Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, A Photo Tourby Donald and Bonnie Fink, contributing writer
Anyone who has an interest in Disneyland in California or Walt Disney World in Florida is aware of a new land on both coasts. And that, of course, is Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. We had a chance to visit the new land in Florida not long ago during a special event for Annual Passholders, which allowed us to see it without the huge crowds we would expect for a land this important.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is located on a planet called Batuu that has a temperate climate, with forests and mountains. It is located on the galaxy's edge, near the outer rim territories and was generally used as the last stop before entering wild space back in the days before hyperspace travel. Now, the planet Batuu in general and the settlement called Black Spire Outpost in particular, has become a haven for people who don't want to attract too much attention.
Our expectations were exceptionally high for this new land. Were we disappointed? Let's take a look at what we found.
Cast members on Batuu have new and very interesting costumes. Their name tags are unique to the land too. Try as we did, we could not find a cast member who was not in perfect character when we spoke with them. Each cast member, by the way, will greet you with a phrase, "Bright Suns," or "Rising Moons," depending on the time of day. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
A landspeeder must be a common way to get around in the Empire. We found this landspeeder here on Batuu, but we first saw landspeeders on Tatooine. On the left is a WED Treadwell Repair Droid. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
This little droid is a heavy loader maintenance droid. It was used in Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII. You may have seen them working around various starfighters. Their nickname was “Buford." Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We believe this is an R2 droid, manufactured by Industrial Automation. We're calling it an R2 because many of the R3 units (but not all) had translucent domes to show off their faster processors. Of course, an R2 unit, while not as fast as an R3 droid, came equipped with co-pilot subroutines. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The pointy-headed droid on the left is an R4 series, and the one on the right is an R5 droid. The R4 droid was designed to do much of the same work as the R3 units, but outside the hangar bay, in a harsher environment. The R5 unit on the right was designed as a cheaper version of the R2 units, without co-piloting capabilities. They were prone to defects, malfunctions, and generally bad attitudes. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
As is often the case, you can't really get a sense of a place unless you can see it in motion and hear the sounds as you wander about. We put together this brief video, not as a guide to the land but to try and convey a sense of what this far away outpost on a planet called Batuu was like. Take a look. Photos and Videos by Donald and Bonnie Fink.
Food and Drink
The entrance to Oga's Cantina is understated and unassuming, like so many of the other businesses in Black Spire Outpost. It's reasonable to assume that with the Rebel Alliance and First Order Stormtroopers in the settlement, it's best not to draw too much attention. Photo by Donald Fink.
One of the non-alcoholic drinks at Oga's Cantina is called Jabba Juice. The flavors resemble orange, pineapple, kiwi, and cantaloupe. The Wortt Eggs you see on top resemble the taste of blueberries. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You may recognize R-3X as Rx-24, or Rex. He was originally a pilot droid who flew a Star Commuter 2000, and later a Star Tours Starspeeder 3000. A few years ago, he crash landed on Batuu, where he was re-programmed to be a DJ. His appearance was also altered slightly. The salvager, Mubo, traded R-3X to Oga Garra to pay off a debt. Photo by Donald Fink.
Blue and green milk, available from the Milk Stand, are non-dairy, plant-based drinks you can try at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. And yes, that's the real color. Our calibration in this image is accurate. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
One Quick Service restaurant that will no doubt be one of our favorites in Batuu is Docking Bay 7. Here you can get a light breakfast of oats or a sweet roll. Lunch and dinner could be a Fried Endorinan Tip-yip, which tastes a lot like chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Photo by Donald Fink.
Ronto Roasters is another quick service counter that serves breakfast and lunch/dinner items on their menu. You can get a Ronto Morning Wrap, with scrambled eggs, grilled pork sausage, and cheese in a pita wrap, or a Ronto Wrap with roasted pork, roasted pork sausage, peppercorn sauce, and slaw, also in a pita wrap. Photo by Donald Fink.
This is the building that houses The Market in the Black Spire Outpost. Your only way of knowing what this is, is if you happen to have been here before, or you use a local map. There are very few signs in this settlement indicating what an establishment might be. That's probably because the Black Spire Outpost is so small that everyone just knows where everything is. Or maybe it's because drawing attention in their political climate—with the First Order Stormtroopers all around—just isn't a good idea. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The geology of Batuu is fascinating. Looking up at the spires around the outpost, you can see that many of them appear to be petrified trees. Walking around the settlement, you can see more evidence of petrified trees lying next to pathways. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Did we mention that the Black Spire Outpost was occupied by both resistance fighters and Guards of the First Order? Here is a Tie Echelon, or Tie/es Assault Shuttle. This vehicle can carry twelve Stormtroopers and is equipped with four heavy laser cannons. There is also a compliment of electronic monitoring and counter-measure equipment on board. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
It's our understanding that the Tie/es Assault Shuttle has not been used in a Star Wars movie yet, but we should look for at least one in the next installment, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
The Millennium Falcon is still around, running cargo after all these years. You can see this iconic ship, and even secure a cargo load in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Like many of Disney's rides and attractions, the waiting queue here is almost as much fun as the ride. Photo by Donald Fink.
