Former Imagineer Says Third Ride for Galaxy’s Edge Was Budget Cut & Scrapped After Being “Pretty Far Along”

    As Disney figures out what next steps it wants to take with the Star Wars franchise at its domestic theme parks, a former Imagineer has provided a bit more insight into a planned third attraction for the land. The ride has been talked about quite a bit, informally referred to as the “Bantha ride”, and would feature a giant creature named Elee that would interact with guests and give some guests a ride around the land. Despite her similarities to a Bantha, Elee was actually a Therii, which was a large, herding quadruped that was created specifically for Batuu.

    The wonderful Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge book has some more details and concept art for the shelved attraction, but a recent tweet from a former Imagineer departs from the company line presented in the book. Former longtime Imagineer Frank Mezzatesta said that Imagineers worked on the ride for “over a year”, but that the ride was “cut as a cost saving measure”. Mezzatesta, who had a storied 41-year career with some fan-favorite projects, said that the ride “would have been awesome”. Officially, Disney said that the ride was cut over capacity and authenticity concerns.

    This isn’t the first time that the curtain has been pulled back a bit on this ambitious ride. Shortly before Galaxy’s Edge opened at Walt Disney World, Walt Disney Imagineering shared a video that contained footage of Imagineers testing the concept for the “Bantha ride”.

    Imagineer Scott Trowbridge previously said that Imagineers “figured out how we could bring [Elee] to life technically”, but he also said that Imagineers realized that the expected popularity of the land wouldn’t have allowed Elee to “feel authentic”. Former Imagineer Margaret Kerrison said that the concept of Elee was challenging due to low capacity for the ride itself. Budget concerns for this ride were not talked about in the book.

    That said, the book does offer some insight into the development of Elee and the plans for the scrapped third attraction. Kerrison said that Elee would lumber around Galaxy’s Edge, and that Imagineers had devised a planned path for her to walk from what is now the speeder garages (Black Spire Station), into the Resistance area, and back in a circular path. In the early concept art below, we can see Elee on the left side of a planned “Stables” area that was sort of like a zoo with tons of different creatures. Guests would’ve experienced a wide variety of creatures, large and small, including iconic Star Wars creatures such as a Wampa and a Rancor.

    Even officially released concept art from Disney during the promotion of the land included Elee. In the wide shot below, we can see the First Order area in the upper right of the image, which exists in Galaxy’s Edge today. Then, in a courtyard in the lower left of the image, we can see what appears to be Elee. This courtyard is roughly where the Black Spire Station garage is, across from the current Savi’s Workshop area.

    Here’s a closer look at Elee in the courtyard. Of course, this is a much different environment than The Stables concept art presented above, which could mean that Elee and the third ride for Galaxy’s Edge made it through some serious concept iterations before ultimately being budget cut.

    Here’s a look at some of the concept art for Elee in the Galaxy’s Edge book.

    As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!

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