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SYFY WIRE Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was once a recreation of Mos Eisley's hive of scum & villainy

By Josh Weiss
Star Wars Mos Eisley

Would you have preferred to visit the Mos Eisley cantina over Oga's Cantina? When Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was still a seed of an idea at Disney Parks, the plan was to recreate Tatooine's Mos Eisley spaceport. You know, the infamous "hive of scum and villainy" where Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet Han Solo and Chewbacca in A New Hope.

“We did it for a couple of years and we had the Indiana Jones theater, that was gonna be the heart of the Star Wars land," Dan Cockerell, a former VP at Walt Dinsney World, said on WDW Radio. "That was gonna go away and we were gonna plug it right in there. The Mos Eisley cantina was gonna be right across from Star Tours. We had all kinds of great concepts with that and we had gotten way down the path on art drawings [but] we hadn’t gone into architectural drawings or anything."

A New Hope Mos Eisley spaceport

After years of intense work and planning, however, a decision was handed down from Disney CEO Bob Iger and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

"They had a conversation and a meeting and Kathleen Kennedy’s point of view was, 'There are way more Disney [produced] Star Wars stories ahead of us,'" Cockerell remembered. "'We really should think about do we wanna build a Tatooine and build what all the 50-somethings remember what Star Wars is, or do we want to build something else, which is going to appeal to all the upcoming generations who are gonna know the new stories?’"

Tatooine Land "was killed" that day, but the designs weren't outright destroyed. "All those concepts were put on a shelf," he added. "I’m sure they’re sitting in a vault and I’m sure they’re gonna be shown someday about what that land would’ve looked like and what the attractions were gonna be.”

Who knows, we may end up seeing the original take for the galactic-themed park on a future episode of The Imagineering Story on Disney+.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens at Walt Disney World Resort

Cockerell also recalled his anger when the Mos Eisley concept was scrapped. He was furious at seeing so many hours of hard work go down the drain. Luckily, the Imagineering crew was there to inspire him with new enthusiasm.

"They said, ‘Look, go out tonight, have a few beers, cry in your drink, come back tomorrow, and we’re starting again,’" Cockerell continued. "They had been through this before; they know that until it’s signed and until you start breaking ground, none of these projects are guaranteed. And they came back the next day, just as excited as they were two years earlier. I was really impressed by their optimism and they dug into it and that’s what you see today."

Despite being set at a newly-created location (the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu), Galaxy's Edge is, for all intents and purposes, basically Mos Eisley spaceport hiding under a different skin. It's meant to conjure up that image of a lawless frontier town of shady pubs and even shadier characters.

Galaxy's edge food

“It really just wanted to be a planet that existed in the Star Wars universe, but didn’t have too much story associated with it, so that it could be a place where all the characters could visit," Cockerell said, admitting that some "remnants" of the Tatooine idea did make it into the finished park. Nevertheless, the aim was to have it exist in its own little bubble.

"You don’t want to build something and have it become outdated eventually or too quickly ... It was designed to be timeless," he concluded.

The two Galaxy's Edge locations at Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California are both currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. No word on when they might reopen, but it's likely at least another couple of months, if not longer, until we can return to the real-life world of Star Wars.