Want a lightsaber from Disney's Galaxy's Edge? Then earn it

May 8, 2019, 12:23 PM · Want to buy a lightsaber in Disney's new Star Wars land? Disney's not going to make it easy.

We're not talking about the prices, either. (Disney still hasn't revealed what it will change for its next generation of lightsaber souvenirs.) Visitors to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios won't be able to just walk in and pick out a Jedi or Sith laser sword. They're going to have to work for that privilege first.

In a blog post this morning, Galaxy's Edge creative director Scott Trowbridge revealed that the entrance to the "Savi's Workshop" lightsaber shop won't be marked and won't be open to just anyone. The store will be run by a group of "keepers of the Force" called "The Gatherers" who do their work behind the facade of a junkyard.

"Those ready to learn this knowledge will find a symbol displayed on the front of the workshop indicating that they are in the correct location and they must give the secret phrase to the Gatherers to enter inside."

Disney previously has announced that visitors to Galaxy's Edge will be able to use the Play Disney Parks app to translate signs throughout the new land from the Star Wars language of Aurebesh into English. (And other languages, one presumes.) Perhaps that will be the key to finding the secret phrase one must give to enter the lightsaber workshop?

That app is going to come in handy as Disney has worked to keep Galaxy's Edge a convincing experience of being on a planet in a galaxy far, far away. Outside of the two rides in Galaxy's Edge, the only location signs in English inside the land are for its two restroom facilities. (There is a limit to staying in universe, after all. And it's potty time.) But Trowbridge's blog post suggests that Disney's is throwing an extra barrier at fans looking to get their own lightsaber.

It's playing a psychological trick that I am surprised theme parks don't pull more often. There's little that makes people want something more than telling them they can't have it. It's the allure of what stands behind the velvet rope, the construction fence, or the speakeasy door. We human beings are insubordinate creatures. We want to go where we don't belong and do what we are told not to.

Hiding the entrance and barring access to it helps sell the story that not everyone in the Star Wars universe can wield a lightsaber — "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age." You've got to feel the call of the Force. In the Star Wars universe, lightsabers reflect the same trope as the wands in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or Mjolnir in the Marvel comic books and movies, for that matter. These are weapons that choose their wielders rather than be chosen by anyone.

So when you enter Savi's Workshop, you will be surrounded by the true believers in the Force who made an extra effort to be there — and not a bunch of lookey-loos who just happened to wander into the shop. That helps to raise the emotional stakes of the experience of building (and buying) your own lightsaber. And as any smart businessperson knows, when a buyer gets emotional, he or she is often willing to pay more for the experience.

The key word there, though, is "willing." If Disney can deliver the experience stepping into a revered order such as those of the Jedi or the Sith, then many Star Wars fans will think whatever Disney charges for these lightsabers to be well worth that price.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens to all Disneyland ticket-holders on June 24. (To visit between its grand opening on May 31 and June 23, you must either have a reservation at a Disneyland Resort hotel or have gotten one of its now-claimed reservation times.) If you need tickets to Disneyland to visit Galaxy's Edge, please visit our Disneyland tickets page.

Replies (21)

May 8, 2019 at 12:54 PM

I don't even want a lightsaber… and now I want one. Dammit!

May 8, 2019 at 12:55 PM

Give it 5 months and a pile of unsold lightsabers then see how exclusive this shop's going to be.

May 8, 2019 at 12:56 PM

This is really just an extension of what Universal did with Olivander's. Sure, you can just walk into the shop and buy a wand, but as all Potter-files know the wizard doesn't choose the wand, the wand chooses the wizard. This necessitates a true fan to attend the show and wait to be chosen as the participant. That's what we did with our son, and it took a half a dozen tries (and a nearly empty show at the very end of the day) before he finally got to be the star of the show.

Disney's approach to this souvenir is a bit different in that it's been reported that guests will pay for the lightsaber BEFORE the experience, while the Universal shopkeeps hand the chosen wand to the participant as they leave the show with no obligation to buy (though it's a tough one to pass up to be honest). "Hiding" the shop seems more of a device to keep lines for the experience under control, and to ensure those guests waiting in line are really serious about doing it. The prepaid cost, which if in line with typical Master Replica prices that range from $100-$250 and up, will also act as a crowd limiter for the experience. Crowds were a huge issue for Olivander's when it first opened in Hogsmeade (so much that UC added more show rooms in Diagon Alley to meet demand), so Disney is definitely trying to control demand for the experience given the limited space they probably have for this experience.

