Hey Park Journey family, if you are anything like me, you have been excited (and maybe even a little skeptical) about the opening of Star Wars Land: Galaxy’s Edge.
As a long-time Star Wars fan, I won’t apologize for saying that I have been a little underwhelmed and even a bit frustrated by Disney’s Star Wars movie releases. I will also say, as a long-time Disneyland fan, that I’ve been a bit jaded by some of the decisions regarding the park including ticket prices and domestic reinvestment.
That being said, I wanted to take a look at the $1 Billion land myself. So sit back, strap in because “traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dustin’ crops, boy!”
Written by Chris Moghtaderi
“Batuu was once a thriving stop for traders and travelers before advancements in lightspeed technology. Now its lush forests and majestic mountain regions are known only to those who dare to venture this far into the Outer Rim. At the infamous Black Spire Outpost, smugglers and rogues peddle their wares among the towering remains of petrified trees while the locals cook up exotic dishes and spin tales of ancient settlers long forgotten. Recently, the struggle between the First Order and the Resistance has made its way to this remote locale, once a haven for those hoping to avoid entanglements with the First Order.”
There are three entrances into Batuu and both our reservations brought us in through the same location. The Western most entrance (where we entered) is between Hungry Bear Restaurant and the Rivers of America. The other two entrances are located on the North side of Big Thunder Mountain. In my opinion, the two entrances by Big Thunder are smooth enough although not gradual. Contrast that with the entrance by Hungry Bear which is much longer and provides a more rich experience. We used the other two as exits and right before exiting, I doubled back to experience what it would feel like entering the land through this route.
As we entered Batuu, we were greeted by the sights and sounds of the planet. For some distance this consisted of path lights, mature trees and music/sound effects. As we continued further, we couldn’t help but feel that we were no longer in Disneyland but somewhere completely different. When I walk into Disneyland, under the train and down Mainstreet USA, I can’t help but sense that I have left the real world behind and entered into one of imagination. This is the same feeling I experienced when walking into Batuu from the western entrance. As I continued further, I began to compare this land to Animal Kingdom Park in Florida because of the path designs and foliage used. Maybe it was just me, but there seemed to be quite a few similarities. Let us know if I’m way off base on this or if this is your experience as well.
As you get closer to Black Spire Outpost, signs of civilization begin to appear. On your right, you will first encounter both an A-Wing and X-Wing pictured below. The X-Wing doubles as a stage area and there is a short presentation which is described later in the “Characters” section. There are some other stage areas across the land that gave us the impression that more of these short immersive presentations were bound to be added later on.
To the left is the ride entrance to Rise of the Resistance which will open during Phase 2. As you continue further, you will come across booths where you can grab merchandise on the way in or out. This was the first real disappointment as these shops felt like a distraction from the overall experience. I get it, merchandise is a big part of Disney’s revenue, but as you will see later, the execution of this versus the Marketplace is night and day and I would have loved to have seen that level of integration here. It was quite anti-climactic.
The detail that went into the design of the land is spectacular. From the pathways and lights to the life-size Millennium Falcon, the overall feel is otherworldly.
Plus and Minus
+ The transition from Disneyland to Batuu was quite magical much like passing through Mainstreet USA.
- The merch booths appeared very out of place and really detracted from the overall experience.
While the land offers no meet and greets, Characters roam the land and interact freely with the guests. Every hour, there is a show (really just an announcement of the beginning of an interaction period) where the First Order begins searching for Resistance fighters. Kylo Ren and Storm Troopers will question you regarding your data pad (cell phone), your allegiance, and the last known whereabouts of the Resistance members including Rey herself. Rey and resistance members will also wander the area and interact with guests. They will hide from the First Order, asking guests to stall for them or to help them hide. Rey will run around with kids and “sneak” around the land to spy on the First Order.
As mentioned earlier, there is small stage area around the X-Wing near the western entrance. There a Pilot and Chewbacca work to get the X-Wing airborne again. This short presentation with lights and sound effects are just a small added experience that helps make this land feel more immersive.
Storm Troopers are more than willing to stop for the occasional selfie. In the case of the photo below, the Trooper actually helped my daughter angle the camera just right. She was quite excited about the opportunity.
Overall, the character experience is quite fun and this type of interaction takes a page out of the classic Disney Book. Big Thunder Ranch, where part of Star Wars Land now sits, used to be a location where characters would come out and interact with guests in this fashion. They would take photos but their primary purpose was to play.
Plus and Minus
+ The interactions brought back memories of Big Thunder Ranch and some of the character experiences that my kids had years ago.
- We only saw Rey and the Resistance fighters a few times. Seeing a few more characters like other resistance members or Storm Troopers out interacting would have greatly added to the feel of immersion.
