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For longtime fans of the franchise, the upcoming attraction Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will bring a lot of familiar faces — and voices — back when it opens later this year in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago learned Saturday morning that actors returning to a galaxy far far away will include the original voices of The Clone Wars’s Hondo Ohnaka, Return of the Jedi’s Nien Nunb and one of the most iconic characters from the entire saga, Yoda.
The addition of Jim Cummings, Bill Kipsang Rotich and Frank Oz to the voice cast of the ambitious attraction — as well as Paul Reubens, who’ll return to voice DJ Rex, an updated version of the droid host of the old Star Tours ride, who’ll appear in the Cantina at Black Spire Outpost in Galaxy’s Edge — was one of many revelations from the hour-long panel, led by Josh Gad, which featured Disney Parks’ Scott Trowbridge, Margaret Kerrison, Chris Beatty and Asa Kalama, as well as Lucasfilm’s Matt Martin and Doug Chiang.
Described by Trowbridge as “the biggest project Disney’s ever done” and “the most epic and immersive experience” at a Disney attraction, Galaxy’s Edge will be set on Batuu, with the majority of the attraction focused at Black Spire Outpost, a trading post populated by the types of characters that have always populated Star Wars: scum and villainy. Or, as Trowbridge put it, “basically, all the interesting people.”
Much attention was paid at the panel to the two central sections of the attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run — in which groups will control the famous starship, with visitors having to take roles including pilot, gunners and engineers, in order to keep the ship in flight — and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which will bring visitors face-to-face with characters from the saga including Kylo Ren as they attempt to join the Resistance, but find themselves captured by the First Order.
The panel talked about the experience of visiting Black Spire Outpost, which will feature food, drink and merchandise created to resemble items that would be found inside the Star Wars galaxy, including blue and green milk as seen in the movies —“for forty years, we’ve wondered [what it tastes like], and now you’ll be able to find out for yourself,” teased Beatty — and so-called “space meat” cooked over what is, in-universe, a re-purposed pod racer engine as seen in 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Also available will be Coca-Cola beverages in specially-designed packaging, introduced on-stage by the Coca-Cola Company’s Brad Spickert and Matt Cooper.
Adding to the immersive element, the panel debuted music created for the attraction, including the public premiere of John Williams’ complete original Galaxy’s Edge suite, as well as two pieces to be played inside the Cantina, including a “new” piece by the same band as the Cantina band from the 1977 original movie.
Panelists also discussed the technology that will be used to allow visitors to add to their experience; the Play Disney Parks app will offer a Star Wars holopad that will translate signage into English, let people “hack” droids and other technology at the attraction and interact with each other by aligning with the Resistance or First Order at specially-designated check-in points. Additionally, video recordings from fans made at the Galaxy’s Edge booth at this year’s Celebration event will be featured in a “holochron” at the attractions.
At the heart of the entire thing, of course, is Star Wars, and the panel pointed out the multiple ways in which Galaxy’s Edge will be folded into the larger narrative of the franchise. A number of prose and comic book releases have already been announced to provide backstory to the attraction, and Matt Martin — who is part of Lucasfilm’s Story Group, tasked to keep continuity straight across the entire franchise — clarified that the attraction “really represents a [specific] moment in Star Wars storytelling.”
The two attractions represent a significant undertaking for Disney Parks and Lucasfilm, and the group onstage did their best to relay that to fans. ““I hope you know how much love and passion we’re putting into this,” Trowbridge said as the panel was wrapping up. “We hope it’s a culmination of 40 years of dreaming.”
Guests planning to visit Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park between May 31 and June 23 will need valid theme-park admission and will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, for access, according to Disney.
Galaxy’s Edge will open in two phases with its state-of-the-art rides: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will debut first on May 31, and then Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will bow later this year.
In February, The Hollywood Reporter attended a media preview the 14-acre, themed destination at Disneyland Park in Anaheim.
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