Abrams publisher continues its history of producing excellent Star Wars art books The art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a new volume that uses first-hand interviews and never-before-seen concept art to detail the creative process behind Disney’s most ambitious theme park land. The result is a surprisingly thorough study of the formation of the planet Batuu – and details of some of the concepts that have lingered on the cutting room floor.
Amy Ratcliffe’s most cited sources include Erik Tiemens, Lucasfilm’s concept design supervisor on the project. He says one of the biggest challenges from the start was getting the Millennium Falcon in just the right place.
“Bob Iger came over to check out our model,” says Tiemens in the book. The then-CEO of Disney had stopped by to review the team’s plan for the Disneyland version of the park. “He looked at the running land model and said, ‘Do me a favor. Just don’t bury the bird. ‘”
Disney didn’t want the fastest ship in the Star Wars galaxy hanging up front, like in a used car parking lot. Nor did the company want it buried in the country in such a way that people couldn’t find it. Several concept art shows that the hawk was in various environments, including one that is a dead alarm clock for the palace of Jabba the Hutt on Tatooine.
Eventually, Disney Imagineers decided to place it in a highly vertical room, with Batuu’s man-made petrified trees turning your gaze upward, making the long, flat ship just a little more grandiose than it otherwise would have been. Even though it’s obscured by both entrances, Iger still has the centerpiece he’s been looking for.
“There are no giant signs saying ‘Millennium Falcon Ride This Way,'” said Scott Trowbridge, creative executive of the Disney Imagineering portfolio. “It should be a place that is explored. It is meant to be a place where you can make discovery and where you feel like there is more to be discovered. “
With the general idea of where to place the hawk, the team was able to fill in the rest of the design. Next came elements of the country’s winding streets and lively marketplace, created during research trips to Marrakech, Morocco, and the Greek island of Delos. According to Chris Beatty, Creative Director of Disney Imagineering, the parking card was actually blocked during a meeting in Istanbul. The shape of Galaxy’s Edge was set in stone while the team was staying in the same hotel as Agatha Christie when she wrote Murder on the Orient Express
Of course, it took a lot of blue-sky imaging to get to this point. That means a lot of great ideas have been left behind. For example, the part of Galaxy’s Edge that serves as the Resistance outpost could be much, much larger than it is today. The concept art shows jungle settings and giant trees reminiscent of the colossal baobab tree at the center of Disney World’s animal kingdom. Other images show visitors walking through pieces of the Black Spire’s petrified trees that have fallen across the path.
The book also describes several shops and attractions that never made it into the final design. At one point, Galaxy’s Edge contained a dark and seedy spice cave that was populated by aliens and Twi’lek dancers. There is a design for an upscale draper with elegant jewelry that is kept under glass. There are designs for at least a dozen animatronic bartenders destined for Ogas Cantina, including some who would have swam in a huge aquarium behind the bar. There’s even an alternate design for Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities that would have been lit by a massive piece of cyber crystal embedded in the floor.
Perhaps the most interesting discovery in the book is that the designers at Galaxy’s Edge originally considered roaming the park and interacting with guests of many different types of characters. The conceptual art shows the ground crew serving the falcon and fully costumed aliens in different environments. In some pieces even an elephant-sized animatronic called Elee is mentioned, which circles the park on a loop and offers rides.
After all, the final chapter of the book looks forward to the next stage of development in Disney World, especially the Hotel Galactic Starcruiser. Fans still don’t know how much a weekend stay at the high-concept in-fiction hotel will cost, but the book gives us a first look at its main character. The book contains early images of the Halcyon’s nameless captain: a blue-skinned woman Pantoran whose clothing and behavior are vaguely reminiscent of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Of all the Abrams books we’ve previewed here in recent years, The art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge contains some of the newest and most unexplored materials to date. That makes it a treasure for all Star Wars fans, especially those fortunate enough to visit Galaxy’s Edge – or those who plan to do so in the future. The 256-page hardcover book has a retail price of $ 50 and will go on sale on April 27th.