Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge finally brings us into our favorite franchise. It is very well done, but it leaves much to be desired.
I was ecstatic to be among the first members of the public to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland during opening weekend.
Walking into Black Spire Outpost as I made the transition from Frontierland to a galaxy far, far away was truly surreal. However, once my four hours were up and I made the same transition in reverse, I was clouded by a sense of disappointment and dissatisfaction.
More from Disney
- Seasons of the Force and new Star Tours coming to Disneyland
- Galaxy’s Edge delights fans revealing three new roaming droids
- New Young Jedi Adventure trailer gives first look at Bell Zettifar
- Interview: John Jackson Miller discusses transition from EU to Disney
- Ahsoka Tano is coming to Disneyland’s Star Tours
Don’t get me wrong, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was particularly well done: the architecture and design were truly a feat of artistic prowess and engineering mastery. The attention to detail in everything from Dok Ondar’s to the moisture evaporators on the edge of the outpost was impeccable, and even the cast members put on a convincing performance as the citizens of Batuu.
My disappointment did not lie with what was in Galaxy’s Edge, but rather what was not there.
I feel it is important to provide a caveat to this entire opinion: Rise of the Resistance is not yet open. If it turns out Disney decided to blow its entire budget on creating this supposedly Earth-shattering attraction and therefore choose to neglect some of the items I am about to mention, then perhaps I can forgive the lack of substance provided to the other parts of Black Spire Outpost. So consider this review entirely in the context of how Galaxy’s Edge currently is rather than what it may become.
One of, if not the most, enchanting aspects of the Star Wars saga is the entirely different, yet somewhat familiar, universe George Lucas created. A major part of this universe comes in the form of the citizens, creatures, and droids that populate it.
This is perhaps the most jarring issue with Galaxy’s Edge: it doesn’t feel populated.
Out of the entire land, there were a grand total of two audio-animatronic characters that served as the only reminders that alien life exists on Black Spire Outpost (save for the distant silhouette of Zabaka, owner of the Toydarian Toymaker shop, and perhaps the limited-effects creatures that inhabit the creature stall).
This came as a surprise, as Disney is well known for its creation and usage of incredible animatronic figures throughout its theme park empire. Indeed, the two figures currently in use in Galaxy’s Edge, Hondo Ohnaka in the Smuggler’s Run attraction and Dok Ondar in his shop, are incredible.
Truly, these figures represent the next level in creating unfathomably immersive experiences for theme park guests. However, there are only two of them, and as such Galaxy’s Edge feels as though it is missing a major segment of the Star Wars universe.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 29: Stormtroopers are seen at the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Media Preview at the Disneyland Resort on May 29, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Additionally, during my entire four-hour reservation window, I came across a total of two stormtroopers, Rey, and Chewbacca. These stormtroopers stood on raised platforms at the edge of the outpost, surveying the crowd and occasionally shouting commands into the mass of people standing before them.
Meanwhile, Rey and Chewbacca were little more than opportunities for character photos like you would find anywhere else in a Disney park. Admittedly, they weren’t confined to a single area as other park characters tend to be, but their purpose seemed to be little more than photo ops.
All of this would be fine and good for a traditional Disney theme park, and of course photo ops are going to happen at a major tourist destination such as Galaxy’s Edge.
The issue here is twofold: first, if the goal is to create a completely immersive Star Wars universe, it seems far fetched that these characters would simply be wandering around without a purpose (particularly in plain view of First Order stormtroopers?).
Second, this was the extent of “mobile” characters I encountered during my entire four-hour visit to Black Spire.
I don’t necessarily believe that more “mainstream” characters were needed per say, but this goes back to my earlier point of Black Spire feeling woefully underpopulated. How hard would it be for Disney to throw some cast members in makeup and alien garb and send them out to wander the streets, perhaps attempting to lure travelers into their respective shops or simply make small talk?
Disney has already done this in its revamp of California Adventure, where its enlisted cast members in various roles as inhabitants of Buena Vista Street who wander the area and interact with visitors. It seems like an overwhelmingly simple concept Disney either ignored or overlooked in its conceptualization of this massive expansion.
On a similar note, there was a noticeable lack of mechanized inhabitants in the land. I counted four droids during my time in Black Spire (DJ R-3X, the two droids behind the checkout counter of Droid Depot, and the pitmaster droid at Ronto Roasters), none of which were free moving.
This only furthered the issue of Galaxy’s Edge feeling remarkably underpopulated. Again, how difficult would it be for Disney to dispatch some autonomous R2 units on preprogrammed paths throughout the outpost? I’m old enough to remember the days when there was a remote controlled trash can in Tomorrowland that would walk around interacting with guests, so obviously this is a possibility Disney has explored in the past.
Ultimately, Galaxy’s Edge is a notable entry into Disney’s portfolio and absolutely a must-see for any Star Wars fan. For the first time, we are truly able to enter the galaxy that we have all dreamed of since the days of our youth. Disney has done a fine job of providing an introduction to that galaxy far, far away, now they just need to perfect it.
Have you visited Black Spire Outpost yet? What was your experience like? Comment below and share your thoughts!