This is part of a series of previews of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a 14-acre immersive themed experience coming to Disneyland in Summer 2019 and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in late Fall 2019. You can find the rest of the series here, or by clicking the following links:
The rides of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
The food of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
The drinks of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
With its wizard robes and magical wands that interact with shop windows, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter changed the way theme parks look at merchandise. Instead of just selling clothes with a logo on them, or stuffed animals based on popular characters, newer theme park projects like Disney’s Pandora—The World of Avatar view merchandise as another tool to make a theme park feel like an immersive living world. Shops are now stores within the park’s fiction, selling products designed to look like they actually exist within its world. And with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida later this year, Disney’s prepared to unveil the most immersive theme park expansion yet.
Last week in Disneyland I got a hands-on glimpse at the merchandise coming to Galaxy’s Edge. Brad Schoeneberg, Disney World’s Director of Merchandise Strategy and New Park Experience Development, and Brian Loo, a Creative Producer at Walt Disney Imagineering, walked a small group of journalists through the various toys, gifts and wardrobe pieces that will be on sale in the new park expansions. Together these products and the stores that sell them—what Schoeneberg touts as “next level retail”—will help further the illusion that you’re actually visiting a Star Wars planet when you come to Galaxy’s Edge. And yes, Disney will have a Star Wars equivalent to Potter’s wands—and not just one, but two.
But first, let’s start with the plush. Don’t worry: there will be more than just porgs.
Within the market place of Black Spire Outpost, the settlement in which Galaxy’s Edge is set, you’ll find two different stalls selling stuffed versions of Star Wars beasts and characters. One of them specializes in small plush dolls made by a Toydarian toymaker named Zabaka. Here you can buy dolls that look like the homemade toys Jyn Erso played with in Rogue One. They’re intentionally a little rough looking, like something made by hand, and include small stuffed cartoon caricatures of stormtroopers, Yoda and Chewbacca, along with newer characters like Kylo Ren, Rey and Finn. Zabaka even sells a Toydarian doll, which means it looks like Watto from Phantom Menace. Zabaka’s stall will also sell toy musical instruments that are plastic versions of what alien bands play in cantinas. Disney hasn’t reveal prices for most of the merchandise at Galaxy’s Edge yet, but these stuffed dolls had tags that listed them at $19.99.
Elsewhere in the market you can find Bina’s Creature Stall. This small shop sells a variety of more advanced stuffed animals and other toys that react to your touch. For instance, if you pet the stuffed porg, it’ll let out one of its calls and flap its wings. Tauntauns and wampas roar, the rathtar shakes its tentacles, and one plastic little critter that looks like a cross between a flounder and a loaf of bread lets out a loud croak when it’s squeezed. Even if you aren’t into these kinds of souvenirs, you should still make a trip inside Bina’s stall; it’ll be decked out with small audio-animatronic creatures just living their lives, including an adorable sleeping Loth-cat.
Outside the market place, in another nook of Black Spire Outpost, you can visit Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. Dok-Ondar’s an Ithorian (you might know ‘em as hammerheads) who collects rare items from the pre-Empire days, when the Jedi and the Sith still battled each other, and you’ll be able to see a massive audio-animatronic version of him sitting behind a protective cage like he’s a regular old pawn shop owner on Earth. In his store you can buy higher-end Star Wars knick-knacks, like weighty busts of Mace Windu and Darth Maul, or other statues and books. You’ll also be able to pick up Jedi or Sith Holocrons, which reveal hidden teachings about the Force when kyber crystals are placed into them. (Basically that means each crystal plays a short prerecorded message from a different famous Star Wars character.) Again, you’ll probably want to visit Dok-Ondar’s shop even if you aren’t in the market for Jedi antiques; between the fantastic audio-animatronic and various other Star Wars memorabilia that’ll decorate the space (including a 12-foot-tall “taxidermied” wampa), this’ll be a small treasure trove of Star Wars Easter eggs.
If you’re wondering how Galaxy’s Edge will respond to Potter’s wands, well, these next two shops will explain it all. Probably the two most iconic Star Wars accessories are lightsabers and droids. Instead of picking between the two, Schoeneberg’s team just dove in and focused on both. At Galaxy’s Edge you’ll be able to make your own lightsaber and your own droid at two different stores within the park area. They’re both of a higher caliber than other lightsabers and droids on the market (and, yes, the prices will reflect that jump in quality), and will have some degree of interactivity with your surroundings inside Galaxy’s Edge.
