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WDW Radio # 680 – Living Your Star Wars Story in the Disney Parks – Recorded LIVE at Star Wars Celebration

I was honored and excited to have been invited to record an episode of the show LIVE on the Podcast Stage at Star Wars Celebration 2022 at the Anaheim Convention Center. And this week I’ll share that recording, we’ll look at Living Your Star Wars Story in the Disney Parks… and beyond. We’ll look at the history of Star Wars in the parks, current opportunities, and how they may evolve into even more interactive, immersive, and personal experiences.

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Sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio show. Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!

Thanks to:
– Beci Mahnken from Mouse Fan Travel
– Ryan Donoho from The Force Cast
for joining me on the panel and show!

What is your favorite way to live out your Star Wars story in the Disney Parks? What ideas do YOU have for what you’d like to see in the parks (or Disney Cruise Line) in the future?

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Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: [00:00:00] Good morning and welcome to day four of Star Wars Celebration and the live recording of WDW Radio. This is when I'm waiting for people to get up and go, oh, I'm in the wrong room and this is not the bad batch panel. I Lou Mongello. Thank you so very much for being here. I know there is so much to choose from in terms of other sessions and panels and show flow that's going on.

So I am incredibly grateful to you and for you for being here, as we talk about living your star wars story. In the Disney parks. And since that very first Seminole moment back in 1977, when that massive star destroyer came across the screen, and I can see myself sitting in the theater in Middlesex mall, watching with my dad going, what is going on here?

Um, I think we were all literally like fundamentally changed forever. Um, we were taken somewhere else. Far far away. And it sparked in us, I think a new storytelling experience, not just as passive observers in a dark in the movie theater, but individually as well, because. Because from that theater, we asked our parents, or we rode our bikes to toys R us or to Sears.

And I mean, there was no action figures actually on the shelves because we had to mail away a postcard and hope that they came in the mail, but metaphorically, um, we, we brought home so many of those newly familiar names and faces and as many as, as we could, and then after ripping them off the bubble, I'm sorry to all of you collectors that are shuttering.

And if we knew back then what we know now, um, and we laid on our, on our stomachs right on our big shaggy carpets in our basements. And we brought those characters and those stories to life. And we weren't just recreating stories that we saw on screen. We were coming up with our very own, [00:02:00] and I think oftentimes those made up adventures that we created, uh, took us off the floor.

Um, or even outside, yes, kids. We used to actually go outside and play. We didn't always just play on our phones. Um, and we took our Han solo blasters of which I still have my original 19 77 1. Um, Am I, the only person that took the Christmas wrapping paper tube, and pretended that they were lightsabers and beat our brothers around the head and face with right.

But we wanted to immerse ourselves in these stories, right? We weren't playing, you know, cops and robbers anymore. We were in fact creating and living our own star wars stories. And if you fast forward, many decades later, we're still doing the same thing. Right? Many of you in this room are doing it right now.

Buffalo, what a lot better and oftentimes way more expensive toys. Um, and in fact, we don't have to do that in the comfort and to a certain degree sort of security of our homes anymore because we can be there because the Disney parks around the world with the help of Imagineering and Lucasfilm have afforded us the remarkable, I think when we were kids that unthinkable opportunities.

To step foot into worlds. We only could have dreamed of. So today we're going to look at living your star wars story, star wars in the Disney parks. And while I may have spent many. Many hours by myself imagining that I was Obi wan Kenobi. I mean, as late as last night, I cannot do this alone. So I would like to welcome.

And I still believe in ladies first, Becky Mankin. She is the according to her note, she says, I am the CEO. And Empress of MEI and mouse fan travel. Listen, I'm reading what you

Beci Mahnken: wrote. I was totally wondering where you're going with that because I am never surprised, but always surprised at the same time.

It's great to be here. And I'd

Lou Mongello: also like to welcome back to the show, Ryan Donahoe from the forecast. [00:04:00]

Ryan Donoho: Thanks Lou. Thanks for having me back. I'm excited to be here. It's been a great four days. Just researched star wars last night. So I watched the first one, so we should be

Lou Mongello: good you're way ahead of Becky.

So this should be good.

Beci Mahnken: Now I see where this is going.

Lou Mongello: And I would also like to introduce you to the fourth member of our panel, who is not here. This is my son, Nicholas, who decided that he needed to go to the bad batch. Uh, I know, Aw, poor Nicholas, the poor kid felt so bad. I'm like, dude, don't worry about it.

Go check it out there. There is a years of Catholic Italian guilt coming. Nicholas's way. He has no idea what he, um, what he is in for. So, you know, before we sort of get into it and I want to talk a little bit about some of the, the history of star wars in the Disney parks. Um, I think everybody's level of fandom is different, right?

But we've all sort of imagined playing star wars in, in our own different way. Becky. And then Ryan, what does your. Earliest star wars, memory land. Remember we only have the room for about an hour

Beci Mahnken: for me. It was like you in 1977, seeing the first star wars. And what really struck me was princess Leia. Um, her strength, her character, having this very strict.

Woman as a, as a role model was kind of amazing at that time. And I really kind of wrap my brain around that memory and it has gone forward with me. I saw it with my family in the theater and like you that very first time seeing the little spaceship go, and then all of a sudden this huge spaceship just goes over your head.

And the technology that the hit of that technology was kind of amazing, but most of all, it was princess Leia and that. That projection of a very strong woman.

Lou Mongello: It's okay. If princess Leia was yours to Rhonda. [00:06:00] Yeah, yeah,

Ryan Donoho: yeah. The last, the only movie I've seen. So, uh, no, but my, um, unlike you YouTube, I'm a little bit younger.

So I was not around in 1977 when that movie came out, but I was five when the special additions hit theaters in 97. And I still remember my dad. Who was around in 1977 was so excited to take me to the theater, to see star wars, same star wars. He saw in 77. And we went to taco bell where that's where the tie-in material was.

And so we got, my dad just bought all of this stuff from taco bell, and we got like four large drinks for two of us because of the cups. He wanted C3 Peele. He wanted Darth Vader. And to this day I still have those cups sitting in my office cause he washed them out and he did. And as soon as I was, I was like, really the first movie I ever saw in theaters or at five years old that I can remember.

