Disneyland’s Star Wars cantina nearly had alien bartenders and underwater animatronics

The new ‘The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ book gathers concept art created by Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Imagineering for the Star Wars lands built at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.…

Walt Disney Imagineering dreamed up alien bartenders, extraterrestrial octopus mixologists and underwater animatronics for Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge that never made it into the wretched hive of scum and villainy, according to a new book on the art of the Star Wars land.

The new “The Art of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” coffee table book, available starting Tuesday, April 27 gathers together hundreds of pieces of concept art created by Lucasfilm and Imagineering conceived for the Star Wars themed lands built at Disneyland in Anaheim and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

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Among the 256 pages of designs are more than 70 pieces of concept art of characters and creatures once envisioned but never realized for Oga’s Cantina in

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge


Disneyland has not made any announcements about bringing the unrealized aliens and creatures to the Star Wars cantina in the Anaheim theme park. But Imagineering never throws away any ideas and the characters could show up someday in some fashion in a Disney theme park.

Concept art by Lucasfilm concept design supervisor Erik Tiemens, Industrial Light and Magic art director James Clyne, Imagineering graphic designer Joseph Acello and concept artists Luis Carrasco, Andrew Domachowski, Nick Gindraux, Karl Lindberg, Ric Lim, Iain McCaig, Eduardo Pena and Stephen Todd illustrate the alien bartenders and animatronic creatures once imagined for

Oga’s Cantina


The interior design for Oga’s Cantina was based on an unused sketch for Jabba the Hutt’s throne room by Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

The interior design for Oga’s Cantina was based on an unused sketch for Jabba the Hutt’s throne room by Star Wars concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, who worked on the early development and visualization of the original space opera trilogy.

“It’s cool that Ralph actually had a hand in Galaxy’s Edge all these years later,” Imagineering creative portfolio executive Chris Beatty said in the book. “The cantina interior was really designed by Ralph McQuarrie, when you look at his art and the space side by side.”

Early concepts for Oga’s Cantina envisioned an alien bartender working behind the U-shaped bar. Concept art shows more than a dozen sketches of alien bartenders — including a Gabdorin, a tough-looking amphibian with ridged nostrils and prominent sweat glands.

“We slowly started to peel back the layers of reality, figuring out how we could achieve an alien bartender,” Lucasfilm vice president and executive creative director Doug Chiang said in the book. “We knew that if it was a cast member wearing a suit, it would be a lot of prep and not be the most practical way to go about it, so maybe the better way was to have an animatronic bartender. Something that we could actually operate 24 hours a day. But then there are sacrifices with that, because you’re limited by the actual physicality of having that bartender interact with the guests.”

Several concept sketches envisioned a massive audio-animatronic bar owner figure on a pedestal behind the bar lording over the proceedings. One sketch showed a gangster character similar to Jabba the Hutt and another drawing featured a Grummgar-like mercenary figure.

Other concept art imagined an alien bartender on the pedestal behind the bar making drinks from overhead cantina vessels and tanks. One drawing showed tentacles emerging from a fog-enshrouded hole in the ceiling that belonged to a mysterious alien bartender busily mixing cocktails.

An early concept featured an aquarium behind Oga’s bar with underwater animatronic alien creatures inhabiting the tank. (Disney/Lucasfilm)

An early concept featured an aquarium tank behind Oga’s bar. Concept artists imagined all sorts of alien creatures inhabiting the tank — including intergalactic crocodiles, jellyfish and mermaids. In one sketch, an extraterrestrial octopus juggled liquor bottles with its eight tentacled arms while simultaneously mixing cocktails and serving drinks.

“Our ideas for the cantina space were actually quite ambitious in the beginning,” Chiang said in the book. “We had this huge fish tank and the bartender and owner of this cantina was this creature who lived inside the fishbowl. It was going to be an animatronic in the water. It would have been fantastic, but the practicality of doing that was just immense.”

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The underwater animatronic was fraught with challenges — from fabricating the massive fish tank to figuring out the animatronic technology.

“It was one of those sad moments where it was a great idea,” Chiang said in the book. “We just didn’t have the technology or the resources to do it at this time.”

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