You'll get a briefing about your mission at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run from none other than Hondo Ohnaka. Mr. Ohnaka was a well-known pirate, leading a group called the Ohnaka Gang that was disbanded shortly after the fall of the Empire. He then moved to Batuu and started a more or less legitimate cargo business but ended up helping the Resistance when the First Order appeared. This, by the way, is one of the best animatronics characters we've seen. He's easily on par with the Shaman of Song at Pandora in Animal Kingdom, if not a bit better. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
You might think of shopping on Disney property as finding a tee shirt, a plastic bubble machine that hopefully breaks after you get home, or maybe a poster or some other flashy trinket for your kid's room. And for the most part that is true. People like these things. They keep buying them, so Disney keeps selling them.
What we've noticed at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, and even before this with other Star Wars merchandise is that the quality has taken a drastic turn towards really high-quality stuff. In many of the shops in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, you'll find merchandise that could be considered good enough to be displayed in pretty much anyone's collection, anywhere in their home. We think that, because they represent an imaginary world and much of it doesn't actually exist is secondary to the fact that a lot of the items you find here is of seriously high quality.
Not much is known about the statue that stands outside Dok-ondar's Den of Antiquities on Batuu. We know that it originally stood outside the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant, but that's not the only mystery you will find if you spend just a little time inside this one-of-a-kind antique shop. Here you can find several kinds of "legacy" lightsabers as well as several rare and beautiful books. This shop is a must-see for anyone visiting the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
On the top left is a Kod'yok, from Vandor, a Corellian Hound (middle), and a TaunTaun on the right. The bottom two animals are a Nexu from Cholganna (left), and an Anooba, from the Outer Rim. Now we ask, wouldn't one of these be better on your wall than that jackalope you bought from that Route 66 tourist spot in Arizona? Photo by Bonnie Fink.
At First Order Cargo you can get a selection of things, including a Stormtrooper or a Kylo Ren Helmet. As expensive as they are, visitors are limited to only one per customer, no doubt in an effort to keep interstellar cargo mass to a minimum. Photo by Donald Fink.
If you have a desire to contribute to the galaxy, and can't warm up to the ideals of the Resistance, you could join the 709th Legion and be a Stormtrooper, as this recruiting poster is suggesting. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
The Market is a busy place. We visited Batuu during a day when Annual Passholders entered with reservations, so the number of people was more or less reasonable. Still, folks tended to congregate in The Market, making it one of the busiest places in the land. There are many different small vendors here selling food and drink as well as some interesting tourist items. It was well worth spending some time here, as everyone else apparently thought. Photo by Donald Fink.
We're still fascinated with the detail in virtually every part of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Every inch seems to tell a story about a place that's older than time, where nothing is wasted. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Here's an example of the quality of merchandise you can expect at The Market on Batuu. We're used to seeing plastic toys for kids in theme park gift stores, but these wood carvings are not toys. They would be at home in anyone's collection in their home. The fact that they represent animals, places, and things that only exist in a galaxy far, far away is not important. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
This is as far as we could go in Droid Depot without a reservation. Guests are in the shop making their own custom Astromech Units. You can build a BB-series or R-series droid from available parts that you select as they roll by on a conveyor belt. There are assembly stations where technicians are available to help. Photo by Donald Fink.
It looks like chaos at the Droid Depot as guests assemble their BB-Series or R-Series droids from parts they picked from the assembly line. Here at the assembly stations, the droids are put together with the help of a technician who assists with the mechanical assembly as well as the installation of the appropriate computer chips for each droid. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
Around the Settlement
As you might expect, there are Stormtroopers on patrol throughout the Black Spire settlement. They're constantly on the lookout for Resistance sympathizers, but mostly, they're just harassing the population in general. We did notice that when they approached little children, their attitudes were non-confrontational and encouraging. No doubt hoping to recruit young people into the First Order. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We can't compliment Disney Imagineers enough over the amount of detail that has gone into this new land, and some of it makes sense from a technological point of view. While we have no idea what this thing is, we can see that it's powered by a waveguide, with a considerable amount of RF energy in and out, based on the coaxial cables. It certainly makes the experience of being on Batuu seem more real. Photo by Donald Fink.
Rey has an interesting exercise for the travelers on Batuu. She lines up several travelers, including Chewie, and they practice passing messages from one person to the next. As you might imagine, the person to Chewie's left hears an interesting message from Chewie as he of course passes it along in his language. Photo by Bonnie Fink.
We've spent exactly one afternoon on Batuu. We took pictures, made a few video clips, and just looked things over in general. We were comfortable in the land because it felt like someplace we've been seeing for decades—and when you think about it, we have.
While Batuu itself has not been up front and center in any of the Star Wars movies yet, the place looks like so many of the worlds we've seen in the Star Wars movies, in that galaxy far, far away.