star wars

Ten Hours in Batuu

Tonight Disneyland officially opened Galaxy’s Edge, their new Star Wars themed “land”. Galaxy’s Edge contains the planet of Batuu, a way station on the edge of wild space where the Black Spire outpost exists. It’s an ancient place but also thoroughly Star Wars, where smugglers, the First Order, and the Rebellion all inhabit their own corners and are frequently at odds.

I was lucky enough to spend ten hours exploring Batuu over the last week. Let me tell you as someone who grew up loving Star Wars (I was 8 when the first movie released), this is the real deal. The Disney Imagineers went to extreme efforts to make Batuu more immersive than anything Disney has ever made before. When you visit Batuu, you are not in a subdivision of Disneyland. You are transported to the galaxy far, far away. It’s amazing. The architecture, the droids, the little panels on the walls, the sounds, the Millennium Falcon, and all the little details completely suck you in. I’ll be covering this further and tomorrow, I’ll be featured in an extended interview on the Rebel Force Radio podcast all about it, but just for now, here are a few things I’ve done in Batuu:

  • I’ve watched and cheered on Chewbacca as he repaired an X-Wing right in front of me.

  • I’ve drunk blue milk.

  • I’ve hung out on the Millennium Falcon

  • I’ve piloted the Millennium Falcon numerous times. By the way, pulling back on the throttle to kick the Falcon into hyperspace is a life-altering experience.

  • I’ve been hassled by stormtroopers for wearing a Rebel patch on my coat.

  • I’ve sent Chewbacca off on a rampage, presumably to kill stormtroopers.

  • I’ve explored the shops and back alleys of Batuu.

  • I’ve built a droid. (Of course I installed a rebel personality chip.)

  • I've been approached … by a guy … about a lightsaber.

Best of all, I’ve lived in Star Wars. That really is the only way to describe it. Batuu is so realistic that it becomes real. The sounds of the area are that of a spaceport. When you hear a ship rumble across the city, you instinctively look up, only to be convinced it is just out of your line of sight.

Best of all is the cast members, which in this case are citizens of Batuu. When one sweeper approached and saw trash on the ground, he asked me if it was mine. When I said “no”, he smiled and said, “Good. I can sell this for credits” before sweeping it up and moving along. When I discovered a rebel weapons cache and a bunch of artifacts from the original trilogy, another Batuu citizen asked if I knew what “all that old junk” is.

At one point I witnessed a rebel operative enlist a 10-ish-year-old boy into the rebellion and had him posted as a lookout for stormtroopers as she was sabotaging land speeders. It's real. It's so real that when you leave Batuu and find yourself back in Disneyland, it's jarring. If Star Wars is your thing, Batuu is definitely going to be your thing.

It’s amazing and I feel like I’m just getting started in my explorations. If you go, make sure to check your cynicism at the door and instead dive in and enjoy the ride.

Also, I have contacts with a rebel cell currently sneaking into Batuu that has set up an Instagram Account to smuggle out photos and comment on the state of the unjust First Order occupation. If you like this sort of thing, subscribe to the “Batuu_Rebel” account on Instagram. The cell is still getting established, but I expect it is going to get quite active in the near future.

The New Galaxy's Edge Soundtrack

This one pushes all of my buttons.

As an annual passholder, I've enjoyed watching Star Wars grow out of the Disneyland backlot over the last year. The new Star Wars themed land will be called Galaxy's Edge and, thanks to Josh Gad (long story), I spent some quality time with the primary Galaxy's Edge designers. If you are curious, I explain the story and the details in this episode of Rebel Force Radio.

This week Disney announced that John Williams is creating new and original Star Wars themes just for the new park. They even posted a video showcasing the new music with some very recent flybys through the area under construction. Disney says the California iteration of Galaxy's Edge is supposed to open this summer.

Every time I watch the below video, my inner eight-year-old flips out.

