IAAPA's Legends panel to share the lessons of Galaxy's Edge

September 25, 2019, 4:36 PM · Bob Rogers has revealed the line-up for his annual Legends panel at the upcoming IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. The panel is always one of the highlights of the biggest week of the year in the theme park industry, as tens of thousands of theme park and attraction designers and managers gather at the Orange County Convention Center for the industry's largest annual convention.

The Legends panel brings together some of the top names in the themed entertainment design field to share lessons learned while creating some of the most notable attractions in the business. This year, Bob has assembled some of the leaders from the team behind the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios.

"Four amazing super-star Legends share insights, strategies and lessons learned by leaving the known path and inventing new worlds," Bob wrote of the panel. "They share lessons that you can soon be applying to your own work."

Legends 2019

The panel participants will be:

Bob Rogers is a member of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and a former Disneyland cast member perhaps best known to Disney fans as the producer of the beloved Impressions de France film at Epcot, which I believe is the longest-running original film attraction currently showing at a Disney theme park.

Legends 2019: Report from the Galaxy’s Edge, will take place on Wednesday, November 20 at 3:30pm during the IAAPA Attractions Expo and will be open to all Expo attendees... who queue early enough to get a seat. Stay tuned to Theme Park Insider for complete coverage.

Previous IAAPA Legends panel coverage:

Replies (25)

September 25, 2019 at 6:44 PM

So that's the guy who tried to be too clever and give us a Star Wars Lands that isn't a Star Wars land.

September 25, 2019 at 9:31 PM

It has Stormtroopers, Rey, the Falcon, lightsabers, that's pretty much Star Wars.

September 26, 2019 at 6:38 AM

You have a massive successful IP to make a land - yet somehow they complicate it and turn it into something that is not Star Wars. Incredibly inept.

September 26, 2019 at 7:11 AM

Please enlighten us AndrewMciveR how you would have executed a Star Wars land. Then let the faceless internet goons tear your concept apart and describe in painful detail how inept your ideas are.

There are billions of people on this planet, and millions who are hard core Star Wars fans that are all attracted to the franchise for different reasons. What you think is Star Wars might not be Star Wars to someone else. Disney has admitted to mistakes with Galaxy's Edge and have obviously been working to try to correct course. However, when you have a handful of obscenely loud voices screaming from the heavens that wouldn't accept a Star Wars land even if it was delivered by George Lucas himself, it's impossible for Disney to decipher what guests really want.

In the end, Galaxy's Edge is better than virtually any land/park Disney has attempted to execute in the US since EPCOT opened, and is certainly a better representation of Star Wars than what existed in the park prior to this year. If you don't like it, don't go. Both lands are in the corners of parks that have plenty of other attractions and activities to fill your day.

September 26, 2019 at 7:38 AM

"If you don't like it, don't go."

If that is the way that Disney is thinking, then I would be scared for their business.

September 26, 2019 at 8:08 AM

"If you don't like it, don't go"

Well, the public agrees, and they haven't gone. What a terrible defense of a gigantic theme park investment.

September 26, 2019 at 8:30 AM

"Well, the public agrees, and they haven't gone."

Not exactly...There are lots of people going to Galaxy's Edge on both coasts, just not the shoulder to shoulder crowds Disney (and many industry analysts) expected when the land was announced. The fact of the matter is that theme park attendance is down or flat across the entire industry. It's a trend that some are placing at the feet of Galaxy's Edge, but is far more complicated and widespread than the new lands. You can blame the design of Galaxy's Edge all you want for not bringing suffocating crowds, but when summer attendance at WDW (before Galaxy's Edge opened in Florida) was flat compared to the previous year, there's something more going on than guests rejecting the world's first Star Wars lands. European parks are struggling to meet attendance goals, and many regional US parks are seeing attendance decline or remain flat compared to previous years. Even Universal, with its own multi-billion dollar theme park investments (with more on the way), is struggling to stay in growth mode.

Galaxy's Edge and attendance are not in a direct cause and affect relationship right now, though I'm pretty sure Disney wants Galaxy's Edge to help their US parks overcome some of the attendance declines being experienced across the industry, hence the marketing push.

September 26, 2019 at 9:18 AM

The creative team that gave the world it’s first Star Wars themed mall’s!! Slow clap.................

In all seriousness...Galaxy’s Edge is a modern day Toontown...Fun to look at but not much to do...

September 26, 2019 at 9:02 AM

I am excited for Galaxy's Edge but I am not spending all that money to go when the big attraction isn't even done yet. I am sure many are thinking the same thing and are delaying their vacations. I think the attendance concerns should be looked at after those rides open and the lands are complete.

And if the land isn't Star Wars, then what exactly is Star Wars? I remember all the people saying how the Phantom Menace wasn't Star Wars when it came out and how the prequels in general were cold and sterile, now people are saying how wonderful they are.

