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‘The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ reveals details and unbuilt concepts

by Tharin White

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a massive land with rides, shops, dining, and a strong backstory, but what changed from the original plans? While flying TIE Fighters and lightsabers that cut through metal aren’t possible in the real world, some incredible projects are possible. With the recent distribution of “The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” book by Amy Ratcliffe, we can see what was originally planned, what was modified for the park, and what didn’t make it beyond pen and paper.

First Order Tie Fighter Area Star Wars Galaxy's Edge
All art by Disney, courtesy of “The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge“.

First Order Cargo and Tie Echelon

One of the many highlight areas of this land is the First Order landing spot. During non-social distancing times, this usually crowded area shows where Kylo Ren, First Order Officers, and Stormtroopers come out of a TIE Echelon. From there, they go out into the land in search of Resistance supporters. But, as you can see above, a TIE Echelon was not always the first choice for this area.


Tie Fighter Garrison Concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

In fact, this area was originally envisioned in a different way. Much like most concept art, this area was first drawn up larger than life. The TIE fighter would have been raised up significantly higher than guests view. The black spires were also a major part of this original design. But with the land’s storyline of the First Order arriving recently, a base of this scale wouldn’t fit the story properly. And for practicality, it would be hard to get photos with the TIE fighter or do shows on the platform.


Imperial Shuttle concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Another version of this area made it farther along in the project. It also looks much closer to what we have now in the land. This version of the area featured an Imperial Shuttle. It is also set in a different timeline than we now have in the land. Currently, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is placed in-between “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker.” The land is in a continual form of groundhog’s day, with each day the same as the last. But, seen in the concept art above, the land was at one time potentially going to be during the original trilogy timeline.


In the end, a new design of TIE won out. One that was both a transport ship and featured that signature TIE design. It offered a sneaky way for Kylo Ren, First Order Officers, and Stormtroopers to come out into the land. And nearby, a gift shop which exclusively sells First Order gear.


Elee interactive character entertainment for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Elee Interactive Walk-Around Creature

One interactive element never made it into the land. That was the creature named Elee. This walk-around sci-fi animal would be designed for interactions and based on extreme realism. Personality and loveableness would be key to bringing her to life. Disney has done walk-around interactive creatures before, like Lucky the Dinosaur. While not soft or covered in fur like the proposed Elee, a fan-favorite park character for years was Push the Trashcan. Elee was to be a new, “living and breathing” creature which brought life and realism to the land. She was cancelled due to concerns of the “population of the land.” Simply said, it is hard to walk a three-ton robotic animal around when thousands of people are already pushing by each other to visit the area.

They say with Walt Disney Imagineering, an idea never dies. It’s sometimes reborn in a new way. Or, it may wait on a shelf for years and years until a new opportunity presents itself. While Elee did not make it past the drawing board, the idea of interactive elements continued on in other forms.


Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run mission concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run Missions

The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction may be best described as the world’s most immersive video game. Six guests sit in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit as they go to lightspeed on a daring mission. Two pilots take control of the ship, two gunners defend the ship and two engineers help repair when the first four don’t fully do their jobs. Currently, guests are invited in to join Hondo Ohnaka and Chewbacca as they chase after and steal First Order coaxium. This mission involves quick maneuvering and shooting, and has some unexpected moments along the way. But running after coaxium on Corellia wasn’t the only original idea.


Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run mission concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Imagine, for a moment, that instead of stealing coaxium, you instead have to fight a huge space creature or escape a dying star. This attraction is essentially a giant simulator hooked up to a video game. There are pre-destined paths and timing involved, but guests can make certain elements change. Guests make the guns shoot. Hondo Ohnaka talks in response to real-time actions and steering left or right really makes you move that way. In fact, this ride and simulation system was built in part by Disney, Nvidia and Epic Games. Epic Games may best be known for their popular free-to-play FPS game, Fortnite.


With the power of a video game, you don’t need to build massive sets to change things. In theory, you should be able to do all your work outside of the attraction. A literal plug-and-play when you are ready to test it in the park. While that is easier said than done, it does mean there is a chance for more missions in the future. Perhaps there are different missions every time you visit. Or, special missions only show up during certain times of the year. We’re hoping we see these concepts be added to the ride in the future.


