The Language of Aloha at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa: Kukuna o ka la

The Language of Aloha at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa: Kukuna o ka la

Disney World

Kukuna o ka la means rays of the sun. In this series, we’ve been diving into the Hawaiian language, which…

Summertime Update for Eats at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

Summertime Update for Eats at Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

Disney World

With Florida temperatures heating up, some cool news from Disney Springs’ dining spots: More shade, big umbrellas and new frozen…

Disneyland's new MaxPass Option

Disneyland's new MaxPass Option


DisneyLand Resort's new MaxPass Option  Here is a short video on how MaxPass works at the Disneyland Resort. {youtube}oDZgSz5t31g{/youtube} Source:…

Every Thought We Had While Watching Descendants 2

Every Thought We Had While Watching Descendants 2

General Disney

Descendants 2 is finally upon us, and we had a wicked good time watching it last night! Because this is…

Episode 60 D23 Expo with Guest Rick Webster

Episode 60 D23 Expo with Guest Rick Webster


Hello everyone!! We are very excited to have our very first guest on the show!! Our friend Rick (@captianNemo86) joins…

Disney Castaway Cay named Top Cruise Line Private Island in the 2017 Cruise Critic’s Cruisers Choice Destination Awards

Disney Castaway Cay named Top Cruise Line Private Island in the 2017 Cruise Critic’s Cruisers Choice Destination Awards

Disney Cruise Line

CELEBRATION, Fla. (July 26, 2017) – For the second consecutive year, Cruise Critic Members have recognized Disney Castaway Cay in…

New Baseline Tap House Part of New Grand Avenue Area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

New Baseline Tap House Part of New Grand Avenue Area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney World

Debuting this fall, the new Grand Avenue area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is being re-imagined by Walt Disney Imagineers to…

Milford Hutsell

Milford Hutsell

ESPN Events has revealed the bracket for the 12th annual AdvoCare Invitational which will be played Nov. 23, 24 & 26 at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

The bracket-format tournament features 12 games over three days. Teams will compete once per day, advancing with a victory. The two teams that remain undefeated will face off in the championship game on Sun., Nov. 26, at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The AdvoCare Invitational features 2016 NCAA Sweet 16 participant West Virginia, as well as NIT semifinalist UCF. Other participants include Long Beach State, Marist, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon State and St. John’s.

Additional information, including travel packages, can be found on the AdvoCare Invitational web site.

Date Time Game Network
Thu, Nov 23 11:30 p.m. Missouri vs. Long Beach State ESPN2
2 p.m. St. John’s vs. Oregon State ESPNU
6 p.m. UCF vs. Nebraska ESPN3
8:30 p.m. West Virginia vs. Marist ESPNEWS
Fri, Nov 24 11 a.m. Semifinal #1 ESPNEWS
1:30 p.m. Consolation #1 ESPN3
5:00 p.m. Semifinal #2 ESPN2
7:30 p.m. Consolation #2 ESPN3
Sun, Nov 27 12 p.m. 3rd Place Game ESPNU
2 p.m. 5th Place Game ESPNU
7 p.m. 7th Place Game ESPN3
9:30 p.m. Championship Game ESPN2


Read more

Composer John Powell, who may be best known for his memorable soundtracks to the Matt Damon Bourne series, ShrekKung Fu Panda (1 and 2), and How to Train Your Dragon (1 and 2), will be lifting the baton to score the upcoming young Han Solo movie, due in theaters next year.

Powell, a London native, has written music for dozens of films since moving to the US in 1997, earning an Academy Award nomination for his stirring score to How to Train Your Dragon.  Powell is only the third composer to be welcomed into the exclusive family of Star Wars live-action music writers, which includes the legendary John Williams (the eight Skywalker saga movies) and Michael Giacchino, who scored last December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The untitled Han Solo movie will be scored in the style of the original Star Wars movies but retain Powell’s distinctive voice.  

The untitled young Han Solo movie, which is being directed by Ron Howard, will be released on May 25, 2018. All Star Wars, all the time.

Iden Versio and Inferno Squad will take center stage in Battlefront II when the game arrives in November, but you don’t have to wait until then to learn more about her and the special forces group she leads. Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, the prequel novel by Christie Golden, is available now and delves into the beginnings of Inferno Squad in the weeks after the Battle of Yavin. The elite group is comprised of four members, all in possession of exceptional abilities — especially Iden Versio. These are just a few of the reasons why she stands out.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses major plot details for Battlefront II: Inferno Squad!