September 26, 2019 at 5:35 PM

Andrew you have discount Luke Skywalker and discount Darth Vader what more do you want! But more seriously this is very much Disney Star Wars and thats exactly the problem for a lot of people. It has the smallest appeal that it couldve had. Its Sequel Trilogy only which has become divisive between fans and has for the most part seems to be an attempt at replacing the original characters and stories instead of continuing the story and doing justice to the OT characters. Why was TFA so successful? I would argue because most fans were thrilled to see Han, Luke and Leia together again but it never happened. Then of course TLJ. Its pretty obvious when Mark Hamill himself has spoken out against the garbage they pulled with his character.
In any case Disney has a lot of property and maybe they can still build a Mos Eisley, Coruscant, Hoth or Endor with stories and characters that appeal to more people. I dont think GE is bad at all. Its actually pretty cool in a lot of ways. But if they wanted to build this it really should have been built as a phase 2 or 3 Star Wars land if at all.

September 26, 2019 at 9:52 AM

Excellent point about the prequels, JT14. The revisionism about them is shocking and hilarious. For more than a decade they were the worst thing to ever happen to a franchise, and suddenly everyone is thrilled that Ewan McGregor is getting an Obi-Wan Disney+ series. The world is going to hell and people are clinging to literally anything that can bring them back to a better time, even if they hate it.

For the record, I grew up with the prequels, and I think they’re mostly garbage, though McGregor was maybe the third-best thing in them after Ian McDiarmid and John Williams’ score.

September 26, 2019 at 9:53 AM

The main issue with galaxy's edge and what sets it apart from the run away success of the wizarding world is people want to live in the movies and be immersed in something they know and love, viscerally. My favorite part of the wizarding world is listening to John Williams as I walk around. It is all part of the experience, and Disney just missed the chance they had. I am (was) the biggest Star Wars fan ever, I was 8 when the first movie came out, but I have no real desire to hurry to Galaxy's edge?

September 26, 2019 at 11:09 AM

"What you think is Star Wars might not be Star Wars to someone else."

Russell has perfectly captured the Star Wars fandom in one sentence.

Few things sum it up like a post I saw on Frank Oz talking about Yoda and there were literally fans going "all you did was create and voice the character, you don't own him like we do."

September 26, 2019 at 12:00 PM

I know we keep going back to the Wizarding World as a comparison, but it's very apt. There was a castle. There was a village. Let's build it! Sure enough, that's what guests wanted. Let's add Diagon Alley. People love that too! Every time I go back to Orlando, I get the same feeling when I walk up to Hogwarts castle. And that doesn't even include thinking about the ride!

The universe of Star Wars is vast and complicated. I bet that Disney thought that getting access to that IP meant they were in for a sure home run. But we're talking over 40 years of stories and multiple generations of actors, characters, and worlds. You're never going to please everyone with such a span of content and ages of fans, as is evident by the discussions happening on this forum.

Disney wanted to build something that appeals to all generations and all types of Star Wars fans. But maybe that was a mistake. If they are planning to keep the franchise going into the foreseeable future, maybe they should have just chosen the most recent trilogy and built off of that. What we have instead is a land that is Star Wars-ish, but so general as to not elicit any particular moment in the story.

Any Harry Potter fan can relate to the first time a wizard walks up to Hogwarts castle. They can walk into the Wizarding World with no prior knowledge of the intent of the land and get that experience right away. What Star Wars fan, serious or casual, is going to have a visceral reaction to arriving at a Black Spire?

September 26, 2019 at 12:13 PM

Why do people think the land isn't definitively set in the Sequel Trilogy? Specifically between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker? It is very explicit throughout the land and will be even clearer on Rise of the Resistance.

September 26, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Not sure how to post pictures here but Disney themselves placed Galaxey’s Edge and the stories contained in it after The Last Jedi and before The Rise of Skywalker...It’s clearly right there on the timeline picture they released at D23...The land was absolutely centered around their own sequel trilogy and to suggest otherwise isn’t even an argument that can be made at this point...

From acquisition, Disney only wanted the original mythology to be used as a prop to kickstart their own new mythology...Older fans bring their kids to see the new films ~ those kids become the next generation of Star Wars fan, and their fandom is based on the Disney era...This through line carries all the way into Galaxy’s Edge...You don’t walk through the area and encounter Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker, you get Kylo Ren and Rey...Stormtroopers are there, but it’s the Disney era designs...

Disney was never in the mindset to please or even placate older fans from conception and it clearly shows...

September 26, 2019 at 2:13 PM

Ah, Star Wars. Dividing fans since the beginning.

