Disney ParksGalaxy's EdgeInterview

Jack Kendall: On the Galaxy’s Edge

DSNY Newscast delivers the latest on "Star Wars Land"

Where I sit, the temperature is in the single digits. The inches of snow on the ground is approaching double digits. The weather report says there is little relief in sight. It’s in these moments I turn to YouTube’s DSNY Newscast to catch up on the doings at all of the Disney Parks – specifically those in the warm weather of California and Florida.

Recently, my devotion to Disney and Star Wars has been rewarded by DSNY host Jack Kendall, the literal Jack of all trades who works extremely hard to keep fans of the Saga and theme parks up-to-date with the latest on “Galaxy’s Edge” (a.k.a. Star Wars Land).

An Amazing Partnership: Disney & Star Wars

“For me, it was always Disney,” said Kendall, 26, who launched his channel in March 2017. “I’ve been a Disney fan since I was a very young.

“I watched the Prequels before I watched the originals, which I know is a massive sin for any Star Wars fan,” he added. “Then I watched the original series, and I thought, ‘This is amazing.’ And I’ve always been a massive fan of Star Tours in the parks.

“So, it was just natural when they announced that Disney was buying Star Wars — back in October 2012 — I was excited for it.”

That sentiment is shared by many, and Kendall knows his fan base includes a whole lot of folks like me; i.e., people who share a great love for Mr. Disney’s company, as well as the output of Mr. Lucas’ Lucasfilm.

Now with nearly 65,000 subscribers, there’s also a whole cadre of fans who are salivating for updates from construction sites in Orlando’s Walt Disney World and Anaheim’s Disneyland.

Themed experiences are the future

“We’re getting beyond the theme park — where you know you are in a ‘park’ — and into being in that [fantastic place],” said Kendall as he began his thoughts on GE via Skype call from the UK, where he recently switched from an advertising job to being a full-time content producer.

“I didn’t expect Disney to name the planet that you’ll be on,” he added as he searched his internal databank for details. “But for them to call it Batuu and for them to build up this whole backstory of it being on the outer rim – they are really diving deep into what this experience will be.

“And the more I hear about the ‘Galactic Credit System,’ or the ‘gamification’ around the experiences… it is game-changing.”

The Galactic Credit System will be Disney’s way of keeping track of how a guest interacts with its new Star Wars-themed environment, with park visitors encountering “consequences” for their actions along the way. The upcoming Star Wars hotel, which is due to come to fruition after the opening of Galaxy’s edge in Orlando, will be an essential part of that innovative, immersive environment.

“I think, personally, the biggest thing from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Star Wars in the parks, is Star Wars Hotel. That is a different level of theming because you’ll be able to actually walk into that hotel, adopt a character, and stay in character.

“You will live Star Wars.”

Looking Toward 2019

Plenty of folks already live their fandom, and most fans of the Saga are counting the days until mid-2019 when Disneyland opens its gates to Galaxy’s Edge.

Looking to that moment, Kendall said fans are in for some amazing experiences.

“The one that I am most looking forward to is Battle Escape,” said Jack, who explained that the name could change by the time the first fans take flight.

“It’s old school Disney meeting a new type of themed experience. It’s rumored to have 150 or so animatronics of different capabilities,” he said. “And this will be a multi-level platform ride building, and it’s going to have upwards of 18 various scenes within it.

“So it’s going to be the same kind of scale as Pirates of the Caribbean, but for Star Wars.”

Nearby in GE, fans will finally get a chance to take the pilot (co-pilot, gunner, or navigator) chain in the Millenium Falcon.

“You will be visiting many different planets, much like you do in Star Tours, but this time you will be in full control of what you do on that planet,” he said. “It’s much like you’ll actually be within a game, instead of just watching a screen.

“You’ll be able to interact… and each of these pods is going to be able to move full tilt, much like Star Tours.”

Heading to Batuu in the films?

Beyond the interactivity in the parks, Jack cautions that he’s not expecting those experiences to correlate with anything in the films directly.

“It would be amazing,” admitted Jack to the notion of having Batuu appear in Episode IX. “It’s already part of the Star Wars canon now, but I wouldn’t see Disney working it into a film. Mainly for the reason that if they don’t work it into a film, it gives them an awful lot more creative freedom over what they can put within the land.”

And it’s that kind of attention to detail that has Jack wondering where a particular Sith lord fits into things in Star Wars land.

“The main concern I have is that Darth Vader is, arguably, the most recognizable character out of the whole Star Wars franchise,” mused Kendall. “This planet is meant to be set during the First Order era, which is obviously the new trilogy.

“Now, how do you work an old, Original Trilogy, character into this land? Are they just going not to have a Darth Vader meet-and-greet within this land? I highly doubt it. But maybe that will be a different part of Tomorrowland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios?

“But I can’t see Disney not wanting to use the Darth Vader character.”

Will fans choke on their aspirations?

Given his knowledge of Disney Park doings, I asked Jack what expectation level fans should have as they enter Galaxy’s Edge for the first time in 2019.

“I would say go into it with the same level of expectation people had for Pandora,” said Kendall, referring to Disney’s most recent addition to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom – an immersive trip to the world of Avatar.

“Don’t go into it thinking that you’re going to see a bustling market, full of creatures and droids like you see in the concept art.

“It will look like a theme park…but there will be droids moving about; the cast members in the park will be somewhat themed to their environments. Some will be in makeup, in costume. I’d expect a lot more roaming characters.”

However, even with tempered expectations, Galaxy’s Edge will be a fantastic experience.

“It is going to be breathtaking,” said Jack. “You won’t be able to see any other part of the Disney park from within the land. Disney is making sure that you can’t see anything that will ruin the illusion.

“So, they really are making sure that it’s a fully immersive experience.”

Just like DSNY Newscast… Enjoy DSNY’s full “Star Wars Land” playlist below. Thanks, Jack! JB


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John Bishop

A graduate of Boston and Northeastern universities, John Bishop became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com prior to the B’s 2006-07 hockey season. While with the Bruins, “Bish” traveled North America and Europe to cover the Black & Gold’s every move via laptop, blog, and smart phone. The co-author of two books, Bygone Boston and Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, John covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the B’s 2011 championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke in central Massachusetts.
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