1. Rising on merit.

With a father in a powerful position within the Empire — Inspector General in the Imperial Security Bureau, to be precise — Iden devoted herself to climbing to the top of the pile on her own merit. She worked harder and practiced more to ensure any advancement was due to her efforts, not because of favoritism. Other students still credited Garrick Versio’s role for Iden’s success, but she fought for every opportunity or win despite her father’s title.

Iden didn’t bow under the pressure. She pushed herself and earned her place in the Empire and in Inferno Squad.

2. A will to survive.

When the Death Star was destroyed in the Battle of Yavin, most Imperials serving on the battle station were eliminated, too. Darth Vader was an exception. So was Iden. She was piloting a TIE fighter. Though it was damaged in the fight, she got to the surface of Yavin 4 in one piece. In order to survive, she remained calm and quickly processed that the impossible had become the possible.

Then she made a splint from the debris of her crash landing, schlepped through the jungle, took out a rebel, and stole a cargo ship to fly into Imperial territory. No big deal, right? It’s more impressive when you realize she didn’t have much experience with the outdoors.

3. Special forces.

Iden’s resume and experience landed her an invitation to join Inferno Squad, an elite special force tasked with stopping Imperial leaks before they happened. Born from the traitorous actions of Galen Erso and the loss of the Death Star, Inferno Squad’s overarching mission was to prevent the selling of secrets and information from within, sometimes at a painful cost. That she was asked to be part of the group says much about her talents and character.

4. Master planner.

When Garrick pulled together the four members of Inferno Squad, he tested them in order to discern who would be the best leader. Each recruit had to put together a mission plan, and Iden received top marks and scored the leadership position. Rather than rely on only her specific skill set and knowledge, she looked at the bigger picture and incorporated the specialties of everyone on the team. The result was a well-rounded plan with the highest likelihood of success. Being an architect behind covert operations is no small feat.

5. Unwavering devotion.

From the perspective of Iden and other Imperials, the Rebel Alliance’s action against the Death Star was a terrorist attack. She thinks the treason of the rebels was enough of a reason to eliminate Alderaan. She grew up on Vardos, an Imperial world. All of this is to say, Iden knows her beliefs well and is one thousand percent loyal to the Empire and its objectives. She thinks the Imperial way is the best path to a peaceful galaxy.

Though she’s put in positions that show the ugliness of the Empire, she’s also witness to the horrifying actions of partisan extremists on the rebel side. The latter only serves to reinforce Iden’s commitment to her convictions.

6. Room for improvement.

One of Iden’s strengths is her ability to examine a scenario from an objective perspective. She is occasionally swayed by emotion, but for the most part, she can assess what went right and wrong on a mission — particularly when it comes to herself. Iden’s father taught her to be humble, and she took the advice. She can recognize her accomplishments without being arrogant about them, and at the same time, she can see when she’s taken a misstep in a sort of calculating, logical way and takes steps to course correct to avoid repeating the mistakes in the future.

7. Knowing when to compromise.

In a military organization like the Empire, the black-and-white rules often don’t leave room for interpretation. Rigidity is especially important for a special forces group. Inferno Squad is sent into situations that put more than only their lives at stake; they need to have protocols in place so they can easily make a call in the midst of an intense assignment. But at the same time, independent thought and compromise is important, and Iden demonstrated an understanding of compromise in Inferno Squad.

Instead of killing the Mentor or turning him over to the Empire, after the mission was complete, Iden let him live. Whether her action came from a place of compassion or knowing he wouldn’t surrender more information, she made a choice her superiors probably wouldn’t have supported. That willingness to play outside the rule book makes Iden even more of a force to be reckoned with.

For more on Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, check out’s interview with author Christie Golden, Mitch Dyer’s post on why it’s a perfect prequel to the game, and read an exclusive excerpt.

Above screenshots are from the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II game.

Amy Ratcliffe is a writer obsessed with Star Wars, Disney, and coffee. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek.

CELEBRATION, Fla. (July 26, 2017) – For the second consecutive year, Cruise Critic Members have recognized Disney Castaway Cay in the Bahamas as the “Top Cruise Line Private Island” in the second annual Cruise Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. Castaway Cay was also the most highly-rated Caribbean island overall among members.

The Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards are selected based on thousands of first-hand reviews posted to the Cruise Critic website this year. Cruise Critic offers one of the largest online cruise communities with more than 150,000 cruise reviews. Cruisers frequently praised the island’s beautiful beaches, endless activities for kids and adults alike and delicious food offerings. For a full list of Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Destination Award winners, visit

Disney Castaway Cay is a 1,000-acre private island with turquoise waters, powdery white-sand beaches and swaying palm trees that is exclusive to Disney Cruise Line guests. With an authentic island barbecue and plenty of snorkeling and water sports, Castaway Cay provides Disney Cruise Line guests with a day of adventure, relaxation and quality time with the family.

Since first setting sail in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has received more than 250 distinguished awards from the travel industry praising all aspects of the operation. For additional information on Disney Cruise Line honors, photos, and videos visit Disney Cruise Line Public Affairs.

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line or to book a vacation, Guests can contact their travel agent, visit or call Disney Cruise Line at 888-DCL-2500. Travel agents can call Disney Cruise Line at 888-325-2500 or visit


Marvel’s flagship Star Wars title has new masters now.

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca, the writer-artist team behind the critically-acclaimed Darth Vader series, will take over Marvel’s Star Wars beginning with issue #38 this fall.

“My aim’s simple – to do what Salva and I did with Darth Vader, but for Leia, Luke and Han. As in, chart the rise and fall of the Rebellion between A New Hope and the Empire Strikes Back, how it changes them all and how it changes the universe,” said Gillen. “So a simple aim, but as nightmarishly tricky to pull off as dropping a proton torpedo down a thermal exhaust port. But hopefully as thrilling if we pull it off. I can’t wait till you see it up. First up: the post-apocalyptic hell that remains of Jedha after the Death Star punched a hole through its mantle.” Get a first look at David Marquez’s cover for Star Wars #38 below.

Gillen, currently writing the fan-favorite Doctor Aphra, comes to the series following a major crossover event with Star Wars in “The Screaming Citadel.”

“Kieron is one of the best writers in comics today, with comics that span so many different styles and genres,” said editor Jordan D. White. “He’s shown through the crossovers with his Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra series that he has just as great a grasp on the heroes of the Star Wars galaxy as he does on its villains (and gray-area archaeologists). And any fan of his knows he’s no stranger to the operatic saga! I could not be happier to have him taking the reins.” All Star Wars, all the time.

Darth Vader may have the 501st Legion for crushing dissent and rebellion, but when the Empire needs a small unit to stop the spark of hope from spreading, they turn to Inferno Squad. The stars of the upcoming Star Wars Battlefront II game are now the heroes of a new novel from Del Rey Books. Written by New York Times bestselling author Christie Golden and out today, Battlefront II: Inferno Squad tells the story of the first major mission of this elite team: destroying Saw Gerrera’s surviving Partisans from within. With connections to the films and other stories, this is more than just setting the stage for the game’s main storyline — it’s part of the larger Star Wars saga. got the inside scoop on the novel from Christie Golden via e-mail. Battlefront II: Inferno Squad focuses on an elite Imperial unit, formed right after the devastating loss of the Death Star. Who is Iden Versio, Inferno Squad’s leader, and what drives her to succeed?

Christie Golden: Iden Versio has quite the pedigree — her father is an admiral and her mother was an artist famous for her Imperial propaganda posters. She grew up thinking that the Imperial way of thinking was completely normal and, really, only the right way to do things. But she’s always had been pushed to excel by her demanding father, so in a way, she can’t ever rest on her laurels and say, “Well, that was good enough.” Because for Versios, “good enough”…isn’t. Inferno Squad is formed as a response to the Death Star’s destruction, and after a few missions, it is sent to infiltrate the surviving remnants of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Tell us about tying the events of Rogue One and A New Hope together, especially from the Empire’s point of view.

Christie Golden: It was so amazing to see Rogue One and follow that path right up to the beginning of A New Hope. As someone who was in the theaters back in 1977, I certainly was among the many who wondered what had happened before those events. We open with Iden Versio in her TIE fighter pursuing a rebel ship as it hastens back toward Yavin’s moon, and when the debris from the Death Star starts flying, for a moment she’s completely baffled. She can’t even imagine the idea that it’s from the Empire’s most powerful weapon. And that horror, that slap in the face to the Empire really drives the action going forward. Iden is joined on Inferno Squad by three other supremely capable warriors. She has a history with Gideon Hask — who is he, and what does he bring to the team?

