Last week ShadowCheetah and I got a chance to hop into my starfighter and fly ourselves down to visit Batuu… and it was a decidedly good time!
After following the construction progress from afar, walking into Galaxy’s Edge and experiencing it was very cool. It’s a deliciously hyper-detailed land, with an attention to detail I’d not seen in a Disney park outside of the ones in Japan.
Every nook and cranny has been paid attention to with set dressing so that there’s no blank or disused areas. And the design of the land purposefully avoids any clear sight lines so that it unfolds bit by bit as you journey through it. While it has its downsides (or even flaws) from an operation’s standpoint (such as lack of casual seating) the land is glorious eye candy everywhere you look (which would be great to observe from said missing seating).
Our plan was to visit the planet both during the daytime and then return to see it under the glory of night. This worked out even better than we expected — our boarding pass was called for Rise of the Resistance (more on that in a bit!) late in the evening, which had us emerge from the ride just a few minutes before park closing. Which was enough time to hustle it over to Smuggler’s Run for our third ride of the day. We ended up being the last ones on the ride for the day, and when we were done piloting (woohoo!) we exited Hondo’s garage to a very empty Black Spire Outpost. Which allowed us to not only marvel in the great detail and lighting, but also take some nice shots with nary another person in sight.
So clearly we enjoyed Smuggler’s Run, but we were especially fortunate that our trip to Batuu came after the opening of Rise of the Resistance. Because it is truly something else. Several something elses, really, as it is more like 5 rides in one. Spoilers hereon out if you want to avoid, as I kind of did, studiously avoiding watching any on-ride videos so that I would go in semi-fresh. So while I knew of a few of the big set pieces from following the construction photos, the overall of it I didn’t know. I’ve heard it described as the first “F-ticket” attraction, and I would agree. There are a lot of very nifty moments, a tonne of incredibly creative set pieces and effects, and it has a more cohesive plot and perhaps even story than did the The Rise of Skywalker movie. It’s a tour de force (pun semi-intended), and I’m keen on seeing it again!
Some of my fav moments:
- From those construction photos, I knew that there would be a Star Destroyer hangar. But having us go out of the shuttle through same door we came in was unexpected… and best of all, there was this group of about 8 who clearly didn’t know about this and when the door opened and we were greeted by the tableau of three rows of stormtroopers and the giant doorway to space and the First Order officers this group, in unison, literally jumped back, leaned back, and screamed in a mix of surprise, amazement, wonder, and terror. So much so that the officer had to stop his spiel and wait for them to finish before ordering us off the ship. So while I unfortunately wasn’t surprised it was absolutely great to get to live vicariously through that group.
- The cast members playing the First Order. They must love it, getting to be all stern and order-y and generally being very non-Disney like.
- The cutting out of the jail cell! The effects of the plasma torch were neat (even if one fellow prisoner was standing in front of it, totally clueless to what was going on behind) them, and then the rough cut look of the wall when the panel pulls away.
- As we’re in the droid vehicles, headed towards a lift… and a mechanical form slowly slides down from above into view. Me: “Gahhhh! It’s a probe droid!” Voice on the Ride: “Look out, it’s a probe droid!” Me: “That’s what I just said!”
- I want to see the blaster effects a second time… some seemed to work great (along with blasting holes in the wall), some less so…
- The decompression effect was amazing. I’m guessing a chamber of pressurized air to get that instantaneous blast effect, it was very effective. (The debris that ‘falls’ to hide Kylo Ren, not so much.)
- And then that last drop right into the motion simulator. They must drop the entire motion simulator rig, and that’s just downright impressive — that thing plus the ride vehicle plus the guests can’t be all that lightweight! And to do it over and over and over again! It’s also very effective from an experience standpoint, you do get the sense of being ejected out of the ship and then escaping down to the planet’s surface (that said, they need to upgrade their graphics on both that and the original shuttle ride to take time-of-day into account — it was night outside but the graphics were all day).
All in all, a great ride experience, and super impressive from a technical standpoint. Hats off and lightsabres up in salute to Imagineering for such great work!