And ever since then that was, that was it for me. And I've been hooked my whole life. And then the prequels came out and I was even more hooked. Those were my movies. And now several decades later and several thousands and thousands of dollars later, um, it's still such an important part of my life. And you know, I, I live it and breathe it.

Lou Mongello: Yeah, I w I remember for me, like, I was very fortunate. I had a younger brother and parents that were incredibly generous and, you know, I still realized that how lucky it was to have those toys to play with more importantly, I was lucky enough that my parents bought two of everything. So we played with my brothers and I kept mine.

So I have all of my action figures, like still in their boxes, carted and yeah, so it's good because my kids are going to college next year. So it's fine. I need that. But I also remember like when the prequels came out, who else ran to toys R us at midnight and stood online for hours, like I'm going to pay for my call college.

I'm not paying for my kids' college education with any of the things from episode one. Um, as much as I thought that I was, um, but we do, we sort of have this gift of being able to not just do things like this and [00:08:00] live our own star wars, adventures, and stories with other fans, but we're able to do it in an environment that's created for us in the Disney parks.

First trivia question of the day. And yes, I have giveaways. I'll let well, I'll do it this way. This is not the, this is not the trivia question. This is just, and then I'm asking you a question for a prize. What do you think was the first sort of opportunity in like the Disney parks, like in Walt Disney world to experience star wars?

Like with something that was hosted by Disney star wars, weekends, Nope. Start was not start to work. Anything else, anybody? Else's I say like a stage show, there was not a state show. So here's the trivia question. You actually could meet a star wars character in Walt Disney world back in 1977. Who was it?

Raise your hand if you think, you know, I mean, look, there's not, it's 1930. There's not a lot of characters to choose from. Not even close but close at about, I mean, literally just start reading, naming random characters. Who, which one? No, I'm only kidding. It is Darth Vader. Do me a favor. Can you bring that nice young gentlemen back there, a thank you very much.

You could meet Darth Vader in the lake point of Vista village, which you now know was Disney Springs in early 1977. Like in. Where the pin station currently is, you could meet our Vader and actually you could meet Luke Skywalker sometimes. And mark Hamill was even there. Oh, no way way. And they gave out posters and you could actually get them to sign it.

It made no real sense, but that was really so very early on, there was this sort of Disney. Star wars, um, connection. And I think over the years, you know, Lucas has talked about if there was ever any company that he would want to work with or trust his properties with, it would [00:10:00] be, um, Disney and actually his first sort of connection in working with Disney was captain EO back in September 86, captain EO fans.

For those of you listening at home, the room is there's still about 600 people in the room, but they're very, very quiet and very, very far away. Um, And then star tours. Right? And then when we, when we got star tours, um, it was amazing. And who also, sorry, I mentioned early who remember star wars, weekends, right?

Star wars weekends began back in 1997. It was sort of a one-off event. Then they brought her back in 2000, 2001. And then from 2003 to 2015, they have these incredibly well themed weekends, whoever attended star wars. Like it was a destination. Like I still live in New Jersey and I would go down specifically for it.

And I think it certainly helped lead to the eventual acquisition, but from a, from a living our own story perspective, I think it was one of the first times that we were as guests encouraged to come in costume and come and character and sort of allow, let your fan flag fly in front of other guests.

Ryan Donoho: Yeah, that, that w what's funny is you talk about Lucas.

He was at Disneyland the second day. It opened in 1955. And when they were doing star tours, uh, he was talking to Tony Baxter Imagineer, and he said, my fondest memories as a kid, was waiting for the monorail to come pick me up and go see what I was going to discover that day. So ever since that day in 55, Lucas has always wanted to have star wars in the Disney parks, because he thought that was the best place to.

So he kept going back. It was captain EO, then it was star tours. Then it was star wars, weekends, and star wars. Weekends was like, we're just going to turn MGM Hollywood studios into basically a mini star wars celebration dress up in costume actors on a stage. And it was so popular. There [00:12:00] was lions overnight.

People would sleep overnight on the, on the concrete, in the parking lot just to get an autograph because they were so excited to see these actors. It was a brand. Thing the first hours weekends was before the first hour celebration. So that almost paved the way for, for these types of

Lou Mongello: events. It was a relatively as though, even though it was crowded was a relatively intimate experience, like even sort of getting celebrity autographs around echo lake, like the lines were not, you know, they are here, there, wasn't a giant hall that you had to queue in for 11, 18 hours before.

Well, you

Beci Mahnken: know, I didn't get a test to do it way back when it was pretty recently, like the last three that they actually had. And it seems like the perfect marriage of, you know, Disney tells stories so well, and you take that and marry it with this, the star wars universe that, um, have the two collide. I do remember in loved the dance party.

What was it called again? Hyper spring. Thank you. Uh, the last time I saw them, I kind of thought, oh, okay. It's kind of cute and hooky. Yay. I really wish I knew that that was going to be the last one I was going to see, because then I think it would have looked at it a little bit differently because I would love to see that again.

Lou Mongello: Right. Because who doesn't want to see Darth Vader twerk on stage with printer because, and it's not that far who didn't have ever, it's not like every, or see hyperspace or it's not all that far from the truth. Right? The last couple of years, We're very freaky and a little bit more like we sort of look at you like, is Disney really putting this on because this is not necessarily what I expect.

And there was all these sort of weird mashups of characters, the, you know, Jedi, Mickey and lay a mini and some of these things with. We'll never see again, right? At some point there was this decision, like, wait a minute, we need to take this seriously again. And we need to sort of stop sort of putting, you know, Boba Fett doing the sprinkler dance or whatever onstage nobody's recording this.

Right. Nobody's running the visuals that I'm doing up here. Um, but it, it was this sort of first foray into allowing us to not just. [00:14:00] Participate in things like, you know, the, the, the films that were being shown there and, you know, I always want it to be, cause I fit the height requirement, like the, the trials of the temple, that the Jedi training that kids were allowed to do, like grabbing a lightsaber and being taught by other Jedi and then Darth Vader comes out and there's this, like, we all wanted to do that.

We all wanted, we were craving what they eventually deleted. Which is a non passive experience.

Beci Mahnken: How many times did we stand there as adults and go, I want to do that when you watch the little five-year-olds and secure, six-year-olds going up there, but I would want, so they're

Lou Mongello: going and I pointed you back on me.