Christie Golden: Gideon Hask is a bit older than Iden, but he too trained on Vardos and got to know Iden there. He arrived at a young age, and Vardos is as much his “home” as it is Iden’s. The only family he’s known for most of his life have been the Versios. They’ve been friendly rivals all their life, and it does smart from time to time when Iden keeps excelling. But he also cares about her and, for the most part, sees no shame in being bested by someone who’s just that good. Focusing on the intel is the specialty of Seyn Marana, whose youthful appearance belies her capabilities. What is it like getting into her point of view?

Christie Golden: Seyn was really great to write. She’s the youngest of the team, and the least experienced in the field, although she’s excelled in simulations. She’s a genius with an eidetic memory and is the master of 27 languages. Her team doesn’t underestimate her, but others do, and she is quite happy to use that to her advantage. It was fun getting into the mindset of someone who approaches things a bit differently than our other three TIE pilots. The team’s technical expert, Del Meeko, seems also likely to be voted most affable. How does he round out the team?

Christie Golden: I’m quite fond of Del. He’s the one who’s going to make the joke that eases the tension, even if sometimes it’s not a very good joke. He’s older than the others, and he’s got more experience but, like Gideon, he recognizes that Iden is someone special. There’s a warmth and a real sense of decency about him. He may not be the strong leader that the driven Iden is, or the laser-focused Gideon, or the brilliant Seyn, but he’s always going to be the one you turn to when you need someone who’s unconditionally loyal, reliable, and trustworthy. The novel does more than tie into the characters of the upcoming Battlefront II video game, it also connects into the larger story of the Star Wars storyline. What types of connections might we see in this story, both to the films, and to other stories?

Christie Golden: Hm, trying not to spoil…l do get to bring back a character I’ve previously written, so that was a great deal of fun. And there will be at least one other person that many will recognize. Another thing that was fun to do was to create the character of Iden’s mother. I so loved the Imperial propaganda art that’s been done I decided to make Zeehay Versio one of the artists. Many Star Wars stories bring together the team of misfits and rogues, while Inferno Squad is perhaps a little different — these are the best of the best, loyal, and disciplined. What is it like writing with this type of team, and how do they react when things don’t go as planned?

Christie Golden: That’s a great question! I think the initial thought is how do you go “up” from being the top already? I think the answer is, take them out of their element. We set up that they have been put together for one purpose, and we get to see them in action doing just that. But the main storyline of the book puts this team in a different role — undercover, where many of their skills aren’t utilized, or if they are, in different ways. And where they have to think on their feet even more than usual. The mark of excellence isn’t how you execute plan A — it’s how you come up with plan C on the fly and execute that plan. Giving the squad its missions is Admiral Garrick Versio, who is Iden’s father. What’s he like and how does that shape his relationship with Iden?

Christie Golden: Garrick Versio is a very cold, very hard man. He does not tolerate failure or weakness — not in himself, not in those who serve beneath him. And this goes double for his daughter. Their relationship is formal, unemotional, and based on how well Iden does. It’s the opposite of nepotism. And while we’ll get to see what that does to Iden on one level, on another, it certainly has made her truly the best of the best. With Inferno Squad’s focus on Imperial protagonists, describe writing from the point of view of loyal soldiers of the Empire while recognizing that in the larger Star Wars story, the Empire is the side of the villains.

Christie Golden: The way we made this work is by pitting these people — who were born into this life, who are still very young and haven’t really seen much of the universe beyond what the Empire wants them to see — against the Dreamers, the last remnants of the Partisans; rebels who are just as single-minded of purpose, and as cold and ruthless, as anyone in the Empire. We start off with our team and, hopefully, learn to like them, and when they face the Dreamers, they’re the good guys. Or are they? Things start getting suddenly very gray for a team that’s used to only black and white. As a veteran Star Wars author, how did writing Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, with its focus on the ordinary (or maybe extraordinary) fighters, compare with earlier works that used more well-established characters?

Christie Golden: While of course it’s absolutely wonderful to work with the beloved, familiar characters, it’s also great to get your grabby little hands on — I mean, ah, to be able to break new ground and help introduce the beloved, familiar characters of the future. All characters are unique individuals. You just have to get to know them and be able to show readers just how unique they are.

Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad by Christie Golden is on sale now, available in hardcover and ebook from Del Rey, and as an unabridged audiobook from Random House Audio, narrated by Janina Gavankar, who portrays and voices Iden Versio in the upcoming game.

For more on Battlefront II: Inferno Squad, check out Star Wars Battlefront II co-writer Mitch Dyer’s article on why it is a perfect prequel.

James Floyd is a writer, photographer, and organizer of puzzle adventures. He’s a bit tall for a Jawa. His current project is Wear Star Wars Every Day, a fundraising effort for a refugee aid organization. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesjawa or check out his articles on Club Jade and Big Shiny Robot.

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 18, 2017) – More than 5,500 elite athletes from across the nation are going head-to-head at the AAU Boys’ Basketball National Championships (July 19-23) and Super Showcase (July 26-30) events, which return to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort this week.

The AAU National Championships (16U, 17U and 18U) and AAU Super Showcases (8th Grade, 15U/9th Grade, 16U/10th Grade, 17U/11th Grade) are expected to attract an estimated 360 total teams – 120 to Nationals and 240 to Super Showcases – from an estimated 30 states, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Canada. Many of the top teams and athletes will be showcased in front of hundreds of college coaches.

Top teams participating in AAU National Championships and Super Showcases include: Alabama Fusion, All Ohio Red, Atlanta Xpress, BABC, Boo Williams Summer League, Canada Elite, DC Blue Devils UAA, Georgia Stars EYBL, Houston Defenders, NY Lightning, Team Charlotte UAA, Team Felton, Team M.O.A.M. Adidas and Albany City Rocks.

The AAU National Championships are just one of the marquee youth events taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex this summer. Earlier this month, the complex was also home to the AAU National Club Championships for track and field, where the nations top sprinters, distance runners and field athletes completed for top honors.

A full list of competing teams and schedules are available at

The AAU National Championships are the proving ground for the next generation of college and professional superstars. A number of current NBA stars, including Dwyane Wade (Chicago Bulls), Chandler Parsons (Memphis Grizzlies), reigning two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) and 2016 NBA Champion Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), competed in these events as youth athletes.

Select championship games will air live on WatchESPN and the WatchESPN application from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which has become the worldwide leader in ESPN3 content production.

For more information about the AAU Boys’ Basketball National Championships and Super Showcases, visit

Media interested in covering this event should contact Cody Norman, AAU Public Relations Manager at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more

With most NFL training camps underway, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and Detroit Lions rookie LB Jarrad Davis were among several players who participated in final offseason workouts with renowned performance trainer Tom Shaw at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Prescott (drafted by Cowboys in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft) and Davis (drafted No. 17 overall by the Lions this year) trained at Disney with fellow NFL players working with Shaw to improve speed, agility, strength and explosiveness. Shaw has worked with other NFL stars such as Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, Jameis Winston, Calvin Johnson and Tom Brady.

Part of the workouts with Prescott and Davis involved training with youth athletes who are spending their summers getting ready for their upcoming sports seasons. In addition to Davis and Prescott, Shaw also had more than 40 NFL prospects and veterans in his program earlier this spring, including the No. 17 overall pick (Washington Redskins) DE Jonathan Allen.

Over the years, Shaw has worked with more than 145 NFL first-round draft choices, 10 No. 1 picks and 11 Super Bowl MVPs – many of whom he has trained at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Shaw also works with youth and collegiate athletes, including those who participate in Disney Spring Training, where high school and college baseball, golf, lacrosse, rugby, softball, tennis and track & field teams train at Disney during spring break. These athletes have the unique opportunity to work out right alongside the pros.

Read more

From the opening shot until those final moments before the Tantive IV takes off into hyperspace, Rogue One’s visual storytelling takes center-stage in a big way. The credits run long for a reason, and that’s because hundreds of people at Industrial Light & Magic worked tirelessly to bring every major visual to life in a way that felt both “classic” and new at the same time. Last month at Gnomon University in Los Angeles, three of those visionaries brought their work to an audience of eager visual effects students in a special presentation called Star Wars Stories: An Evening with ILM. ILM’s Paul Giacoppo, Charmaine Chan, and Jay Machado brought over four collective decades’ worth of experience to their discussion.

