On May 31, 2019 the biggest addition in Disneyland’s history finally opened to the public, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This $1 billion new land has had fans salivating for years, promising an immersion into the world of Star Wars the likes of which has never before been seen. This week I had the very unique opportunity to visit Galaxy’s Edge twice, and today I want to share my impressions about this remarkable new addition to the Disney experience. I’ll also provide some background information and how visitors can access the world of Star Wars.
How to visit
If you want to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Disneyland Resort between May 31 and June 23, 2019, a reservation and theme park admission are required. There is no additional cost to make a reservation, but reservations are currently not available. There is one backdoor way to still get one of those coveted time slots, by staying at a Disneyland Resort hotel. After June 23, anyone with a valid theme park admission will be able to access the new land. Galaxy’s Edge will open in Walt Disney World on August 29, 2019 and while there isn’t expected to be a reservation process, the crowds will be substantial.
What is it?
This massive 14-acre new land builds on the Star Wars story but on a planet that has not been seen in the cannon. The land takes place on a far-flung planet named Batuu and the largest village, Black Spire Outpost. According to the backstory, it’s home to rogues, scoundrels, smugglers and members of the Resistance. The landscape is just as rough, with enormous rock formations that give the village its name. This is the world I excitedly walked into earlier this week.
There are two rides in Galaxy’s Edge, although only one is open at the moment, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This simulator ride takes guests, 6 at a time, into the Millennium Falcon to run their own smuggling mission with each person assigned a different crew role. But, as I learned, it’s so much more than that.
Guests are assembled into groups of 6 – the flight crew. Each person is assigned a role for the attraction: pilots, gunners and engineers. I didn’t fully appreciate just how interactive the attraction is, but these assignments were my first clue that it was going to be an experience unlike anything else. Before it’s time for the ride, each group hangs out in the Millennium Falcon where every detail is exactly the same as in the movies. Even if you aren’t a fanatic you’ll recognize these iconic scenes. Riders are then escorted into the cockpit, told to press any button that blinks and it’s off! The ride is a simulator ride that reacts to how well each member performs their jobs. If the pilots don’t react fast enough, the Falcon crashes. If the gunners can’t zap the bad guys, then they zap you. It’s an amazing attraction and totally unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. It’s a fantastic anchor for the land.
The second ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open later this year.
Food is always an important part of the Disney experience, and that’s especially true in Galaxy’s Edge. No detail was left out of the planning for this innovative new land, and the food and drink options are I think just as important as the ride and other thematic details.
Oga’s Cantina – Without a doubt this is the star of Galaxy’s Edge and will be one of the most popular spots to visit for just about all guests. Modeled after the legendary dive bars found in the Star Wars movies it’s everything you’d expect and more. Everything offered, from the cocktails and mocktails to beer and wine were all specially created for Galaxy’s Edge and, from my experience, deliver on the promise. However, the Cantina may be more popular that Disneyland thought as the lines to get in are the longest anywhere in Galaxy’s Edge. Disney is constantly trying to improve the visitor experience in Oga’s, but since the seating is limited it’s a challenge. When I visited, everyone was directed to a central line where we registered our phone numbers to be placed in a virtual queue. Then we could experience Galaxy’s Edge as we wanted to until we received a second text indicating it was time to return to Oga’s. At that point it’s another 10-20 minute wait until you can get in. I was in the virtual queue for 85 minutes or so before I received the notification. Once inside, Disney is trying to limit guests to two drinks each, in order to cycle people through the experience. But it’s well worth the effort; the level of detail is of course out of this world.
Milk Stand – This is another one of the cult favorites that will soon take on a life of its own. Both blue and green milk are served and are fashioned after the refreshing beverages seen in the films. The Blue Milk and Green Milk sold at the Milk Stand are frozen-style beverages similar to a milkshake or smoothie. Both drinks are non-dairy blends of coconut and rice milks and Blue Milk has dragon fruit, pineapple, lime and watermelon flavors and Green Milk has Mandarin orange, passion fruit, grapefruit and orange blossom flavors. The vegan drinks have taken some people by surprise since the consistency isn’t that of milk but of a slushy, but I thought they were good. Blue was my favorite, as it has been with many other patrons.
I also took the time to order dinner at Ronto Roasters. Located next to the market stall the thing to get here is the Ronto Wrap: roasted pork and grilled sausage with peppercorn sauce and tangy slaw wrapped in pita. Paired with a chilled glass of Meiloorun Juice and I had the perfect meal.
What to buy in Galaxy’s Edge is also a surprisingly important part of the experience because, believe it or not, they’re unique experiences in their own right. You won’t find the ear-shaped bubble wands or standard Disney fare in these stores no, they’re immersive Star Wars experiences just like everything else in Galaxy’s Edge.
Lightsabers and droids – If you’ve ever wanted your own lightsaber, this is your chance. Entering into Savi’s Workshop, guests customize their very own weapon to take home, at a price of $200. For $100 you can go through a similarly personalized and bespoke experience to construct your own droid. Both experiences are just that, an experience and is about so much more than buying something. They take visitors into the world of Star Wars and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
My budget didn’t allow for the lightsaber, but I did build my very own droid and I’m so glad I did. Walking in the first thing one notices is the assembly line full of droid parts. One you pay for the droid, either the BB or R2 style, you’re given a basket and told to pick out the parts for the droid. This is where you customize it anyway you want, using any color combinations that strike your fancy. You then take the parts over to a tech who helps you assemble and activate the droid. It’s a fun experience and bound to be a very popular one, especially since the droid then interacts with objects around Galaxy’s Edge for the duration of your visit.
The other shops in Galaxy’s Edge also bear mentioning because Disney has taken the same level of detail found throughout the land to the items available for sale. These are specially designed pieces totally unlike anything else found in Disneyland and are very creative. When I was there, the most popular one of these shops was the Creature Stall where you can pick out your very own Star Wars creature to take home; they even provide a special carrying case for them.
I enjoyed my experiences in Galaxy’s Edge, although I did leave feeling as if I missed something. Maybe I need to return during the day when I can see more of the details, because I had the distinct impression that I didn’t make the most out of my time there. Disney built Galaxy’s Edge so that the entire land itself is the attraction. No detail was overlooked and not once is the illusion broken. Cast members chat to guests as if it really was a planet in the Outer Rim and even the Coke bottles were specially designed. Just like anything else, Galaxy’s Edge will evolve over time and enhancements made to perfect the visitor experience. Guests too will better learn how to enjoy the new land, with each visit learning something new. Simply said though, Galaxy’s Edge truly is an amazing achievement and it’s impossible not to leave completely awestruck with the experience.