CONFIRMED: Star Wars Land Originally Conceptualized As Tatooine and Endor According to Former Disney Vice President Dan Cockerell

In a recent interview, former Vice President of Walt Disney World Dan Cockerell confirmed long-standing rumors that the original concept for the Star Wars themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios included Tatooine and more from the original Star Wars trilogy.

The first plans to expand the Star Wars presence in the park included the Mos Eisley Cantina and a new version of the Jedi Training Academy show, dating back to 2011/12. These projects were developed shortly after the completion of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in 2011.

We know that the plans also included the forest moon of Endor as a teaser was hidden in a display at the 2013 D23 Expo for the Speeder Bike thrill ride that would’ve allowed guests to take part in a mission during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi. Other attractions in the land would’ve included a Jabba’s Palace dinner show, the aforementioned Mos Eisley Cantina, and a Path of the Force dark ride explaining the secrets and lore of the Jedi and the Sith.

This Endor/Tatooine themed land was set to be built over what is the Echo Lake section of the park (including Gertie the Dinosaur’s extinction), stretching down to Star Tours. Makes sense, right?

Into 2015, rumors persisted that the Echo Lake area was going to close, but it seems that a shift in the plans in the latter portion of 2014 led to the project moving to the back of the park. Finally, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was announced at the 2015 D23 Expo and construction started in the Spring of 2016.

Bob Iger admitted to cancelling these Endor and Tatooine plans in a December 2014 interview, where he explained why the land would be focused on the Disney film trilogy.

It’s nice to know that the archaic rumors were true, but I’m also a little sad at what could’ve been. How do you feel? Which version of the Star Wars Land did you want to see?

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alex bailey
alex bailey
5 months ago

it realy makes no difference. the bugget would have been cut so it is probably would have been about the same quality as Galaxy edge

Brian
Brian
5 months ago

In the very hard, “oh, what could have been” camp on this one.

SJames
SJames
5 months ago

While I am so grateful that Echo Lake did NOT close (I feel it’s a much needed space in a park that’s otherwise so concrete everywhere), I do feel it’s a shame they didn’t do the Endor/Tatooine land where galaxy’s edge exists right now. I love it when there are different attractions at WDW and DLR. This would have been a big draw for Star Wars fans to see the original trilogy characters on one coast, then fly to the other to see SWGE as it is now.

Justin M.
Justin M.
5 months ago

It would have been a better experience to have two different lands for two different parks. Makes you want to visit both parks to experience and more detail. End the end it is easier and more cost effective to have one design and plans.

Tom
Tom
5 months ago

I think that, over time, Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is going to become about as popular as the Country Bear Jamboree was at Disneyland in the summer of 2001 (in other words, not very darn popular).

Than
Than
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Star Wars has been popular for like 4 decades now…it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Tom
Tom
5 months ago
Reply to  Than

Yes, the original Star Wars was popular, but the prequels and the drivel Disney brought to the screen can’t even remotely compare – it’s like a pop-up carnival vs the Magic Kingdom, which would you rather visit?

The land is popular for now but I doubt it’s staying power is there. I’m waiting for Disney to start celebrating New Years there everyday like they eventually had to do with Pleasure Island. I’m sure Chewbacca would make a good Funmeister.

Meg
Meg
5 months ago

We weren’t impressed by GE in October. Granted, we didn’t get to ride ROTR, but we (more my husband really) are…were…more invested in the original trilogy. If they had Adam Driver there, oh man then the new trilogy would have been worth it. But that is an outrageous idea lol.

Seattleite
Seattleite
5 months ago

Endor and Speeder Bike thrill ride would have been amazing. Not so crazy about Tatooine as the desert landscape would have been ugly. Hope they add a thrill ride to Batuu.

Doug
Doug
5 months ago

I have said it multiple times…making a Star Wars land to focus on the new trilogy only when the trilogy would be almost over by the time it opened was stupid. They could have cut the “pretend you’re on another planet” thing and made different rides that focused on all time periods of Star Wars. I think that would have resulted in more rides and more interest across a broader age range.

