Disney announced that new characters are coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. This post covers dates & details of the new additions, plus our commentary about how this will improve the land and why Walt Disney World is being left out.
September 11, 2022 Update: Jon Favreau appeared on stage with Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro during the “A Boundless Future: Disney Parks, Experiences and Products” presentation at D23 Expo 2022. They were joined by the Mandalorian and Grogu, who will begin appearing at Disneyland in November 2022.
This is a developing story. More details will be shared as soon as they’re revealed. For now, here’s what we know about the other Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge characters that have already started appearing in the park.
Imagineers also shared exciting new developments about Star Wars at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The big development is the addition of new characters in California. Here’s what Scott Trowbridge had to say about how the storytelling of Galaxy’s Edge will evolve with these additions…
“Since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in 2019, Star Wars storytelling has experienced a galactic expansion to include many new characters and stories across a wide range of settings. Now, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is likewise expanding the stories guests can encounter when visiting,” shared Trowbridge.
“Having been designed from the outset to connect with a broad range of Star Wars storytelling, Black Spire Outpost has played a role in many of these stories stretching over thousands of years and while, up to now, we have mostly shared those story connections through media and publishing, we will soon give visitors to Batuu an opportunity to connect with those fan-favorite stories with the immersive detail and authenticity that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was designed to deliver.”
Walt Disney Imagineering is committed to the long history of Batuu and the collection of characters who inhabit the outpost. This includes legacy characters, original characters, and new and future characters from the ever-expanding galaxy of Star Wars storytelling.
Trowbridge added this, which I found interesting: “While we as visitors may be able to experience different stories throughout Star Wars history, the characters on Batuu can not. They will remain in their specific story and timeline and won’t intersect with other characters or stories that would not be appropriate for them.”
To that end, the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett and mercenary Fennec Shand will soon stake a claim in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Visitors may find themselves encountering these two attempting to remain in the shadows around Black Spire Outpost, starting May 28, 2022.
Some of you also may be watching Boba Fett reinvent himself on the Disney+ series, “The Book of Boba Fett,” alongside Fennec Shand, who is clever, capable, and cunning. The duo is full of surprises as they navigate the galaxy’s underworld on the sands of Tatooine and now we will be able to share an untold part of their story that takes them to the planet Batuu and Black Spire Outpost, a destination long familiar with bounty hunters and even more colorful characters.
Din Djarin (also known as the Mandalorian) and Grogu (also known as “Baby Yoda”) will likewise journey to Batuu and appear in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. The journey of the Din Djarin and Baby Yoda can be seen in the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ (also seen above in PhotoPass Magic Shot form at Walt Disney World).
No date has been set for the debut of the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda walkaround characters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. No information was provided as to if or when these characters will appear at Walt Disney World.
As people who enjoy fun and adorable critters, we’re totally on board with Baby Yoda (officially Grogu, for people who take Star Wars seriously), the Mandalorian, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand appearing in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We actually discussed exactly this (well, the Mandalorian characters) in our recent post: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Needs to Break theRules.
Suffice to say, this alone will go a long way to address our core complaints, many of which could also be rectified by simply adding many more characters to inhabit the land. (Something that we’ve yet to really see since both Walt Disney World and Disneyland dropped physically-distanced characters.)
One thing that I thought was notable about Scott Trowbridge’s announcement was the lines that visitors may be able to experience different stories throughout Star Wars history, but the characters on Batuu can not. “They will remain in their specific story and timeline and won’t intersect with other characters or stories that would not be appropriate for them.”
To my knowledge, this isn’t relevant to any of the character additions that were just announced. Both of the series on Disney+ are only set a couple of decades before Batuu, so there’s nothing inherently at odds with them appearing in the land’s current timeline. This statement seems more relevant for future changes.
The clear implication–reinforced with multiple references to characters, including legacy characters–is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will no longer bebound to a specific timeline, but the characters inhabiting it will. This wouldn’t be anything new; character integrity has always been a big deal for Disney.
This would mean that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge could theoretically be one time period in the morning and a different one in the evening, or even different timelines in different areas of the land. So long as the characters themselves don’t break continuity, there’s wiggle room for what the land itself can accommodate, at least, in theory.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Imagineering will juggle multiple timelines simultaneously throughout the day, week, or even year on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It could simply be nudging open the door for switching things up in the future to keep the land fresh and encourage repeat visits.
