Disney Parks Is Bringing Zootopia to Shanghai

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The heartwarming tale of bunny selfies, gazelle pop stars, and systemic racism is now getting a theme park land of its own. Disney Parks has just announced that Zootopia is heading to Shanghai Disneyland.

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Why the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon is Perfect for Runners of All Skill Levels

StarWars.com

As a runner, I was never a marathon or half-marathon guy. I would typically run three to four miles, and enjoyed participating in Turkey Trots and 5Ks and 10Ks, including those at runDisney events. But a half marathon? Not for me. My knees and I are fine sipping hot cocoa and cheering from the sidelines, thank you.

Then, last year, I learned about the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon. I’d never heard of “virtual” runs before, and wondered if this meant I’d be putting on something that looks like Luke’s training helmet from A New Hope for some kind of futuristic experiment. Turns out that’s not the case.

2017 runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon medal.

Here’s the gist: you can run 13.1 miles (the length of a half marathon) any way you want, all on the honor system. You can run one mile today, three miles tomorrow, four miles three weeks later, etc. You can walk it, or walk some of it. You can run in Central Park or on a treadmill in your basement. Whatever. It’s a simple yet really smart idea, and it made me excited. Here was a half marathon that anyone, really, could participate in. The promised medal — featuring Poe Dameron and a movable X-wing (!) — only sweetened the deal for this Star Wars obsessive.

So I signed up.

But first, a little backstory.

I’ve always loved running. Finding the perfect sneakers and putting them to use until they’re scuffed and worn out, a reminder of how hard you can push yourself and succeed. Getting out in the open air and clearing my head and testing my limits. Jumping on the treadmill, turning up the speed and incline while watching the Yankees or, when it was on, an episode of Little House on the Prairie. (I have wide-ranging tastes.) When you’re a runner, running is a big part of who you are.

Then one day you wake up and realize you’re not 35 anymore.

That’s what happened to me. I loved and love running, but my knees (the jerk on the right side, in particular) had a change of heart midway through my fourth decade. When I’d go on a run, I could make it about five minutes before experiencing a shooting pain in my right knee, which was more or less debilitating. (In Star Wars terms, I’d put the feeling I had somewhere between a Mustafar lava burn and suffering the consequences of telling the Emperor that you’re a Jedi like your father before you.)

StarWars.com's Dan Brooks running.

Galactic running in the Presidio outside Lucasfilm.

Thanks to some physical therapy, my knee improved, but I still have to watch myself. So the prospects of a half marathon that I could do on my own terms was really exciting. And I was eager to get started.

I normally run around Golden Gate Park’s “panhandle” — so called because, on a map, it looks like an actual handle to the park’s larger pan shape. It’s mostly flat, which is a rarity for San Francisco, and is filled with trees, cool air, and curving paths that I really enjoy. And it measures about 1.6 miles per lap, meaning my normal two-lap route is 3.2 miles. I could pull this off in four sessions, which would be manageable and put me back in a routine. I decided I would do this over the course of one month, running my normal two laps each weekend, with a little extra distance on the last trip out to complete the 13.1-mile tally.

In keeping with the spirit of things, I wore a Star Wars shirt for each run. (It was a simple expression of fandom and my excitement for the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon, and a reminder that I was working toward something.) While I still faced (and face, today) lingering issues with pain, the format of the half marathon made the experience not just possible, but enjoyable. There was no pressure to keep a certain pace or to even run in each of my four sessions. When my IT bands felt like they were tightening, I walked. If my knee started acting up, I slowed down. Ultimately, I finished those 13.1 miles in a way that worked for me, and finishing let me know that I can still run.

As any runner will attest, there’s a great feeling of accomplishment upon finishing a race, and this one was, surprisingly, no different. I’ve amassed more miles from my panhandle route than I can count, but I’m especially proud of those 13.1 from the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon.

runDisney medal

Now, I have an amazing medal. I’m looking forward to placing the 2019 edition next to it.

Learn more about the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon at the official runDisney site. Registration ends March 31, 2019, so punch it!

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Why the runDisney Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon is Perfect for Runners of All Skill Levels

Marvel Journeys to Batuu in New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Comic – Exclusive

StarWars.com

Pirates, smugglers, merchants, and wanderers from across the galaxy have traveled to make their score or sell their wares at the infamous black market located at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu.

In April, journey to this locale in the Outer Rim in the new Marvel Star Wars comic series Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which ties into the new lands opening at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year.