One big addition to (and to fix a glaring omission from) my review of TRoS from last Sunday, and that is to commend the actors. They did what they could with the material given to them to do, and often went above and beyond the call. Adam Driver especially – he didn’t even get to speak for the last third of the movie and managed to pull off a lot of communication with only body language and expression. And a glass raised in condolences to John Boyega, for whom I think 50% of his dialogue opportunities was, started, or ended with, shouting “Rey!” in various ways. Their embodiment of the characters throughout the trilogy (whether they were in all three or just some of them) is one of the series’ strong points, and for some of the installments was the reason why the movie worked at all in any capacity.
It’s also gotta be rough as an actor, signing up for something you’re excited in and then being presented a script… and a reshoot, and another reshoot… and then seeing on screen what was finally edited together. And then everyone’s reactions to it. (Doubly so since, especially for some of them, they were hit with insane and disgusting vitriol hurled towards them personally as actors. That’s really shitty.) Like many I both dream of and would jump at a chance to be in a Star Wars movie (or any other movie, really, but Star Wars has extra resonance). I would sign on the dotted line and be ready to dive in. I can also imagine then being handed the script like for TFA or TRoS and feeling my heart sink and continue sinking throughout the process.
Now, I don’t know if any of the actors felt this way, and maybe they didn’t, but I still commend them heartily for giving it their all and bringing what there was to life and for making us like and invest into the characters, even as we may have wanted to see them (with these feelings even heightened because the actors were doing a good job) in better stories or better told stories.
And so my friends we have come now to the end. Episode IX, the final chapter in the “main” Star Wars saga! Thus far in the trilogy, The Force Awakens largely disappointed, and The Last Jedi was strong in concept and rich in both direction and character arcs if, unfortunately, weak in storytelling. For this third installment, JJ is back to direct. Will the third time the charm? Will The Rise of Skywalker rise to the occasion and satisfyingly wrap up this 42 year journey?
Spoilers ahead…. Continue reading
Missed the usual Wonder Wednesday post this week as it was in the midst of another wonderful day at Disneyland!
Meeting up with some old friends…
Chip and Dale were totally amused by my shirt, and spent several minutes alternately pointing themselves out, hiding the other’s picture, doing hearts over them, and so on, all in a rapid flurry of paws. It was great!
Getting a deliciously big hug from Tigger…
I went with my friend Shadow Cheetah, who, as a costumer himself, totally loved watching all the mannerisms and especially interactions of the Disney characters with the guests. It was also his first time to Disneyland, for which I was incredibly excited and honoured to be the one to introduce him to all the theme park magic.
Can’t say hi to Tigger without visiting Pooh as well!
Also finally got a chance to try out the new Guardians ride at California Adventure, and it’s a blast! The Rocket animatronic in the antechamber was especially well done. Only got a chance to ride it once, so only saw one of the six music/sequence combos. More for next time!
Also got a chance to see the latest of the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge construction. You can get a great view from the second lift hill on Thunder Mountain, and what a view, oh my! Night had fallen, but the land was still lit up letting us see just how big it is. It. Is. Freakin. Huge. I never grasped the scope of it until now. Framed by the spires of Thunder Mountain, it filled the horizon to the edges of our vision with massive rock formations and a mess of buildings. And it’s all looking great already, the detail and the level of craft I think is going to be mind blowing.
Click on the above to see it in a 360 degree panorama format! (You may need to click on it a few times to get to the panorama feature)
To finish off the day we attended the Mickey and Minnie mouse 90th birthday dance party on Main Street. With a gaggle of Disney songs remixed (quite well) into a dance beat, it was a rocking time as projections flowed over every facade down main street, accompanied by a thousand spotlights all waving in patterns to the beat (even around the castle, which was half-covered in scrim for maintenance — you can see it in the image above).
As the lights returned to normal and the after-party music began, Shade and I continued to dance away, eliciting cheers and “right on!”s from other guests as they began to stream towards the exit. A powerfully fun end to a wonderful day.
First, John Williams is creating new music for Galaxy’s Edge! Second, great footage of the progress on the new park — it is looking fantastic!