Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World sells “thermal detonator” bottles of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, and DASANI with unique Aurebesh labels. In this post, we’ll detail the dangerous saga of these Cokes, and the risky business of smuggling soda home with you from vacation.
When Sarah saw all of the dozens of photos I had taken of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Coke bottles, she wondered what the heck I’d do with them all. I responded that, naturally, I’d write an overly verbose blog post. When she said there’s no way I could come up with enough to say about these drinks, my response was a simple challenge accepted.
September 2, 2019 UPDATE: Our long national nightmare is over! After about a week of sarcastic social media posts and headlines across just about every media platform, the TSA reversed its previous statement that the bottles would be banned due to looking like replica explosives (ha!).
In an on-air statement to CNN, a TSA spokeswoman said, “We have completed our review, and instructed our officers to treat these as an oversized liquid. Because these bottles contain liquids larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters), they should be put in checked baggage or emptied to be brought on as carry-on item.”
Today is actually the perfect occasion for such a post! Rather than my long-winded ramblings about Coke being inane and pointless, there’s actually some practical Walt Disney World and Disneyland planning advice to share here. All thanks to the TSA!
When asked whether Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Coke products could be packed in checked bags (with the questioner attaching the ominous stock photo of the bottles pictured below), the official @AskTSA twitter account responded that “replica and inert explosives aren’t allowed in either carry-on or checked bags.”
As someone who doesn’t want to be added to a no-fly or enhanced security list, I’m not one to question the sage wisdom of the TSA. However…I do wonder about the logic, longevity, and enforcement of banning these bottles from flights. It effectively amounts to drawing a tenuous line between explosives and thin plastic bottles that bear the unmistakable and iconic trade dress of Coca-Cola. That’s a tough sell for me.
While there might be some concern that these plastic soda bottles initially resemble the dangerous and totally real thermal detonators from the Star Wars documentaries, that concern is easily obviated. If you remove the top capper (which easily pops off), these bottles look like totally harmless spherical containers of soda. (Phew. Disaster averted, risky business cancelled, and our long national nightmare is over.)
Look, I’m not telling you that this makes them okay to pack in your checked baggage, but if TSA is mindlessly enforcing this “by the books” in line with its rules, the simple step of removing that cap puts these bottles squarely in line with said rule. Unless TSA also has a rule banning “anything spherical” of which I’m unaware.
As we returned home from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland prior to this @AskTSA question and answer indicated these thermal detonators posed an issue, we naturally brought a set back in our checked luggage. After all, what’s the point in buying obnoxiously priced soda bottles if you can’t do a photo shoot of the bottles with your pets?!
The only thing we confirmed with TSA’s official site before purchasing was the Savi’s Workshop Handbuilt Lightsabers, which are fine as carry-on items because, ironically, “the technology doesn’t currently exist to create a real lightsaber.” (Someone might want to tell them about thermal detonators!)
Objectively, based upon their sticker price, these Coca-Cola bottles are good uses of Disney Dining Plan snack credits. Subjectively, we have to question whether a smaller-than-normal bottle of Diet Coke, Sprite, Dasani, or Coca-Cola is actually worth that sticker price to begin with. (If you want to take these home as a souvenir or get cool photos of them in the land, the answer is probably yes. Otherwise, eh…)
The official backstory behind the Coca-Cola Company’s thermal detonator packaging for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is pretty fascinating. These spherical orb bottles are exclusive to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and stay true to the Star Wars aesthetic with a rounded look, resealable caps, and brand names printed on scuffed, rusted labels in Aurebesh, the written language of Star Wars.
Per Walt Disney Imagineering, they approached Coca-Cola and shared the idea of bringing Coke products into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in a new and unique way that maintained the authenticity of the Star Wars story and planet of Batuu. WDI wanted something that was also “just plain cool” per Imagineer Scott Trowbridge.
The creative process began three years before the first Star Wars Land opened to the general public, when Coca-Cola Design created dozens of prototypes of all shapes and sizes in collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm. The trio eventually landing on the designs that are now offered in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which actually feature an over-cap co-patented by Coca-Cola and Disney.
Imagineers and Coke creatives wanted to create packaging that appeared to be cargo pulled from a ship, such as the one atop Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo, the main counter service restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That was the starting point for the design contours and style of the product.
The idea to use Aurebesh text on the Coca-Cola bottle labels came during a tour of the Coke Archives in Atlanta, where Coca-Cola signage with the brand’s iconic Spencerian script logo in various languages caught the attention of Imagineers.
That plus the spherical orb design made for something fitting the visual style of the Star Wars universe and, specifically, Galaxy’s Edge.
Coca-Cola is Disney’s longest-running corporate partner, with a 70+ year partnership between the companies. Coke’s presence at Disneyland began in 1955 and Walt Disney World in 1971–the opening years of the two respective parks.
The corporate alliance includes locations like Refreshment Corner in both Disneyland (Anaheim) and Tokyo Disneyland, Coca-Cola Store in Disney Springs, and Club Cool in Epcot (for now!).
However, as noted in our Shanghai Disneyland post about Pepsi mentioned above, there was a fierce competition for the theme park soda sponsorship in the Chinese market, and one that Pepsi ultimately won. While the official story of the Coca-Cola thermal detonators is a nice one and seems plausible, we can’t help but wonder whether if there’s more to this story.
Disney has otherwise closely followed the mold of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and that would include only unique beverages. Superficially, this is for thematic integrity. In reality, it’s to deprive people of the choice of familiar favorites (like Coke products) and sell more expensive novelty drinks, like Butterbeer.
Disney being Disney, it would not be the least bit surprising if they similarly wanted only pricier novelty drinks in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It would also not be surprising if, after the Pepsi deal in Shanghai, the relationship between Coca-Cola and Disney was strained. Finally, it’s plausible that Coke pushed for inclusion in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, recognizing the marketing value that presence would have (and has had already!).
Of course, this is a lot of rampant speculation on my end. Perhaps there’s nothing more interesting than the official story, and that can be taken at face value. Ultimately, we probably won’t ever know one way or the other, but I think it’s fun to speculate as to the business decisions behind these types of things, as usually what really happened isn’t as rosy and press release-friendly as the official version of history.
Either way, the Coca-Cola thermal detonators are pretty cool and thoughtfully designed to blend in with the visual language of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This packaging reflects what a corporate alliance can be at its very best, elevating both brands and enhancing the guest experience.
The work Imagineering and Coca-Cola creatives did paid off, as these Coke bottles have already become Disney fan favorites…even if taking them home with you from Walt Disney World or Disneyland is now risky business.
What do you think of these Coca-Cola thermal detonator bottles that are exclusive to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Will you roll the dice and pack them in your bags to take home? Do you think this is a cool product? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of this being an example of a corporate alliance that really benefits everyone? 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!