That's my mom. I swear. She said I could do this.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah. But that, that really speaks to, um, the impact it had on all of us. We wanted to be part of that

Lou Mongello: story. And they continued on. There was, um, after hours theme ticket events, there was parties. Uh, did anybody ever do the void in either Disney Springs or downtown Disney?

Again, an unfortunate sort of victim of what happened over the past few years. Uh, and he ever anybody ever do a, a, a star wars run, Disney race? I can't raise my hand. Like I've been there, like I've waved to you as you've gone by, but I've never acted. Run it, but let's sort of fast forward to where we are today.

And we'll start with the thing that was here first, which is star tours. Again, we can visit all of the. Planets, we can visit all of these different stories. We can shop for costumes and merchandise, but it really is a passive experience. And while it, the attraction by design affords us opportunities to easily expand with new worlds and new stories.

I think what we as fans have always been craving since those early days with in 1977 is something. And I think where we had to go next. Suddenly there has to be more experiential than sort of that passive.

Ryan Donoho: Yeah. Star tours was, um, easily the coolest attraction that [00:16:00] Disney parks had ever done up in that point, like 1987.

Cause like, even then you would go and go to fantasy land and like sorta go through snow white. But they were like these little, you know, animatronics that would turn and then it would be over and it was like, Three or four minutes, this attraction was taking you somewhere that everyone had always wanted to go.

So you'd never been able to go to star wars before. Right? When, when that came out in 1997, everyone was trying so hard to capture that you'd buy all the toys, you buy the soundtrack, you buy everything, you can find star wars t-shirts cause you wanted to go there, but you couldn't. And so when they brought this attraction there, it was like, they wanted to go literally where it was like, when you.

The star speeder. It literally feels like you're boarding a plane because they wanted you to feel like everywhere you look was you were literally going to star wars. And so it was so popular. I had to leave it open for like 60 straight hours because they wanted everybody to ride it. So you're right. It was very much like a passive experience in this effect that you didn't actually get off.

And you were in those planets, but it was such a shock to so many people because it didn't feel real. I mean, all the comments are saying afterwards, like if I watched old clips from 1987, when they were asking people when I got off and they, you would, you thought they would actually went to star wars.

People were crying and they were like, I can't believe I got to go again. And they go cut the interview off and try to run back. So it was, that was such a revolutionary thing. And it's all because people wanted to live that star wars experience. It's why we're all here. Right? It's why we keep doing these things.

It's why star wars. You couldn't even walk in, bought two in a star wars night, from what I gathered, people couldn't even move because everyone wanted to go experience that. And that's been, what's really been the partnership's whole, whole coming together was because Disney could provide that. You get to experience star wars and star wars was like perfect for that.

Lou Mongello: And after we're done here has 17 of the ice cream buckets. He'll be selling them right outside,

Ryan Donoho: right out here. Lou will sign them for you. So,

Lou Mongello: and then we can all explain to Becky what the ice cream buckets actually are. [00:18:00] All right. Trivia question for you. And I'll give you a prize. So like every good Disney attraction, like store tours, you end up in a gift shop, which is currently known as

what was the original name? What was the original name of the gift shop that you exited from star tours? Who said it, who said end to our vendors

and our vendors. It changed in 99 with the release of. Phantom menace, Becky Phantom menace is this, uh, whatever.

Beci Mahnken: Um, is there, there, there's a reason why you put Ryan between,

Lou Mongello: right? Sure. He actually asked if he could, uh, if you can step in between. So let's, let's sort of fast forward obviously to where we are now in, um, in Galaxy's edge.

And again, going back to where we were as kids playing with our toys, and then as time went on, w you know, what did we do? We got on our computers, we played X wing. We played tie fighter. We played dark force. Dark forces nerds. I'm a first person shooter kind of guy. Um, galaxies is, is what we all dreamed about.

Right? We didn't necessarily care about being in the, that specific place with those characters. We just wanted to live in that world. And I know when it, when it first opened, you know, Disney and Lucas had this interesting, I think, conundrum to deal with, which I think they've addressed this. As recently as two days ago, which is how do we determine where this land needs to live?

Because my star wars 1977 is different than baby boy Ryan's star wars in the nineties. And for some that was going to be a little bit of a disconnect maybe between what you know, casual fans knew and what some of the hardcore fans knew in terms of movies and characters. And it was [00:20:00] interesting because I remember there was a lot of discussion about, well, is this going to alienate is the choice of putting this in a specific place in time, going to potentially alienate some people because they're frustrated that those faces were not familiar

Ryan Donoho: well, it's interesting because they had to, when you do a star wars land, you have two choices, right?

You can either. Let's go relive the best moments from star wars. You can go on the speeder bike ride and you can go to tattooing and you can go to, like, you can go relive this moment you saw in this movie or the second choice, which is we're going to build a planet. Like this is somewhere you can actually go and visit and people work and live.

But when you do that, everything has a story, both star wars and Disney. So when do we set this? They set it between episode eight and episode nine. But like Lou said, not everybody likes episode eight or episode nine. Not everybody even knows when you walk in the building, it's not like there's a sign that says welcome to episode eight and a half.

So you don't know that that's what's going on here. You see Kylo Ren, you see storm troopers, you see Ray, the ride, you go on, the attractions are set between. But like you said, there is such a generational story. It's what connects us, but also disconnects us because you see something from 1977 and I go, that's cool.

It looks old. And then I see, and then I see something from 1999. I will not open my charge or action figure because I love it. I don't want to open it. So, but you don't care about the judge or action figures. So how do you strike a balance? And I actually think that choice to put it as a living planet is going to work out to their benefit because as.

They are now going to start bringing in characters from all over and just say, well, if you're staring at Boba Fett, that means right now by. When Bubba fits here and if he walks away and Ray comes out now we're in episode eight and nine. And had they done that original plan that we actually heard about on your show, where it's like, let's go to Luke's hut and let's go to the speeder bike ride, and let's do this.

You can't update or change that. And what's going to pay off is that now they're gonna be able to say, well, Bob twos, a living, breathing planet, and you're at any time you could travel back in time or forward in time. And you can see characters from [00:22:00] the prequels all the way to the sequels and beyond whatever they cause the star wars.

Right. So who's to say we won't see Obi wan Kenobi wandering around for some reason as a Jedi, because that's, what's popular right now. That's what's on Disney plus. So that living, breathing planet, I think it had some, some kinks I had to work out. I remember the, the original menu came out and all of the menu items were the star wars name.

