Announced in August 2015, the lands are scheduled to open at both locations in 2019. Walt Disney Imagineering executive Scott Trowbridge is supervising the development of the new land at both parks.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced on March 3, 2016, at the Disney shareholders meeting, that construction on both versions of the land would begin in April 2016.
At Disneyland, Galaxy's Edge is being built to the north of Frontierland, where Big Thunder Ranch and backstage areas were located. As a result of the expansion, Disney purchased nearby properties to relocate the office and warehouse space that was on the land.
The construction of Galaxy's Edge will result in a reconfigured route for the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America. A first look at how these changes would impact the park were revealed in January 2016, when concept art was released depicting the northern bank of the river after construction is completed.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was publicly announced without name by The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger at the D23 Expo on August 15, 2015. According to Iger, it will be "occupied by many inhabitants; humanoids, aliens and droids … the attractions, the entertainment, everything we create will be part of our storytelling. Nothing will be out of character or stray from the mythology." Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, stated that the land "will introduce you to a Star Wars planet you’ve never seen before — a gateway planet located on the outer rim, full of places and characters familiar and not so familiar."
In an interview for the winter 2015 issue of the official Disney fan club publication D23, Trowbridge stated: "[O]ur intent is to make it feel as if you just walked into one of the movies... Bringing Star Wars to life in the physical world gives us the opportunity to play with a whole bunch of things we've never done before... to really engage all of the senses. What does that street feel like? What does that animal smell like? What does blue milk taste like?"
Iger announced in March 2016 that construction on both versions of the land would begin in April 2016. Construction began at both locations on April 14, 2016. In February 2017, Iger stated that the lands are scheduled to open in 2019 at both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios.
Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, revealed at the 2017 D23 Expo that the themed lands would be called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. He also announced that Disneyland's version will open before the one at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Walt Disney Imagineering designed the project in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, with Imagineer Scott Trowbridge supervising the project, Asa Kalama and Chris Beatty serving as executive creative directors, and Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo and designer Doug Chiang of Industrial Light & Magic involved as consultants. Together, the team decided to set the lands on a new planet, located within the Outer Rim of the Unknown Regions. Described as a "remote frontier outpost", the unnamed planet has not previously appeared in other media, although it has existed within canon "for thousands and thousands of years." The team chose to create a newly designed world instead of using an existing planet from the films such as Tatooine or Hoth, because those locations evoked a pre-existing familiarity with guests, with Trowbridge explaining, "We wanted to build new Star Wars stories, new Star Wars destinations, but this time you could be in that story that required us to go to a new place."
The development team drew inspiration from real-world locations, including as Istanbul and Morocco, and traveled there to study the architecture, culture, and weather. The team also cited Ralph McQuarrie's concept art for the original Star Wars trilogy as a basis for the aesthetic look of the land. The timeline is set after the events of Return of the Jedi, in the years leading up to the sequel trilogy, and will depict the rising presence of both the First Order and the Resistance. The Star Wars-themed land will have two new attractions: one will allow riders to control the Millennium Falcon, and the other will place guests into the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Concept art depicts a full-size Millennium Falcon situated among alien buildings built into tall cliffs. There will also be a version of a cantina. The new planet is designed for guests to begin their own narrative. The Millennium Falcon attraction will feature a "customized secret mission".