At midnight eastern time on Thursday morning, a number of outlets released an extensive look at Galaxy’s Edge, the state-of-the-art Star Wars theme park opening up later this year at Disney Land and Disney World.
In short: it sounds and looks absolutely amazing.
There is way too much information that has been released so I won’t be able to cover everything here, but I decided that I’d highlight the aspects that stood out to me as perhaps pertaining to Episode IX in some way.
This park is not just another amusement park but is actually being created to feel like you are part of the Star Wars galaxy, arriving at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu – from the food to the shops to the music to the atmosphere, everything is designed to make you feel like you’re actually in a galaxy far, far away. The planet is being given a canon backstory in books and comics, and the events that take place at the park are actually canonical as well. The park experience, at least as it initially opens, will thrust the visitor into the time period somewhere in-between The Last Jedi and Episode IX, and the First Order and the Resistance are both on Batuu for a reason. That reason could very well tie in to the upcoming film, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First, we should note that several of our heroes will actually make appearances.
Sequel trilogy stars return with new footage for the park
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver have all actually recorded brand new footage for one of the two main rides, Rise of the Resistance. According to Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican, visitors sign up for a mission with the Resistance and soon enter the Resistance’s command center on Batuu. There, the visitors will meet BB-8, who bears a message from Ridley’s Rey informing the visitors of their mission and that they must board the transport for a mission with Poe Dameorn. The pilot of the transport? Nien Nunb, a veteran of the Galactic Civil War now fighting for the Resistance, brought to life by a state-of-the-art animatronic (voiced by the actual voice of the character, Kipsang Rotich). After the visitors have boarded, Isaac’s Poe boards his X-Wing and communicates with Nunb and the other Resistance recruits (the visitors). But the First Order soon intercepts the transport and Poe is forced to flee, promising to bring help. The visitors are brought into a massive First Order hangar, complete with stormtroopers and TIE Fighters that are scaled in such a way so as to make the hangar appear even larger than it actually is.
But the visitor isn’t held prisoner for long. Breznican writes, “Soon, you learn something valuable that the Resistance will need to fight the First Order, and once you get broken out of this cell the real ride continues.” During the escape, visitors will encounter AT-ATs and Kylo Ren. But the role that Driver’s Kylo and Boyega’s Finn play on the ride are still a secret.
This ride sounds pretty awesome, and it’s very cool that the stars of the sequel trilogy have recorded footage for the experience to make you feel like you’re truly a part of the story. But all of this also seemingly confirms even more than it already was that there will be a significant time jump in-between The Last Jedi and Episode IX. This mission takes place sometime in-between those films, so it’s likely that this is just what has been happening: the Resistance and the First Order are at war. So leading up to Episode IX, I think we should expect the war to be ongoing in full force, with several missions that have been undertaken in the meantime (sort of like the stories that fill in the gaps in-between the original trilogy films). We don’t know how much time passes, but it’s enough for these missions to take place.
Team up with Hondo
We recently covered the canon backstory as to why Hondo Ohnaka has the Millennium Falcon at Galaxy’s Edge, and it’s basically because Chewbacca has contacted him needing repairs on the iconic ship. So the Falcon will be at Black Spire Outpost, and visitors will actually get the chance to board the ship! Visitors will join Hondo for a smuggling mission, and the team of six people will all have a part to play: two people are pilots, two people are gunners, and two people are engineers. The success of the ride actually depends upon the visitors’ success, so your actions actually matter! One of the really cool things is that you’ll get to see Hondo before you board, and he’s a breathtaking animatronic (voiced, of course, by Hondo’s actual voice actor Jim Cummings). Walt Disney Imagineering released a video of him, and it’s amazing.
So Hondo Ohnaka is at the park, and you’ll get to go on a mission with him. And what’s this smuggling mission? According to Brenican, using the Disney Play App (which has some absolutely incredible interactions at the park, it sounds like) reveals that he’s smuggling weapons for the Resistance. So you’re helping him smuggle weapons for the good guys, which supplies them with much-needed munitions and supplies Hondo (and you) with much-needed money. This fits with what we read about Hondo in Pirate’s Price, too, as he seems quite sympathetic to the Resistance’s cause, though not formally aligned with them.
First Order forces
The First Order’s presence on Batuu is unmistakable, and they have apparently sent a garrison of troopers known as the Red Fury, or the 709th garrison. Breznican has a quote from one of the executives regarding this particular unit:
“The 709th, the Red Fury,” says Scott Trowbridge, the Imagineering creative executive in charge of Galaxy’s Edge. “There are some stories to be told about those folks, and why they’re here, what they came looking for — or who they came looking for.”