Docking Bay 7 ship concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo Space Ship Concepts

Take a look above Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo and you will see a highly detailed ship. This ship flares up its engine occasionally and ties into the storyline of the quick service restaurant below it. The concept art above is very close to the final design that we now see in the park. But, all great things come from a multitude of great ideas.

Docking Bay 7 space ship concepts for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Imagine the thrill of being a Walt Disney Imagineer and being told, “go design a cargo spaceship.” While your ship needs a function, you essentially have a blue sky to begin with. You get to decide if this is a new ship or a battle-damaged one. How will pilots sit in the cockpit? How will it land? The images above showcase the same function of crate delivery, but in vastly different ways. The wonderful part about the Star Wars Galaxy is that it’s nearly limitless. With thousands of planets, species, tribes, and designs, there is always room for something new. The above images showcase that thrill to make something new. The final product stands out, with that unique Star Wars look and sounds.


Rey, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and Vi Moradi stunt show concept for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.

Shows and Interactive Moments

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was originally shown off to be the ultimate in interaction, both digitally in an app and in-person with live entertainment. While some characters made it through, most of the large-scale shows and alien-type characters did not appear in the final land. Shown above, a fight between Kylo Ren, Rey, Chewbacca, and Vi Moradi in concept art for the land.

This show did make it to the land, in a way. This lightsaber battle, which has only happened during a media event so far, was spectacular. It featured stunts, special effects, and pyrotechnics. Sadly though, your everyday guest has never gotten a chance to see it. Not having daily moments such as this caused critique since the opening. In fact, a loss of characters and entertainment offerings is the most noticeable change from the concept art pieces to the final product.


Kalikori Club table service Star Wars restaurant.

Never Built Table Service ‘Kalikori Club’ Restaurant

One major change from originally proposed plans to the final product was the loss of a large-scale table service restaurant. When first mentioned, this locale would feature other-worldly foods and alien performers as entertainment. This large eatery could have had a speakeasy bar, ample room for dining, and multiple types of live entertainment.


Kalikori Club table service entertainment inside Galaxy's Edge.

This club was to be owned by a Twi’lek, and she would be one of the performers there. Guests could come and dine, and watch as alien creatures danced and sung for them. The Star Wars Galaxy is full of incredibly diverse characters, from droids to humanoids. The rich design of the clothing, combined with a choreographed dance and live music could have made for a distinctly Star Wars dining destination.


Kalikori Club atmosphere and bar at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

This restaurant and lounge was to be a large space, equipped with a spice club, a large foyer, and dining spaces. It was themed to an abandoned bathhouse turned anew as an upscale speakeasy and restaurant. This area would have taken hints from the famous cantinas and clubs of Star Wars, like in Mos Eisely, or at Jabba’s Palace.


Kalikori Club foyer with large aquarium.

And to welcome you in? How about a multi-story aquarium filled with a monster-sized sea creature. A bold statement to welcome you in to this exotic dining locale. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge certainly uses large structures and theme-specific architecture to sell that you are in this other world. This restaurant, which did not get built nor open with the land, would have been a strong element of this story of exotic areas.


DJ Rex at Oga's Cantina.

Oga’s Cantina

While we did not get the Kalikori Club, we did get Oga’s Cantina. If you haven’t seen it, it is by far one of the most fun themed bars you will ever visit. The drinks, music, and food all tie together to really sell an out-of-this-world experience. In fact, the Fuzzy Tauntaun is one of my favorite adult beverages ever. The main highlight of the bar is DJ R-3X, or known to some formerly as RX-24, as he plays bar tunes and occasionally malfunctions.


Oga’s Cantina was so popular upon opening, that Disney actually gave time limits for how long people could stay. And, drinks were limited to two adult beverages per adult. This bar, especially when guests dress the part and the cast members really sell their storyline, is one of the most immersive areas in the land. But this bar had some other looks before it came to be what we know today.


Hutt animatronic centerpiece for bar at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Imagine, instead of a lovable droid to welcome you in to the cantina, your eyes gaze upon a Hutt, raised high-up above the bar. As the usual kings of clubs and cantinas in the Star Wars galaxy, it makes sense this was an original idea for the space. Although, do you want to stare at a creature like Jabba the Hutt for an hour while eating? Perhaps not, and it maybe Imagineers felt the same way.


