How the Play Disney Parks App Adds to Your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Adventure

The creators explain how to hack droids, translate alien languages, and more with your smartphone.

Even visitors to Black Spire Outpost may get hired for a smuggling job or conscripted to aid a Resistance spy from time to time thanks to cutting-edge galactic tech.

Through the Play Disney Parks app, a regular mobile smartphone is transformed into a datapad inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, now open at Disneyland® Resort and coming soon to Walt Disney World® Resort. Equal parts mobile game platform and utility tool, the app allows visitors to further immerse themselves in the galactic adventure inside the land with digital puzzles that can elicit physical reactions in the world around them.

A screenshot from the Disney Play app shown inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

The app can be downloaded ahead of time, then launched inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to customize your experience. “Everyone’s experience is going to be a little bit different,” says Anisha Deshmane, the assistant producer on the Play Disney Parks app, “depending on the choices that you make about what you interact with, as well as the different factions you decide to ally yourself with. If you decide to do a lot of things for the First Order, you’re going to have a different experience than those who decide to help the Resistance.”

Although you don’t get to choose your allegiance outright, a series of activities will gauge if you bow to the First Order, are secretly with the Resistance, or are only in it for yourself living the life of a rogue smuggler or “independent scoundrel” existing outside the growing conflict. “We know that many of our guests have been pretending to play Star Wars in their own backyards since 1977,” Deshmane says, “and we really wanted to give them the ultimate Star Wars playground.”

But the app can be just as helpful to die-hard fans as it is to newcomers,. “The fans who are sort of new to Star Wars can really explore the land and learn about Star Wars by going through some of those exploratory experiences,” Deshmane says, “like finding a droid and being able to activate it, seeing what its memory bank will show them and being able to access new elements of the Star Wars story that way.”

Tool kit

The app contains four basics tools: translate, scan, hack, and tune.

The translation tool, which converts interplanetary languages with a manual tool to type out and translate Aurebesh into English, is Deshmane’s favorite. “It’s a language that I’ve never necessarily been able to read,” she says. Now she can understand signs and decode warning notices. “It makes me feel like I’m more immersed,” she adds, noting it’s particularly effective while reading the message board inside Oga’s Cantina, which provides additional backstory for some characters you’ll meet.

The scanning tool provides puzzles to decode marks on crates and reveal hidden objects within, which could come in handy if you find yourself working a job for a smuggler.

Through hacking, you can interact with droids by the Droid Depot, although regular use may cause some droids to resist. Another game, Outpost Control, involves tapping into door panels, allowing you to work in assistance to the Resistance or as a follower of the First Order, until one side takes control of Black Spire Outpost.

And while the tuning feature can be used to intercept transmissions while you’re standing beneath a towering antenna, picking up the local chatter and docking bay intel, Deshmane recommends regularly checking as you wander the land. “Maybe just open up your tune function by walking around the land and seeing what happens.”

A screenshot from the Disney Play app shown inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

The belonging you seek

The app also allows you to chat with characters both in the land, like Hondo Ohnaka, and from around the galaxy. “A lot of our favorite characters from the Resistance and the First Order will show up in your Star Wars Datapad,” Deshmane says. “Rose might ask you to help her with a task for the Resistance, or you might get a message from General Hux.”

“Your choices matter,” says Asa Kalama, the executive creative director of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. “Based on the way the guests interact with the environment, with the props within the land, what jobs they choose to go on, all of that affects the sort of persona that they’re starting to create for themselves and as a result the way the world around them starts to engage with them.”

“You actually start out as completely neutral in the land and then based on the choices that you make and the things that you do, that affects your allegiance,” Deshmane adds.

In line for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, you can accept a job from Hondo Ohnaka while you wait. And after riding the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, the galactic credits paid out (or owed if your crew had a particularly rough mission) get carried over to your profile. “There’s this really lovely continuity of experience that starts on your mobile device or maybe in the attraction, but are linked together,” Kalama says.

When you return to Batuu after your first visit, “your Star Wars story will come with you,” Deshmane says, building upon your previous interactions and rewarding you with increasingly difficult games over time and a running tally of your character’s allegiance, equipment, and collected star maps. “You can have fun with it on a surface level,” Deshmane says, “but you can also sink your teeth into backstories and lore if you really take the time to sift through all of the content that we have.”

Whether you’ve already visited or are planning your own adventure in the future, you can learn more about the Play Disney Parks app this week on The Star Wars Show, which you can watch below!

Get details to plan your visit to Star Wars: Galaxys Edge and more with StarWars.com’s full coverage here.

Message, data and roaming rates may apply. Availability subject to handset limitations and device settings , and features may vary by handset, service provider or otherwise. Coverage and app stores not available everywhere.  If you’re under 18, get your parents’ permission first. Some features require a Disney account. In-app purchases may also be required.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland® Resort is now open. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida on August 29. Admission and experiences subject to capacity.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

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