The Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansions at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks take attendees to another world with the canonical setting of the planet Batuu in a galaxy far, far away. However, in the early planning stages of the Star Wars theme park lands, Disney and Lucasfilm intended to have fans find themselves on Tatooine, the desert home planet of both Luke Skywalker and his father Anakin Skywalker. So why didn’t that happen?
Former Walt Disney World Resort Vice President Dan Cockerell recently sat down for an interview with Lou Mongello on WDW Radio (via Inside the Magic), and conversation turned to the early development on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which would have taken us to some very familiar locations:
“The Indiana Jones theater, that was going to be the heart of the Star Wars land…the Mos Eisley Cantina, that was going to be right across from Star Tours, and we had all kinds of great concepts with that. We’d gotten way down the path on art drawings, we hadn’t gone into architectural drawings or anything.”
So what ended up changing the direction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Well, Disney CEO Bob Iger and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy were looking ahead to the future of Star Wars. The discussion between the two corporate leaders sparked a drastic change in direction. Cockerell explained:
“Kathleen Kennedy, her point of view was, there are way more Disney Star Wars stories ahead of us than behind us. So we really should think about, do we want to build a Tatooine and build what all the 50-somethings remember Star Wars is? Or do we want to build something else which is going to appeal to all the upcoming generations who are going to know the new stories?”
That’s the kind of foresight that got Kathleen Kennedy the job of president at Lucasfilm. You can say what you want about how she handled the new trilogy and has struggled to allow filmmakers to play in the Star Wars sandbox without interfering. But the decision to have Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge set in a new, malleable location in the Star Wars universe where characters can stop by a canonical spot without worrying about messing with the saga’s story timeline is a great idea.
While the novelty of walking into the Mos Eisley Cantina, presumably seeing Luke Skywalker’s childhood home, and seeing the touches of the rest of the Star Wars universe as seen in the original trilogy is an enticing one, it likely wouldn’t have been as immersive as Galaxy’s Edge turned out to be. The freedom of a new planet allows them to incorporate some of the old and some of the new, giving fans of all ages what they love about Star Wars.
But even so, it would be nice to see what Disney’s Imagineers were originally planning for the Star Wars theme park before it was even called Galaxy’s Edge. Cockerell says, “All those concepts were put on a shelf. And I’m sure they’re sitting in a vault, and I’m sure people are going to be shown someday — about what that land would have looked like and what the attractions were going to be.”
Now that this information is out there, I’m sure fans will be clamoring to see what Galaxy’s Edge could have looked like. With Disney theme parks closed for the time being, maybe that can satisfy our curiosity by releasing some of the concept art they worked on. But for now, we’re glad that Galaxy’s Edge turned out the way it did. As Cockerell said, “It was designed to be timeless,” and that means it will last for a long time in Disney’s theme parks, satisfying fans of all ages for years to come.
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