Batuu, the world of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is a work in progress at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. Earthly construction workers are creating the jagged landscape of the far-flung planet — currently punctuated by steel structures, domes, towering spires and hammering heavy machinery — in preparation for its debut four months in the future.
Disney World has been concealing all but the tip-tops of the land with giant gray barriers. But on a recent Tuesday, Scott Mallwitz, executive creative director of the project, gave rapid-fire sneak peeks of the territory for media members gathered for the 30th anniversary of the theme park.
As usual with Disney projects, there’s plenty of story built into Galaxy’s Edge, down to the grooved rockwork in the tunnel that visitors walk through to get to Batuu from the Grand Avenue side of the theme park.
“The first indication that you’re in some place different is this kind of rough, uneven rockwork. ... It’s been mined out,” Mallwitz said. It was inspired by patterns seen on the ice planet Hoth in “The Empires Strikes Back,” he said. Creators imagined a tool “able to cut through rock and ice to cut our way into the planet of Batuu,” he said.
Once the area opens Aug. 29, visitors will walk through the darkened entrance, veer right, walk past the grooves and into the light.
“This is the floor of a valley. The original surface of the planet is way up here,” Mallwitz pointed out while telling the story of Batuu. There’s been erosion, creating massive canyons and a harsh landscape. (No photography was allowed during Tuesday’s tours.)
“The first thing you see is black spires, the depth of the landscape. You see some observation towers and domes that you don’t understand what their function is,” Mallwitz said. There are copper and lead roofs in the distance. The fin of a cargo plane peeks over the top. Bridges, ramps and curved buildings stand tall. There are tanks and pieces of ships. In the vicinity will be an ancient marketplace, an open-air restaurant with roasted beasts and locations to buy droids and lightsabers.
“See the two white tanks? See the tower?” Mallwitz teased. “At the base of that tower is the Falcon.”
That’s as in Millennium Falcon, the famed Star Wars vessel and centrepiece of Smugglers Run, the attraction that will open with Galaxy’s Edge. For now, it hides beyond where Tuesday’s visitors were allowed.
Another attraction — Rise of the Resistance — will open later in the year. It was partially visible from the entrance on this Tuesday, but that won’t always be the case. The structure will be blocked by a dense (but not yet planted) forest.