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Harrison Ford, Millennium Falcon open Disney’s Star Wars land

When the Millennium Falcon didn’t power on, a call went out into the crowd, “Can anyone fix this thing?”

Harrison Ford, Han Solo himself, ponied up next to the hunk of junk, paused to utter the name “Peter,” and gave the ship two good thwacks.

The Millennium Falcon hummed to life and the crowd yelped in shocked applause.

On stage, Ford joined Disney CEO Robert Iger, “Star Wars” director George Lucas, Luke Skywalker’s Mark Hamill and Lando Calrissian’s Billy Dee Williams.

Notably missing was Peter Mayhew, Ford’s friend and the actor who portrayed Chewbacca, who died in April.

Lucas gazed back and forth between the crowd and the ship that carried his characters a long time ago, throughout a galaxy far, far away.

“Twenty years ago, we couldn’t have even dreamed up something like this,” said Lucas. “Now the technology is here. This thing is amazing.”

Hamill reflected on the 1987 opening of Star Tours, Disneyland’s first “Star Wars” ride. He told the group of a few hundred invited guests at Wednesday’s dedication that he’d felt so lucky to have been part of something that inspired its own ride, that he’d thought that day would never be topped.

“The ‘Star Wars’ movies are the gift that keep on giving,” said Hamill. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have been a part of it, to be associated with a character that represents optimism and hope.”

The Millennium Falcon is the centerpiece of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new “Star Wars”-inspired land debuting at Disneyland on Friday. The land marks the largest ever expansion by the resort.

Doug Chiang, vice president and executive creative director of Lucasfilm saw creating a real location as both a joy and a challenge.

“We make movie sets. But they’re false, they’re not real. And they’re from the point of view of the director,” said Chiang at a panel on Wednesday. “Here, it’s through your point of view.”

The three entry points to the land introduce visitors to the fictional planet of Batuu.

Here, characters from all walks of life in the “Star Wars” universe interact. And it’s up to each guest to determine the story want to create for themselves within the new world.

The planet Batuu

While “Star Wars” introduced dozens of planets throughout its three trilogies, books and TV series, Disneyland opted to introduce a new planet for Galaxy’s Edge.

By creating the planet of Batuu, fans of the franchise are invited to live out their own story, rather than follow along on one they already know.

“If someone wants to be a rebel or a Jedi or smuggler, scoundrel or even if they want to join the Dark Side, we support that interaction,” says Carrie Beck, vice president of animation and live action for Lucasfilm at a panel on Wednesday.

Journeying to Batuu truly is like visiting another world. In every corner, Batuu hides relics, secret codes or otherworldly life forms. One monster even lives in the drinking fountain.

A guest’s allegiance to either the Resistance or The First Order may change the way characters and even cast members — Disneyland’s word for staff — interact with them.

A bartender may comment on how poorly a patron flew the Falcon. Ask the wrong character for directions to the lightsaber workshop and get scolded for speaking of it in earshot of The First Order.

“At its heart, you have the power to make changes,” says Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive for Disneyland. “It can be fun to play the hero and fun to play the Dark Side. And there are consequences.”

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

The new ride, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, allows guests to fly the fastest ship in the “Star Wars” universe.

Following the events of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Chewbacca brought the Millennium Falcon back to Batuu for repairs.

He loaned the vessel to Hondo Ohnaka, who is in need of a flight crew to transport goods.

Six guests are divided evenly into pilots, gunners and flight engineers before boarding the Falcon through the same hatch used by Han Solo.

After strapping in, one pilot pulls a level that throws the Falcon into hyperspace. From there, both pilots navigate while gunners use blasters and missiles to defend the fleet.

And it’s up to flight engineers to press special buttons and switches to repair the ship when the pilots inevitably crash into spires, asteroids and the ground.

The crew soars off of Batuu and through space. Guests need to steer the vessel and ward off enemy fire throughout the thrilling attraction.

If the Falcon returns in one piece, Ohnaka himself will praise the crew. If the crew flies too terribly, the ship’s hallways will show damage when guests exit the attraction. They may even shut down power in the waiting area and end up owing Ohnaka credits.

Immersion

From the merchandise to the technology, to the score created by John Williams, Batuu is an immersive world.

Guests can use the Play Disney Parks mobile app to interact with droids, blinking door panels and antenna arrays throughout Galaxy’s Edge. They can also translate otherworldly languages and discover what is hidden throughout the land.

Savi’s Workshop is tucked away from the First Order. In the speakeasy-style workshop, visitors can create their own custom lightsabers.

Inside the Droid Depot, guests can construct droids of their own by picking pieces off a conveyor belt of their preferred function and color.

Unlike the rest of the park, castmembers here are at “home.” They may personalize their costume or casually lean against the wall. Ask where they’re from and they’ll have a full backstory ready to go.

Black Spire Outpost

In gathering ideas for Black Spire Outpost, Chiang visited Istanbul for inspiration.

“We wanted to find how to make the market look rich in history and heritage,” Chiang says at Wednesday’s panel.

Chiang presented a photo of Istanbul’s market, highlighting the messy maze of wiring strung between two walls.

“This was a great reference for the storytelling of how a market could grow organically,” Chiang says.

The sky above the Black Spire Outpost market is a tangle of cables, wires and glass pendant lamps. In small stalls, vendors sell typical theme park goods, with one notable difference.

“The words ‘Star Wars’ are not on anything in Galaxy’s Edge,” says Brad Schoeneberg, director of merchandising strategy for Walt Disney Imagineering.

Guests can purchase plush toy versions of the franchise’s strangest creatures and garb to dress like their favorite characters.

Oga’s Cantina

Oga’s Cantina, modeled after the Cantina from the original trilogy, is the land’s main watering hole and serves as the heart of Black Spire Outpost.

While guests sip on exotic libations such as spicy Bloody Rancors and foamy Fuzzy Tauntauns, they may cross paths with Batuu’s less principled company.

The Cantina serves a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations. While guests sip, a DJ droid plays music. And your bartender may relay some gossip they’ve heard. It may even be about you.

A former smelter droid, 8D-J8, turns a spit of roasted pork and grilled sausage at Ronto Roasters.

Guests can sample the blue milk that Luke Skywalker sipped at the Milk Stand. Both blue and green varieties are frozen and nondairy.

How to visit

Guests will need a free reservation to visit Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23.

Most reservations are full, but guests will receive a scheduled time to enter the new land by staying at a Disney Resort hotel.

After June 23, Disneyland will implement a virtual queuing system to manage the projected demand. Once guests enter the park, they can request entry using the “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” module on the Disneyland app. The module will notify guests with a scheduled time they may enter the land.

Fun facts

“Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” spans more than 14 acres, making it the largest single-themed land in Disney Parks history.

The Millennium Falcon docked in the Black Spire Outpost Spaceport measures more than 100 feet long.

Among the ancient-looking spires across the lands, the tallest is more than 130 feet high.

There are more than 120,000 possible combinations for constructing a lightsaber using all the available pieces in Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers.

Guests enter the Millennium Falcon through the same starboard airlock used by Han Solo and Chewbacca in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Construction in both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios began in April 2016.

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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