Riding into the Future: The Bantha Ride and Beyond at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Bantha Ride

Hey there Star Wars fans and Disney vacationers! As the 5-year anniversary of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge approaches, it’s the time look back and forward on what lies ahead for the land. With Disney’s announcement of a staggering $60 billion investment in its theme parks over the next decade, the wheels of speculation are turning. What could this mean for the expansion of Galaxy’s Edge? Is the long-awaited Bantha ride finally on the horizon, or perhaps a Star Wars-themed dining experience? Let’s dive into the possibilities, guided by insights from Disney Imagineers, the strategic use of expansion pads, and the expertise of industry insider Jim Hill.

Disney’s Galactic Investment Strategy

Disney’s bold $60 billion investment plan signals a commitment to bringing unparalleled experiences to its theme parks worldwide. This initiative aims to transform both domestic and international parks, focusing on innovative projects that promise strong returns. While we’re aware of a some of the projects on the table like, the Beyond Big Thunder Mountain and retheme of Dinoland USA. For enthusiasts of Galaxy’s Edge, this investment offers a glimmer of hope for the expansion of the land, potentially breathing life into previously conceptualized experiences.

The Original Vision of Galaxy’s Edge

Conceived with grand ambitions, Galaxy’s Edge was intended to feature three attractions, a Cantina, merchants, and a dinner show as the key aspects of the new land. While the dinner show concept evolved into a dining experience aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the Bantha ride remained a concept, eagerly discussed but not realized. Yet, as former Imagineer Scott Trowbridge has remarked, “In Imagineering, no good idea ever dies.”

Bantha Ride

The Bantha Ride: A Dream Deferred

The envisioned Bantha ride promised guests an unprecedented opportunity to explore Galaxy’s Edge from the back of the iconic creatures of Tatooine. Inspired by Disneyland’s historic Pack Mules Through Nature’s Wonderland, this trackless journey was designed to weave through the outpost city, past the Resistance base, and around the First Order’s stronghold. Despite its conceptual status, the idea has continued to captivate the imagination of fans and Imagineers alike.

In August 2019, Disney offered a tantalizing glimpse into what could have been through the introduction video of the Imagineering in a Box series, revealing a snippet of the actual development process for the Bantha ride initially planned for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This brief look showcased a screenshot from rendering software, providing a visual hint of the ride that had been rumored for the land. Although the rendering appeared more akin to a dewback, the context made it clear that the ultimate aim was to create a Bantha attraction, as further evidenced by subsequent concept art. This peek behind the curtain into the Imagineers’ workshop not only confirmed the existence of plans for such an attraction but also highlighted the intricate process of bringing the rich tapestry of the Star Wars universe to life within the theme park. The revelation of this development process, albeit brief, underscores the ambitious vision Disney Imagineers had for Galaxy’s Edge, aiming to immerse guests in the most iconic elements of the Star Wars saga through innovative ride experiences.

Bantha Ride

Jim Hill’s Insights on the Bantha Attraction

Renowned theme park historian and insider Jim Hill has provided a wealth of detail on how the Bantha attraction was envisioned to operate. According to Hill, guests would have embarked on a scenic tour of Galaxy’s Edge, boarding animatronic Banthas from an elevated platform. This innovative ride system would have taken visitors from the heart of the outpost city, through the hills overlooking the Resistance base, and back, offering a comprehensive view of the themed land. Hill’s descriptions paint a vivid picture of an attraction that would have offered not just a ride, but a narrative journey through the Star Wars universe.

Bantha Ride

Insights from Disney Imagineers

This attraction, informally known as the “Bantha ride,” promised an innovative experience featuring a giant creature named Elee, designed to interact with guests and offer rides around the land. Unlike the Banthas familiar to Star Wars fans, Elee was conceptualized as a Therii, a large, herding quadruped native to Batuu, created specifically for this immersive experience.

The journey of Elee from concept to near-realization is captured in the “Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” book, which provides detailed concept art and insights into this shelved attraction. However, a revealing tweet from former Imagineer Frank Mezzatesta, who boasts a storied 41-year career with Disney, offered a candid look at the project’s fate. According to Mezzatesta, despite over a year of development work, the ride was ultimately scrapped as a cost-saving measure, a decision that deviated from the narrative presented in the official book. Disney cited concerns over the ride’s capacity and the challenge of maintaining authenticity within the bustling popularity of Galaxy’s Edge as reasons for its cancellation.