Machado was on the modeling team for The Force AwakensMillennium Falcon, and created the award-winning Imperial Star Destroyer that we see rise from the shadows in Rogue One. Charmaine Chan spoke of her history at ILM, illustrating how careers grow and change on the company’s campus. Giacoppo is behind some extremely recognizable work that reaches back decades over the history of Lucasfilm and ILM; the crowd was hooked when he showed off his visually memorable “Hulk Smash” shot from Marvel’s Avengers.

But while their extensive careers could take up an entire editorial on their own, the focus of the evening was visual storytelling, and how ILM created Rogue One. Giacoppo outlined the overall objective of what the team wanted fans to see and understand: “The idea behind our work on Rogue One was that it had to have the visual feel of the classic 1977 Star Wars, but have a new vision as well.”

When it came to seeking out inspiration, the team had to look further than the usual standards. They began with concepts by Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnson, and several others that defined the look of Star Wars. These angular, expansive, and recognizable styles still reflect throughout Rogue One, but the team looked at what they could do differently as well, because the story in itself was different from the norm. “[McQuarrie and Johnson’s concepts] were part of what the visual language of Rogue One was,” said Giacoppo. “But it was a different kind of movie. It was a true war movie, about people with a mission to complete. So it’s not exactly a ‘hero’s journey,’ and we had to change what we were doing in order to tell this different kind of story.”

Giacoppo dove into set design, then, showing off digital recreations of classic sets that were created by John Knoll, ILM’s chief creative officer and a staple of Star Wars creativity. Knoll, attempting to explain how characters would move through various scenes, created digital set tours practically overnight in order to explain his vision.

Giacoppo then dove into characters that were created digitally for the film, focusing first and foremost on K-2SO, who he says has been part of the Rogue One story since its original pitch. K-2SO varied greatly from past on-screen droid companions, who were so often cute, or at least a little more friendly-looking. “He’s intimidating, he’s really stealthy, and he’s huge… and he was always an Imperial enforcer droid.

“There was a lot of time spent with the texture artists to get those same materials and weathering we’re used to in Star Wars,” Giacoppo explained, noting the details that showed Kaytoo’s age and length of use.

The team took designing Kaytoo very seriously, spending hours on specific details about how he would emote. The team looked at more eyes than one can count on two hands, then went through tests of how they would move — if at all — and how Kaytoo looked when expressing himself. “There was a big push to have a part of him blink, and to have a part of him move his mouth,” said Giacoppo, noting that such a thing is a rarity among Star Wars droids, who often reflect a much more industrial feel in design than most AI-driven beings within the genre. “But it just didn’t feel like Star Wars. See, he’s all blinking and jittering around… there’s too much going on.” With animation supervisor Hal Hickel’s guidance, the team ultimately went with “this sort of more impassive mask”, said Giacoppo, allowing fans to read and “project” emotions onto Kaytoo as they got to know him.

As a special bonus, Giacoppo showed a tiny clip of K-2SO playing with toys that paired with some very familiar audio from Alan Tudyk’s Wash in Firefly (“Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!).

ILM’s Jay Machado, a hard-surface modeler and texture artist, was a welcome and familiar face that evening. As a Gnomon alum himself, Machado’s post-grad years have been more than exciting. For Rogue One, following his Millenium Falcon re-creation, Machado was tasked with creating iconic ship-looks once again. To set the tone for the talk, Machado showed off that iconic opening shot from A New Hope, where the belly of the Star Destroyer sails over the camera in pursuit of Princess Leia’s Tantive IV. “We wanted it to feel like the exact same era,” said Machado. So, his team at ILM went to the root of all builds to recreate and design ships in Rogue One. “For the ships, we went up to the archives, we took lots of photos, we scanned things, stuff like that — all to get the ships to be just right,” Machado told the crowd. “There’s a few people still working at ILM that we were able to talk to, like [long-time ILM VFX artist and supervisor] Dennis Muren, who [shot] much of this originally, and that really helped when it came to making it accurate.

“What I was surprised by is that the original Star Destroyer is only three feet long…a lot of the panel lines are drawn in with pencil. And we wanted to match that so that in a way, you could watch Rogue One and seamlessly start A New Hope.”

As far as new ships went, Machado noted that the tasks were just as difficult, but worth every grueling second. “Working with Doug Chiang and the art department, we had to design [the new ships] in a way that felt familiar so that they would blend in seamlessly with the ships we know and love.” Machado highlighted the U-wing, Krennic’s ship, and the new TIE strikers, stating that they were kind of meant to “compliment” the U-wing, with forward-sweeping panels and a unique, planet-specific use.

