Star Wars Celebration was last weekend, and, besides a certain trailer, there was one thing everyone couldn’t stop talking about: BB-8. Yes, the soccer-ball shaped droid that delighted viewers from the first teaser made an even bigger impression at the recent Star Wars convention in Anaheim. Not only were fans blown away by the franchise’s newest droid at Celebration’s opening ceremonies, but we were unwittingly also provided with our first actual look at the upcoming Star Wars additions to Disney World and Disneyland.

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ve probably read a bit about how JJ Abrams is trying to bring a back the feel of the Original Trilogy by using practical effects and models. This has been an encouraging indicator of the future direction of Star Wars, but JJ was able to show just how far they are taking their commitment to practical effects at Celebration. A real, working BB-8 rolled onto the stage during the Opening Ceremonies and proceeded to blow everyone’s minds as its head moved independently of its rolling ball body. While watching the livestream, my professional analysis of this reveal was: “OH MY GOD BB-8 IS REAL, AHHHHHH, THERE IS MAGIC IN THE WORLD.”

You can watch this moment in the video below. It’s incredibly cool, and it definitely ignited the feeling I had watching Star Wars when I was growing up.

So, yes, BB-8 is real. But it gets more interesting from there. After I stopped freaking out, I thought of how awesome it would be if Disney brought the working BB-8 to the new (and yet to be announced in any detail) Star Wars lands coming to Disney World and Disneyland. Turns out, Disney was way ahead of me.

Kathleen Kennedy gave part of the credit for finding Sphero, the company that developed the technology that makes BB-8 possible, to Disney CEO Bob Iger. Sphero was part of the Disney Accelorator, which is somewhat akin to a start-up incubator for Disney. Iger put two and two together with marrying the Sphero tech with the BB-8 character, motivated in part by being able to have a BB-8 character in the parks.

According to the New York Times, the BB-8 they rolled out on stage is similar to one they will be using at Disney Parks across the globe. I’ve heard some scuttlebutt online that the BB-8 used during the opening ceremonies wasn’t the shooting model but actually the model meant for the theme parks. Either way, BB-8 is our first official sneak peek at the new Star Wars additions at Disney World and Disneyland, and we didn’t even realize it.

BB8 - The Force Awakens Trailer

How will BB-8 be incorporated into Disney World? We have no clue. My ultimate hope would be that he will roll around the land and spontaneously interact with guests, like PUSH did at Tomorrowland. It’s probably more likely that BB-8 will be part of a meet and greet or a show. No matter what, seeing that little ball droid roll around will be high on my to-do list whenever Star Wars Land opens.

With Star Wars Weekends coming up and D23 just a few short months away, we are closer than ever to hearing official plans for Disney’s Star Wars lands at Disney World and Disneyland. Hopefully it will make the wait to December 18 more bearable.

But until then, we can always watch that trailer again.


James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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