Til the spire

Bright suns! I just got back from a spontaneous trip to Disneyland, and let me tell you: it was a time. The Disney fanboy in me was screaming, the Star Wars fanboy in me was screaming, the Imagineering fanboy in me was screaming – all of it.

Perhaps the most surprising thing for me was how this trip came to be – in truth, at this point last week I was still hedging on whether or not I should go. It was only when I found myself with no lingering finals that I bit the bullet and got myself a plane ticket, a hotel reservation, and a ticket to go see Galaxy’s Edge for myself.

When we first stepped into Batuu at 11am, the first thing that astounded me was its sheer scale; not a step went by where I wasn’t drawn to look up. The way the landscape formed levels to frame different vantage points was a masterstroke in urban planning. And coming face to face with the Millennium Falcon? Truly spiritual.

As a designer, I couldn’t help but notice and duly appreciate everything about the way the space was constructed, from the way they used speakers hidden in the buildings and the Doppler effect to simulate aircraft flying overhead, to the open-air marketplace reminiscent of those that wind Morocco and Turkey, and even mismatch of pavements that littered the land which suggested a long history to this place.

Even the cast members, assigned the role of villagers, did their best to keep the illusion alive. When I pulled out my red lightsaber in front of a PhotoPass photographer (a mistake, I know), he gasped a bit before taking my photos. And when I asked a cast member outside Oga’s Cantina where she was from while our group waited to enter, she told me she was from Galma, a village a little ways away from where we were now (Black Spire Outpost, of course).

The ways in which our presence as off-worlders contradict and shape the very spaces we interacted with was an entirely meta experience.

When it came time to use the datapad (an integrated experience in the Play Disney Parks app), I found myself further engrossed into my own story. I had adventures of my own. I took actions that would manifest in front of me (hacking surveillance points was a really cool example this!). The ways in which our presence as so-called “off-worlders” contradicted and shaped the very spaces we interacted with in the land was an entirely meta experience that has so much opportunity for growth.

Indeed, Black Spire Outpost isn’t merely a land, but a world unto itself. And for four hours, I was a part of that world, drinking blue milk at Oga’s Cantina and marveling at the toys Zabaka the Toydarian made herself. When our group’s four-hour reservation window was up, I felt a bit sad having to leave Batuu – there were so many more stories I’d yet to make for myself. Only a bit, however; I was still at Disneyland, after all!

It was a special treat for myself to be among the first in the galaxy to visit Galaxy’s Edge, and a fantastic way to cap off my junior year. I’m so excited to see people’s reactions when they step into Batuu for the first time, and I’m even more excited to see what happens when Rise of the Resistance opens later this year. (And you can bet I’ll be among the first to witness it when it opens up.)

May the spires keep you,

Scan Mar 19, 2018 at 7.04 PM

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