HPastrano
HPastrano
5 months ago

I am so disappointed in GE!! They really missed the mark – especially at Disneyland!!!! As a huge fan, this design took a left turn somewhere and was swallowed by an Exogorth (space slug) – it is deserted most of the time, except for the cantina and ROTR, drab – nothing Disney or Star Wars magical. I am hopeful the imagineers will be able to rework and improve this area into a more exciting and engaging area. Would have LOVED the speeder ride!

Devin
Devin
5 months ago
Reply to  HPastrano

We must have visited entirely different lands, my friend. Galaxy’s Edge is (in my mind) nothing short of an Imagineering marvel. The attention to detail alone is absolutely incredible. I do agree with what some others have said that it’s a bit of a shame that it’s so firmly entrenched in the Sequel Trilogy era, but I expect that Disney will find creative ways to re-skin the land in years to come.

ThankThePhonecians
ThankThePhonecians
5 months ago

I feel like GE makes Star Tours redundant (in both DL and DHS) and if the Echo lake plot was used, it could’ve prevented this situation at DHS. If only WDW had the Marvel rights and Star Tours could become Iron Man Experience as a D-Ticket in a Marvel themed area…..

J.Eddis-Koch
J.Eddis-Koch
5 months ago

It’s annoying to see that they had it right with the original concept and they completely blew it by tying the land to the movies that they were in the process of making. FOR YEARS all everyone could ever talk about was having a drink in the Cantina and riding the Millennium Falcon. The Speeder bike ride would have been cool, as well as a Jabba’s Palace dinner show, and a Path of the Force dark ride. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, as realized, goes down as a miss for me. It’s not a place that anyone asked for. It’s uncomfortably… Read more »

Shannon Nutt
Shannon Nutt
5 months ago

Well, that was a HUGE mistake.

John
John
5 months ago

KK: Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.
Yoda: That is why you fail.

Alan
Alan
5 months ago

I might be one of the few who actually likes GE but I do believe it shouldn’t be in HS it should of had it’s own park, then areas/rides from all 3 trilogies could of been included. I feel the same way about Pandora not fitting in with Animal Kingdom.

Sue
Sue
5 months ago

I think a Tatooine area would have been just about impossible to pull off. Tatooine is a desert planet with no trees or vegetation, so how exactly would it come off to have an area with no plants or shade? And Luke made it clear, Tatooine was a pit. He HATED being there and couldn’t wait to leave. Mos Eisley was a filthy, dangerous dump. I don’t think either of them would make very attractive theme park venues. I think what might happen at some point is they’ll shut down GE for a time and retrofit it to be Original… Read more »

Jason
Jason
5 months ago

Tom, thanks for covering this. Could you also please cite the original source of the interview?

Andrew
Andrew
5 months ago

Comments on SWGE are the same every time. Go back and read all the past SWGE articles. Different article, same bull. I’m waiting for someone to bring a unique opinion to the conversation.

Tom
Tom
5 months ago

The other thing I want to add is that if guests don’t return to the parks near the numbers that were there before COVID, the true popularity of GE will be apparent. Probably busy in the morning and as quiet as a meditating Jedi after 3 pm. A common question at 6 pm will be, “Tell me, are the Ronto Roasters fresh?”

Juan
Juan
5 months ago

Galaxy’s Edge is really cool, but it is seriously missing the creatures big and small and droids that gives the movies their charm. It’s like a beautiful movie set where 3-5 characters walk/run through every now and then. It’s a cool place, but it doesn’t feel alive- it feels more like a dead mall in the Star Wars universe

Balad
Balad
5 months ago
Reply to  Juan

I wholeheartedly agree, I love Galaxy’s Edge very much but its severely missing the Aliens, Droids, Creatures and all the kinetic energy that gives the franchise its charm. The way that Disney has stripped down the entire experience of the land and devolved it into an up charge at every opportunity is a sad and disgusting testament to the way that current management has completely lost their way. I hope they can make up for these missteps after COVID-19 is over.

Lyle O
Lyle O
5 months ago

I love Galaxy’s Edge and am happy with what they have done. When I think back to the summer of 1977 and standing in long lines to see Star Wars, I never could have imagined having the opportunity to experience it firsthand. While I am sure I would have enjoyed the “what could have been” I am not going to lose any sleep over it. I have spent many days just sitting in Galaxy’s Edge soaking it all in. Cannot wait to return.