September 26, 2019 at 3:47 PM

The failure of Galaxy's Edge is not just the failure to include the OT characters and stories.
The panel members would get an "F" in theme park design:
No looped John Williams iconic background music (an incredibly egregious omission)
No live music
No kinetic energy
No water elements
Almost zero interactive storytelling (the datapad/mobile app is pathetic)
Nearly zero entertainment or shows (except a brief appearance by Kylo Ren)
Expensive pay to play experiences only worth doing once (if that)
Decrepit, mirthless environment (a stunning contrast particularly in DL)
Identical lands in FL and CA even though the visitor profiles of each park are the complete opposite
Blue/green milk isn't even made from milk and is no butterbeer
The land's weenie (the Falcon) can't be closely explored for a photo or a look at the detailing (one of the land's most egregious failures IMO)
The Falcon ride can be fun as a pilot, but not so much as a gunner or engineer, which often leaves four out of six riders disappointed
The Falcon ride feels much more like Star Trek with a Captain, navigator, security, and engineering positions (my family enjoyed the ride better imagining we were the TNG crew on a mission, and tuned out the babble of the annoyingly idiotic Hondo character that none of us recognized)
And I could go on with a dozen other failures of the land completely unrelated to the land's exclusion of the OT characters. Except for the Cantina, which was a fun and joyful experience, Galaxy's Edge objectively sucked as a Disney theme park land. I hope this panel's members will be discussing all these failures and how they will atone with their resignations so a new team can clean up their mess. However, if the purpose of this panel is to pat themselves on the back for a job that was, in fact, very poorly done, then that's a measure of hubris and chutzpah that would make Barnum blush.

September 26, 2019 at 4:51 PM

Ok wish we had comment like buttons on this site!

September 26, 2019 at 5:33 PM


Well to be fair yes GE is within the ST timeline, however it is not (as far as we know) included in the actual ST films and I think the latter is why many people claim its a poor choice for a land. Its not unrelated to star wars but it is (again as far as we know) unrelated to the movies. I would agree which is why I contend GE would have been much better as a phase 2 or 3 instead of the first and maybe only star wars land. As the only SWL I think it leaves many fans perplexed and for want but as a 2nd or 3rd phase it mightve been seen as something bold and fresh (which it certainly is) and might have been better recieved.

September 26, 2019 at 5:42 PM

I'm excited about what lessons these "amazing super-star Legends" have learned. Maybe the words "shadow" and "recognizable locations" will be part of it. Will this be on youtube?

September 28, 2019 at 8:43 AM

Here are some simple ways to improve SWGE, many that can be done virtually overnight:
1. PLAY THE MUSIC! - Star Wars is not Star Wars without the musical orchestrations of John Williams.
2. Add more droids and creatures - it’s disappointing when Toy Story Land outdoes SWGE when it comes to character interactions.
3. Improve the taste of the blue and green milk, and do not be afraid to use actual milk as one of the ingredients. Last I remembered, milkshakes are pretty tasty and dairy milk is one of the main ingredients.
4. Add some of the original core characters to the mix - Luke, Leia, Han, Lando and the Emperor. And a few bounty hunters would be appreciated as well.
5. Open RotR already! This attraction is the difference maker in improving the guest experience at SWGE.

September 26, 2019 at 10:51 PM

@Tony Perkins: And if they had done all OT, the reaction would be "Disney was too scared to do anything new, just replay the OT stuff and the same locations, we wanted something different and unique." Listen, I love Star Wars to death but it's the ones who get on the high horse about "OT is more sacred than anything and change is horrible" that give the entire fandom a bad name."

It's fine if you have issues with the land as it is and such. But it sounds annoying to go on and on about the OT not being used when the fact is, trying to work that timeline when the new movies are the ones succeeding now doesn't make as much sense. As Russell says, Disney wants this to be long-term and long-term, the OT is no longer the only part of Star Wars and, contrary to what that vocal minority says, a young generation are getting into the new films just as much.

September 27, 2019 at 6:48 AM

I think you have confused my post with someone else's. The entire point of my post was to cite the myriad reasons that Galaxy's Edge is problematic besides excluding the OT characters and stories.

In addition, the Star Wars franchise is in clear decline. Numerous mainstream corporate media outlets have reported on this phenomenon. It is NOT simply a vocal minority of fans. As indicated in corporate financial reports, SW merchandise sales, including toys, are in sharp decline. Box office for Disney SW movies have been in steady decline with Solo actually losing money. The opening of Galaxy's Edge not only failed to drive attendance up, but might have even caused, in part, a decline in attendance. I think there's a good chance that Rise of Skywalker will make less than $1 billion at the global box office. My teenage children tell me that SW has no buzz among young people, and is, if anything, a laughingstock. Disney's desperation is showing by appointing Kevin Feige to produce a SW movie in the hope of rubbing some Marvel pixie dust on the flailing and failing SW franchise. Apologists can keep pretending that everything is fine with Disney Star Wars but the numerous data points clearly indicate otherwise. "You're entitled to your opinion, but you're not entitled to your own facts."

September 27, 2019 at 11:08 AM

Tony Perkins, apologize if I sounded insulting, not my intention. Declines do happen to other franchises (such as Harry Potter) but I still think Internet culture adds to it as there's a habit of blasting things being the 'cool" thing to do.

Although I take exception to the "GE might have caused a decline in attendance" as Russell has pointed out several times that attendance is down in the entire theme park industry this year, not just Disney (that includes Universal with new Hagrid ride). It's not like GE is a ghost town and the rest of the park is packed solid, it's an industry wide thing. That's a fact, not an opinion.

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