1. Theme Parks

We got to go behind the walls at Disney's Star Wars land

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Disney officials let reporters go behind the walls of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Tuesday, a rare sneak preview of an attraction under construction.

No photos were allowed. Disney Imagineer Scott Mallwitz led the Tampa Bay Times on a brief walk for about 50 yards into the new 14-acre land set to open at Hollywood Studios on Aug. 29.

Guests will leave the Muppet Courtyard of the theme park and enter a laser-cut rock tunnel that looks like layers of ancient slabs. That turns into a dramatic opening that is perfectly framed to shut out the rest of the theme park as you view towering spires hundreds of feet tall that look like petrified trees.

"We want them to be dazzled by the opening scene," Mallwitz said, "so you feel you are in the bottom of a box canyon."

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The sheer scale of the huge rock walls and spires is reminiscent of the cinematic sweep of the floating mountains of Avatar recreated in the land of Pandora in Animal Kingdom, which opened in 2016 and still draws long lines and crowds.

From the entrance of Star Wars land, you can see the curve of arabesque-styled opening gates that lead to a marketplace of rounded domed buildings, some with hammered copper roofs. You can see the docking bay of the Millennium Falcon, and the tip of the wing of Han Solo's spaceship, a distinct off-white color that's unmistakable.

Just like you don't see Cinderella's Castle when you first enter the Magic Kingdom, there will be another dramatic turn after the gates of the market.

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"I can't wait until you get your first look of the Millennium Falcon," Mallwitz said.

Black Spire outpost on the planet of Batuu is now under construction, meant to feel like the world of Star Wars, but not a setting we've ever seen in the films. It has layers of rock and a color scheme similar to the desert Southwest.

"We know Han Solo was here and Lando was here," Mallwitz said, "but this is your adventure."

The Disney Parks Blog has announced that it will live stream a special, star-studded cavalcade marking Wednesday's 30th anniversary of Hollywood Studios, along with "a special announcement you don't want to miss."

The live stream is set to begin just before 9:55 a.m. on Wednesday on the front page of the Disney Park Blog at

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During the coverage, there will be "an exciting look ahead" at some of the experiences that are coming to the park during its transformation.