Of ‘Star Wars’ and wish fulfillment

AT: Dean Lamanna

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuted at Disneyland in May. As Disney prepares the Aug. 29 roll-out of the land’s second location at Walt Disney World Resort, I’m offering my own Star Wars semi-fan’s experience of the concept.


Admittedly, I never fully bought into the Force. I saw Star Wars exactly once upon its release in 1977 and paid admission to Close Encounters of the Third Kind three times that same year. Although mildly entertained by the exploits of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, I preferred my science fiction a little more grounded, thanks.

Galaxy’s Edge has stirred considerable online debate, along with the inevitable comparisons to Universal Studios’ Harry Potter-inspired lands. Some valid criticisms have been presented. But it’s hard to imagine how Galaxy’s Edge could have completely lived up to 42 years of fan expectations and five years of theme park marketing hype.

Disney, as it always does, will work out the kinks. In the meantime, there’s the Millennium Falcon in stunning, gritty, life-size glory. And more colorful merchandise than any hardcore Star Warrior could have dreamed of growing up.

Galaxy’s Edge, at this stage — beyond the very act of stepping into it, and months before the arrival of its second major attraction, Rise of the Resistance — is less about instant gratification than absorption. Its considerable pleasures lie in its architecture and ambience, the exotically festive environment of Oga’s Cantina, and the marvelously hands-on droid and lightsaber workshops. One’s level of appreciation may be generational: baby boomers (like myself) and gen-X’ers, I suspect, are more likely to admire it holistically.

We who report on this industry have an intimate appreciation for all of the folks who make the magic. But here’s a special shout-out to the teams at Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm for honoring the Star Wars fandom, and franchise, by putting in the research and minding the details, and for creating a new platform for evolving a beloved mythology. And yes, for making new fans.

In the best Disney theme park tradition, Galaxy’s Edge is an impressive work in progress — with even greater promise.

This article appears in the AUGUST 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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