Large aquarium and fish centerpiece concept art for Oga's Cantina.

Therefore, the centerpiece of this space could be another creature entirely. A massive aquarium with a fish-based bartender and club owner would inhabit the center of the cantina. Imagineers state lack of technology and resources are what kept this massive fish from coming to life. While not exactly the same, we have seen underwater animatronics thrive before, like in the queue for Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. If another phase of this land is to be constructed, perhaps we could see a combination of this and the Kalikori Club come together in one space.


Bartender character concepts for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

As said previously, the created land also has significantly less alien creatures, robots, and bounty hunters than what was previously shown. This continues with looks at what the bartenders could have been. As seen above, there were multitudes of different designs and ideas for bartenders. While the technicality of having a real-life bartender do their job while portraying this character would have been difficult, it certainly isn’t impossible. And it would have been yet another Star Wars-esque element to bring another galaxy to life.


Coca-Cola and Disney collaboration for Star Wars drinks/

Collaborations With Coca-Cola

When it comes to food and drink in the land, not everything can be a $15 drink covered in edible moss with two types of alcohol. Thousands of park guests simply need a grab-and-go drink. And a team-up between Disney and Coca-Cola made that happen perfectly. Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani offered in a theme park is normal. But take those drinks, theme them after Star Wars bombs, write their logo in the native Star Wars language and BAM you have a massive success. Seen above, the designs for these drinks underwent a lot of different looks and themes.


Ultimately, the final looks and logos stay true to the brand, but blend well into the Star Wars Galaxy. They quickly became collectibles, with Coca-Cola and Star Wars fans eager to get their hands on one of each design.


Toydarian Toymaker in the Black Spire Outpost.

Toydarian Toy Market And Hidden Tailor Store

With a land as highly-themed as this, you also need highly-themed merchandise stores carrying exclusive wares. The shop showcased above eventually became the Toydarian Toymaker store.


These stores each offer a themed selection of merchandise, from clothing to toys, to take home creatures. While overall the Black Spire Outpost Marketplace is large, these small shops give a feeling of a flea market. And while these shops operate with great success, there was originally an idea to do even more.


Proposed alien boutique for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Walt Disney World has offered the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for years, (although they are currently closed due to health regulations). These boutiques help turn children into the prince or princess of their dreams. Speciality hair and make-up is done, and packages can even include speciality clothing and toy plushes. This idea of an all-in-one destination for a make-over was thought of for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Guests could have been made to look like their favorite Star Wars alien species. And afterwards, guests would have been given an Identicard as proof of their new alien lineage.


Cast member outfits for citizen of the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu.

The Citizens of the Black Spire Outpost

One aspect that came to be, and was done so with great taste and attention to detail, was the look of the citizens in the land. Cast members have always had themed outfits, but Disney wanted to take it a step further. Cast members in Tomorrowland and Fantasyland fit their area, but guests may see them as part of the land, not as individuals. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge went against that, offering numerous bases for clothing and accessories to help each cast member individualize themselves. (Outside of just Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, cast members have recently been allowed to be more of themselves in the Disney Parks.)


Concept art for crew of the Halcyon, the Star Wars Galactic Star Cruiser hotel.

Costume design continues on for the crew of the Halcyon; this still-being-built Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser hotel destination is right outside of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While we don’t yet have a comparison as to what made the final look, this concept art can give us an idea as to what is to come.


Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is one of the largest and most ambitious lands ever created. When originally proposed, this land was said to open in phases. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened in phase two of the land, months after the original areas of the land opened with the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run attraction. Phase three will be the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel. Could a phase four be in the works? Perhaps we could one day see some of these concepts come to life in the parks. When the COVID-19 social distancing and masks disappear, we could one day see even more Star Wars characters come to life in this space.

The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” by Amy Ratcliffe (from Abrams Books) features hundreds of full-color concept artworks, sketches, blueprints, photographs, and more. You can purchase your copy at Amazon.com (sponsored link), Abrams Books, and other major book sellers.

For more unofficial details about when Galaxy’s Edge was planned to represent the original trilogy, purchase the Summer 2019 issue of “Attractions Magazine“.


How do you think the overall land holds up to the original proposed concept art? What areas would you keep, and what would you change? Let us know in the comments below.

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