I had the opportunity to visit Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge this week for an Annual Passholder preview and as usual I have all of the opinions.
So many people have already been in and I haven’t had the chance to explore enough to claim to be writing a comprehensive guide, so this is going to be a first impressions post and nothing else. I’m not claiming to be breaking news or giving to some definitive itinerary…I just have thoughts and as usual I’m here to share them with you.
Comparison to California’s Version
I haven’t been to California’s version of Galaxy’s Edge but had the opportunity to talk to Scott Mallwitz, Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering, when we got a brief preview as a part of Social Media Celebration a few weeks ago. He explained that other than Disney World’s version’s having 2 entry points – one from Toy Story Land and one from Grand Avenue near PizzeRizzo – while Disneyland’s has three, the lands are largely identical. That said, there are a number of different Easter Eggs throughout the lands that are specific to their locations.
And the lighting at the two lands is very different. The sun goes directly overhead for the most part at Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge, which makes for a more brightly lit experience. The sun in Disney World’s Galaxy’s Edge travels across the back horizon, so you get more cool and subtle hues throughout the day. I imagine this will be all the more noticeable as we get into the winter months when the sun is lower in the sky.
When you enter Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll realize quickly that there’s a special sort of lingo when you’re inside. Here’s a little cheat sheet for some of the key phrases to use to help with the immersive experience:
“On Planet”: In the Land
“Ignite the Spark”: Greeting for the Resistance
“Light the Fire”: Resistance Callback to “Ignite the Spark”
“Bright Suns”: Good Morning/Afternoon
“Rising Moons”: Good Evening
“Til the Spire”: Farewell
“Good Journey”: Informal Goodbye
“May the Spires Keep You”: Formal Goodbye
“Only the Ancients Know”: I Don’t Know
“Hydrator”: Water Fountain
The Land’s Immersiveness
And speaking of immersiveness…if I say nothing else about this land, I will say that it envelopes you.
Black Spire Outpost after Closing
The laser cut tunnels in the rock that you walk through to enter close out the rest of the world immediately and once you’re inside the soaring rock formations around you make you forget that you’re in Disney World. It speaks volumes that an hour or so into our visit, my 8 year old, totally unprompted, mentioned that he’d totally forgotten that we were at Hollywood Studios.
A Rare View of Slinky Dog from Inside Galaxy’s Edge
There are only two places that I was able to find any evidence of the outside world. Both are in the queue for Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. As you walk through an elevated portion of the line’s walkway, you can look out the window and see, between the greenery, a bit of Slinky Dog Dash’s track and the easily recognizable glass triangle at the top of either the Swan or the Dolphin. Mind you – I don’t point these out as a critique. Quite the opposite – it’s stunning that with all that surrounds the land of Galaxy’s Edge those were the only places where I could see any sign of the outside world. And I had to be looking out the windows of the Smuggler’s Run elevated queue to find them.
Perhaps nothing drives the immersiveness of Galaxy’s Edge more than the cast member characters that freely roam the land and interact amongst themselves and with the guests visiting their planet. I loved this so much and it added so much to the experience. It reminded me of old school Disney, when you could roam Magic Kingdom and regularly stumble upon the characters and interact with them. There were no queues to meet Storm Troopers. No preset times to take a staged picture with a member of the Resistance. They just roamed Batuu as if they lived there and that alone does so, so much to make you forget that you’re in a theme park of any sort.
At one point I was literally lying on the ground to shoot this picture of my younger son from below:
And this amazing member of the Resistance came and knelt down beside me to tell me that I was needed in their image capture team. We had a good laugh about how our kids will never quite understand all that their mommas do for them no matter what planet you’re on, and then she wandered off, leaving me feeling very much a part of Batuu.
Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
I dig this attraction so much more than I expected I would. It’s true that it’s a sort of mash up of Mission Space and Star Tours – we’ll need to wait for Rise of the Resistance for the major ground breaker in this land. But the experience is still fantastic. The queue area is wild – especially for hard core fans. There are some pretty incredible animatronics that I’ll let you see for yourselves. Worth mentioning though – there are some red herrings here as far as potential opportunities for interaction. There are buttons that do nothing noticeable when pushed. Bar codes that do nothing when scanned with your phone. It’s almost like certain ideas were planned and then abandoned. And don’t get me wrong. The queue is still incredible. But we come to assume that everything in Disney speaks and nothing is without purpose – so it’s worth mentioning that once in awhile in the queue your kids might excitedly push a button only to have nothing happen.