Readers of the five-issue miniseries will be the first to meet the infamous Dok-Ondar, the Ithorian collector of rare antiquities, and find out what happens when the First Order reaches the edge of wild space. The key to saving this lawless outpost might just involve a job pulled long ago by none other than Han Solo and his cohort Chewbacca.

Get your first look at a concept design variant cover art featuring Dok-Ondar, designed by Karl Lindberg and Iain McCaig, for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge issue #1 below! 

A variant cover of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge issue 31.

The series is written by Ethan Sacks, who recently entered the Star Wars comics galaxy with a tale of Jedi Master, Mace Windu, in the Star Wars: Age of Republic series. The series will be illustrated by Will Sliney, the artist behind the Beckett one-shot who also penciled the comic adaptation for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Cover art will be created by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm artists.

We recently spoke with Sacks to learn more about how Star Wars first captured his imagination, and get a sneak peek at what’s in store for fans when the new series launches this spring.

StarWars.com: You just recently wrote your first Marvel Star Wars story, focusing on the fearless Jedi Master Mace Windu in the Star Wars: Age of Republic Special. What was it like being a fan entering the galaxy to shape a story around this character? And how different has it been plotting and collaborating for your new series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Ethan Sacks: My lifelong fandom started on a summer afternoon in 1977, when as a four-year-old I first heard John Williams’s score in the theater. That experience of wonder changed my life in a very literal way, driving me on a path that ultimately led me to entertainment journalism and later writing comic books. So this is very personal for me.

The Mace Windu story in Age of Republic was self contained and fairly easy to write once I came up with the basic story idea. While Galaxy’s Edge has intertwined stories over several eras — including a Han Solo and Chewbacca adventure, a very specific dream come true — so plotting it to fruition was kind of like playing a high stakes hand of Sabacc on an active Dejarik board. Fortunately, I have great editors in Mark Paniccia and Thomas Groneman to help me navigate that asteroid field.

StarWars.com: What can you tell us about Dok-Ondar and his role in the story? We know he’s mentioned in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but only briefly.

Ethan Sacks: There’s a reason Dok-Ondar’s name ripples far and wide in the Star Wars universe. He’s a mysterious Ithorian who is the proprietor of the most notorious antiquities shop in the galaxy. And every item has a story behind it. Some more dangerous to listen to than others.

StarWars.com: Your story takes place on Batuu at Black Spire Outpost, a place fans will get to visit later this year at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. How did you approach adding to this vibrant, remote black market?

Ethan Sacks: Our series will give fans the chance to visit Black Spire Outpost months ahead of voyaging to Batuu in person. Armed with top-secret sketches and information from Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm, we are keeping this authentic to the spirit of this rich new setting. I’d tell you more, but I already have the death sentence on 12 systems….

Be sure to reserve a copy of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge issue #1 at your local comic store, or wherever comics are sold.

Check back for more exciting news on other Star Wars books and comics hitting shelves in 2019!

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Marvel Journeys to Batuu in New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Comic – Exclusive

The Holiday Droids You’re Looking For

StarWars.com

Every year since 2015, Disney Parks have released exclusive holiday-themed droid action figures, each with festive color schemes and accessories. For those who love both the spirit of the season and a galaxy far, far away (like me), they’re delightful. A white-and-gold astromech — with an arm stretching from its dome, dangling mistletoe? Only Wuher, the Mos Eisley cantina bartender, wouldn’t be charmed.

Lucasfilm holiday card featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO.

“The idea stems back to the Droid Factory Experience within Disney Parks, where guests can build their own droid,” Cody Hampton, senior merchandiser, strategy and product development of Disney Parks, tells StarWars.com. “The second inspiration is the fantastic Star Wars holiday artwork created by Ralph McQuarrie during the time of the original trilogy. The image of C-3PO and R2-D2 featuring reindeer antlers is so iconic and memorable. So with these two ideas, we wanted to create limited release droids that are unique in their own way with a holiday twist.”

The first themed droid made for Disney Parks was R2-D60, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland Resort in 2015; it was such a success that the Parks released a holiday-themed astromech — complete with a white, red, and green color deco, and a removable Santa hat — dubbed R2-H15. With that, a new line and tradition (and naming convention, as H is short for “holiday,” followed by the figure’s year of release) was born. “We received such positive feedback from our first holiday droid R2-H15, we even extended the theme to Halloween droids and other themed celebrations,” Hampton adds.

Disney Parks R2-H15 droid.

R2-H15

Disney Parks R2-H16 droid.

R2-H16

Disney Parks R3-H17 droid.

