Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, one of the most highly anticipated lands at a Disney theme park to ever be built, took a little bit less than four years from initial announcement to opening day and had plenty of concept art released along the way. For years, the concept art was all that fans had to go off of as parts of Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios were demolished and leveled to make way for the new 14-acre land. In this post, we thought it would be fun to comb over the concept art and compare it to what was actually built in Florida and California. The two lands are, for the most part, identical, so we’ll be able to have a fair comparison against the concept art whether you visit Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
We’ll start with a couple of things that were completely cut out of the final product, most notably a table service restaurant and a third attraction for the land.
Table Service Restaurant
We’ll try not to dwell on this too much, but according to concept art released and a sizzle reel as part of the The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 TV special, guests would be able to “go upscale at the planet’s best dinner club”. Concept art released for the restaurant clearly showed an open, sit down space.
In this overview of Black Spire Outpost, we can see the space that was reportedly carved out for the restaurant before it was cancelled. These photos are of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but an identical space exists at Disneyland.
In this closer shot, we can see the circular roof of Oga’s Cantina, which would have served as a lounge before patrons walked back to the restaurant. As it stands today, Oga’s Cantina serves a much bigger purpose than was originally intended.
The second notable cut from the final product as compared to released concept art is the Bantha Ride. This ride was reportedly supposed to put guests on the back of a Bantha (hairy elephant-type creature) as it roamed the land. Here’s a look at the concept art as seen behind now-Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
Here’s another sighting of the Bantha in a piece of nighttime concept art released by D23 in a section of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that doesn’t exist as we know it today. As you can see, this area would have been located to the bottom left of the Tie Fighter First Order area. This is essentially where the outdoor garage is across from Droid Depot.
A closer look at the Bantha in the courtyard.
Here’s a look at the general area as it is today. As you can see, it’s just an outdoor garage for landspeeders.
Going back to the nighttime concept art we saw above, we can see a battle taking place on the rooftop between what appears to be a dark side character and a light side character, if the lightsaber blade colors are anything to go by. Of course, adding a bit of flavor to a piece of concept art doesn’t necessarily confirm the entertainment aspect of the land. For that confirmation, we have to go back to Star Wars Celebration in 2017.
When showing a clip of a stunt workshop that the Walt Disney Imagineering team put together, Wendy Anderson, Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering talked about “using rooftops and ladders” to bring the action to you. Here’s the full panel of Imagineers and Lucasfilm execs talking about their concepts for the land, if you have some time.
Scott Trowbridge, lead Imagineer on the project, said that they were going to be doing “action sequences in real time with you right in the middle of it”. It’s clear that Walt Disney Imagineering had big goals and really immersive plans for the land that ultimately got cut.
Unknown Resistance Area
Going back to the concept art, here’s concept art released by Disney of an unknown Resistance area. In the concept art, we see what appears to be a circular opening in the Resistance Forest with what looks to be ancient ruins in the background and an X-Wing in the foreground. Waterfalls and multi-level walking areas are also featured.
While we didn’t get anything as large and dedicated as the area above, there is an X-Wing to be found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on what looks to be a landing pad. Now that you’ve seen the concept art, here’s a look at what was built in the land as seen at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
A similar X-Wing can be found at the Disneyland Batuu as well.
First Order Area
In the streets of Black Spire Outpost, guests will get the opportunity to see the imposing Tie Echelon fighter ship, Kylo Ren’s vessel of choice in the particular moment in time that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set in. As seen in the concept art below, this area is fairly similar to what ended up being the final product, with the exception of a switch out of the ship featured.
Here’s a look at the Tie Echelon fighter area as it exists.
One of the key elements of the concept art from the beginning was the presence of the Millennium Falcon. Here’s how it has been represented in various pieces of concept art.
What appeared to be rocks in the concept art turned out to be petrified trees. As such, they weren’t has high reaching as the concept art initially made it look like, but overall this area that the Millennium Falcon sits in looks like it turned out about how the Imagineers had envisioned (with the exception of a fence, maybe).
Speaking of rocks vs trees, here’s a piece of concept art that not only showcases a more tree-like texture, but shows it to be the home of some creatures. We can make out windows carved into the tree. It also looks like some of the trees in the background were much more developed, having roofs and cables running between them.
While the craftsmanship on the petrified trees is impressive (as seen in the photo below), there is no life to them as was illustrated in some of the early concept art.
One of the areas where it looks like Disney had a clear vision from the jump was that of the open air marketplace. A lot of the same structural and cosmetic details that you can see in the concept art below made it into the final product. From recessed, cave-like shops to the shaded-but-not-enclosed “roof”, it’s clear that this idea was something that Imagineers had down from the first pieces of concept art. That said, there are some differences, let’s explore.
Our photo below is pretty much the same area represented in the concept art above. Out of necessity, it’s not nearly as “busy” or “organic” as the marketplace in the concept art, but how can you just have fruit lying in the middle of a walkway?
