The sprawling new Star Wars addition to Disney Parks (called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge) is still under construction, but we will be able to visit the park's planetary setting of Batuu a little earlier than expected. Though it will be strictly a literary visit, the planet will receive it's first canonical appearance (not including its Star Tours cameo) in the upcoming book, Thrawn: Alliances.
Star Wars.com has an excerpt from the new book, which is the legendary Timothy Zahn's sequel to his excellent Thrawn. Whereas the first book (now in the middle of a comic book adaptation) chronicled everyone's favorite Chiss' rise to power, Thrawn: Alliances will feature him on a new mission with Darth Vader. The excerpt posted today gives us plenty of information about what the new book will include, as well as where it will take place.
In audience before Emperor Palpatine, references are made to the attack on Atollon, Kanan Jarrus, and the rest of the Phoenix rebels. Thrawn's TIE Defender program is also mentioned, and there is even a veiled mention of the Bendu. All of this indicates the book will occur between Seasons 3 and 4 of Star Wars: Rebels, perhaps even concurrently with the beginning of Season 4. It certainly isn't going to take place afterwards, and if you watched Rebels, you know why.
Why are Vader and Thrawn conferring with the Emperor in the first place? He's sensed a disturbance in the force, and he wants the two of them to go and deal with it. Though Thrawn protests, the Emperor tends to get what he wants. Thrawn's curiosity seems to perk up a bit when he is informed where the disturbance is being felt:
“The disturbance is located at the edge of your Unknown Regions,” the Emperor said. “It appears to be centered on a planet named Batuu.”
Thrawn is familiar with the planet, which is revealed to be close to the home of the Chiss Ascendency. We knew that Thrawn's homeworld was in the unknown regions, but this is the first we're hearing about Batuu being located there. If Batuu is in the unknown regions, then the "Galaxy's Edge" name is certainly apt.
Why is any of this interesting? For one thing, the Batuu of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be a trading port run by the First Order, which would place it in the time period of the new films — around 30 years after the events of this book. As the First Order doesn't exist yet, it's obviously not run by them here — but that doesn't mean that someone First Order-related isn't involved. These days, anything to do with the "unknown regions" immediately points directly to Snoke (that's where he's from), and it is certainly possible that the "disturbance" felt by Palpatine is being generated by none other than the future Supreme Leader.
We don't know for certain that Vader and Thrawn will Snoke 'em if they got 'em, but we do know that a Batuu visit (in the middle of future First Order space) is going to happen. Star Wars continues to connect everything together in wonderful ways, with the films, shows, books, and comics all weaving into each other. It's impressive...most impressive...that they are taking the extra step in weaving in a theme park.
Get ready to visit Batuu with Vader and Thrawn (possibly the worst tour guides of all time) on July 24, and then get ready to visit it in person when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens in 2019!