept Art for Disneyland

The newly released concept art for Star Wars land answers a question or two about the experience, but raises quite a few more.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Millennium Falcon resting in its docking bay at the top middle of the picture. It is no wonder I saw it first, as the painting appears to have its brightest light over Han Solo's old ship. Nonetheless, there it is halfway nestled in the bay, which makes me hope even more that we as guests will indeed board the ride through the ship's iconic ramp. The rest of the actual ride may rest behind the ship and hidden back in the docking area and hills behind it. I must say I was happy to see this positioning of the Falcon.

I then stepped back to look at the overall layout and it looks very dynamic. There are high and low places, open and narrow places, archways, and overpasses. Overall, I sense the need for exploration here—you won't take the whole place in with one glance.

A stage area seems to be there in the bottom middle area; perhaps we will see live shows and perhaps the Jedi Academy will have a new home there. I see lots of banner-covered streets and alleys like we saw in earlier concepts, and it is good to see them represented here as, perhaps, the passageways to different themed areas. The general feeling I get from the architecture is that the buildings are inspired by the plazas of Naboo and the rooftops of Jabba's Palace on Tatooine. There is some variety but not too much, and that could help to unify the theme of the entire land—but I hope it doesn't limit the experience to a more singular feeling. In any case, there will be different areas and spaces with plenty of room for serendipitous discoveries.

The large rocks and thin mountains that spring up over the land make me wonder if this represents a particular planet from Star Wars, or if it is a place from the upcoming Episode VIII. Or it could just be some generic new planet with a mere mention in an upcoming film, much in the same way planets like Sullust, Alderaan, and the Anoat System were spoken in dialog but little-seen on screen (but are canon nonetheless). On the west side, these mountains are bigger and wider, and they are perhaps the covering and facade of the First Order ride's show building. Hiding such large indoor places has always been a key factor in the building of Disney parks, but if the area is truly covered completely by mountains, it will be more completely themed even from aerial views.

There is also an Imperial Shuttle (which happens to be my favorite ship from the original trilogy) on the upper east side of the picture. I'm not sure what this area will be but could include some shops and maybe some encounters with Stormtroopers and other characters from the Empire. Finally and most interesting is the presence of a Rebel Blockade Runner on the southwest side, which to me looks like could serve as the entrance or gate to Star Wars land. And that ship seems appropriate as the entrance since it is the first spaceship, in the first shot, of the first Star Wars movie ever. What a way to start the experience! All this leads to yet another question: will this be the same layout used for the park in Walt Disney World?

At last, like the other concept drawings we've seen, there is a ship in the sky flying over or toward Star Wars land. This time it appears to be a Resistance X-Wing. Is it there merely for dramatic effect, like the others in previous paintings, or is there something more to it? Could Star Wars land actually have some flying vehicles buzzing around? Could Disney use drone technology to have ships coming and going? I think something like that is in the realm of possibility especially since it could give the whole land a bustling feeling like that of Mos Eisley. I mean, if you can dream it, Disney can do it, right?

Until we find out more, I'll be the one dreaming. There is so much to look forward to but right now, we are in this story of witnessing revelations, learning clues, hearing whispers, gaining hints like we are in the middle of an unfolding mystery. I'm in this story like a detective character gathering the pieces and making guesses. It is taking over my imagination. Star Wars is reigning my galaxy.