Today on Twitter, former Walt Disney Imagineer Frank Mezzatesta confirmed that Disney scrapped plans to create a large creature that could carry guests around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to budget concerns.
“Elee”, The Giant Star Wars Creature
Yesterday, Twitter user @DisneyProject shared this look at concept art from “Elee”:
The concept art by Jerry Rees shows Elee in more detail than we have ever seen her. Elee was initially designed as a large, mechanical creature that could roam Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with as many as six guests seated on her back.
Rees states that Elee was designed to be a relative to the Bantha, a wooly creature we first see in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” in the deserts of Tatooine.
In response to seeing this detailed concept art, former Walt Disney Imagineer Frank Mezzatesta chimed in:
According to Mezzatesta, while he and his teammates worked on Elee for “like 2 years”, she ultimately was a casualty of budget limitations as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge neared completion. If you scan the QR code next to the concept art in the tweet, you can hear Rees speak hopefully that even though Elee was scrapped, maybe she will eventually appear in the parks. He states, “Galaxy’s Edge is going to be around for a long time”.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge “Elee” Concept Art
“The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” is a coffee-table book by Nerdist managing editor Amy Ratcliffe, who spoke to more than twenty people involved in the land’s creation. This includes Scott Trowbridge of Walt Disney Imagineering, who also provides the book’s foreword. The 256-page book includes more than 300 images, including concept art and descriptions of ideas that made it into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and some that were scrapped.
Margaret Kerrison, Managing Story Editor at Walt Disney Imagineering, and Story Lead for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge had this to say about Elee: “We liked the idea of a big beast lumbering through the land and having a very personal connection with you. So you would go up and pat her muzzle, and she would react to you. We really wanted to make you believe that Elee was a real creature. So you would go on rides. We actually had a path that went around the land. Mostly to the Resistance area and back in front of the garage; it was a circle.”
Rees spoke glowingly of the backstory he created for Elee and his desire to see her be a gentle giant that even small children could walk up to and interact with in Galaxy’s Edge.
In these pieces of concept art, you can see Elee interact with a child guest. Initial designs seemed to allow guests to feel the breath from Elee’s mouth and even have their cotton candy slurped up by the giant beast.
Imagineer Scott Trowbridge had this to say about the reasoning behind why Elee never fully materialized: “Elee was a creature that we designed and did a fair amount of work to figure out how we would bring her to life. lain McCaig did some designs for her. We just fell in love with those designs. We did some models and figured out how we could bring her to life technically, and then ultimately what we realized is, with the kind of population we expect in the land, we won’t really be able to have her feel authentic.”
Elee was one of many initial designs for the land that either got scrapped or essentially ended up behind a “paywall” that guests could only experience if they visited Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser.
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