Last weekend, at the D23 Expo, more details were revealed about the ambitious Star Wars-themed lands coming to both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida. We found out the official name for the land (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) and that, in addition to the land in Florida, they would also be getting a highly themed and impossibly immersive hotel that will give you the opportunity to experience a unique, multi-day experience in the heart of the galaxy. But the presentation also gave us a look into where, exactly, the new land will fit into the continuity of the larger Star Wars Universe.
If you've visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at either the Hollywood or Orlando Universal Studios parks or the recently opened Pandora -- The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida, you know that immersion comes with hyper specificity. The Hogsmeade section of the Wizarding World is set in between the second and third movies; Pandora takes place several decades after the final film in James Cameron's multi-part saga (the sequels are coming! He swears!)
Scott Trowbridge, the Walt Disney Imagineer whose portfolio includes Star Wars, stressed just how interactive and immersive this land would be. "This outpost is filled with characters, alien creatures, and droids. Some of them we have met before but some we're meeting for the first time. You're invited to participate them in your very own Star Wars adventure," Trowbridge said during the presentation. "I hear he might be looking for flight crews for some endeavor. If Hondo and Chewie make a deal, it might mean we'll find ourselves in the Millennium Falcon." Now, this is a reference to an interesting character, but more on that in a minute. Trowbridge continued: "This is a living place, a place where your choices matter, a place where you can earn a reputation. The boss might not be too happy. It might end up on the list of a bounty hunter."
Super cool, right?
You can get on a bounty hunter's "to capture" list just by interacting with different characters and experiencing different attractions in a certain way. But what is even more fascinating are the characters that Trowbridge mentioned during this presentation.
He mentioned Chewbacca, Kylo Ren, BB-8, and now Hondo. Hondo is an alien pirate from the popular animated series "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars: Rebels," for those of you without a subscription to Disney XD. You'd think that his story, like the story of most of the Rebels, would probably end around the time that "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" takes place, since the character doesn't appear in any subsequent installments of the saga. But that clearly isn't the case, since Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (sorry Samsung) takes place around the time period of the new movies like "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (out this Christmas).
We know this because one of the big marquee attractions has you escaping from the First Order, the fascist organization that rose up in the shadow of the Galactic Empire and who constructed the Death Star-like Starkiller Base in "The Force Awakens." (We can only assume they're up to no good in "The Last Jedi" too.) Also telling: that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will feature another beloved Star Wars character: lovable droid Rex.
Rex was the marquee character when Star Tours opened at Disneyland back in 1987. In the original version of the ride guests were taken on a lovely tour of the galaxy. Until, of course, the Empire showed up. And then for some reason there was a trench run, not dissimilar to Luke's in the original film, even though this took place after the original trilogy. (The idea was, with peace restored, people would be doing things for fun now.) When the ride was redone in 2011, Rex was out, replaced by everyone's favorite protocol droid C-3P0. Not that he was totally out: he appeared on an episode of "Star Wars: Rebels" (once again voiced by Paul Reubens) and the Starspeeder 1000, the vehicle that you climb aboard on Star Tours, can even be seen in the background of a scene in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Rex's new profession, as a DJ, suggests that it's after the original Star Tours timeframe, closer to the events of the new movies.
The land will be open in 2019, sometime before the third "Star Wars" opens (this one directed by Colin Trevorrow), so it's safe to assume that, unlike Pandora, the events will take place within the events of this new trilogy. The planet is in the Star Wars equivalent of the backwoods, so its far-off locale means that there could be adventures within the continuity that is just never reported on or dramatized in the movies or television series. So, let's say that it's, at least time-wise, set in between "The Last Jedi" and whatever the third movie is.
It's exciting to know that the land is so firmly entrenched in the Star Wars narrative. And what could be even cooler is if the events that unfold in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge could affect the larger universe. Considering how a farm boy brought balance to the Force, it's not unreasonable to think that a tourist from Sioux City could do the same.