With the discussions ongoing, both inside and outside of Disney, about bringing The Mandalorian to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, we though it was a good time to discuss the options available to Chapek and company on changes. We know they’re seriously moving into planning stages, so let’s take a look at what Disney might be developing:
First, we need to identify that while the land itself is not necessarily a grand success, the technology and experience of Rise of the Resistance is magnificent (when it works, and usually it does). It is without a doubt the greatest dark ride in the world, and it’s doubtful any dark ride will eclipse it in a decade or more. It’s a technical marvel and the price tag to top it would be astronomical. So Rise of the Resistance isn’t going anywhere. While The Mandalorian is almost certainly coming to Galaxy’s Edge, Resistance isn’t leaving. The problem is, people have no idea what the “Resistance” is other than a now-dated political reference. People know what the Empire and Rebels are.
So, at best, Disney might pay to reskin and refilm some parts of Rise of the Resistance. It’s a possibility since Kylo is essentially baby Vader. The only issue with this change other than money, is that controversy would explode if Rey is removed from the attraction. While this might happen in the future as the sequel trilogy continues to be made irrelevant, I think this is many years away.
As for Smuggler’s Run – the ride that emulates the Millenium Falcon – that’s already a stinker that Disney needs to fix. And if you’re going to fix it, you might as well give the fans what they want with Han Solo somehow put into the attraction. The ride has a poor reception due to the flawed, cartoony CGI graphics for the experience. Before the pandemic, Disney knew and was preparing to at least add a new “mission”, which could have just been a replacement. This change, however, is going to cost Disney some dough. Creating a new game environment with a better lighting engine, bringing in technology to introduce Han Solo (who is alive and still heroic during The Mandalorian)… all that’s going to take some cash at a time when Disney is sealing E-Ticket construction sites for lack of safe capital to finish them.
But then there are things that are absolutely not expensive at all. These are the changes that only have upside for Mickey. Instead of having Rey and company roaming the land, Disney just needs to put in Mando (Din), Ahsoka, Baby Yoda, etc, in the area. That’s costumes and cast members. The lines will be enormous. More importantly, just meeting Grogu will drive ticket sales.
The amount of Baby Yoda (Grogu) merchandise I see at my Walmart is honestly insane. I'll make a thread of all the ones I've seen. pic.twitter.com/Y0RxMfnBLi
— HopkinsHat Burger ✊🏽 (@HopkinsHat) December 23, 2020
And finally, let me just address that yes, Disney does have expansion pads at both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Resort. Disneyland’s expansions are more expensive and require some demolition, but they both were designed with a second phase in mind. However, I just don’t see any way in the world, and none of my sources believe, that Disney will expand the area for years, and years, and years. If you need to know why, look no further than the fact it looks like a bomb was dropped in the middle of Epcot – they have a ridiculous amount of capital to spend to just get that park landscaped. It doesn’t matter what you’ve read online about Disney building a Star Wars restaurant in the land… all that is shelved for a long time to come.
So out of all the possibilities, what is most likely?
In my opinion, and based on conversations I’ve had, Disney is bringing in The Mandalorian characters, along with the characters from the other Favreau-Filoni Star Wars Universe. They’re going to figure out a way to bring in post-Return of the Jedi, heroic Luke Skywalker. One person I spoke with on condition of anonymity said they’d LOVE to get Darth Vader in the area in some kind of flashback manner. I don’t know what that means, other than Disney knows Vader sells. Years from now, as the Favreau-Filoni universe potentially grows to MCU level fandom, Thrawn might be the type of character people will know and line up to see.
However, I think hoping for Disney to reskin Rise of the Resistance is probably too much for them in the current financial climate. I also think that while they might add Han Solo in some cheap way to Smuggler’s Run, I don’t know of any third parties working on the attraction… so I think a replacement mission is years away. Based on uncorroborated rumors that tend to look more realistic, I kind of just think they’re planning to give up on the continuity of the area. They’ll likely drop the role playing idea and turn the area into a hodgepodge of Star Wars. At least that way, if they want to bring in popular characters from the supposedly racist, sexist, uninclusive era of Star Wars (you know, like Mace Windu, Lando, Queen Amidala, etc), they won’t be roadblocked. I mean, it almost makes you laugh to think Disney has two billion dollar investments on both coasts and they’re stuck with those investments being time-locked in a fictional chronology glued to Last Jedi. It’s like being given the keys to the entire Rocky franchise, but you can only use characters from Rocky 5.
So what’s most likely? I think they’ll divide the land into two areas – the Rise of the Resistance area will be all about the Sequel Trilogy (for now), while the market area with Smuggler’s Run will be The Mandalorian. They’ll talk about some time shift thing between the two areas in a press release, and they’ll all sigh with relief that they can finally put popular Star Wars characters in the land. Knowing Kathleen Kennedy’s Lucasfilm, they’ll probably push to get Jar Jar in there with a bunch of porgs. Good thing, then, they’re on the losing end of influence these days.