Disney looks to sell experiences, as well as stuff, in its Star Wars land

May 30, 2019, 6:34 PM · After flying the Millennium Falcon yesterday, this morning I returned to Galaxy's Edge for a closer look at the new Star Wars land's food, beverage, and merchandise.

First up, the merchandise. The biggest store in Galaxy's Edge is Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities, which also doubles as a Star Wars museum on its upper level. But the land's two most notable stores are its "merchandise experience" locations, Droid Depot — where you can build your own Star Wars droid (for $100) — and Savi's Workshop - Handbuilt Lightsabers — where you can do just as the name says, in a small class with a master builder, for which you pay $200.

The most visually appealing sales location in the land is the Black Spire Outpost Market, which is home to several stalls including Black Spire Outfitters, Toydarian Toymaker, and the Creature Stall. We visit them in this video I did with Brad Schoeneberg, Director, Merchandise Strategy & New Parks Experience Development for Disney Parks.

Yes, it's interesting that Disney has built a Star Wars land and filled it with Star Wars merchandise that never says "Star Wars" on it, except on removable sales labels. But it's even more interesting how Disney is focusing so much of its merchandise development efforts on creating sales experiences rather than sales product.

For many fans (including me), merchandise is just more junk that takes up space in our homes. A significant and perhaps growing percentage of the market is more interesting in spending money on experiences rather than "stuff."

Galaxy's Edge is designed for that consumer. Even the relatively straight-forward stalls are set within the amazing visual design of the marketplace. Dok-Ondar's is a tribute to fan service as much as souvenir shop. And the Droid Depot and Savi's are selling their assembly experiences as much if not more than the products you might make there.

Does it work? That's for you to decide, when you choose whether to open your wallet for this or not. But until you get to Galaxy's Edge, let's talk here. What of this — if anything — looks good to you?

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Replies (7)

May 31, 2019 at 2:08 PM

I know that I definitely won’t be spending $200 on a lightsaber. I might be tempted to buy a droid, although I’m not bothered about building one. I’ll be quite happy with R2 or BB-8, if they’re good quality.

May 30, 2019 at 9:37 PM

None of these experiences seem like they will work very well imo. Lacking the interactivity that the Harry Potter lands offer for their wands, I dont see much of a reason to spend so much money. Not only that but since star wars is such an old franchise, my guess is that the hardcore fans already own this kind of merchandise and wont need to spend the money or time for it here.

May 30, 2019 at 11:09 PM

You just wait. Those $200 lightsabers will flow out of there like water.

May 31, 2019 at 4:49 AM

Im not tempted by the light saber... but I can see the attraction... a true custom saber sounds awesome (just not at that price for me) but a droid... maybe.... I was always tempted on the pick n mix style they already have elsewhere. but the conveyor belt idea... im basically sold

May 31, 2019 at 10:04 AM

So the limited footage of the droid building experience in this video seems to show toys that are not consistent with Sphero products (much larger, plastic-dominated toys), which is a shame - Sphero makes great products that are super high-tech and fun to play with. Did you get a chance to play (or see others playing) with these droids that look more like run-of-the-mill $25-range remote control cars than $100 collectibles? I'd have no problem handing over $100 for a high-tech collectible toy, but if it's a clunky cheap-looking (plastic-based) remote control robot, I might rethink such a purchase.

The same goes for the Savi's Workshop lightsabers. You showed extensive footage of the Master Replica lightsabers in the glass cases in the Den of Antiquities with rather reasonable prices (all but Dooku's double-handles were well under $200). However, the video of the build experience didn't really give us a good look at the finished product. Did you get a chance to at least lay your hands on a custom lightsaber, and if it's of similar quality to the traditional Master Replicas - it looked like there might be some plastic parts, which would significantly devalue them IMHO, and make me reconsider spending $200.

Also, are guests able to walk up to that top level of the Den of Antiquities to view the realistic-looking props? My understanding is that EVERYTHING in the shop is for sale, though you might not want to know how much they cost - there's video floating around of a life-size, realistic R2-D2 roaming the shop that costs a measly $25,000 (I told my wife she can wait a few more years for a new car).

@Daniel - Disney has noted that the droids will interact within the land, but guests will have to hand-carry them around through the park (can't operate them through the remote control). Also, my guess is that guests wielding custom lightsabers will elicit unique interactions from CMs throughout Galaxy's Edge. As far as hardcore fans buying this stuff, it doesn't really matter if they have it already, they will devour it like Sarlacc. Plus, so much of the merchandise in Galaxy's Edge is unique to the land, and won't be found anywhere else on Planet Earth (aside from re-sellers on eBay). Certainly you can find some prop-style merchandise from comic book stores and other specialty retailers, but the variety and concentration of unique merchandise will have hardcore fans begging Disney to drain their bank accounts.

May 31, 2019 at 12:17 PM

I had heard that these new Lightsabers would be deemed to close to a weapon to be allowed to be habdled in the park. That does not seem to be true, but is it?

June 3, 2019 at 2:09 PM

I've read multiple reviews of Savi's Workshop, and it does sound like the lightsabers are every bit worth the $200 price tag. What to me appeared to be clunky plastic parts in some of the preview videos are actually solid metal pieces. The coolest part of the assembly process is the Kyber Crystal, which is interchangeable (and changes the lights and sounds when you wield the lightsaber). You get one Kyber Crystal as part of the experience, but Disney is more than happy to sell you more afterwards. The other interesting aspect of the lightsabers is that the blade that is detachable from the handle, can also be used on the Legacy handles sold at the Den of Antiquities. So if you want to have your own custom lightsaber as well as one that looks like Kylo Ren's you can use the same blade for both. The only trick is trying to figure out how to fit that blade into your suitcase, or not get strip-searched by TSA when you walk through security with a 3' long lightsaber blade.

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