However, the biggest issue will be that guests entering Galaxy's Edge (at least for the first few months that it's open) will want to fully experience the land during the 4-hour block that they're allowed. Once you've ridden the ride (or rides once RotR opens), seen the other shops, and hung out in the Cantina, guests will want to complete their visit with this experience. I expect that many will be taken aback by the barriers Disney is placing on this experience and will accuse the company of a cash grab, especially if prices are at the Master Replica level (even if the quality of the souvenir is comparable). I also think Disney may find that at least for the first few weeks and maybe months the land is open, all of the hard core Star Wars fans will want to participate in the experience regardless of the price, and Disney may not be able to meet the immense demand allowing guests to complete the experience within their 4-hour visit. I don't envy Disney trying to make Galaxy's Edge accessible, authentic, and fun, because I think it's a lose/lose proposition due to the economics of it all (supply/demand).

May 8, 2019 at 1:09 PM

Other than the handle, does anyone have any idea exactly how they plan to make the light saber look different and seem authentic with these high end, HIGH price items?
Unless Disney has found a way to master physics, what we see in the movies can't be carried around on one's belt. I'm curious to know if the powered on light saber is a pleasing thing to possess. I hope so, because I know one excited little 46-year old fella (not me, mind you. I'm excited for the new land, but I'm not a buyer of Star Wars Merch kind of guy) who's mighty excited about all of this.
And to that - will there be other less expensive and more available versions of the iconic light saber for sale in SWGE, or will this be the only product of that type?

May 8, 2019 at 1:26 PM

Maybe I'm missing something obvious ..... but what's to stop the first instagram user who finds the "hidden" entrance to post pictures and in a blink of an eye the whole world knows where it is ??

It'll be like the sit-on-the-shoulder banshee that sold out in seconds of Pandora opening, and now there's no one buying the pesky little plastic creatures.

May 8, 2019 at 1:44 PM

Rob,

I'll have more on the lightsabers soon.

May 8, 2019 at 1:52 PM

@Rob - I'm taking a guess here, but maybe guests will purchase/customize the handle, and then you'll be able to see the "blade" through the AR feature on the app. It's the prisoner's dilemma similar to the flashy Mickey Ears or Platform 9 3/4, but that seems like the most legitimate way to pull it off without cheapening these expensive-looking souvenirs. It also keeps those not so strong in the ways of the Force from whacking guests with long sword-like objects.

May 8, 2019 at 1:59 PM

Thanks Robert and Russell. I think the VR blade would create a fun illusion, but only for someone else.
Makorider - Sounds like knowing where it is won't be enough, you will have to have reached a particular level of completion in the process to enter even if you do find the door.
Everyone knows where the entrance to Club 33 is, but only those who have a membership or a connection get to step inside.

May 8, 2019 at 2:09 PM

This from the local news ....

"Those ready to learn the ways of the Force, can stop by the workshop and learn from a group known as the Gatherers. The Gatherers are experts who have collected stories kyber crystals and saber parts from around the galaxy.

Savi's Workshop, of course, is hidden in Black Spire Outpost. Visitors will need to find a symbol on the front of the workshop to know they are in the right place. Then, they will need to give the "secret phrase" before they can enter.

Once inside the workshop, visitors will find a builder's table where they will assemble their lightsabers. The table can accommodate 14 builders at a time, with each being able to choose their own crystal.

Visitors will be able to build lightsabers from four themes—Peace and Justice, Power and Control, Elemental Nature, and Protection and Defense. Peace and Justice lightsabers are made from pieces salvaged from fallen Jedi temples and crashed starships. Power and Control lightsabers feature pieces reclaimed from abandoned Sith temples. Elemental Nature lightsabers have pieces that are born of the Force. And Protection and Defense lightsabers have pieces that feature inscriptions and are shrouded in mystery"

Rob .... I assume the completion part is to get the secret phrase? If it is, let's hope Disney changes it daily to at least stem the tide from one day to the next.

May 8, 2019 at 4:28 PM

PREDICTED SCENE AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE LIGHTSABER STORE:

TOURIST: I'd like to buy my kid a lightsaber.
CM (dressed as Star Wars character): Sorry. You have to know the codes and solve the riddles first.
TOURIST: I spent over $10,000 to bring my family here! I don't want to play games. I just want to buy a lightsaber for my son.
CM: You may not enter this store.

Angry tourist stomps away as his kid cries.

