Since acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney has placed an emphasis on incorporating more Star Wars into their theme parks. Though the company ditched the annual Star Wars Weekends events, expansions began with the addition of Launch Bay exhibits at both Disneyland and Disney World's Hollywood Studios. While those areas still exist in varying forms, they served as holdovers until Disney's major project was completed: Galaxy's Edge.
Identical locations opened on each coast in 2019, bringing the new world Batuu to this galaxy. An expansion opened just a few months ago at Hollywood Studios by way of the Galactic Starcruiser hotel, an expensive two-day trip that offers guests the chance to sleep in "space." The two attractions combine to make an immersive experience unlike anything done before, putting Star Wars fans right in the middle of the conflict between the First Order and Resistance.
And that's been a bit of the problem. Roaming the grounds of Galaxy's Edge are contingents of First Order stormtroopers, often accompanying Kylo Ren. Rey and Chewbacca can also be found around the park while Resistance spy Vi Moradi evades capture, and aboard the Halcyon the Supreme Leader and young Jedi meet for the only time between Episodes VIII and IX. The experiences are intended to be part of the Star Wars canon, leaving little roam for interactions with classic characters.
While impressive, Galaxy's Edge is relatively limited in scope. The insistence to keep the park set strictly in the sequel trilogy era has been one of the most common complaints by visitors, many of whom would prefer to see the world expand into different branches of the Star Wars timeline. Though no definitive changes are imminent, a new experience being introduced by Disney has laid the groundwork for such an evolution to occur.
Cargo Bay Functional For All Star Wars Eras
Disney Cruise Line has introduced Star Wars: Cargo Bay aboard their newest ship, the Disney Wish, and The Direct had the opportunity to check out what it has to offer.
Located in the Oceaneer’s Club of the Disney Wish, Star Wars: Cargo Bay allows younglings the chance to be creature handlers aboard a starship bound for Batuu via a blend of augmented reality, audio-animatronics, & interactive activities. Among the creatures onboard are porgs, worrts, Loth Cats, and a dianoga - but the kids have a higher purpose: their true mission is to aid stowaways Rey and Chewbacca back to the Resistance. Adults will be welcome during select times as well, and there's plenty to appreciate for fans of all ages.
As fans have come to expect, Cargo Bay is highly detailed, in line with traditional Star Wars sets:
A star chart is a necessity for those venturing out to the edge of the galaxy:
A worrt chills in behind glass, though there's no word on if this one burps:
Protecting her eggs in a nest of wires is a caged porg:
At last, the mighty Chewbacca stands tall in the exhibit:
Additionally, The Direct's Savannah Sanders had the opportunity to speak with Show Director Tony Giordano, who teased that the storytelling for the Cargo Bay experience can change as Star Wars expands:
"What's really neat about the Cargo Bay is anything can come to life here, because we never know what we can find in any of the crates. So, the idea that we're on a ship to anywhere - right, now the idea is we're on our way to Batuu - but we can honestly go anywhere. And as the stories continue to grow in the Star Wars galaxy, we can change the storytelling."
Giordano specifically noted Disney's willingness to alter the storyline as movies and Disney+ series introduce new storylines:
"So as stories grow in the series or the movies, the stories here can change as well. Right now, we're following the story of Rey and Chewie... But again, as the storytelling changes, we can bring in a different character, and we can go down those storylines, because as you know, Star Wars has so many different timelines and so many different characters to pull from. You never know."
Cargo Bay is designed to be adaptable to any kind of narratives, including things that have yet to come:
"That's what's really great about this kind of space, is that we can pull from anything, and we can tell any kind of stories we'd like."
A New Approach For Galaxy's Edge
There's no doubt that Galaxy's Edge is a cool experience. It's a true spectacle, and Disney's Imagineers did exceptional work - the "Rise of the Resistance" attraction is an incredible feat, well worth the 90-minute wait. The world lives up to its promises, authentically transporting Star Wars fans to the galaxy far, far away with no trace of the other Disney areas left behind.
Unfortunately, it's really only something to do once. For the moment, the only thing keeping the experience fresh is the influx of new merchandise (largely the Legacy lightsabers). It's easy to get through all of Galaxy's Edge in less than half a day, and that includes an extended wait for "Rise" that will likely involve a breakdown or two. The Savi's Workshop experience is an over-priced lightsaber building gimmick with a brief dog and pony show featuring Yoda. But the blue milk is pretty good.
For Galaxy's Edge to stay fresh, Disney needs to begin incorporating characters from other eras - and that's fortunately started, though not in an immersive capacity. It was reported long ago that Disney was planning to incorporate stars from The Mandalorian as roaming characters. Coinciding with Star Wars Celebration, both Boba Fett and Fennec Shand made their first appearances in Disneyland, with the contingency that they wouldn't encounter sequel-era entities. Hollywood Studios is currently omitting them due to immersion that would be broken by the Galactic Starcruiser.
It's difficult to imagine going to a Star Wars-themed land and not crossing paths with the likes of Darth Vader or The Mandalorian. Though it's a 14-acre expansion, Galaxy's Edge is actually pretty small. With the amount of land available in Orlando, an entire Star Wars theme park would've been ideal. But what Disney opted to go with does work, it's just a matter of including the recognizable for fans of all generations.
Given the recent success of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it wouldn't be surprising to see the titular Jedi Master and Vader end up in Galaxy's Edge at some point. The same can be said for Mando and Grogu, with their Book of Boba Fett having set the precedent.
Cargo Bay represents an intriguing shift in philosophy by Disney, an indication that they're willing to break away from the sequel era and allow Batuu to change as audience interests change. There still appears to be a commitment to canon immersion, which will make it tricky for classic characters to become significant mainstays. Through publishing, Lucasfilm has made clear that Galaxy's Edge and the Galactic Starcruiser have rich histories spanning hundreds of years. Eventually, one would think those eras will be represented at the attractions.
If Cargo Bay is designed to change as Star Wars storytelling evolves, then the rest of the Galaxy's Edge experience can likewise do so. There will be some difficulties; the Millennium Falcon may not always fit with the story the land is trying to tell, and "Rise of the Resistance" will have to be re-purposed at times. Cosmetics are easy adjustments for Disney, as are any expansions to the land itself. For the attractions to have staying power, they need to evolve. Shifting the narrative to bring in fan favorites as an investment for Disney is worth every penny.