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Immersive Star Wars attractions take US Disneyland visitors to diverse edge of the galaxy

Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, measuring 30 or more meters in length, is seen at Disneyland Park's Stars Wars: Galaxy's Edge land, in Anaheim, California, on June 5, 2019. (Mainichi/Hojin Fukunaga)
Patrons are seen at "Oga's Cantina," an example of the popular watering holes found across the galaxy in the Star Wars movies, at the Stars Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disneyland Park, in Anaheim, California, on June 5, 2019. (Mainichi/Hojin Fukunaga)

ANAHEIM -- "Galaxy's Edge," the new area of California's Disneyland Park themed on the popular science fiction film series "Star Wars" opened here on May 31, attracting masses of fans from across the world.

More fans will feel the Force when another Star Wars-themed land opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in the southeastern state of Florida on Aug. 29.

The attractions are a chance for people to feel as if they have stepped into the worlds of the films, while leaving an impression of the importance of diversity in the increasingly fractured landscape of America under its current president Donald Trump.

"Galaxy's Edge" spans some 14 acres (about 5.7 hectares), making it around 1.2 times the size of the Tokyo Dome. It has features including outposts of the villainous First Order, the successor organization to the Galactic Empire, as well as the heroic Resistance, and a themed gift shop district called "Black Spire Outpost."

Surprisingly, the series' instantly recognizable music, such as its main theme, is barely played. Matt Walker, head of the music studio at Walt Disney Imagineering said he wanted to create a space that allowed people to feel they could become a part of the Star Wars universe. In other words, the idea is not to rely on the music. The commitment to reality through the structures and attractions at the site is comprehensive.

In the space-themed movies, various species from different planets take center stage. The design of their varied languages and appearances are one of the draws of the Star Wars universe. The scene where the characters enter a cantina, a kind of space bar, filled with species from across the galaxy, is one of the most famous and symbolic reflections of that strength the series has.

At the recreation of the cantina at the Galaxy's Edge, known as "Oga's Cantina," the staff members reflect that diversity too, with people from a range of ages and races.

In the past, George Lucas, the original director and creator of Star Wars, is said to have stated that one of the themes of its story was to show audience the significance of coexistence, in a world where a diverse range of culture mingle amid globalization. This new park feels like the embodiment of that idea.

For someone who has grown weary of the increased sense of hatred and division in the current American political landscape as the 2020 election approaches, the welcome at Galaxy's Edge comes as a relief.

(Japanese original by Hojin Fukunaga, Los Angeles Bureau)

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