Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Fla., transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life. Inside these authentic lands, guests will be able to step aboard The Millennium Falcon and actually pilot the fastest ship in the galaxy, steering the vessel through space, firing the laser cannons, in complete control of the experience. And with the arrival of the First Order to the planet, guests will find themselves in the middle of a tense battle between stormtroopers and Resistance fighters. (Disney Parks)
Star Wars characters have droids to help them explore their world. You’ll have your smartphone.
As they explore Black Spire Outpost inside the Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, guests will be able to use the Play Disney Parks app on their devices to learn more about the events unfolding around them and become part of the story themselves.
“Since the First Order arrived at Black Spire Outpost, they’ve started uploading a surveillance system to the door control panels to monitor what’s going on in the outpost,” says Anisha Deshmane, an assistant producer with Imagineering who helped develop the interactive elements. “Obviously, the Resistance may not want their actions to be tracked. They’d like to fly under the radar, so they’re trying to fight back.”
There are scores of these surveillance boxes embedded in the walls around town, and you can use the Play Disney app to “hack” into them by solving a simple puzzle. Then you can choose to either deactivate them to help the Resistance, or reactivate them to aid the First Order. As time goes on, the game runs out and a winner is declared.
Scan and Translate
The Play Disney app will read markers on containers and buildings that reveal a little more about what’s inside. On the Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run rides, it’ll pass the time in line by filling you in on facts about the impending missions.
Some of the labels will be encrypted, so users will have to solve a simple puzzle as a description key that will allow them to reveal the contents.
The app will also make it easier to be a stranger in a strange land.
“As you walk through, there are amazing languages written on walls and carved into stone,” says Imagineering concept designer Casey Ging. “You’ll hear characters speaking in their native alien tongue. The translate app is a way for you to actually understand what they’re talking about. You can automatically hear audio or scan some of the written text.”
Wherever you see the Star Wars language of Aurebesh, the app will help you translate — revealing that this sign above an entryway reads: Savi & Son Salvage.
There’s a story behind these supposed junk dealers, too. They’re secretly aiding the Resistance by manufacturing lightsabers for Force-sensitive allies.
Another function on the Play Disney app inside Galaxy’s Edge is “tuning.” This means listening in on the broadcasts happening between the Resistance, the First Order, and various underworld gangs.
“There’s communications going through all the antennas that you see scattered about,” Ging says. “To get an idea of what those transmissions are, you open your tuning tool, and you can locate transmissions that are being passed back and forth, sometimes between factions, sometimes just between villagers.”
Occasionally, the intercepted texts look like gibberish, and another puzzle must be solved to decode them. “This one might be something that somebody doesn’t want you to hear, so you can actually use your data pad to unscramble that transmission, isolate the signal, and understand that there is a secret transmission being sent by one of those factions,” Ging says.
Who wants to take a job while you’re on vacation at Disneyland?
If it means joining the fight, for either the heroes or the villains, Star Wars fans may consider signing up for duty.
You never actually choose a side, light or dark, in Galaxy’s Edge. It’s not about waving a flag or putting on a uniform (although this will be the first place in a Disney park where adults are permitted to wear a costume).
Your unique story is dictated simply by the actions you take, and which side you choose to support. It’s also possible to go rogue by siding with one of the local gangs who are playing both sides against each other.
The Play Disney app allows visitors to engage with some of the full-scale droids rolling around the village, which will help them learn more about the word on the street and who is looking for help. Visitors can also sign on to take “jobs” with characters like Hondo Ohnaka, the pirate proprietor of the Millennium Falcon ride, who may ask you to help him by finding and transmitting schematics for a First Order starship.
There will be points and rewards for completing tasks, adding heft to your digital Star Wars profile, but the main thing visitors get is more personal involvement with the story of Galaxy’s Edge.
“That ship schematic becomes something that you have a copy of,” says Deshmane. “That adventure within the land means that you’re collecting more and more information as you loop around.”