May 8, 2019 at 5:06 PM

Meanwhile, Disney's theme park business shined in the company's 2nd Quarter results. Revenue up 5% to US$6.2 billion with profits up 15% to US$1.5 and no need to make excuses regarding Easter/spring break landing in 3rd quarter for Disney. Scrooge Mc Duck is pleased. All well ahead of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge too.

May 8, 2019 at 5:37 PM

@ Beacher, haha! I'm sure that will happen, but Galaxy's Edge will also have "pre built" lightsabers for sale in the Den of Antiques....so I'm sure the cast members might be (at least initially) instructed to direct those who just want a lightsaber to that store.

This seems like a separate "experience" vs just buying a souvenir. The entire experience is supposed to take 20 minutes and apparently there is a "finale" once your light saber is completed at the end.

I also think that, ultimately, it won't be too "difficult" to find out where the shop is & what the secret code is.
People will ask cast members directly if they are having trouble finding it (or other families / guest). Plus this has been advertised as part of GE, so I'm sure it will be in the park maps & listed as "Only those worthy", etc.

The secret location / code seems like part of the experience....but I'm guessing this will be super easy to find out. They'll ultimately still want that money from anyone who is willing to spend it.

May 8, 2019 at 6:29 PM

First, it's always great to read RM's perspective. When there's news about Disney it's so difficult to predict whether or not he will respond in a positive or negative manner.

Second, I am always a fan of the "park as a platform" approch to themed entertainment. It's great to see a WDI (ex-UC) guy take the PAAP approach (a la Diagon Alley) to the next level.

May 8, 2019 at 6:56 PM

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure this was bred from all the playtesting with the Frontierland game a couple years ago, and even more so from the interactive Adventureland trading experience.

May 9, 2019 at 5:02 AM

You can always strangle the castmember with your choke force and just grab the blade or is that thrown out of the window as this concept is thrown into the window. ;-)

May 9, 2019 at 12:01 PM

I thought I read a description of the lightsaber which had a retractable blade that rolls up, not sure where I saw this or whether it was confirmed to be used by Disney.

May 9, 2019 at 12:39 PM

@Disfan - Maybe they could use a tiny fan in the handle and fabric serving as the blade - a la "balloon goons" or holiday lawn inflatables? That would certainly eliminate both the safety hazard and the prisoner's dilemma. They might even be able to adjust the sound of the fan to mimic the real sounds of a lightsaber, and augment it with clashing/cracking sounds based on movement like current plastic and Master Replica models.

May 10, 2019 at 7:29 PM

This is clearly an attempt to copy Universals wild success with WWOHP and Ollivanders. The big problem however is once you do the the time and price of getting a Wand in WWOHP you can actually use it and interact with the lands in a unique way. A lightsaber on the other hand is merely a glorified paper weight that doesnt actually do anything.

May 13, 2019 at 12:01 PM

@Daniel - When WWoHP first debuted in 2010 at IOA, the wands you purchased at Olivander's were not interactive, and were essentially glorified paper weights too (didn't even light up or make any sounds). Not until Diagon Alley opened in 2014 were the interactive features added to the lands, making the newer wands more than just a souvenir. It's very possible that Disney could add interactive elements to the lightsabers in the future, and it sounds like the ones guests will be purchasing at Savi's Workshop in a couple of weeks will be far more interesting than the plastic sticks Universal was selling back in 2010.

May 13, 2019 at 8:52 PM

@Russell

Ok...but interactive or not you can still use it and a kid can play with it (I even saw people holding them on Forbidden Journey before). So no it was not a paper weight. A lightsaber on the other hand with no "saber" you cant actually do anything with. Its just a lightsaber handle really.

May 14, 2019 at 7:38 AM

We don't know just yet what the lightsabers will be like Daniel. As I noted, the blades "could" be based on an AR-style experience introducing the prisoner's dilemma, but Disney could have some other ideas (the concept of an inflatable blade seems quite plausible, or maybe Disney has some completely different idea that nobody has even considered). In any case, if you don't think people will play with these (whether through an AR universe or some other LARP-ing scenario) then you're gravely mistaken. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see Disney force guests to go through Savi's Workshop before participating in Jedi Training Academy, using their newly constructed weapons for a more civilized age during the show.

Disney has only released images of the handles, which look incredibly detailed and authentic FWIW (they better be considering what the rumored price points will be), so there's no way for us to say for certain that there will not be some way for guests to play with these whether in Galaxy's Edge and/or when they get home.

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