And then, as the queue ends, you’ll of course have a chance to grab a picture at this very special table…
Once ready to board the ride, you’ll be assigned the role of pilot, gunner, or engineer. My boys were the pilots so our flight was a little…um…bumpy. But omg did they have fun. Just seeing them up there made my whole night. And the way that the screens around you actually are the “windows” of the cockpit makes the sensation of movement while you’re inside very powerful.
When we booked our Annual Passholder previews, we inadvertently ended up with the lightsaber building experience at Savi’s Workshop instead of Oga’s Cantina (you got to choose one) but in the end I’m SO glad that it happened. The experience isn’t cheap at $200 (plus tax) but it was without question one of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve ever had on Disney property.
You enter at your allotted time (reservations are very strongly recommended) and choose which style of lightsaber you want to build.
We chose Elemental Nature.
And from that point on, I could keep writing – or I could show you this video. Excuse the wobbles…I was helping the kids at the same time that I was trying to capture the experience for all of you.
Food & Drink
This is the *one* area that really missed the mark for me. And I say that with total conviction that they’re just feeling out the menu options and can always add food carts that embrace the theming as things progress. But right now, there are fairly limited food options in Galaxy’s Edge.
I’ll note at the outset here that we did *not* go to Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, which is the table service location in Galaxy’s Edge. As I understand it, there are more food options here – including some kid-friendly options.
That said, outside of Docking Bay 7, there are pretty limited options inside Galaxy’s Edge – especially for pickier kids.
Nuna Turkey Jerky
The stands in Black Spire Outpost are beautiful but only serve the Rontu Wrap, roasted pork, grilled pork sausage, peppercorn sauce, and slaw in a pita, and Nuna Turkey Jerky (spicy or sweet) after the morning breakfast menu ends.
Next to that, you’ll find a popcorn stand that sells only popcorn covered in a mix of sweet purple and (very very slightly) spicy red coatings. Surprisingly, at this stage, outside of Docking Bay 7 and one strange food item on the menu at Oga’s Cantina, I am aware of no other food options in Galaxy’s Edge.
That said, the blue and green milk are good stuff. Both are the consistency of a creamy smoothie. The blue milk has a sort of blue raspberry flavor and is available for visitors of Batuu over the age of 21 with rum. The green milk was my personal favorite and had a very citrus-y floral flavor. And you can spike it with tequila if you’re of age (and don’t have any memories from your teens or early twenties that make the smell of tequila repugnant to you….).
Speaking of food and drink – Oga’s Cantina really does deserve its own section here. We were lucky enough to get in by waiting in line during our preview and I was so excited to share our experience with you.
The Cantina is mainly a drink space other than one (somewhat odd) food item on the menu. There are a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options – and since I was there with a group of 10 people I was able to grab pictures of a number of them for you.
Hyperdrive (Punch It!)
There are also a number of drinks available in pricey souvenir mugs that looked very cool…but I’d just paid for a lightsaber, so the budget was pretty much blown for the night.
The food item on the menu is…odd. It’s called “Batuu Bits” and is only described as “crispy galaxy snack bits with spiced chermoula dip”. It’s a sort of (slightly spicy) crisp and some churro shaped, crunchy, slighty sweet confections served with what tastes like an olive tapenade. I can see what they’re trying to do throughout the land with the unusual flavor combinations – but as the single food item available at Oga’s Cantina, it sort of missed the mark for me and the others in my party.
A couple of Easter Eggs that are fun to find as you wander Galaxy’s Edge:
- Keep your eyes peeled as you wander the land and you might just find that someone has repurposed the Ark of the Covenant from the Great Movie Ride!
Photo and fun fact credit to Angel Ramos!
- Look carefully at the Millenium Falcon from the front and you might just find a wee version of it poking out from a lower shelf overhead…
Photo and fun fact credit to Angel Ramos.
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Til the Spires!!!