What may have been most exciting was the creation of new ships to the canon, like the Ghost from Star Wars Rebels, which featured on screen twice in Rogue One. “It fell to me to actually [build the Ghost] and it was kind of a secret project,” said Machado. “Well, at first it was a secret. Nobody else was supposed to know about it. I was supposed to do this quickly, and I had to design it in between my daily work so that people within the office wouldn’t start getting suspicious,” he joked. There are panels and pieces that might look familiar, too — parts of the Ghost might look similar to the Falcon, and that’s no mistake.

One other major ship from Rebels that ended up in Rogue One came all the way from the Knights of the Old Republic games, originally. Hammerhead cruisers, which Princess Leia worked with Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger to steal for the Rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, played an integral part in Rogue One, and Machado was among those responsible for their finished designs on the big screen.

Charmaine Chan’s presentation focused more on the process of growing her career before and after ILM. As an up-and-coming artist who veered off the trail that her parents originally wanted (worry not — they were ultimately supportive either way), Chan hit the ground running by creating work early and producing it every day. Since joining ILM, Chan has worked on more movies than one can count — a once-over of her IMDB page shows credits for Transformers, Captain America: Civil War, Jurassic World, and more. But her beginnings were in Web development.

According to Chan, she learned HTML, CSS+, and more “so that I could build Spice Girls websites” as a little girl. As that hobby grew, Chan broke into graphic design, then Flash animation. (As someone who started her career building Star Wars and N*SYNC fansites, this writer can relate.) “That’s what really started all of this, because I started watching movies closer and learning what it took to compose a full shot. There’s lightning, texture, and all sorts of details to consider, which I found really interesting…it really helped me move into this form of art.” Chan took those skills to the next level, learning visual effects, making motion graphics (“You know, like, DVD menus!” she joked) and eventually applying for a digital research position at ILM. “That gave me a really great overview of what the VFX process is,” said Chan. “I got to touch the shots at the beginning and the end.” From there, she kept working her way into a position at ILM that has grown and spanned over a decade, leading to her work as a compositor today.

The night was a wonderfully informative look at how the story of Rogue One was brought to to the big screen with stunning, modern, yet familiar visuals. One of the biggest surprises for this writer was learning about the sheer scale of people working on each Star Wars film. Hundreds of names scroll down through the credits after every film, but there’s just something unique and different about putting faces to those names and realizing just how many people it takes to make our favorite galaxy far, far away come to life.

Catrina Dennis is a writer and Star Wars die-hard. In her spare time, she tells stories, yells very loudly about soccer, and hosts a few very cool podcasts. Catch up with her on Twitter @ohcatrina.

Much to Learn You Still Have is a rundown of trivia and fun facts, both in-universe and behind-the-scenes, about the aliens of the Star Wars galaxy. Whether you’ve never set foot in a cantina or you’re a well-traveled Jedi Master, you’ll find the intel you need.

Ahsoka Tano. Shaak Ti. Governor Roshti. Though we can easily tell a Togruta by their unmistakable facial patterns and head tails, there are only a few Star Wars characters that have been given a proper storyline in the saga. Let’s take a closer look at what we do know about the beautifully fascinating Togrutas.

1. Their horns are called montrals.

What sets Togrutas apart from other humanoid species is their interesting head cones, or montrals as they are properly called. Starting as just small bumps in infancy, the horns grow as Togrutas age, soaring high above their heads and reaching to their waist. The montrals are hollow inside and the species uses them to sense the movement of objects around them. This echolocation can reach up to 85 feet, making Togrutas extremely perceptive. This paired with natural Force powers makes for quite a successful Jedi, hence the familiar Togrutas in the Jedi Order.

Fun fact #1: Montral length isn’t the only thing that changes with age. The facial markings of a Togruta can also slightly transform over the years.

2. Their appearance influenced their landscape.

The montrals that sit atop the heads of Togrutas can also be seen in their beautiful surroundings on the planet Kiros. Fifty thousand Togrutas inhabit the planet that is located in the Expansion Region of the galaxy and is known for being a vast green territory filled with waterfalls, rivers, valleys, and some really cool horn-shaped towers. The artistic species doesn’t only live on Kiros, however. Most Togrutas were born on Shili, a planet known for its colorful grasslands that allowed them to use their distinct facial markings to blend into their surroundings.