So it was like two. And people are staring at it and they're like, well, I don't want to order that because what is it, what is tibia? And then underneath it, it says tippy up fried chicken and you're like, oh, okay, now I get it. So they're, they're trying to strike that balance of a living, breathing planet and then timeline.

I'm interested to see how it works out, but I think it's going to pay off in the end because of the choice they made, you would have

Beci Mahnken: to, because from a business perspective, you've got a huge footprint in the park and it needs to breathe. It needs to live, it needs to expand and grow along with the fandom, because if you just had, it is one point in time, it's going to become old and useless.

Lou Mongello: Yeah. And if you go back and I don't remember what I showed episode, it was, but I interviewed Dan Cockrell who was a former vice president of Hollywood studios. And he talks about what that original plan. And that was the first time I ever heard it before in terms of what it was going to be. And it was going to be the star wars that old people like us wanted.

Right. We wanted the canteen and we wanted Lucas. We want a tattoo ween. And I think they made a very smart choice by saying. Th this needs to exist on an empty playing field, right? We need to have a blank slate and everybody has to start on square one, not just us as guests who can come in and create our own story, but even cast members, like I love the empowerment of cast members.

Being able to create their own backstory. They can create their own costume. They are basically. This wardrobe, selection to choose from and could mix and match to what they feel is the best expression of who they are. Not as the person that, you know, drove there from Windermere, but the character that they have created.

So I love that too, because we forget they are cast members on a stage. They are performing a [00:24:00] role, but there's not one that is scripted for them. It's one that gives them a wide spectrum of freedom and flexibility. And I, and I love the opportunity. And I think people sometimes don't necessarily take. To go to two by two and strike up a conversation and watch some of the, the exceptional cast members really go deep into their own story, wanting you to learn and understand their story, but want to hear your story as well.

And I know people that have gone there and they go in robes or whatever, and they have created their own backstory. And we'll talk about something else in a little bit where they really sort of have. Somewhat expensive permission to go ahead and do that.

Beci Mahnken: Well, the same thing I did the same thing on the third or fourth day that I went into Galaxy's edge.

I'd written the rides. I I'd seen the Easter eggs. I had gone through it and all I did, one day was talk to cast and just go to store, to store, to place to place. Find them seek them out and say, what's your name? What planet you from? What's your family? Like, how did you get from there to here? And just listening to how deep they went with those stories was absolutely incredible.

Ryan Donoho: Uh, and you mentioned like the original plan had the MOS Eisley. This one has Ogas. And the good thing about that is like, we all have our memory of the first time we saw MOS Eisley Cantina, but with Ogas it's our Cantina, like we're the ones that get to go there for the first time. So when you talk to the bartenders there, uh, you know, last time I was there, I ordered, uh, a fuzzy tauntaun, which warning it numbs your, your lips.

So just be careful. Um, but then the, in the, the, the cast member said, she said, well, what planet are you from? And so now I'm in a, in a weird spot because I'm a star wars podcast, host. I should probably say something. Really deep cut. And so I tried, I said like Dan , which is not in any of the movies. And she started like naming off lore about where Dan tune-in was in the books and all this.

And she's like, oh, naming characters, like in universe. Uh, and then I was just completely lost. And so she was like, what did you [00:26:00] order again? And I'm like, you know, cause this, she had this whole story. She goes, oh, I traveled there once and all that. So you go to these places and that's like part of the fun too, because this is a living, breathing planet.

So. They get to come up with stuff just like we do. As you, as you walk around, you see like where a blaster is fired against that door and there's steps leading to this building that you're like, well, I wonder what that building is. And then you have cast members walk by and they're telling stories. And it's just like, if you don't go on risers distance, cause it's 260 minute.

You can find your own fun, like going around and listening and finding little crevices

Beci Mahnken: like that. It's its own attraction. You don't really need to ride anything to enjoy the land or the space. You just have to melt into the surroundings and talk to people and really get into the detail.

Lou Mongello: And what's nice too, is that, you know, instead of going to a regular bar and.

The bartender waitress asking where you're from it like, oh, I'm from Dan to wean at like, listen, man, just order a drink. Now you, now they understand that usually they call

Ryan Donoho: security, but this time they don't, they actually welcome that. It

Lou Mongello: was like, they'd be like, come on or just order something to drink and get out on the dance floor.

But again, this has all changed, right? This is all changed a couple of days ago with the announcement that now we're going to see some of those other characters like Boba Fett and grow like coming. And I'm not sure why only Disneyland. We're going to figure this out soon. Cause some of us in the Walt Disney world are excited, but jealous.

And to your point, there are now. Asking you to suspend your disbelief a little bit, right? We're sort of not locking you in you into a specific place in time. But as these characters come out, the environment changes, the timeline changes. And I think people need this. I think this is definitely going to be a guest satisfier because it's what people want, because I can only imagine how many people went to guest relations saying we're starting Vader.

Whereas Boba Fett, where's the Mandalorian. Like, why am I not seeing these characters who I am. As we all are deeply emotionally invested

Ryan Donoho: in. I can, I can imagine that when the Mandalorian blew up and baby Yoda was everywhere, [00:28:00] you have, you have the people that are in the story department. You have people that are in the money department.

Right. And I could see somebody from Disney going to Lucasville and imaginary and goes, all right, I need, I need baby Yoda and galaxies. And then the story people go, well, it's set there between eight and nine and you know, that doesn't really make any sense. The Mandalorians between six and seven, I can see them going.

I don't care. I, you have to put, grow, go in this land. Everyone wants to see a grow go. So it took some time. I mean, the Mandalorian came out three years ago, but they found a way to go, okay. Bought two is a living, breathing planet. But at any given moment, you will see, um, a story that's taking place like thrawn and Darth Vader went to Galaxy's edge.

And one of the most recent. And so there's a chance that you might see them hanging around Olga's Cantina because that's where they went in, in that book. And so when you're staring at Darth Vader, you're no longer in episode eight and nine, but when you go on rise of the resistance you're on between episodes eight and nine, because that's when the story is.

So they found a way to go. It's still the same place. You're never going to see Darth Vader and Kylo rent rock next to each other. They flat out said, you'll never see that happen. So the story still exists. You just now get to be transported. It's just like when you go to a vendor's can. And captain America is walking around and you're like, wait, didn't I just see you go back in time.

