Book Review: “Traveler’s Guide to Batuu” Demonstrates the Depth of Galaxy’s Edge

Book Review: “Traveler’s Guide to Batuu” Demonstrates the Depth of Galaxy’s Edge

As Disney World reopens this month, you’d be excused for stepping into the socially-distanced Black Spire Outpost and saying, “I have a bad feeling about this.”

On the other hand, maybe you’re one of the thousands who trust Disney’s ability to Imagineer its way through a pandemic, and won’t say no to five-minute wait times at rides like Smuggler’s Run and Rise of the Resistance.

Either way, the Traveler’s Guide to Batuu allows you to appreciate the depth of detail in the Disney parks’ game-changing Star Wars attraction. The book, by Cole Horton writing as “Eloc Throno” (“a historian and author with twenty years’ experience traveling the galaxy”), demonstrates the designers’ commitment to creating an entirely new world at the crossroads of the fictional (you might have to remind yourself) Star Wars universe.

I was able to visit the Disney World version of Galaxy’s Edge (there’s also one at Disneyland) last fall, shortly before the Rise of the Resistance ride opened. The new Traveler’s Guide took me back to Batuu, with photos of actual spaces accompanied by detailed notes that elaborate on the Galaxy’s Edge mythology.

The genius of Galaxy’s Edge is that it allows visitors to imagine themselves part of a story — even if they don’t see it unfolding before their eyes. The Traveler’s Guide reminds you, for example, as a server reminded my party when we visited, that some of the scars on the walls of Oga’s Cantina were made during a violent visit by Darth Vader and Grand Master Thrawn (see: Thrawn: Alliances).

Completists who’ve read Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire and A Crash of Fate will be familiar with characters like oppressive head honcho Oga Garra, daring rebel spy Vi Moradi (I gasped when she walked past me on a Black Spire street), and hammerhead antiquity dealer Dok-Ondar. Traveler’s Guide lists those characters, as well as pulping some other essential knowledge like a droid typology.

All the better for you to pick which droid to buy. Whether it’s listing drinks at Oga’s Cantina (“local business owner Hondo Ohnaka is quick to recommend the Gamorrean Ale”), pets for sale at the Creature Stall (“not everyone is cut out to own a rancor”), or comestibles cooking at Ronto Roasters (yes, there’s a picture of a ronto), Traveler’s Guide doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a book-length advertisement for Galaxy’s Edge.

From the beginning, of course — with a national TV show advertising the park-in-progress as Disneyland was being built in the ’50s — Disney’s theme park experience has been built on multimedia integration. In the case of Galaxy’s Edge, Star Wars fans including me are happy to be advertised to, and we know who we are.

Traveler’s Guide to Batuu is definitely for us, and as a press release notes, it’s perfect for “armchair travelers” who aren’t quite ready to hop on a plane yet. I settled in on my porch with DJ R-3X’s playlist (it’s on Spotify) bumping in the background while I delighted in learning that the relief mural at the entrance to Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is modeled on the creepy art in Chancellor Palpatine’s office on Coruscant, and that Bubo Wamba’s green milk is “harvested from thala-sirens” (see: The Last Jedi).

How did I miss the worrt in the cantina? Now I have to go back…some day.

Jay Gabler