Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019: Bringing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Life at Disney Parks

Each morning at Celebration Chicago, the main Celebration Stage offered a flagship panel to begin the day. On Saturday, April 13, the focus was Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the impending theme park expansions opening on May 31 at Disneyland in Anaheim and August 29 at Hollywood Studios in Orlando.

As might be expected at the Star Wars focused convention, the clear target audience of the panel was fans who have not diligently been following all of the ongoing progress updates from the Disney Parks side of the franchise. Most of the panelists were the same as previous presentations at Celebration Orlando and Galactic Nights: Disney executives Scott Trowbridge and Chris Beatty, lead Imagineers Margaret Kerrison and Asa Kalama, and Lucasfilm’s head of design Doug Chiang, this time joined by Matt Martin from the story team. After an introduction from Josh Gad, which poked fun at the intense secrecy surrounding the project, the panelists hit upon the familiar key principles behind the creation of Galaxy’s Edge: immersiveness in the Star Wars galaxy, allowing guests to shape their own Star Wars stories as they experience the land, and attention to detail and verisimilitude to make Galaxy’s Edge the most impression achievement to date for the Disney Parks.

The centerpiece announcement of the panel was shared with two executives from the Coca-Cola company: an arrangement reached between the two companies to offer certain Coke products – Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Dasani water – inside Galaxy’s Edge. While the coloring and logos are familiar, allowing guests to recognize what they’re buying, the lettering appears in Aurebesh to ensure consistency with the rest of the land. Although Disney Parks have created much of their own food and beverage offerings for Galaxy’s Edge, this touch of the familiar will reassure those fans who might not want to get too experimental in their dining habits. Fans who attended the Galaxy’s Edge panel at Celebration received a free Aurebesh Coca-Cola t-shirt as the giveaway after it ended.

The panel also provided a number of other new insights into Galaxy’s Edge. They shared a brief video of the amazing Hondo Ohnaka animatronic that greets guests in the “Millennium Falcon: Smugger’s Run” ride, and revealed that the exit corridor from the ride will have varying appearances depending on how smoothly – or not – the crew navigates the mission in the iconic freighter. The panelists also played excerpts from two tunes spun by DJ Rex, the droid entertainer in Oga’s Cantina, and previewed how the Play Disney Parks app, usable on smartphones and tablet devices, will provide the storytelling functionality for guests who truly want the choices they make in Galaxy’s Edge to shape the outcome of their time in the land.

With the Disneyland opening of Galaxy’s Edge only a few weeks away, we’re sure to learn a lot more about the expansion very soon.

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B.J. Priester has been a Star Wars fan since he played with the original Kenner action figures as a young boy. His fandom passion returned after watching Attack of the Clones in 2002 and reading the entire New Jedi Order series in 2003. He voraciously caught up on the novels and comics in the Expanded Universe in addition to writing fanfiction, frequently co-authoring with Tricia. B.J. has served as editor of FANgirl Blog from its inception, as well as contributing reviews and posts on a range of topics. He edited Tricia’s novel Wynde, and is collaborating with her on several future projects set in that original universe. Currently a tenured law professor in Florida, B.J. has been a practicing lawyer in Washington, D.C., a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge, and a law journal editor-in-chief. He is also a proud geek dad whose son who is a big fan of Star Wars and The Clone Wars.