Spoiler alert, go back in time and not come back. So what are you doing here? Why are you with moon? That doesn't make any sense. Um, but there's a story to it and there's a reason. And that they're going to see that with Galaxy's edge now, where whatever shows out, whatever is, whatever story comes out, they might have a comic book where Boba Fett, sorry.

Boba Fett goes to. Black Spire outpost, and then you go there tomorrow and there he is walking around and near out. Wow. I guess I'm in when this comic book was set or when this TV show was set and it's actually a brilliant idea because now it also repeatability I'm going to come back. Cause I don't know what time I might've went to galaxies actually that day.

And it was Kylo Ren day. I want to go when they're, when the Mandalorian is there, because I'm going to go during that. And you might see [00:30:00] menu items change. You might see different offerings because C3 Buell might be there that day. And there might be a C3 PO special at Ogas Cantina. And now, now it's people that have gone once and twice I got to go back because I want to see R2D2 at Galaxy's

Lou Mongello: edge.

More importantly, Ryan it's merchandising. Imagine like the merchandise changes, like Galaxy's edge, the flame thrower. The kids love it. Trivia question time, the planet in which Galaxy's edge takes place. What's the city in which it takes place.

I heard it. I heard it.

And just to let you know, the questions may get harder or easier. Oh, hi. I know you, um, because I have some special giveaways that you can't buy at galaxies.


Ryan Donoho: got to get their, their autograph, their autograph pictures of Lou. So everybody in line right

Lou Mongello: here, nobody, uh, nobody wants that, but even, you know, again, in terms of making it more of an interactive experience, and again, you experience Galaxy's edge in the way that you want to consume it and the way that you are most comfortable consuming it.

So you might want to go in, maybe your kids like it. You just want to go, I just want to go ride the rides. I just want to go do the thing and. You know, who we're, what a Honda Wanaka is. I just want to do it, but who has used your data pad, who has used the play Disney experience? Right? So almost

Ryan Donoho: everybody in the room.

Hold on, hold on, Lou, can we try something different? If the, if the answer is, yes, let's make some noise instead of raising hands up. Who's used the data, pat, how about that? Here we go.

Lou Mongello: See, this is why I bring the experts on. I've only been podcasting for 17 years. I'm going to figure this out sooner or later.

Um, so you, obviously, everybody seems like they've clapped. So you've used the data pad inside it to making your experience in the park a [00:32:00] much more interactive. Personalized. Uh, and I think outcome driven, I expect those credits that you are accumulating are eventually going to pay dividends. I do. I think whether I know, and this could be a separate conversation and sort of the, the future of the, of the technology, but I think the reason why you were acquiring credits, and I think there's going to be more in terms of how your interactions affect the credits that you earn and, or possibly lose or trade.

And whether. NFTs, whether it's some sort of digital currency or pay off that you're able to accumulate in the app. I think that it is very much the tip of the iceberg and then laying the groundwork for a much richer and deeper experience. And when we get to sort of the next sort of thing on the list, I think that is really going to be that next sort of larger step forward into immersion interaction.

And almost the game of occasion of your experience in the.

Beci Mahnken: I was just thinking that through because yeah. Well you almost can't, um, go down that path without starting to talk about what's next on the list, which is galactic star cruiser, because that is the next step in immersion. To be able to not only walk into a land, but to be a part of the story, not just walking into the story and being a passive person, looking around and taking it in, but actually playing apart.

And, um, that does teach it or reach into the game of cation in the, um, in the data pads and, and the, the different pieces of technology that are pulling into it. And it, it has such an amazing, um, opportunity. Of growth and change where the story can change because the technology is going to allow us to experience it one way today, but yet a completely nother way [00:34:00] tomorrow.

Ryan Donoho: Yeah, the, the, the there's a new magic band coming to D to Walt Disney world magic band plus, and the original idea behind Galaxy's edge was that the stuff that you did, the cast members were gonna be able to read your magic band and go, oh, okay. That guy really stinks at flying. So let's go ahead and stay away from him because he crashed the millennium Falcon five times one year.

Or now that Boba fits here, there's bounty hunters. Now we're going to be walking around Galaxy's edge. So Boba Fett might be able to read your magic band somehow. Oh, that guy's first order or whatever, not for sort, I guess it would be empire at that time and be able to react to you that way. So I think the next step is, and it's, they're doing it with the star cruiser, uh, especially when you're onboard starkers are, but even when you come off star cruiser onto, onto black Spire outpost, I think the goal is to be, as you're living your story with the data pat and the magic band plus, and the star cruiser that the cast members and your stuff that happens, it really is a story playing.

And so if you want to choose to go that way, if you want to be a smuggler and you start doing things to be a smuggler, people are going to react to you that way. And then now it's really, it's not just, you're in a star wars world. Now you literally are living a story and people are react to people are looking at you as a, as a, as a star wars character and not you visiting Disney world.

And if they can pull that off with all the new technology and stuff, that's going on. It's going to be a can't-miss experience. Cause it's who doesn't want to be a smuggler and star wars and the people start acting like you're a smuggler and star wars. Right?

Lou Mongello: Well, and, and the star cruiser is the first I think of what the future is going to be, where your choices.

The big choices and the small choices you make, whether it's the choices you make in your Dana pad, the choices you make in terms of the conversations that you have on the star cruiser, or even the choices you make in terms of where you go and what you do by round of applause. Thank you, Ryan, who has been to the galactic star cruiser

by round of applause, who wants to go on the galactic star?[00:36:00]

Yeah, I think, and it is this brilliant marriage of interactive theater cruise line experience. Escape your room, choose your own role-playing adventure, video games, puzzle solving dinner theater show, which by the way is a lot. And I think helps justify the price. We talk a lot about it on our full review back on show insert show number here.

Ryan Donoho: I can't be more than like 50 bucks.

Beci Mahnken: Oh,

Lou Mongello: well, so for those who have done it, so you've done it at, and I know that you don't have a mic in front of you. What did you feel in terms of what you got for your value? What you got for that two and a half day experience our money's worth. And that wasn't just me.