Fun fact #2: Kiros is also home to the Kiros bird, a pudgy airborne creature with the unique ability to understand conversations.

3. They were saved by the Jedi.

Life on the idyllic planet Kiros wasn’t all happiness and sunshine. During the Clone Wars, the Togrutas under the leadership of Governor Roshti were taken over by Zygerrian slavers after Count Dooku forced the population to a new location on Kadavo. Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano eventually came to their rescue, preventing the 50,000 inhabitants from being a part of the royal slave auction, an old tradition that Zygerrians wanted so greedily to return. When the Togrutas returned to Kiros, they were fully armed and even received proper combat training from clone troopers after declaring they would no longer remain neutral and officially side with the Republic.

4. They can’t quite sport the Padawan braid.

Padawan are easily recognized by a single braid as sported by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in the prequels, but with rigid montrals, Togrutas would have difficulty showing their dedication to the Jedi Order. That’s where silka beads come in. You may have seen the beads slung over Ahsoka’s head, but the beads are also used by other hairless species like Twileks.

(Not-so) Fun fact #3: Ahsoka’s silka bead braid is pulled off by a Jedi Temple Guard after she is expelled from the Jedi Order.

5. Ahsoka once went by a more Force-related name.

When Star Wars: The Clone Wars was being developed, Ahsoka went by a different name. In the above early drawing by Kilian Plunkett, she’s labeled with the name of Ashla — which has origins in the earliest incarnations of Star Wars. In early drafts of Star Wars by George Lucas, the Force was divided into the light (Ashla) and the dark (Bogan), which inspired this name and was later incorporated into canon in Star Wars Rebels. The name still got proper usage for a character, however. In the Bear Clan of Padawan seen being trained by Master Yoda in Attack of the Clones, the tiny Togruta in the front row goes by the name Ashla.

6. If you slay the beast, you can wear the trophy.

If you’ve ever taken a close-up look at Jedi Master Shaak Ti, you may have noticed the shimmering ornamentation at the crown of her head. Though the headdress may look like simple decoration, it holds an interesting story. In addition to pearls, metal, and various stones, the headdress holds the teeth of an akul, a creature native to the Togruta homeland of Shrili. Akul are large quadrupeds that roam the grasslands and have potential to do damage based on their destructive nature. Any Togrutas who have the strength to slay an akul get to wear the teeth as a sort of trophy. Needless to say, Shaak Ti is a pretty fierce warrior and she’s got the teeth to prove it.

7. Shaak Ti has died several times.

Speaking of Jedi Master Shaak Ti, you may be familiar with the stories of her multiple tragic deaths. Her demise has been depicted in video games, films, and television series, but only one can truly be canon. In The Force Unleashed, Vader’s apprentice Starkiller dueled with the Jedi Master on Felucia, ultimately leading to her fall into the sarlacc. In Revenge of the Sith, two death scenes were filmed though both cut from the finished movie. In one clip that can be viewed in the film’s deleted scenes, Shaak Ti was held hostage by General Grievous in an attempt to get Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to come to her rescue. When they arrive, Grievous sends a lightsaber through the Togruta after she declares that she has failed them. In the other scene, Master Ti is killed by the newly dubbed Darth Vader while meditating in the Jedi Temple. Though it’s her haunting demise seen in Yoda’s vision in The Clone Wars episode “Voices” that determines her official death was at the hand of Vader during Order 66.

Fun fact #4: Orli Shoshan, the actress behind Shaak Ti in the prequels, is actually trained in melee weapon and hand-to-hand combat.

How’s that for a decent dose of Togrutas? Have anything more to share? Leave it in the comments below and check out all of the previous Much to Learn posts!

Sources: Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Adam Bray, Cole Horton, Michael Kogge, Kerrie Dougherty, DK Children, 2015; Star Wars: Aliens of the Galaxy, Jason Fry, Studio Fun International, 2016; Star Wars Galactic Maps: An Illustrated Atlas of the Star Wars Universe, Disney Lucasfilm Press, 2016.

Dana Jennings is Lucasfilm’s associate producer for You may remember her from such polls and quizzes as, “Who Wore it Best?” and “WhichStar Wars Character Should You Invite for the Holidays?” When not acting as chairman of the Nien Nunb Appreciation Society, she can be found working hard to make sure The Star Wars Show stays fully operational or dressing up as Kevin the Ewok. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for all these things and more!

Page 1 of 19