It could be laying the groundwork for something that may or may not happen years from now, so fans can’t claim “gotcha” with Disney or Lucasfilm firmly committing to a timeline for Batuu itself. (That also seems unlikely–Trowbridge’s quotes feel both deliberate and intentionally injected with a sense of immediacy.)
It’ll be interesting to see what happens on that front, and how the physical components of the land (e.g. attractions, shops, dining, etc.) play into this timeline continuity–or don’t.
Trowbridge’s statement raises plenty of questions, and it’s unlikely we’ll get answers anytime soon. Although, D23 Expo is only a few months away and a character-driven ‘timeline refresh’ of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would be cost-effective and efficient.
As for why Disneyland is getting these characters and not Walt Disney World, there are a couple of potential explanations. The first is that all of these characters are coming out of a Disney+ marketing budget, and Disneyland is choosing to take advantage of that.
The addition of these characters being a Disney+ synergy play shouldn’t surprise anyone. Scott Trowbridge is a Portfolio Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, and yet he plugged Disney+ multiple times in the announcement. That’s about as coincidental as the reclusive Nicolas Cage “randomly” appearing on a bunch of late night talk shows right when the Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was released.
It’s also nothing new for the company to use its theme parks to promote its latest movies. Back in the 1990s, this was done with full parades for pretty much every animated film. More recently, it has happened with meet & greets, dance parties, projection shows/tags, and extended previews.
The quality of these varies and does whether they fit naturally or feel contrived, but the point is that synergy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Walt Disney World and Disneyland have both benefited tremendously from it, and could continue to do so in the current climate with the company fixated on its Disney+ streaming service. (Personally, I’m anxiously awaiting the introduction of the real-life Disney+ goats at Disneyland.)
We’ve mentioned this before, but it’s not uncommon for Walt Disney World to decline these promotional characters and other offerings, even when the Florida parks doesn’t have to foot any of the bill. The rumored explanations I’ve heard for Walt Disney World turning down these “free” additions range from logistics to guest disappointment when they inevitably disappear. (I’m not saying these are good excuses–they aren’t–just that they’re what I’ve heard.)
The main exception to this the characters who have recently appeared in Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. Many Marvel characters cannot appear in Walt Disney World.
Regardless, there’s absolutely a reason why so many new characters appear first (or only) at Disneyland and never make their way to Walt Disney World.
If you’ve been watching announcements in the last several months, you’ve likely seen a lot of this. Many characters from recent animated films have appeared at Disneyland in meet & greet form, and at Walt Disney World in PhotoPass Magic Shot form.
Another potential explanation is that Walt Disney Imagineering is based in Glendale, California and it’s easier for Trowbridge and company to drop into Disneyland to monitor the new meet & greets and make changes on the fly.
Normally, this wouldn’t strike me as a plausible explanation for a character appearing at Disneyland and not at Walt Disney World (it would be the marketing budget excuse), but Imagineering and Lucasfilm are both incredibly protective of land and character integrity for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they want this to be an incredibly controlled experiment before rolling it out in Florida.
Ultimately, this is great news for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. You know what…it’s good news for the land at Walt Disney World, too. Even if Baby Yoda and his homies don’t immediately appear at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they will eventually. No matter what the initial intent, this is too big to contain in California. These characters will be all over social media, with guest demand and satisfaction scores inevitably making the decision for Disney to introduce these characters at Walt Disney World. This is the Way.
Beyond that, this news signals that Imagineering and Lucasfilm are still tinkering with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and the land isn’t viewed as a “finished product.” That’s not altogether unsurprising, as there were credible rumors about additions and changes way back in early 2020, but those fizzled out entirely in March of that year. Between the MagicBand+ bounty hunter game and this character news, we have a first look at some of the fruits of those plans. Here’s hoping that more is on the horizon, ideally announced later this year at the D23 Expo. We’ll keep you posted, so stay tuned!
Do you think Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge should break its own rules or stick to the fixed timeline and story? Would you like to see the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda in the land? What about Darth Vader and other original trilogy characters? Think Galaxy’s Edge should focus on fun, canon, or a mix of both? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Any questions? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!