Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge art book reveals the ideas that made it into the park, and some that didn’t

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Publisher Abrams continues its history of producing excellent Star Wars art books with 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. The result is a surprisingly in-depth look at what went into the creation of the planet Batuu – and details about some concepts that were left on the cutting room floor.

Among the most cited sources for author Amy Ratcliffe is Erik Tiemens, Lucasfilm’s concept design supervisor assigned to the project. He says one of the biggest challenges early on was getting the Millennium Falcon in the right place.

Souk Alcatraz Rockwork outlet. (Alcatraz was codenamed for the Rise of the Resistance ride, while the park itself was codenamed Delos — after the Greek island, not the fictional company of Westworld.)
Image: Erik Tiemens/Abrams Books

“Bob Iger came to review our role model,” Tiemens says in the book. The then Disney CEO stopped by to review the team’s plan for the Disneyland version of the park. “He looked at the mock-up of the current pitch and said, ‘Do me a favor. Don’t bury the bird.

Disney didn’t want the fastest ship in the Star Wars galaxy dragging ahead like it was in a second-hand parking lot. The company also didn’t want it buried so deep inside the pitch that people couldn’t find it. Several pieces of concept art show that the Falcon was set in several different settings, including one that is the lookalike of Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine.

An elevational view of several towers that have been occupied by the First Order.

V01 Garrison Watchtower Design. “With some of these garage doors, we’ve based it on Roman architecture, actually – the way ruin-like structures have pattern reinforcements,” Tiemens explains in the book.
Image: Erik Tiemens/Abrams Books

Ultimately, Disney Imagineers chose to place it in a very vertical space where Batuu’s faux petrified trees would draw the eye upward, making the long, flat ship look a little taller than it otherwise would have. Despite being obscured from both entrances, Iger still has the centerpiece he was looking for.

“There are no giant signs saying ‘Millennium Falcon ride this way,'” says Scott Trowbridge, Creative Director of the Disney Imagineering Portfolio. “It is meant to be a place that is explored. It is meant to be a place where you can make discoveries and where you can feel that there is still more to discover.

Light pours from an open ceiling into a fusion area, with patrons standing at long tables assembling their new droids.

Droid Shop Color Key. “At first, we focused on concepts around this idea of ​​foundry or foundry. There was this idea of ​​making a big master machine that overwhelmed the equipment. We had parts going straight from molten metal to stamping. It would go out on the conveyor and you would take these new parts and put them together. And then the story moved away from a foundry story and more from a repair shop. —Chris Beatty
Image: Erik Tiemens/Abrams Books

With the general idea of ​​where the Falcon should be placed, the team was able to complete the rest of the design. Elements of the country’s winding streets and bustling market, conceived during research trips to Marrakech, Morocco, and the Greek island of Delos, came next. According to Chris Beatty, creative director of Disney Imagineering, the park map was locked during a meeting in Istanbul. The form of Galaxy’s Edge was cast in stone as the team was staying at the same hotel as Agatha Christie when she wrote Murder on the Orient Express.

Of course, it took a lot of “Blue Sky Imagination” to get there. This means that a ton of great ideas have been left behind. For example, the part of Galaxy’s Edge that serves as a Resistance outpost could have been much, much larger than it is today. Concept art shows jungle backdrops and towering trees reminiscent of the colossal baobab at the center of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Other footage shows visitors walking through pieces of petrified Black Spire trees that have fallen into the path.

Two blue bartenders are standing.  Large packs on their backs are connected to arcane instruments above them.

Village Bartender V02. “We slowly started peeling back the layers of reality, researching how we could get an alien bartender. We knew if it was an actor wearing a costume it would be a lot of preparation and it wouldn’t be the most practical way to go about it, so maybe the best way was to have an animatronic bartender. Something we could actually run around the clock. But then there are sacrifices with that, because you’re limited by the actual physicality of the interaction between that bartender and the guest. —Doug Chiang, Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Lucasfilm
Image: Stephen Todd/Abrams Books

The book also details several shops and attractions that never made it into the final design. At one point, Galaxy’s Edge included a dark, seedy spice lair populated by aliens and Twi’lek dancers. There’s a design for a high-end draper, with elegant jewelry kept under glass. There are drafts for at least a dozen animatronic bartenders destined for Oga’s Cantina, including a few that would have floated inside a massive aquarium behind the bar. There’s even an alternate design for the Antiquities Lair of Dok-Ondar, which would have been lit by a massive chunk of kyber crystal embedded in the floor.

Perhaps the most interesting reveal in the book is that the designers of Galaxy’s Edge originally envisioned having many different types of characters roaming the park and interacting with guests. Concept art shows a ground crew servicing the Falcon and fully costumed aliens in several different settings. Several pieces even make mention of an elephant-sized animatronic named Elee that would circle the park on a loop offering rides.

Early concept art from Savi's workshop shows a lightsaber in the corner of a test rig and a blue-tinted hologram floating in the air above a station.

Interior of the Saber V01 room
Image: Ric Lim/Abrams Books

Finally, the final chapter of the book looks forward to the next stage of development at Disney World, specifically the Galactic Starcruiser hotel. Fans still don’t know how much a weekend at this high-profile fictional hotel will cost, but the book gives us our first look at its main character. The book includes the first images of the unnamed captain of the Halcyon: a blue-skinned Pantoran woman whose dress and demeanor vaguely recall Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Concept art showing a large speeder bike cum land speeder filled with jugs of blue milk.

Blue milk cart front V02. “For the milk stand, we thought we could have big plastic containers that hold liquid, almost like when they’re spraying crops or something. We thought about floating something and dress.—Tiemens
Image: Nick Gindraux/Abrams Books

Of all the Abrams books we’ve had the chance to preview here over the past few years, The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge contains some of the newest and most unexplored materials to date. This makes it a treasure trove for all Star Wars fans, and especially those who have been lucky enough to visit Galaxy’s Edge – or those planning to do so in the future. The 256-page hardcover book has a retail price of $50 and goes on sale April 27.


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