Kat Saka’s Kettle
We’ll walk right down the marketplace, starting with Kat Saka’s Kettle on the right. Here’s the concept art…
…and here’s the storefront. As you can see, we lost the open flame and glass domes as a way to pop the popcorn, but it’s another example of concept vs reality in terms of safety and daily operations. After all, you still have to run a snack location that is safe for guests to order from!
In the queue, we can see some of the “busy” elements that are so well executed in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when they’re able to be done. It feels like some parts of the highly themed sections of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Creature Stall hits the mark a bit better than Kat Saka’s Kettle. The concept of “creatures everywhere” is pretty well executed and there’s even a sleeping Loth Cat in the real land. Here’s the concept art…
…and here’s the actual location.
The Toydarian Toymaker shop turned out to be a bit more pedestrian than the concept art would have you believe, although there are some elements that made it into the final product. The only thing that really hit the mark was the hanging ships from the ceiling. Here’s the concept art…
…and here’s the reality.
First Order Cargo
Before we head over to some of the attractions and eateries, let’s take a look at two shops. First up, First Order Cargo. Here’s the concept art…
…and here’s the real location.
Over in the Resistance Forest, we find the Resistance Supply. The Resistance Supply area pretty much fit the bill. Here’s the concept art…
…and here’s the reality.
Rise of the Resistance
Ok, let’s jump into the Rise of the Resistance concept art and compare that to what we actually get to experience. We’ll start with the exterior and the entrance to the attraction. The general feel of a resistance base in a forest is executed well, but we would have loved to see something more like Pandora where trees and foliage reach towards the sky and provide a “denser” feel to the area. Perhaps that will come with time.
This is about as good of an overview as we can get, showing the ships parked outside of the entrance, and a glimpse of Poe’s X-Wing and the I-TS that takes guests into space tucked away in the caves on the right.
As far as officially released concept art, there wasn’t a lot to go off of for Rise of the Resistance. As the second attraction to open in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there was quite a bit of mystery to the attraction come opening day in December 2019. That said, there were some pieces of concept art that Imagineering executed to near perfection.
There are a few show stopping moments in Rise of the Resistance, but the most popular has to be the Star Destroyer hangar. Guests are able to somewhat freely roam in this space for a minute or so before being escorted off to the interrogation chambers, but it’s an impressive space.
Here’s the expectation…
…and here’s the reality.
Another piece of concept art that was wonderfully executed was another show stopping scene in which guests come face-to-face with two AT-ATs.
While we may not have gotten the articulating heads that we had all hoped for, it’s still an impressive part of the attraction and one that really sets the pace of the escape sequence of the experience.
Of course, you can experience the attraction from the comfort of your couch with our 4K full ride-through experience below!
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Earlier we said that Rise of the Resistance was the second attraction to open in Galaxy’s Edge, but what was the first? On opening day, guests only had one option when it came to rides in the land – Smugglers Run. That single option might be considered an expectation vs reality in it’s own right, but we’ll continue.
There were a couple of pieces of concept art released for Smugglers Run, and we’ll start with the highlight of the attraction – the cockpit.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to ride Smugglers Run would definitely echo our praise for the details found in the cockpit and the ride experience. This is another good example of how the expectations were executed in reality.
Take a ride for yourself in our video below!
To close our article, we’ll throw some concept vs reality photos together of some of the eateries and bars found in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Oga’s Cantina had a few different iterations before the final concept art was realized. Here is some early art compared with the final product.
And the location as it exists today.
Docking Bay 7
With the table service restaurant cut from the final product, Docking Bay 7 acts as the main eatery for the land. Here’s a look at the concept art versus the location as it exists today.
Thirsty for some blue or green milk? Thankfully the Milk Stand matches the concept art well enough and very clearly displays the product for sale.
Perhaps the most exciting quick service location when it was announced was Ronto Roasters. Come on, a dining location where a podracing engine was cooking the meat? The visuals in the final product were excellent, even if the FDA required a more traditional grill in reality.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
While Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities was pretty much shrouded in mystery from the moment the concept art was released, some elements made it into the final design such as Dok-Ondar himself, and a collection of oddities scattered throughout the location. We would have loved to have seen that massive skeleton hanging from the ceiling though!
Last, but certainly not least, is Savi’s Workshop. The lightsaber-building experience is one of the most pure experiences you can have in the land, and comes highly recommended from us here at BlogMickey.com
Here’s a look at the concept art.
And here’s the reality.
It truly is an amazing experience, and one that we think every Star Wars fan should participate in when visiting the land. Here’s our full video of the experience!
Finally, if you would like to virtually visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you can “choose your own adventure” below and take a walk-through either in a 360-degree walk-through video first, or a video where we walk through the land when the theme parks reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overall, Imagineering clearly displayed that they had huge goals for the land. From a table service dinner show to stunt shows that took place all around you, there is no doubt that there were some unrealized plans for Galaxy’s Edge that we can only hope are implemented in the future. That said, what is built is still an impressive effort that houses perhaps the best theme park attraction in the world and a variety of experiences that aim to immerse you in Star Wars lore. Disney has expressed interest in allowing this land to evolve over time and the construction of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel steps away from the land represents ambition from Disney as it relates to the Star Wars franchise.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news and photos from around the Disney Parks!