12:05am PT by Aaron Couch, Ryan Parker
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Opens in Spectacular Fashion With George Lucas, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill
It took Harrison Ford's magic touch to fire up the Millennium Falcon at Wednesday's christening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Ford was the last of the surprise guests that Disney CEO Bob Iger trotted out to an enthused crowd to unveil the highly anticipated attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim.
After remarks from Star Wars creator George Lucas and stars Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams, Chewbacca attempted to start the Falcon, only to have the engine stall. Iger asked if there were anyone who knew how to "fix this thing." Then, a familiar voice from backstage boomed: "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts." Ford came out to raucous applause and John Williams' Star Wars theme to save the day and share a small tribute to Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, who died April 30.
"Peter, this one's for you," said Ford, before the ship lit up and fireworks went off in the background.
Captain Marvel star Brie Larson was among the throng of Galaxy’s Edge guests who appeared in awe of the attraction. Larson made it known she was having a blast, even pretending to faint when Lucas came out to say a few words before the official opening.
Among the other guests who watched the proceedings were Lucasfilm president Kathy Kennedy and her husband, producer Frank Marshall; Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige; Avengers actress Cobie Smulders and her husband, Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam; NBA Hall of Famer and Hollywood Reporter columnist Kareem-Abdul Jabbar; and Bad Times at the El Royale filmmaker Drew Goddard.
Opening the ceremonies, Iger noted that when Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, he “entrusted us with his extraordinary legacy.”
“When I first met with our Imagineers to talk about Star Wars, my message was actually quite simple: ‘Do not be ambitious. Be the most ambitious that you have ever been.’ After all, we are building on the legacy of two extraordinary visionaries, Walt Disney and George Lucas,” the exec recalled.
The event had the feel of a rock concert, and Iger himself at times was given the rock star treatment with guests flocking to him wanting to shake hands and get a picture. The Disney chief was only too happy to oblige.
Kennedy reunited with Solo: A Star Wars Story screenwriter Jon Kasdan outside the Cantina, one of the key attractions of Galaxy's Edge.
“They have completely captured what Star Wars is. And it’s just fun. I can’t wait to see this full of people having a good time,” Kennedy told THR.
The new ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run opened to guests after the dedication concluded. A hoard of people (among the crowd: Larson, Ant-Man director Peyton Reed and Lost's Carlton Cuse) rushed the ride in the hopes of being among the first to take a spin in the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. The ride is something akin to Star Tours, the Star Wars theme attraction that launched in 1987. But it's innovative in that it is completely interactive — the cockpit levers and buttons all work to help fly the ship and guests must operate the vessel correctly to complete the mission with any amount of success.
Galaxy's Edge has been hotly anticipated since 2015, when Iger revealed a Star Wars-themed attraction would be coming to Disney parks. The 14-acre area is set to open Friday to the general public, and fans hoping to be among the first to experience the attraction should already have acquired a no-cost reservation, which will be required through June 23 (those reservations were snapped up in just under two hours earlier this month). No reservation will be needed thereafter.
On Wednesday, guests got to sample food from the Star Wars-themed restaurants and mingled with Disney staff — all in character as people from a galaxy far, far away. How accurate is it? An employee with a dust bin spoke happily about the market on a distant planet he'd gotten his clothing from, while the Stormtroopers weren't particularly friendly, telling guests to "move along" when they ask for selfies.
Among the surprises revealed on Wednesday was that live performances will be part of Galaxy's Edge, as guests were treated to a blaster battle between Stormtroopers and a band of Resistance fighters led by Chewbacca.
Lucas — who visited Disneyland when it first opened July 17, 1955, as an 11-year-old — was also in attendance when Star Tours opened, and noted things were easier this time around because of technological advances.
"It's Star Tours on steroids on a level you can't possibly believe,” said Lucas during his opening remarks, adding, “It was a great experience for me, and I think that it'll change your life.”
Hamill chimed in that he, too, was on hand with Lucas when Star Tours opened.
"I thought, 'This is inconceivable that I could be part of a movie that would get its own ride in a Disney theme park. I better savor the moment because it will never be surpassed,'" the actor recalled. "And yet, look at where we are today. We get our own land."