Food and Drink
Kat Saka’s Kettle (No Discounts):
-Ronto’s Roasters (AP/DVC Discounts):
-Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (AP/DVC Discounts):
Quick notes on the food locations. You may have heard that Ronto’s Roasters has the best food item, the Ronto Wrap. I have to say that I absolutely agree with this statement. At Docking Bay 7, we tried the Braised Shaak Roast and it was pretty good. The Yobshrimp Noodle Salad was a bit bland. The other items were alright but nothing special.
Here you can try both blue milk from Episode IV and green milk from Episode VIII. The “milk” is a mix of rice milk and coconut milk, so it is Vegan friendly. I personally enjoyed the blue milk a bit more but half our group enjoyed the green milk. Try them both and let us know your thoughts.
Overall, our experience was quite positive. There are definitely a few flaws with the area such as the maximum occupancy of some of the more popular shops. Disney did a fantastic job at crowd control but I am curious to see how this plays out once reservations are no longer required. Rumor has it that time slots will still be assigned to guests entering the area to keep traffic flow moving, while just a rumor, it sounds like it may be a good idea for a while.
While the area was fun, our kids got a bit bored after a few hours. The land is definitely designed for fans and I would say even more so for older kids. But unless you are willing to shell out a few hundred dollars for your kids to build lightsabers and droids, the allure wears off on them quickly. I, on the other hand, could have spent hours just exploring the details.
Stay tuned for updates over the next couple of weeks as we continue to highlight Galaxy's Edge including the Marketplace, Oga's Cantina and of course Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run.
Time for a quick look at the latest (and probably last for awhile) attraction coming to Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure.
The Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind looks like it's getting some final touches and should be ready to greet guests soon.
Will be nice to see an attraction in this area again. Check it out!!
Pictures by Christopher Moghtaderi
Alright everybody, here it is, the first of our reviews of Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, which opens this week at Disneyland.
Sent in by our good friend Andros, this is a highly detailed look at the new land.
And as such, there are spoilers here. LOTS and LOTS of Spoilers. So if you don't want to get spoiled, we suggest you check out some other stuff on the site. There is a lot to peruse.
But if you want to get spoiled, read on!! We'll have more updates once we're actually able to have people take pictures to share from within Galaxy's Edge.
Written by Andros Gonzalez
Scroll down if you want to see Galaxy's Edge Spoilers
Seriously, this is your last chance to avoid Spoilers!!
"You couldn't get from here to Black Spire without me, now you're going to make the Kessel Run? Ha!"
―L3-37, to Lando Calrissian
L3 was right. Without her, it would be quite impossible with no ways of navigating to the remote settlement named Black Spire. However, with the help of those at Disney Imagineering, the remote outpost is indeed a place that all Star Wars fans should visit at least once or have on their bucket lists.
The new land located at the top of Disneyland did not disappoint this life-long Star Wars fan. It was everything I expected and then some. And then a lot more, then some.
We had our reservations just last Monday at 4pm and we were glad that we had arrived early that day. From the horrors of the Mickey and Friends parking garage, to it being an unusually, more-crowded-than-usual Disneyland park that day, our plan to arrive at Noon wasn’t such a bad idea. We picked up some chimichangas from the Frontierland food kiosks and we were off to see if there was any sort of a line to get into Galaxy’s Edge.
Once again, we were surprised that there was a substantial amount of others who had reservations that were lined up on the pathway that runs behind Big Thunder Mountain. It was just after 3pm and there were an estimated 200 people in line before us. It wasn’t long until the line would move and we were staged a bit further off the path from Disneyland. That’s when it hit me. I could see the outlines of the buildings of what seemed to be outposts or buildings I may have seen in the films from past Star Wars movies. I wasn’t sure, but I could tell there were droids that seemed to be either on display or for sale straight ahead from where we stood and waited. I continued to survey that portion of area with the droids. “Easter Eggs,” I muttered to myself. They’re Easter Eggs! And I was right. Almost every part of the new area is filled with Easter Eggs from the films, novels, merchandise... anything to do with everything that’s Star Wars. But I digress..
The people who were part of the operations team were nice enough to allow our time slot into Galaxy’s Edge at about ten minutes before our designated time. There were cheers and tears by everyone there. Once you were past the barrier where you leave a world of the Old West and new frontiers, you felt it. You could hear it. Tie fighters passing you as you walked through an area filled with adventure where the First Order were searching for elusive rebels (Sabine Wren rushed RIGHT past us!) and every single one of us were filled with wonder in some sort of way. First thing first, we had to find Smuggler’s Run!
Smuggler’s Run is easy to find. All you have to do is look up. That’s right. Nestled at the base of the tallest spire of Batuu is where you will find it. We were filing through one small area where Kylo Ren’s ship was more than impressive. It looked as if he had just landed as you could hear the engines still running of his Command Shuttle. And then... I turned my head to the left and saw it. Immediately, I tried as hard as I could with a lump in my throat and as much excitement that the thirteen year old in me, (the same one that rode his ten speed bicycle a whopping fifteen miles to Hollywood at the first glimpse of his Summer vacation in 1977 two weeks after Star Wars opened in more theaters, namely the Egyptian Theater at least once a week) and I was a bit overwhelmed. I was a bit speechless upon seeing the Falcon, THE FALCON in person. It was something I never thought I’d see up close. I definitely wasn’t in Disneyland anymore.
