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The Big Thing Lucasfilm Learned From Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge That Helped Build The New Star Wars Hotel

(Image credit: Walt Disney World)

Theme parks have always been about making guests feel like they were part of a story being told by using an attraction to put them right in the middle of things, but in recent years we’ve seen that taken to a new extreme. From Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Disney World’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, we’ve seen theme parks not simply build immersive rides but entire lands that want you to feel like you’re inside the story. And now Disney has pushed things even further with Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.

While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge allows Star Wars fans to enter their own Star Wars adventure for a few hours, Galactic Starcruiser lets them do it for a couple of days. It’s an entirely new and different way to create a themed entertainment experience, but it started with creating Galaxy’s Edge. During my recent visit to Galactic Starcruiser I asked Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group what they learned following the opening of Galaxy’s Edge that helped them develop the story for the Starcruiser, and he told me that character interactions were the key. Martin explained… 

It was watching how people interact with characters and figuring out how do we extend that? How do we make that a real person experience. Helping out Vi quickly on Batuu is a really interesting and fun way to do it. How do we take that same experience and give you a personal connection to a character that will bring you through multiple missions and adventures throughout your full two days? That was probably the biggest learning. It was almost like Galaxy’s Edge was, in that sense, sort of a pilot for this.

Vi is a character that you might meet wandering around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. She’s a Resistance spy, created by author Delia S. Dawson, and if you come across her she might ask you for help, maybe by distracting some Stormtroopers so she can get past them. It can be a fun little thing to do but it’s a brief encounter and there isn’t much else like it to do inside Galaxy’s Edge.

Part of the reason for that is that the sort of character interaction that you get on the Galactic Starcruiser simply can’t happen inside the theme park land. It would be too difficult to give deep and meaningful character interactions for individual guests when thousands of people are wandering in and out of Galaxy’s Edge every single day. 

By moving the experience into the finite space of Galactic Starcruiser, guests don’t just interact with the characters but get to know them, and the character’s get to know the guests in turn. This creates a depth to the story that wouldn’t exist otherwise. 

Of course, getting this level of themed entertainment is not cheap. But there is certainly hope for the future. In the same way that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was the pilot for the Galactic Starcruiser, Imagineers and other storytellers can take what they learn from the Starcruiser and improve and iterate on it again for whatever the next big thing is. Some of this will certainly come back to the theme parks, or could otherwise become part of experiences that might be more accessible to more guests. 

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.

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