IAAPA 2019: Disney legends reveal the secrets behind Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
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IAAPA 2019: Disney legends reveal the secrets behind Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

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Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was in the spotlight this year, as BRC's Bob Rogers hosted the ever-popular Legends Panel at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Opened earlier this year, the 14-acre attraction, open at both Disneyland in California and at Hollywood Studios in Florida, is a totally immersive Star Wars experience, with final development costs on the grand projects thought to exceed US$1bn (€898m, £793m) each.

A host of Disney legends and creatives were on this year's Legends panel, each sharing their knowledge and stories learned from bringing the new addition to Disney's parks.

Scott Trowbridge, who is portfolio creative executive for Disney Imagineering, also acting as the company's creative lead for its Star Wars projects, was the first member of the panel.

"We very quickly decided that the right thing for us to do in the park was not to retell someone else's story," he said. "We wanted to create a new expansive Star Wars universe that had lots of stories to tell with all-new locations and all-new characters through all these different mediums.

"This is the evolution of the themed experience. There are so many great ways to get immersed in stories today. One of the unique things we as an industry have is we can take you there, right into those stories."

The second member of the four-person panel was Anisha Deshmane. Her approach to Galaxy's Edge saw the creation of "unique customised experiences" that would feel unique to each visitor.

"It's a new way of telling a story that hasn't been done like this before," she said. "This is an experience you have an active role in.

"We want each of our guests to feel like they have a place in this world. They can make a difference. Everyone now carrying little computers around with them in their pockets helped us enhance that."

Deshmane helped to develop the Star Wars: Datapad - an extension of the Play Disney Parks app that allowed interactivity with the land, helping to enhance the Star Wars story.

"It was something all of the creative teams were thinking about," she said. "It touches on every single aspect of how the land functions. It's its own attraction and it breaks that boundary of 'wait in a queue, go on a ride, come out the other side, buy a souvenir'. It's something that begins to be its own experience and can be something you spend multiple hours doing."

Margaret Kerrison, managing story editor for Disney Imagineering, was the third member of the Disney panel to speak. Her role during the creation of Galaxy's Edge included the incorporation of much of the detail from the Star Wars cinematic universe in order to create an authentic product that die-hard fans would appreciate.

"Whether it be a movie, a novel, a game or a theme park, we're building one single universe," she explained. "All of these stories speak to one another. Carrying the torch of storytelling in Star Wars, we take that responsibility very seriously. We worked very closely with Lucasfilm on Galaxy's Edge to make sure that is truly part of the Star Wars saga."

Chris Beatty was the final member of the panel. One of the creative directors in charge of development at Galaxy's Edge, according to Beatty, the design process didn't leave a stone unturned, with "no thread to unravel" the immersive experience.

"Having a meal or going shopping should be just as impactful and have just as much story and depth as anything else," he said. "To us, these things are just as important. You can't look at them as secondary experiences - there's just as much development and consideration for these elements as there is for a traditional ride.

"From day one we said that the land itself is the third attraction. We have Smuggler's Run, Rise of the Resistance and the Black Spire Outpost itself. That means merchandise, food and beverages are the connecting tissues between all these spaces - all of that is the experience."

Check back with Attractions Management for all the latest news coming out of IAAPA 2019.

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Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was in the spotlight this year, as BRC's Bob Rogers hosted the ever-popular Legends Panel at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida.
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