It was there. We were planning a return, you know, You know, initially it was two of us. And then we saw the pricing and had a little bit of galactic sticker shock, and we found three more friends and we had a great time. Yeah. So a couple of takeaways, one, the more people you invite in to join you, the better it is for you as a group, the less expensive it is for you.

We reverse engineered the numbers and it total for what you get. And I understand there's that initial sticker shock, but knowing what as Disney fans and we are, when you go to Walt Disney world, what it costs. Experienced different things. We sort of broke it down and the numbers actually make sense. And for the kind of experience that I know that I got and that I watched my kids have an hour in I'm like this was totally worth it because of the expressions on their face, including my daughter who is not a quote unquote star wars fan.

She was a high school senior. Like, I don't know, dad, maybe I'll go home. I'll go with my friends. Five minutes in. She was all in and there was almost this, I wish we would have had costumes. I wish we would've created a backstory. Like I almost wish we would have gone deeper. And I love the fact that you said I want to go back because there is a repeatability factor.

We had that FOMO on the [00:38:00] last day, when we heard about this incredible, I'm not going to spoil it. This incredible experience that some guests had because of the choices that they made. Which showcased a brand new technology, a character. We hadn't seen it. I need to go back just so I can see and do that.

Beci Mahnken: Yes. And one of the big standouts about this is that you can be a casual star wars fan and get every single penny out of the experience. I'm not, as you mentioned, I'm a casual star wars fan. I went in with a bar thinking, this is, this is an expensive experience. This is not a cheap vacation and it's only two days or two nights and two and a half days.

And. The moment. I think it was day two, that it really hit me how much I'm getting out of this. We were going to sleep at midnight, getting up at 6:00 AM because you didn't want to miss anything that was happening anywhere on the floor or out in the. And the atrium area, because things were happening all over the place.

And you did have FOMO every direction. You, you were thinking I'm here, but what's going on in the engine room, but what's going on in the cafeteria, but what's going on. So you were running around like crazy when we were done on the last day, when we left, uh, I, I felt exhausted in the best way ever. I wanted to go back because I wanted to maybe answer a couple of questions on the data page to pat a different way, because maybe I would then have some of these other missions that were available.

If you'd answer the other ways. So the value was there. I walked away understanding why it's expensive as it is, and fully being able to recommend it to others, because I know have a good understanding of it. Right.

Lou Mongello: And it's different than Galaxy's edge because when we ride, Smuggler's run, we'll ride. We all are experiencing the same thing, our levels of fandom and knowledge of what we're seeing may [00:40:00] impact that a little bit.

But here, the choices you make impact, whether you are called to the bridge to go. Engage in a battle. If you take a job in engineering, if you lock up storm troopers, help Chewbacca perform Jedi tasks or have the secret, like I, there was one thing I sort of happened upon this secret meeting. I was kicked out of the room, like wonderfully kicked out of the room.

Cause the guy's like, no, no, no, you haven't been part of what we are doing. You are sort of on your own. He didn't say it in so many words. But it was so much fun and so unexpected. And I just wanted, like, we just wanted more. And I even said to myself, you know, well, so who's been on a Disney cruise by round of applause.

Who's been on a Disney cruise enough to say NASA, I'm not getting off. Like I'm not going to. So that's what I thought about. But too, I'm like, I've seen, but too, like, I don't need to do it. I want to spend time on the ship when there's nobody here don't know about two was the best thing we did because my experience change.

Because of the story that Disney had created for us as guests, you've got your central, a star line pin on you are recognized differently or interacted with differently. The choices you make on smugglers run your performance on Smuggler's run will impact what you hear when you're done with smugglers. I had more fun on, but two and I live 10 minutes from the park.

I had more fun on, but too, than I ever had before,

Beci Mahnken: yes. Hands down. And I was the same thinking, well, we've been there so many times when she'd rather stay on the ship because they're paying to be on the ship. Right. And you want to see what the ship is like. I am so glad we did make that bad decision because there was so much fun.

There, there are people who seek us out because we had the pins on, they give you the, the pin to identify you. And there were conversations that were happening or there were missions that were going on. It's like, oh my gosh, did you get that mission? No. You know,

Lou Mongello: um, like secret stuff that you can do, or even like, Oh, this Cantina.

Yeah, because you are [00:42:00] a guest on Mr. Cheryl

Beci Mahnken: stolen. Yeah, exactly. You have to. And that's one of the things that I tell people all the time when they go to this experience, talk to everybody. If you are, I'm that type of person, a little bit against the wall. And I don't like to get in the middle of things and.

Um, the first day I decided looking around you, the people you choose to talk to will also have a great impact on your experience. I found one guy and I started talking to him and he learned my name. And later on the next day, I was kind of standing there, which is kind of a, another reason why if you go by yourself, it'd be more expensive, but you can still do it because you'll get pulled into all these things going on around you.

Um, I was standing there thinking, well, what do I have to do now? I don't have emissions. Maybe I should just go, I don't lose probably eating somewhere so I can go find

Lou Mongello: him. It's called research. I was doing it for you, just so you know.

Beci Mahnken: And so I'm, I'm walking past the elevators. And all of a sudden, the, the gentleman that I spoke to who was a character, he was in an elevator with four other people and he said, Becky, we need your help.

You need to come with us now. And all this. Apparently you need my help and jumped in the elevator.

Lou Mongello: But when they call you, when they mentioned you by name, you're like, what is happening? How do you know my, we want to be recognized, right? We want to be appreciated. Um, imagining having that. Let me put it in.

Imagine going downstairs and John Fabro walks by and he's like, Hey Tim, your brains would fall out of your head, but on a different scale, that's how you feel when you're like, Lou, I need you up on the bridge. And you're like, and you, and even if you're with a group, maybe my mission is different than you.

And that's what we were. We were five people on five different missions.

Beci Mahnken: We had a point where three of us went, oh my gosh. In five minutes, we need to be in the, in the. In the engine room and then a couple of the other two were like, what are you talking about? Wait, I have

Lou Mongello: nothing. How am I on the dark side?

Yeah, we found out all, this is the best marriage. Counselor leads take place after your best. [00:44:00] Um,

Beci Mahnken: the best thing we learned is his wife is on the dark side, in which again, there's a whole backstory there, which taken a whole nother show

Ryan Donoho: and there's this. And, and if you don't, if you don't want to be at all spoiled and don't watch it, but there is these great live streams Lou did on Facebook, facebook.com/.