R3-H17

Disney Parks R2-H18 droid.

R4-H18

Thus far, four holiday-themed droids have been released following R2-H15: R2-H16 hit shelves in 2016, notable for a primarily red body and winter cap accessory; the white-and-gold R3-H17 arrived in 2017, toting some mistletoe; and 2018’s R4-H18, available now, is something of a departure. R4 sports a clear body and comes with a drink tray, carrying glasses colored to look like a string of lights. “Every year, the merchandise team looks at different holiday elements and really starts to brainstorm what themes will resonate with our guests,” Hampton says.

To show just how much thought goes into these figures, there’s even an art and story element — turning what could be just clever toys into something more. Each droid comes in unique packaging featuring a digital illustration of the figure against a Star Wars locale, while a short bio on the cardback tells where the droid is primarily located and what it does, which is often tied to its appearance. R4-H18 doesn’t look like shimmering crystal and serve beverages for no reason; it’s because the droid comes from Canto Bight, the casino city in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “Although they are fun and a nod to the holiday, we really wanted to create unique personalities and backstories for each droid,” Hampton says. “We take the same approach for all of our limited release single packaged droids.” Despite this grounding in story and design, one truly fun aspect of these figures is customization. Parts are removable and can be easily mixed and matched across droids — an intentional feature, as the line stems from the Droid Factory Experience at Disneyland Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort, where you can build your own droid figure.

Disney Parks R2-H15 droid in box.

Disney Parks R2-H16 droid in box.

Disney Parks R3-H17 droid in box.

Disney Parks R2-H18 droid in box.

Like the best gifts, Disney Parks’ holiday droid line was a true surprise we didn’t know we wanted. Now it’s a tradition, thankfully with no end in sight.

“The holiday season is filled with so many different aspects to be inspired by,” Hampton says. “So we are hoping to keep this limited release series going for several years.”

Holiday-themed droids are available at Star Traders at Disneyland Park, Tatooine Traders at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Galactic Outpost at Disney Springs, and other locations across Disney Parks.

Photos by Amanda Jean Camarillo and Kyle Kao.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

The Holiday Droids You’re Looking For

John Williams Creating New Music, Attraction Names Revealed for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

StarWars.com

Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, announced some major details about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge today at D23’s Destination D: Celebrating Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort — including the news that John Williams, beloved Star Wars composer, is creating new and original Star Wars themes exclusively for the landStar Wars wouldn’t be Star Wars without Williams’ incredible, sweeping scores; getting to hear new work from him at Galaxy’s Edge has us all the more excited.

You can listen to a preview of the music, recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios, in the video above, which also features footage of construction progress at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

In addition, Chapek played two videos that revealed the names of the two major attractions that will be part of Galaxy’s Edge on opening day at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The first, named Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, puts guests behind the controls of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy in one of three unique flight crew roles. We are ready to channel our inner Han, Lando, Chewie, and Rey!

The second attraction, which puts guests in the middle of an epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order, is called Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Along with the land’s dynamic elements and additional interactive integration with the Play Disney Parks app, these groundbreaking attractions at Galaxy’s Edge will invite guests to become galactic travelers and live their own Star Wars stories in a galaxy far, far away.

Indeed, there will be much to do at this exotic outpost, as detailed on the Disney Parks Blog. You can visit a street market in Black Spire Outpost, shop at food stalls where you can enjoy delicacies like blue milk, or visit the Cantina where you can see an old friend, Rex, as well as creatures and characters that are hallmarks of the Star Wars universe.

Concept art from the Star Wars resort at Walt Disney World Resort.

Concept art from the Star Wars resort at Walt Disney World Resort.

Also, Chapek shared new information about the currently in-development Star Wars-themed resort coming to Walt Disney World Resort. From the moment you board your launch pod, you’ll experience a fully-immersive, multi-day Star Wars adventure aboard a luxury starship complete with high-end dining, space-view cabins, and exciting action.

Galaxy’s Edge, the highly-anticipated Star Wars-themed land, opens at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2019. It can’t get here soon enough!

For more on Galaxy’s Edge, check out StarWars.com’s previous coverage:

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

John Williams Creating New Music, Attraction Names Revealed for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Check Out John Williams’ New Score For Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

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It wouldn’t be Star Wars without John Williams, and now his iconic music is coming to Disney Parks. Entertainment Weekly revealed that Williams has composed new scores for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and you can hear a musical preview of what’s in store. Plus, a new look at Galaxy’s Edge’s first rides, along with their…

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