Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has now opened at California’s Disneyland, letting fans of the franchise visit a new planet where the resistance and the First Order are battling for control. Still, while Galaxy’s Edge is firmly planted in the latest trilogy of Star Wars films, care has been taken by the creative minds behind the land to create as unique an experience as possible for everyone who crosses its threshold.
According to Carrie Beck, vice president of the Lucasfilm story group, the crafting of that experience goes back to when the company first started developing Galaxy’s Edge. “When we got to work at thinking about what was the type of place we wanted to go visit, or what the types of experiences were that we wanted to have participating in Star Wars, we thought a lot about how all of us as fans–how all of us as people who admire Star Wars–how we might want to interact with the Galaxy,” she explained while on a panel during a media preview event. “You may want to see yourself as a Smuggler or a Scoundrel. You may want to see yourself as a Jedi, Sith, a Stormtrooper. You can find yourself being drawn to the dark side of the Force.”
In helping visitors find their own stories within Galaxy’s Edge, the team realized the most integral piece of storytelling was the land itself. Galaxy’s Edge is set on the outer rim planet of Batuu, consisting of a forest where the Resistance is camped out, and Black Spire Outpost, a settlement that is being invaded by the First Order.
“[Batuu is] a place of some light routes that ships used to come and go,” Beck said. “But it’s been largely forgotten until we arrive here at the park and we get to discover it at the same time as the First Order and the Resistance are having their conflict here in the land, the day of our visit.”
And as this conflict unfolds, you should expect to come into contact with both sides of the fight. You may be asked to help out the Resistance in spreading messages or grilled for information by Stormtroopers. What you share–or don’t–is up to you. But the key to it all is you aren’t viewed as an outsider during your visit.
“I think what’s really exciting is just to be able to have them react to you as if you’re actually in Star Wars,” Beck continued. “I think, one of the things that’s so wonderful about the films themselves, is that they feel so real, right? And I think that there was always this dream, this wish to be able to be part of that story. And so, being here and being able to interact and to sort of bring that fantasy to the next level is very exciting.”
And as the story unfolds, visitors will see how Batuu connects to the larger canon of Star Wars. Already, there’s a Marvel comic book about Batuu and Black Spire Outpost. What’s more, the planet has been mentioned previously in the novel Thrawn: Alliances and is the focus of the upcoming canonical novel Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. Black Spire Outpost was also referenced in the film Solo: A Star Wars Story.
“There have been adventures that we have crafted that take place or take [the] opportunity to locate here, in Batuu and Black Spire,” Beck said. “And I think that’s one of the great opportunities with a place that is fully new, is it allows the opportunity to layer in all of that narrative and give you that sense of discovery.”
And thanks to the setting of Galaxy’s Edge, that sense of discovery can continue for years as the land is built to evolve. “We picked a spot that has yet to [be discovered] in the Star Wars galaxy,” Black Spire Outpost project manager Brent Nikolin told GameSpot. “There’s some references made in Solo and other places, but I think starting from a place that is nowhere but still uniquely Star Wars, you walk in here, you know it’s Star Wars, right? But it’s not a place that we’ve ever been before. [It] allows you some flexibility down the road to do different things.”
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open at Disneyland now. It opens at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort on August 29.