W radio and stuff to say, um, where you went and took us on. And I was watching it cause I was trying to convince my wife who hates star wars, that we need to go on this. And we were watching the live streams. And at one point you guys were on the deck or you were on something, the bridge or something. And there was this person in costume and there was the cast members and they were going on I'm I'm watching because I'm enamored and they're, they're doing all this stuff.

And then they all three runaway, the cast member and these two other people. And Lou goes, yeah, that lady is. She's not part of the, the cast. And I thought the whole time she was part of the story because she was so into it and dread, and she was like improvising and I'm watching. And I was like, that lady was.

And I still remember. I also remember there was a little room in your room where I could have laid down, but you never called me. So I just I've been wanting to get that off my chest because I saw, I was like, there's plenty of room in there for me. My phone must be

Lou Mongello: on silent. There's a group therapy that has to happen.


Ryan Donoho: no, but in all reality, I was watching these live streams and you guys would go down under a certain steam room and all of a sudden there's Chewbacca. And then like you said, your wife was on the dark side, but you weren't. And it was kind of weird there, but I hope he worked that out. Uh, yeah. And then that, what struck me was that one lady who was, I thought was a cast member the whole time she was in full costumes.

The cast member was yelling at her. She was yelling back. They were trying to fix something and then they just took off running. And you literally said, no. I should just a lady staying here. That was the, that was the

Lou Mongello: crazy, the story is taking place around you using all five senses in 360 degrees at all times when we're in Galaxy's edge, it sort of, we turn it on and off, right?

Depending on for getting on the attraction and getting off the attraction. I think it's it's present, but not sort of as overwhelmingly present. Uh, look, I think the galactic star cruiser is sort of the ultimate love letter [00:46:00] to star wars. It is like we are, we want to give you the experience coming full circle that you always dreamed about as a kid to live your own star wars story and adventure.

We are not going to tell you what to do. You are able to create on your own. Yes. It's sort of like this flow chart. There's parameters. Decisions, you know that they're taking a yes, no. And it makes me think about what's next, right? What is the future for living your star wars story? We know that on the Disney wish, which is coming in just a few weeks, there's going to be a hyperspace lounge there, which Becky, as we know is incredibly excited about.

If you can't find Becky on the wish, she'll go to hyperspace lounge. Um, but I'd like to know from you and from you and from you listening at home. What type of star wars experience do you wish? Right. If you were the head of Imagineering and we've given you unlimited budget, what would your ultimate interactive type of star wars experience be?

Or what do you sort of envision when you're sitting at home? I wish I could do this in a Disney.

Ryan Donoho: I think the future is in VR and AR I think if Disney they're opening an experience in Disney Springs, uh, where the NBA experience was, that's bought two in VR related. I think if they could add something to Galaxy's edge, it would be a way to either have AR where the, your entire surrounding gets changed.

And you're in a battle or a mission or a VR. Yes. Putting the headset on. Uh, cause I know ILM is investing heavily in. So I think if you could find a way for Imagineering and ILM and the stagecraft technology, they've been shooting all these shows on a, with the Mandalorian where they create, create these sets around you and they, these actors say, I literally feel like I'm on an, on a planet.

If they could channel some of that, that could be the next step to where you go off into this, you know, cause of the rise of the resistance show building is hidden you. I still don't know where all that stuff is. Uh, when you, when you enter the queue and the ship flips around it's that interactive experience and that immersive experience where I [00:48:00] think.

Tapped into that. AR VR, stagecraft technology, it's changeable, it's doable. And then they can also make you feel like you're really in, into it. And that's sort of the next step into interactivity where maybe, maybe a hologram will pop in front of you and somebody has given you a mission and it's literally right there in front of you.

And then you go this way and you go that way. That's I think that's something they could at Disney and ILM working with. Could really create something that we've seen.

Lou Mongello: Every seen Ray we've seen. And remember the captain Jack Sparrow that they were testing at Disney's Hollywood studios years ago, there's three dimensional projection, quick buy a rental, plus it.

Did anybody ever do the void in Disney Springs or does it, what were your thoughts? What did, what were your thoughts? Love that thumbs up. W wish you could do it again. Don't do something like that again. Um, yeah, I did it. I wasn't ever able to do the record Ralph one, but it was really well done and, and. I know for some people there's concern.

Well, you know, about putting the helmet on and maybe sort of, um, the motion of, but the fact that it is not only a visual, but a tactile experience. Not sort of just having that sort of blaster in your hands, but feeling the heat as you went into certain rooms was incredible.

Beci Mahnken: Yeah. You kept shooting me in the back if you remember correctly, because cause the vest you're wearing vibrates every time you're getting shot.

And so every once in a while, just like my Fest was like vibrating, like crazy because he kept shooting me in the back. Um, for me I think. Yeah, you remember, and you're, you're proud

Lou Mongello: of yourself. I'm not a coward. I shot her dead straight on. Like I wanted them to let her see.

Beci Mahnken: I would love like a day of babysitting.

that'd be great. If we could do that. Um,

Lou Mongello: Becky's babysitting service is a real thing

Beci Mahnken: for GrowCo only. It's for GrowCo only, or others of his species that we may someday get to meet. Um, I do like virtual reality. But I, I got to say, I really like the real thing. So if they could find a way to, to bridge the gap between the galactic star cruiser experience and bring more AI into that, I think that would be a perfect world for me, [00:50:00] because being able to just step into it and watch it go, go on around you with the helmet and stuff.

Great. But. I loved being part of it. I loved running up and down those stairs. I loved going and actually physically having to, uh, to put the ship into hyperdrive. I, I loved physically being able to do that. So if they could figure out a way to bump up that technology a little bit, Find a way to maybe bring down the cost a little bit so that others could enjoy that experience as well, more easily.

That would be where I'd want to go. Oh, and, and more, more lounges with, you know, do

Lou Mongello: you like the idea? Because I think what we're starting to see is, is the play Disney parks app with overlays for the star cruiser. I think we're really in its infancy of what this is going to do. I expect an augmented reality type experience to come.

Do you like by applause? Do you like the idea of utilizing your device more in the parks for a richer, enhanced experience or you're shaking your head? No. Or do you prefer not to have it? Who likes using the phone in the parks for that additional layer of experience?

Who does.

