Galaxy's Edge will be Your Star Wars Journey All-Day and All-Night

by Todd King, contributing writer

Let’s run down some new details revealed about Galaxy’s Edge along with details we already knew.

One bit we didn’t know about the Star Wars resort hotel in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, expected to open sometime after Galaxy’s Edge opens (I’m guessing a year maybe): An exclusive path to the park. When completed, you will be able to spend time in the Black Spire Outpost then return to your room for the night (or midday nap) without leaving Batuu. As you go from park to hotel, the Star Wars theme will stay with you to maintain the immersive experience the Imagineers created. Fans have speculated something like this would be part of the construction of the resort but now it is more assuredly part of the plan.

When you enter Disney theme parks, you “leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy”—but after walking in the heat all day, you often feel the need to get back to “today” and leave the “fantasy” behind for a bit while you rest.

With this direct path to Galaxy’s Edge, however, you won’t be leaving Star Wars for a bed, for snacks, or even to take a shower (a meteor shower?)—Star Wars will be your entire day. While I do like that there is an option here to go “all in” with an immersive experience, I wonder how the hotel will sustain that experience in a positive way for 24 hours. I mean, if bounty hunters are following me because I failed my mission on the Millennium Falcon ride, I would prefer that they not coming knocking on my hotel door at 3:00 in the morning disguised as room service.

Speaking of bounty hunters, one of them in the park has a name: Harkos. He appears to be the same race as one of Jabba the Hutt’s skiff guards in Return of the Jedi and appears a bit grumpy. What exactly would he do to a Disney park guest who ruined his bounty? Would he take your Fastpass tickets? Would he give you a poison churro? What would that interaction entail?

Maybe if you have a decent costume or flash the Resistance symbol he’d let you off with a warning or offer you a, extra Fastpass if you do better next time. I’m not sure. Perhaps he’ll give you the opportunity for a selfie and wish you a “magical day.” Regardless of that fateful meeting, I think his name "harkens" (ha ha) back to the Harkonnen from the Dune books. George Lucas was a fan of them, I believe—and even in the Star Wars universe there were mentions of the use of spice (Spice Mines of Kessel, Tibanna gas mining colony on Bespin). Sci-fi franchises often have these nods to each other, and this one is perhaps just something I’m exaggerating.

Our old friend Captain Rex, who used to pilot the speeders in the original version of Star Tours, will be coming back with a new job in Black Spire, as a disc jockey. Space needs DJs, of course. We’ve known that since the opening of Tomorrowland Terrace and Cosic Ray’s Starlight Café. Will Rex bring along some familiar musicians like the Bith band from the Tatooine cantina? Also, will Rex be voiced again by Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman? I think that would be a great callback to the classic ride and would most likely be very funny and entertaining. I guess they won’t let him pilot another ship after he never made it to the Endor moon.

Among other familiar faces, it has been said that Chewbacca will be in the city. He’s already been appearing as a meet-and-greet character, but it is good that we will still see the lovable wookiee. Another somewhat familiar face is that of Nein Nunb, who was also a co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon when Lando commanded the ship in the battle at Endor. Nein Nunb could also be a meet-and-greet, but perhaps he’ll play a role in the immersion experiences throughout the outpost. I like him, but he’s just not as huggable as Chewie.

We’ll see the familiar face—er… shape—of BB-8. He can be seen at Launch Bay already but in the new Star Wars park, I hope he gets to move around and be a free-wheeling droid. Disneyland has already been testing interactive droids in the parks, including one called J4-K3 that can intermingle with guests.

If BB-8 indeed roams the park, it would be so fun to see his First Order evil twin, BB-9E. Oh the things that could happen should the two of them meet on the streets of Black Spire! Disney is known for these little sideshows to plus the experience. I figure the whole outpost could be swarming with droids, including Push, the (hilarious) moving and talking trash can robot from Tomorrowland. If they do that with the droids, they must include a mouse droid. You’ve seen a mouse droid. In Disney parks, it could take on a whole new meaning!

There are a few news stories about Disney filing patents that seem to point to special effects that could take place in Galaxy’s Edge. Although these patents do not appear on official Disney sites, they’re not hard to find in an online search.

First, there is one patent regarding multiplane video screens that could be used for the “windows” at the Star Wars resort hotel. Like the multiplane camera that has come before this—developed by Disney for the Snow White movie in the 1930s—it would give viewers a sense of depth, with an almost three-dimensional effect. As we’ve seen in the conceptual art of the hotel, the windows give guests views of space and planets and ships. The multiplane screens could make these views more realistic and could be interactive in many ways, such as showing ships, characters, and planet Batuu from a new viewpoint.

Another patent shows ways where Disney could have beams of light appear to travel in midair. Many believe that Imagineers could use this method in a Star Wars stage show, where blaster fire could travel over and around the performers. It uses reflective surfaces that can show the blaster fire (like a laser beam) moving through space, and these surfaces are part of mechanical arms that can quickly appear and disappear. This could make for some very dramatic scenes to play out in front of our eyes and give a show like Fantasmic a run for its money.

One more patent is similar to the blaster fire one where it could conceivably show a three-dimensional image floating in space like the holograms we see in the Star Wars movies. Less is known about this patent, but fans like me dream that this could show things like those Force ghosts we’ve seen in movies with Obi-Wan Kenobi. It could be very much like the holograms used in communication by characters like Princess Leia via R2-D2 (“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope”) and other instances throughout the saga. These are the kinds of effects the designers of the Haunted Mansion could only dream of. I truly wonder if we will see all these things come to life when Galaxy’s Edge opens just next year!

The patents are only ideas of things that may never happen, but whatever becomes of these technologies, they’re only at the service of the presentation. Disney must use these for the overall storytelling in the parks—they certainly won’t end up merely as tech demos. Holograms, blaster fire, and views of space are tools Imagineers can use to “plus” the realism of the world we guests will tread and heighten the sense of immersion. It could lead to a tomorrow-land that is more futuristic than Tomorrowland.