Of course, with the name of “the Red Fury” I am reminded that we have actually seen red First Order troopers before. Captain Cardinal wears red armor, as does Major Vonreg in Resistance. But perhaps more noteworthy is a report from Making Star Wars recently that suggests a new red stormtrooper will be in Episode IX, wearing all red armor with black stripes. But MSW also notes that the trooper isn’t just a stormtrooper painted red but has a distinct helmet, and that he’s a pilot.
I want to be very clear that nothing in the reports about Galaxy’s Edge actually says that the Red Fury will have any red stormtroopers. For all we know, this could just be another random unit of troopers who are sent to Batuu. But given MSW’s report, and the fact that this unit is called the Red Fury, I can’t help but wonder whether there is a reason for that. I highly doubt that every trooper is red (that probably wouldn’t create the same kind of Star Wars atmosphere as the more recognizable white troopers), but I could see the unit’s leader wearing red or something like that.
It’s also interesting that MSW noted that this red trooper is a pilot, because this First Order garrison is present with a new TIE Fighter. This new fighter is called the TIE Echelon, and many people who saw it have made the comparison to Kylo Ren’s TIE Striker. On Reddit, a picture of this fighter may actually have leaked. But here’s the really interesting thing: it seems like we’ll see this TIE Echelon fighter again. ABC News’ Clayton Sandell hints that this might show up in a future movie, and of course the overwhelmingly likely scenario is that the movie would be Episode IX.
So it seems like fans may be introduced to the TIE Echelon at Galaxy’s Edge and then see it show up on the big screen in Episode IX this December, which would be really freaking cool. Imagine going to the park and seeing this fighter for the first time and then seeing it on screen later, feeling like you actually know that ship because you’ve really seen it! That would be great. So anyway, this ship very well might be in Episode IX, and given that MSW reported that this new red stormtrooper is supposedly a pilot and that the First Order garrison has a new TIE (that is likely to show up in IX) and is known as the “Red Fury,” I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder if they’re connected.
On the hunt?
The reports didn’t give us a full story as to what the First Order and the Resistance are doing at Black Spire Outpost, but we did get enough hints: they’re searching for someone. In that earlier quote from Scott Trowbridge, he suggests that it might be a person, saying “who they came looking for,” but either way it seems that both sides are looking for something or someone. According to the Galaxy’s Edge story, the Resistance just arrived at the planet a week ago, but the First Order has been there a bit longer. Breznican says that both sides are there looking for something, and then he speculates that Episode IX could reveal more information about that. We also know that along the course of the Rise of the Resistance ride, visitors will recover some information important to the Resistance.
When I read all of that, the first thing I think of are some of the reports from Making Star Wars recently about a “macguffin” in Episode IX that helps drive the plot, as both the Resistance and the First Order are looking for something. That macguffin apparently evolves over the course of the film, and more recently MSW reported rumors suggesting that it actually changes and leads to the film’s big secret. So in other words, the early reports and rumors are that one of the things that drives the plot in Episode IX is the search for something that both sides are after. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the film begins with both sides already in the search for it, kind of like both sides were already in the search for Skywalker when The Force Awakens began. That would be yet another way to convey the idea that a significant amount of time has passed.
So what we know is that both the Resistance and the First Order are at Black Spire Outpost looking for something, and the early reports about Episode IX are that both the Resistance and the First Order are looking for something. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder if they’re connected – that is, are they looking for the same thing? The only reason why I’m not sure if that’s the case is that Galaxy’s Edge can’t reveal too much about the film, as I’m sure Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams want to keep things as secretive as possible. It’s one thing to tie in a cool design like the new TIE Fighter; it’s another thing to tie something in that’s apparently pretty central to the plot. So if they are looking for the same thing at the park as they are in the film, I’d expect it to be couched in such a way so as not to spoil anything or reveal too much information that could give an indication about the movie. But all of this is just speculation right now based on what we’ve heard.
Whatever it turns out to be, this much is clear: Galaxy’s Edge sounds amazing. There’s so much more to read about it, from the food to the music to the shops to the rides to the app to the experience overall, and more. There are easter eggs and tidbits that the most hardcore Star Wars fans are sure to love. It sounds like Disney and Lucasfilm are truly going all out to make this a fully immersive experience, and that’s awesome. I can’t wait!