I get it. And the recovering attorney and me can argue both sides, right? Because we want our kids just put the phone away. Let's be present where we are. I want to look in your eyes, not in the back of your head, looking down on your phone, but on the other side of the coin, this offers endless possibilities of what we can do.

I actually tested something years ago where I was able to hold my phone up to a wall and it literally opened up this portal in fantasy land. And this was a long, long time ago and they ended up going down the source of the magic kingdom route instead. But I think that is part of. Maybe where the thinking is going, especially for the generation behind us, where this device really sort of is in their hands at all times.

And it is part of the experience maybe when it's not, there is a little bit [00:52:00] of a disconnect. I would love to take any questions you might have. We have a fourth mic. If you don't mind standing up here and coming up to the mic this way I can record it for the show. Come on up. Don't be shy. It's okay. No, you were just adjusting yourself in your seat.

If you have any questions, come up to the mic. If you don't have any questions who wants to do a little more trivia? If you guys don't want these, um, star wars, galactic star cruiser pins, I could just take them home. It's fine. If you, oh, see, now, now you're gonna think

Beci Mahnken: they're pretty cool fans too. I'm

Lou Mongello: curious to see, um, let's see how nerdy let's see how nerdy like they really are.

So you've all been to galaxies. All right. And this time we'll I'll don't bark it out. Just raise your hands. We've all been to dock on doors, den of antiquities by applause who spent way too much money in doc Andrea's dad invented what species is doc Andar man. Come on down.

I know the answer to this question already. Would you like one of these sweet WWT or backpacks, or would you like what's behind door number two and then drill a star line pin? I had a feeling you're looking at. I'll even give you the choice. I have three different five, four different pins to choose from

and tickets go sticker to as long as you're here, just. Okay. So clearly these guys are way more, um, well I have to make these questions probably a lot harder. Um, all right, let's go. I'm going to go super, super hard. Um, you don't have to tell me what the number is, but, uh, galaxies are just full of Easter eggs.

There's Easter eggs, everywhere, including on Becky's favorite thing, which our trash cans, which for us usually are table. Absolutely. Every star wars Galaxy's had trashcan has a special number on it. 3, [00:54:00] 2 6, 3 8 2 7. What is that number? Significance? Yeah.

He's speaking with one of those funny accents from England, but I think I heard the words, trash compactor. You got it. It is the, uh, the sector where loop Han and Leia are tossed into the trash compactor. And it's

Beci Mahnken: not my favorite thing. It's just our favorite place to have dinner. Apparently. I don't know why we end up on trash cans.


Lou Mongello: a thing, anyone that you like and take some stickers to.

Um, all right, let's see. Let's see how deep into story they go again. We've all been into doc Andar and they have everything in there from the hollow Crohn's to who collects legacy sabers. I'm clapping for my son. Who's not here. Um, one of the most interesting things that he has on display as part of his collection, there's a little teeny, tiny baby star lack, according to the story.

Who brought that item to dock Andar. Wow. You guys are good. How fast the hands go up, Hudson. Wow. Did you know, come on up and get your

Ryan Donoho: Holy cow.

Lou Mongello: Wow. That's really good. I'm going to ask it. I think this is an easy one. Leave it up to adults to ruin a good thing. Not long after star wars, Galaxy's edge opened, something was taken away. I didn't even have the question out of my mouth already mad in the back with the orange hat. He's already standing up and he's like, I'm coming up to get my prize because I know what the answer is.

It was a sport. Right? You get amnesty right now who stole his fork? Raise your hand. Who has a spork at home?

Isn't it so funny, like how fast, like the sporks became a thing. They were so cute. You can take either of these two pins. You can take some stickers or if you'd like [00:56:00] this, look at this sweet WW backpack. Now you're very welcome. Uh, all right. I have one more pen. I'll give you one more. Um, I'll give you one more question.

I'm sticking with food because the body built on docking bay seven, who thinks rando roasters are like the greatest thing since sliced bread, by the way. Right? If only there was somebody, anybody who could ruin your roaster seriously, who was the head chef at docking bay seven food and cargo. Finally, the audience who was the head chef.

No dude, chef Strano cookie tugs, cookie, somebody who's got a cookie. God. How did I not know cookie? Um, who provide, who provides the voice of Honda Wanaka and Smuggler's run

Jim Cummings. Did you win a pin already? You got to be able to come up and get your pants at pen.

Beci Mahnken: No, I

Lou Mongello: won't tip yet. I just want anything from Galaxy's edge. Cause I'm famished. All right. I have a I'm out of pins. A Ray gets up and leaves. Um, I'll ask you what, uh, I'll ask you a couple more quick questions. Let's go back to star wars really quickly. Um, in star wars, if you listen carefully to some of the boarding announcements on screen and over the Intercom, they mentioned a land speeder number.

What is the land speed as illegally? Oh, come on nerds. Uh, guys, you need to know this one.

What's the first three letters of that. There you go. But guidance.

I love the fact that he's wearing his star wars Coca-Cola shirts. Um, all right. I'll ask. Let's see. Do you guys have a, do you have a, you're a, you're

Ryan Donoho: a big, what is Lou's middle name?

Lou Mongello: Nobody knows. I'm not even, I know that that's not [00:58:00] the answer. Um, so when you enter doc on doors, there's that, that bass relief mural right in front, that sort of, um, as soon as the doors open, where have you seen that in the films before somebody who hasn't already won a prize before

Beci Mahnken: they back in the corner?

Lou Mongello: Yeah, Emperor Palpatine's office, by the way, she phoned a friend like. So I cannot thank you enough. Thank you very much for taking time to be part of our panel discussion today. Also want to thank Becky Meghan from mouse van travel. If you're looking to go to Walter DeWalt or Disneyland or the Galactic Star Cruiser, or with us on the Disney Wish you can visit Mouse Fan Travel.

Ryan Donaho is on TheForceCast.net. I am lumen. Uh, you can also come up here. You can find out more about WW radio we've I haven't podcasting every single week for the past 17 plus years. I am a recovering attorney. Don't hold it against me. Who else do live video every Wednesday, a lot of fun events and most importantly.

Uh, everything we really do is about the community and conversation. And it means more to me that, you know, then, you know, for taking time out of your weekend to, uh, spend a little bit of time with us this morning. So thank you very much and made a fortunately with

You guys are awesome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.