Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm created virtually identical versions of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and Disney World, but the twin themed lands weren’t always going to be exactly alike.

Imagineering portfolio executives Scott Trowbridge and Robin Reardon discussed the evolution of the two Star Wars lands during a case study webcast presented by the Themed Entertainment Association. Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed land and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run flight simulator ride each received TEA Thea Awards for outstanding achievement.

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The Imagineers said the plan from the very beginning was to build two Star Wars lands — one at Disneyland and one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

“Early on, you can imagine the conversations we had about Tatooine, Hoth or Dagobah — all these classic places that we have seen in Star Wars storytelling in the past,” Trowbridge said during the webcast. “But for us, from the very beginning, we said, ‘No we don’t want to do that.’”

The goal was to create a place where Disney theme park visitors could experience their own Star Wars story rather than recreate hero Luke Skywalker’s story on Tatooine or heroine Rey’s story on Jakku.

“We wanted to build a place that felt like it was the perfect stepping off point for your adventure,” Trowbridge said during the webcast. “A place rife with opportunity, rife with possibility.”

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The Imagineering and Lucasfilm teams settled on a plan to take fans to a Star Wars location in a galaxy far, far away that had not yet been seen in the movies, TV shows, books or video games.

But what would the new Star Wars locale look like? And should the creative team dream up one new Star Wars planet or two different ones for the Florida and California theme parks?

“We did have a moment where we considered building a different project in each location, but it was a very short moment,” Trowbridge said during the webcast. “We pretty quickly realized that the right thing to do was for us to build sister versions of the same place on each coast.”

The Imagineering and Lucasfilm teams decided to design one and build two Galaxy’s Edge themed lands set in the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu. The result: Batuu West debuted at Disneyland in May 2019 and Batuu East opened in August 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

“We knew that it was going to be more inefficient to design two different things,” Reardon said during the webcast. “We built two of everything at the same time.”

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What were the two different versions of Galaxy’s Edge? Did the creative team dream up two new Star Wars planets? Or contemplate two different regions of Batuu? Were the Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance rides always planned for both coasts? Or were other Star Wars attractions mocked up? We may never know.

Walt Disney Imagineering officials said they like to focus on built experiences rather than unrealized ideas and declined to expand upon the statements made by Trowbridge and Reardon.


By Richard Moran

Richard Moran loves to write about sports with the Golden State Online. Before that, he worked as a senior writer at ESPN. Richard grew up in San Diego and graduated from the University of San Diego in 2004, after which he worked as an editor for five years.

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