Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2020

Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement - New Park Land

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland Resort, CA, USA

The most ambitious addition to Disneyland Park in 60 years, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a groundbreaking new land that invites guests into a new chapter of the Star Wars saga, one in which they are the stars. Introducing an entirely new planet within the Star Wars canon, this multifaceted experience combines epic and detailed placemaking, themed retail & dining, immersive theater techniques, and interactive attractions into an audacious, genre-redefining, 14-acre adventure that lets park guests live their own Star Wars story in ways never before possible within a theme park.

Set in the timeline immediately after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this incredibly immersive land invites guests to “lean in” as active story participants. Guests explore the rugged and beautiful Black Spire Outpost on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu - once a thriving stop for traders and travelers before the advent of lightspeed travel, now a remote haven for smugglers and rogues and a burgeoning hotbed in the struggle between the oppressive First Order and the heroic Resistance. Every facet of the experience offers an astounding level of guest agency; traditional character greetings become story-driven, chance encounters; retail experiences like Savi’s Workshop become emotional and heroic calls to action, allowing guests to “feel the Force” for themselves as they craft their own custom lightsaber; cast-member interactions evoke a wholly-created local lexicon and slang; attractions become fully participatory and encourage group collaboration.

The intricate layout, sophisticated use of scale, extension of character details and high quality of execution combine to make this an outstanding example of story-driven experiential design, leveraging 40 years of Star Wars stories, emotions, and cultural touchstones. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge blurs the line between guest and experience, making every detail as “in-world” and believable as possible - from scenery to soundscape, to retail and food, to the training of the Batuuan “villagers” (Disneyland cast members) who populate the town.

We’ve never seen a theme park land like this before, and it just might change how we create them in the future.

Photo courtesy Disney used with permission.

Award Credits