Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review: Spoils of the Empire
Updated: Aug 25, 2019
For the first time in the history of a franchise that has redefined Sci-Fi and Cinema, created several generations of rabid fans, and offered an escape to/from a galaxy far far away. A solid, cohesive effort to bring the landscapes of Star Wars has culminated in the creation of two different additions to Disney theme parks in the US.
Disney acquired Lucas films in 2012 and with it, the entire universe of Star Wars. Breathing new life to a supernova that perhaps didn't need assistance whatsoever. Still, now within the Disney umbrella, Star Wars has enjoyed a renewed vigor with compelling storylines. Merging some of Disney's storytelling and values with Star Wars' unique legacy.
The lands which are opening in 2019, offer an immersive experience, taking advantage of Disney's vast and creative Imagineering team. Attention to detail is everywhere, and every locale, and prop is carefully curated to bring to life the world of Star Wars for the entire universe to experience.
In the expansive and elaborated sets used as cue lines. Long are the days of stiff moving animatronics and welcome are the ones that show softness and articulate movement in their joints. Even the DJ at Olga's Cantina feels the beats better than most dancers could with its bobbing head and gestures. The feat to bring Star Wars to life is impressive, and Disney's Imagineering team should be proud of their accomplishments.
While walking the land on a limited admission preview, there is a revelation that showcases the biggest flaw in the design of the area.Even though Disney has long been associated as a theme park operator. As it is one of the most tangible assets and/or connection to their consumers, Disney is a media company, not a theme park operator. While the company has experienced various changes in direction, including the original provided by Walt Disney himself, today's company efforts and values are mostly focused on media as a worldwide juggernaut. Under the helm of Bob Iger, the company has streamlined and expanded, it is a golden era for Disney's media empire.
Disney's media success showcases an uncomfortable truth. Theme park expansions such as the ones created for Star Wars are the spoils of a media empire, and not a dream made a reality.
After Disney's success with Avatar land. A project which was heavily overseen by James Cameron's team to bring his vision to life. Expectations were high for Disney's new expansion to offer another light-year leap into a different level of immersive entertainment experience. Star Wars is the byproduct of Disney however, overseen by the company only, and with little involvement from George Lucas if any, as he sold his interest and legacy to Disney.
The lack of foresight and ambition from its leadership is palpable in the size of the land, and ranking of its popular attraction: Millennium Falcon, Smugglers Run. Even during the limited admission preview, outlets were already at capacity. Visitors were eager to taste something that, for some, has been a dream in the making for decades. Disney owed the legacy of Star Wars and its loyal fan base if not a better land, a more ambitious one.
There is another little known truth about the company. Disney is a corporation, a business first, and a social influencer second. Revenue management is in full display, and the company has made great strides at streamlining its operations, with some success. While some dollars were left on the table, Disney succeeds in merging the new lands into current operations (i.e., Disney's Hollywood Studios) and new resort developments. All the shops in their themed glory, quickly disguise a revenue scheme that is designed for light speed collection and intelligent yield management. Even the bar has moved to tapped offerings for cocktails, instead of handcrafted ones.
Disney has yet to release phase two of its project, and all other resort developments and synergy departments still need to come together. The possibility of instituting timed schedules with limited capacity access to the land (for a premium most likely), is always a possibility and is in trials at their west coast resort. The jury's still out on how all future developments will impact the overall experience.
Today, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge is an artistic rendering masterpiece, a welcome addition to the theme park offerings, and likely to become a physical Mecca for fans of the franchise. It will be a huge success, and it is sure to awe and delight guests for years to come. Still, with the limited space, and extreme demand for the area, may the force be with all of those who will be smuggled into the land.