When large parks and resorts open expansive new “lands” within their parks, innovative (and expensive) rides are usually the centerpiece. While that format remains the same, the large parks have increasingly invested in immersive food and beverage experiences within these new lands. No longer is eating and drinking just something to do in between rides or shows. They are now part of the overall theming of new lands right down to menu items and food presentations that helps “tell the story” of these high-profile park additions.
Universal Orlando was one of the pioneers in this approach with the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter and its iconic Butterbeer beverage. Inspired by the same beverage that the Boy Wizard and his friends enjoyed during the books and movies, guests to the Wizarding World often sought out the frozen concoction as much as the new rides.
Just down the Interstate, the creative minds at Walt Disney World embraced this strategy with the opening of its Avatar-themed expansion at their Animal Kingdom Park. While that expansion contained highly themed food and beverage offerings, it wasn’t until the recent opening of the Star Wars-themed Galaxy’s Edge land at their Hollywood Studios Park that Disney intricately wove the dining and drinking experience into the overarching Star Wars theme.
In this issue, The Large Park Report shares exclusive interviews with two of the leading Disney creative culinary minds behind the immersive food and beverage experience at Galaxy’s Edge.
Dining as a Themed Experience
The Large Park Report: What was the creative process for naming the Galaxy’s Edge food and beverage options using Star Wars themed terminology?
Chef Brian Piasecki (Concept Development Culinary Director, Flavor Lab): In the process of menu development for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we were very fortunate to have amazing partners that helped us along the way. Our partners at Walt Disney Imagineering and LucasFilm played a huge role for us. We wanted to provide our guests with food items that they would be familiar with from a flavor standpoint, but it needed to tie into the story – the landscape, the animals, and the planets. One our most popular items, the Endorian Fried Chicken Tip-yip, is a chicken dish but because there are no chickens in the Star Wars Universe, we got help in identifying what animal that might be. And it just so happens to fit the profile of the little yellow Tip-yip birds that roam Endor. It was a great tie in and super fun and immersive for our guests. This creative thinking was really more than just finding cool and different animals. For example, the Smoked Kaduu Pork Ribs are actually pork ribs but because we reference the Kaduu animal, we knew the actual cut of the rib needed to look different and unique. This was where our great partners from our sourcing department helped us by working with national purveyors to actually cut the raw product in a different and unique way to help us tell the story. It was all a great collaboration of ideas and sharing that helps us bring this incredibly immersive experience to our travelers.
Master Sommelier Brian Koziol (Food and Beverage Concept Development Director, Flavor Lab): Yes, it definitely was a collaborative process between Walt Disney Imagineering, Lucasfilm, and Walt Disney World Food and Beverage Concept Development. In some instances, a concept was shared by Walt Disney Imagineering or Lucasfilm and the Food and Beverage team developed the menu item from that creative concept. A good example was the Fuzzy Tauntaun served in Oga’s Cantina. The drink name was the inspiration that led down the path of creating a spin on the Fuzzy Navel classic cocktail. Other products were developed by Food and Beverage and the Walt Disney Imagineering or Lucasfilm developed the story from seeing and tasting the product.
The Large Park Report: What was the creative process for developing the Blue Milk and Green Milk beverages as part of Galaxy’s Edge?
Chef Brian Piasecki: People have been waiting since 1977 (after watching Luke Skywalker pour a glass of Blue Milk in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) to taste Blue Milk. We knew Blue and Green Milk (especially the iconic Blue Milk) held a special fascination for our guests and we wanted to get it right. The color was obviously most important but as for taste, we had free rein because no one had tasted Blue or Green Milk before! But we knew we wanted it to be crisp, clean, and refreshing – as Batuu can get hot during the summer months!
Master Sommelier Brian Koziol: One thing is for certain … you need to be careful on the sourcing of your Blue Milk as there are many counterfeit beverages sold throughout the Galaxy! On Batuu, the Milk Stand sources one of the best Blue Milks in the galaxy from Bubo Wampa Family Farms.
The creatures who produced the iconic milks served in the Star Wars trilogy look nothing like something from earth, so the milks produced have very distinctive colors, aromas, and tastes. The base of each of the milks is a blend of the plant-based: coconut and rice milks. Blue Milk is fruit forward with flavors of dragon fruit and a hint of watermelon and Green Milk is more floral with citrus undertones – passion fruit, grapefruit, and a touch of orange blossom.
The Large Park Report: Beyond the menu, what creative elements were included in Olga’s Cantina and other food and beverage outlets to “tell the story” of Galaxy’s Edge through their design and theming?
Master Sommelier Brian Koziol: Each of the food and beverage locations focus on an immersive story. Each of the menu items has unique appearances, flavors, tastes, and textures that are could be representative of items from Batuu and the galaxy. The plates in Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo were designed specifically for the location to give the rustic feel of Batuu. Each of our menus provide a themed look and feel for Batuu. In Oga’s Cantina, a couple of the drink garnishes tell a unique story; such as the Blue Bantha showcases Blue Milk and cookie with the bantha-inspired cookie as well as the Bloody Rancor – a spicy bloody mary showcasing a rancor meringue bone garnish.