Scott Trowbridge, a key figure in the development of Galaxy’s Edge, acknowledged the technical achievements in bringing Elee to life but also recognized the limitations posed by the land’s expected popularity, which could compromise the creature’s authenticity. Similarly, Margaret Kerrison pointed out the difficulties related to the ride’s low capacity. Despite these challenges, the vision for Elee was grand; she was to amble around Galaxy’s Edge, following a path that led from the speeder garages (Black Spire Station) through the Resistance area and back in a circular route. Early concept art even envisioned a “Stables” area, akin to a zoo, where guests could encounter a variety of Star Wars creatures, from the imposing Wampa to the fearsome Rancor.

Official concept art released during the promotion of Galaxy’s Edge included glimpses of Elee, integrating her into the visual narrative of the land. One such piece depicted her in a courtyard near what is now the Black Spire Station garage, opposite the current location of Savi’s Workshop, suggesting a seamless incorporation into the existing layout of Galaxy’s Edge.

The insights from Disney Imagineers like Trowbridge and Kerrison shed light on the complexities of bringing the Star Wars universe to life within a theme park setting. Their reflections underscore the importance of balancing authenticity and capacity in the development of new attractions, highlighting the meticulous planning and creative ambition that define the Imagineering process. Though Elee never roamed the pathways of Galaxy’s Edge, the legacy of her development offers a fascinating glimpse into the what-ifs that continue to inspire both creators and fans alike.

The Potential for Expansion

With expansion pads strategically integrated into Galaxy’s Edge, the potential for the Bantha ride to come to fruition remains alive. These designated areas for future development serve as a testament to Disney’s forward-thinking approach, ensuring that the land can evolve and grow over time. The insights from Disney Imagineers, coupled with Jim Hill’s detailed vision of the Bantha attraction, underscore the rich possibilities that lie ahead for Galaxy’s Edge.

Bantha Ride

Beyond the Ride: A Culinary Adventure

The revelation of plans for a large sit-down and table service restaurant within Galaxy’s Edge adds another layer of depth to the land’s potential expansions. Documents from 2015 unveil plans for a restaurant envisioned to surpass the size of Disneyland’s Blue Bayou, featuring show elements, animatronics, and a bar with characters akin to those seen in the Avatar queue for Flight of Passage in Pandora: World of Avatar. This dining experience, with its immersive elements, is poised to offer guests not just a meal, but a journey into the heart of the Star Wars saga, blending culinary excellence with the storytelling prowess that defines the franchise.

Bantha Ride

The concept of a Star Wars-themed dinner show, while momentarily realized in the Galactic Starcruiser, holds untapped potential for Galaxy’s Edge. The addition of a themed restaurant could offer a new dimension to the land, blending culinary delights with the immersive storytelling that fans crave. Whether it’s a performance by the Max Rebo Band or a simpler, continuous storytelling experience, the opportunity to dine in the Star Wars universe is a tantalizing prospect.

The Future of Galaxy’s Edge

As Disney embarks on this ambitious journey of investment and innovation, the future of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge shines with potential. The insights from Disney Imagineers, the strategic planning of expansion pads, and Jim Hill’s detailed exploration of the Bantha ride concept together paint a picture of a land that is ready to grow and enchant visitors in new ways. Whether through the realization of the Bantha ride or the introduction of a themed dining experience, the expansion of Galaxy’s Edge would deepen the immersive storytelling that defines this beloved land. Here’s to the potential next chapter in the saga of Galaxy’s Edge, where every visit is an adventure waiting to be discovered.

Looking To Book Your Dream Disney Vacation?

Consultation Request
Preferred Contact Method
Please note I try to respond to all requests within 1 hr during normal business hours (8 am to 6 pm, EST)
Are your travel dates flexible?
If yes, I will work on finding the best pricing option within +/- 3 days of your desired check-in date. Please provide additional details if required in the Additional Information section around any travel date information. For example, my travel dates are flexible for the first two-week of August.
Your Vacation Budget (DO NOT include airfare)
Your vacation budget range will be used to provide you the best options for resorts, tickets, etc.
Looking to Book (Select all that apply)
Please select all the items you have included in your vacation budget.
Please any of the following Special Memberships or Affiliations that apply to you
Select All that apply to any guests within your travel party
Contact Permission
DisTrip and More Privacy Policy: https://distripsandmore.com/distrips-and-more-privacy-policy/
Disney World Vacation Timeline

Meet the Author: Nate Bishop

I’m a die-hard Disney fan with 38 years of visits under my belt, having stepped into Disney World 120+ times. Proud to be a Disney Annual Passholder, a Vacation Club member since ’92, a Castaway Club Member, and a runDisney enthusiast. Oh, and I’ve graduated from the Disney College of Knowledge. Need Disney insights or planning tips? I’m your guy!