Disney bets on a new planet to wow ‘Star Wars’ fans at U.S. parks

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When the “Star Wars” galaxy is brought to life at Walt Disney Co’s US theme parks later this year, fans will not step onto the iconic landscapes of Hoth or Tatooine.

The 6-hectare Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge sections of the two theme parks are set on Batuu, a remote frontier planet never seen on screen.

Expectations run high from generations of fans, many of whom have waited 40 years since the original 1977 film to visit areal-world version of the galaxy far, far away. Disney describes Galaxy’s Edge as its most ambitious park expansion ever.

Theme park designers said they debated whether to replicate a well-known movie location such as Luke Sky walker’s desert home of Tatooine or the icy planet Hoth.

The team consulted with the Lucas film movie division and opted to build a planet that had been mentioned in “Star Wars”movies and books but was not yet familiar to fans.

The goal was to make visitors feel like they were in the”Star Wars” world but could have a new experience where they play a role, said Chris Beatty, executive creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Designers decided to “lean forward into the future,” Beatty told reporters, “but leave a door open to the past.”

“There is a lot of risk and a lot of pressure to deliver on people’s dreams and imaginations,” he added, “but that’s what we do as imagineers.”

In the works for more than four years, Galaxy’s Edge is set to debut at California’s Disneyland this summer and at Walt Disney World in Florida in the fall. Opening dates have not been announced.

Disney’s theme-park designers worked with Lucas film to craft a “Star Wars” story that could work in characters, creatures, vehicles and other elements old and new.

The land centers on a settlement called Black Spire Outpost inhabited by smugglers and bounty hunters. The time period is set during the current movie trilogy, which will conclude with the December release of “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

 

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