“Peter … This one’s for you!”
The man who brought Chewbacca to life, Peter Mayhew, died last month, but his name was the one Harrison Ford invoked as he joined with fellow Star Wars originals Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, and creator George Lucas to open the new Galaxy’s Edge theme park attraction at Disneyland in California on Wednesday night.
Ford called out to his late costar when he gave the hull of the Millennium Falcon a good punch, to “fire up” the engine of the life-sized starship that stands as the centerpiece of the 14-acre attraction. You can watch the video of the ceremony above.
It was a little silly, a little cheesy, but hey … that’s always been the Star Wars secret ingredient.
The moment came from the heart, and for the crowd gathered at the opening night festivities, it felt just right.
First, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger welcomed Star Wars creator George Lucas to speak to the crowd, and the filmmaker and pioneering producer reminisced about the long-ago first Star Wars ride at Disneyland by describing Galaxy’s Edge as “Star Tours on steroids.”
Then Williams made an appearance, sauntering out with Lando Calrissian’s signature swagger, wearing a flashy scarf and swinging a debonair cane. “Lando never left me,” said Williams, who reprises the role in this December’s The Rise of Skywalker. “As you probably know, I was the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, and it’s amazing to see her looking so good today.”
He congratulated the guests on finally getting to pilot it themselves as part of the Smugglers Run flight ride, taking the fastest “hunk of junk” in the galaxy on a mission to hijack some coaxium starship fuel.
Then it was Luke Skywalker’s turn. Hamill, who also returns in The Rise of Skywalker, also brought up the decades-old debut of Star Tours, saying that grand opening in the mid-’80s was the last time he was onstage at Disneyland with Lucas.
“It was inconceivable that I would be part of a movie that would get its own ride at a Disney theme park!” he told the crowd, saying he insisted to himself, “I better savor the moment, because it’ll never be surpassed. And yet … look at where we are today.”
Finally, as Chewbacca appeared in the cockpit, Iger called for the Millennium Falcon to fire its engines, but the old machine wouldn’t turn over. The Wookiee roared in frustration, and Iger asked if anyone in the crowd knew how to fix it.
“No worries, no worries,” Hamill reassured him. “Don’t forget, this is the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, all right.”
“That’s right…” a familiar, laconic voice boomed over the sound system. “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.”
In the crowd, it was hard to hear the old line because the crowd was cheering so wildly.
That’s when Ford walked out to give the Falcon a good whack.
The cues were a little off (“Oh well,” you can hear one of them say), but the joy of the crowd was undeniable at seeing the Star Wars originals united together in front of a real Millennium Falcon beneath a shower of sparks.
Galaxy’s Edge opens in California on Friday and at Walt Disney World in Florida on Aug. 29.
In Phase One, the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride and most of the shops and restaurants will be fully operational, but the other major ride, Rise of the Resistance, won’t be ready until Phase Two, which Disney only says will begin “later this year.”
EW has toured the work in progress. Click here for our complete collection of stories about how Galaxy’s Edge aims to make guests part of their own Star Wars story, detailing the shops, the rides, the food, and more.