Let’s start with the laser swords. Savi’s Workshop will let you build your own lightsaber by hand. Well, not exactly—it’ll let you pick from various styles of hilt, blade, belt and other options, and combine them into your own personalized souvenir. These aren’t the small plastic lightsabers you can build at Tomorrowland—the hilts have a heft to them and look identical to what you see in the movies. The blades screw into the hilt and light up, and when you slice them through the air they’ll make that iconic crackling whoosh sound. The shop will offer a range of hilts, from original designs to recreations of famous characters’ lightsabers, and blades will come in blue or green for Jedi models and red for Sith weapons. This was the one high-end item I got some price information on last week; the most basic hilt will cost $109, according to one of the employees at the event, with blades costing $49. Add in other accessories and you’re looking at a pretty expensive device. They’re not just for show, though; each lightsaber has a kyber crystal inside (because, you know, that’s their power source), and at specific points in the park you’ll be able to interact with your surroundings and unlock the message within that crystal. We didn’t get a demonstration of that, but it sounds a little like how Potter’s wands can be used to make shop windows come to life.
The other big “make your own memento” experience can be found at the Droid Depot, where, as you can probably guess by the name, you can make your own droid. These remote controlled droids are a good bit bigger than the BB-8 Sphero toys from a couple of years ago. They’re roughly about a foot and a half, I’d say, and can be assembled using a variety of body parts and color schemes. You can make an R2 unit or a BB, going with either the familiar domed head of R2-D2 or the more trapezoidal shape you sometimes see in background droids. After building your droid in this industrially-themed workshop space, it can join you on your journey throughout Black Spire, bleeping and blooping away as it rolls right alongside you. These fully-functional RC droids use a kind of beaconing technology to interact with Galaxy’s Edge, helping immerse you even more into this fantasy that Disney has created. No price point was discussed, but clearly these won’t be cheap. There’s also a serious question about how these droids will work with the massive crowds expected at Galaxy’s Edge; if I just paid however much money to make a droid for myself or my kid, and it then got almost immediately trampled or kicked by the throngs that will be visiting this place every day for months, if not years, on end, I’d probably consider a turn to the dark side.
If you don’t want to deal with the stress of designing your own droid, you can spring for the DJ Rex model, which is probably the piece of Galaxy’s Edge merchandise that I’m most excited about. Rex, the former pilot from Star Tours, has a new job as the DJ at Black Spire Outpost’s cantina. In the cantina a repurposed Rex audio-animatronic stands in the DJ booth, bopping along with the music and interjecting words and air horn blasts like a real club DJ. At the Droid Depot you’ll be able to buy a remote controlled version of DJ Rex that includes his sounds and dialogue and is also a Bluetooth speaker that can play any music from your phone or other device. Forget DJ Roomba from Parks & Rec; at Galaxy’s Edge you can buy a sizable little robot (again, he’s probably about a foot and a half tall) that can zoom around your house, blasting music, greeting guests and serving as the life of the party.
There’s also a store that specializes in clothes. These are essentially Star Wars costumes, with garb that fits the Resistance, the First Order or the regular people just trying to get by on this outer rim world of Batuu. Disney can’t yet confirm if adults will be allowed to wear these costumes in the park (there’s been a longstanding park rule preventing adults from dressing up), but that’s clearly something the Imagineers who built Galaxy’s Edge hope to see.
Like everything at Galaxy’s Edge, the merchandise that’ll be on sale was created with immersion in mind. When you build a droid at the Droid Depot, you don’t just tell an employee what pieces to snap together; you walk through a step-by-step process with themed stations and a conveyor belt, and when the process is complete you have to “power up” your droid. The lightsaber store also has a similar show aspect to how it works. Both spaces have relatively limited capacity—unless they offer some kind of reservation or Fast Pass system, you might even seen lines about as long as the ones at the rides. Still, the personalized treats that you’ll leave with might be worth the wait. Between those two shops and the plush toys that’ll be sold in the market place, Galaxy’s Edge will have a wide range of options for gifts or even just a treat for yourself.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games and comedy sections. He also writes about music, travel, food, theme parks and more. He’s on Twitter at @grmartin.