Episode VIII

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Today marks general release of the latest Star Wars Movie. This will be episode VIII and, for me, continuation of a journey started when I was nine years old. I’ve got my Star Wars shirt on and wearing my Star Wars shoes (the same ones I wore a few years ago for Episode VII) and a group of friends and family ready to go see “The Movie” tonight. I’ve been intentionally laying low on social media the last few days and I'm ready to go be amazed. If you’re a geek like me, May the Force Be with You.

 

Solo

Today Ron Howard announced the name of the previously untitled Han Solo Star Wars Movie. 

Solo.

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I like it. He finishes the video saying "I'll see you next year." The question is … when next year? Previously Lucas announced Solo would be released in Summer of 2018 but since they've now pushed Episode IX to December of 2019, I wouldn't be surprised if Solo gets pushed back to December 2018.

Star Wars Augmented Reality Promotion

Reuters is reporting that September 1-3 we are going to get augmented reality Star Wars characters on our iPhones at certain retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and … yes … Apple. 

The hunt for “Star Wars” characters is scheduled to last three days and will coincide with “Force Friday II,” the day retailers start selling toys and other products tied to “The Last Jedi” with midnight openings around the world.
— Reuters

Of course, this is something right in my wheelhouse. It may even compel me to go to a store, which I usually try to avoid.

One curiosity for me is that this AR stunt happens before iOS 11 ships so it will not be taking advantage of the remarkable AR support we’ll see in the next version of iOS. It will be interesting to see how well they pull it off without that advantage.

The Disneyland Star Wars Experience

I spent part of today at the Disney D23 convention where they've got an entire section devoted to the Star Wars Experience at Disneyland. I spoke with lots of Imagineers and learned a lot of information. The Saturday sessions will disclose a lot more about this expansion and I'll write up what I learned more afterward but I thought you may want to start out by looking at pictures of this remarkable model. These images are lightboxed so clicking on them will blow them up. Enjoy.

Happy May the 4th

I know these days that it seems like every day is a holiday of one sort of another but how could I let May the 4th go by without acknowledging it. Why do I love Star Wars? One reason is because of the fans. They are completely insane ... like me. Last year, Adam Driver did a funny skit on Saturday Night Live where his Star Wars character, Kylo Ren, went on Undercover Boss as "Matt, radar technician".

As I was walking through the Star Wars celebration, I stumbled into a group of people that dressed up as "Matt". That's right, they even cosplay the spoofs. Star Wars has some of the greatest fans in the world. May the force be with you.

Star Wars Episode VIII – The Trailer, The Poster, and the Show Floor

Today was the Episode VIII panel at Star Wars Celebration and it was pretty great. The corker was a 2 minute teaser that LucasFilm is calling a "trailer". I don't see how you can call this a trailer though. It's just the barest of sketches about what's going on with our heroes and villains in the middle act of the trilogy. It's very well done and I like the fact that it conveys very little information about what to expect. The movie is still eight months away. Keep us in suspense a bit longer please.

About that Poster

I really like the new poster. Seeing old Luke so prominantly is awesome considering he had such a small role in The Force Awakens.

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I also like the way Rey at the bottom harkens back to Luke in the original Star Wars poster from 1977. (I remember seeing that poster as a kid and not sure what to make of it. The guy holding the light saber looked more like someone out of a Spartacus movie than Mark Hamil.)

Also, did you notice how Rey's saber transitions from blue to red? The point of the middle episode is to leave us feeling our heroes are completely screwed. Between the trailer and this poster, I expect they'll deliver on that promise.

MacSparky's Celebration Multi-Media Extravaganza

So far at Celebration I've been watching panels and meeting up with friends. Today I plan to spend a lot of time on the show floor taking pictures of both the awesome and the bazaar. It's all here gang. Follow me today on Twitter, Instagram, and/or SnapChat for plenty of Star Wars content. I'll even be posting video with my SnapChat Glasses. Such a nerd.

Rogue One Props

Disneyland has a display of some props from Rogue One. So of course I made the trek and shot pictures. Enjoy. Expect more Star Wars coverage than usual this week. Rogue One releases in a few days and I'm feeling it.