We skipped the Cantina as the wait time was over an hour. We heard good things about it and we were going to return when the line was shorter (it never was). We were extremely lucky as our wait time for Smuggler’s Run was not more than 10 minutes. The queue line was great. It was very well themed and one can only hope it will survive the onslaught of the anticipated Summer crowds that will infest such an amazing place, overall.
A bit deeper inside we meet Hondo. Sure, Hondo is an animatronic, but... wait. He’s an animatronic..!?! I thought it was a human in costume and very well done makeup that greeted us with a bit of a pre-show. Hondo needs pilots and a crew to help him with a mission. Hondo has a spiel where he convinces us all to help him and also some semi-detailed instructions on how to accomplish the smuggling mission assigned to you. He also adds, “What could go wrong?”
Once Hondo opens the doors for us to head to our spacecraft, it was obvious we were inside the Falcon. For some other reason, I was picked as pilot. Twice. Our adventure broke down on us due to technical difficulties. However, the castmembers made our experience as smooth as possible and we were able to ride it once again. This time - we were ready.
Once all strapped in and ready to go with a small instructional video from Hondo, our adventure starts. One pilot controls the ship left and right; the other controls it up and down. Yes, the controls DO work and the crew depends on you to fly this hunk of space junk through incredibly difficult scenarios. It was stressful! Two gunners also have the duty of manning harpoons as well as shooting down tie fighters. Engineers have the job of quickly eradicating as much damage to the poor shields to the Falcon. When controlling the ship as a pilot, the visual of the spaceport matches the motion exactly. It was one of the most sophisticated theme park attractions I have ever experienced. You don’t do this alone. Hondo is narrating the entire mission as he gives you hard tips on where to fly, who to shoot and what to fix. To be honest, interactive level enhances our overall experience. You can’t just sit back and enjoy what’s going on around you - you are in control!
Each crew member receives scores depending on performance at the conclusion of the journey. Also, if you are a bad or sub-par crew, you can definitely see it as some parts of the Falcon might be sparking or heating up as you exit the cockpit! This is a ride I can do over and over, forever. Keep in mind, this is not like flying a flight simulator. This is a ride in a theme park that you can walk right up be a part of. An E-ticket? Not really. If there is an “F-ticket”, this would be it. I would be ecstatic if there are more missions than just the one so far.
We filed out and went to check the wait time for the Cantina. It was still one hour. We all thought it was time for a refreshing glass of Blue Milk after surviving such a harrowing expedition. When we ordered, we noticed there were both blue and green milk available. Delicious? Indeed. The blend of coconut milk, rice milk and other fruit flavors were agreeable to the palate. We then decided to seek more adventure and check out the marketplace and perhaps some badly needed food.
The wait time at Ronto Roasters was a bit more than we wanted to wait for. It reminded me of Bengal Tiger in Adventureland... but with less of a menu selection. Instead, we had lunch at Docking Bay Seven. I had the pork ribs and my dearly beloved had the Tip Yip chicken. We tried both and were pleasantly surprised as they were very good and kinda spicy to our taste. In a galaxy far, far away, your eating utensils are metal sporks. That’s right. Sporks. At least they were made of metal and not plastic. Again, I digress...
I was pleased to see an Impossible Meat Loaf on the menu for my vegan friends who very well might be visiting in the near future. It looked great and I asked a guest as to how it was and the response was “delicious.” We also had the Oi-oi Puff which was a raspberry cream puff with passion fruit mousse. Even though the Batuu-bon (chocolate cake, white chocolate mousse with coffee custard) was delicious as well, my fave was the Oi-oi puff. An immediate favorite for me. When selecting a beverage, I’d go with the Moof Juice. It’s an exotic mixture of fruit punch, orange juice, pineapple juice and a bit of chipotle-pineapple. Overall, we were pleased with this eatery. I rank it up there with Plaza Inn, easily.
We didn't try the popcorn, but I have friends who sampled it at the CM showcase. If I were here for a full day with family I would get a bag to share and enjoy together. Sadly, there were no special bottles of Coke, Diet, and Sprite--only Dasani (in Arabesh). The modified beverage logos were displayed on the video menu board at Docking Bay Seven and the credit card logos only appear on the guest input screen where you swipe your card.
We wandered back to the marketplace and we found tons of choices for merchandise in a wide array of different stalls and shops that gave hints of not being in Disneyland once again. I was impressed there was nothing with the words “Star Wars” on it. I was also impressed we saw no churro carts, no popcorn carts, nor any Outdoor Vending carts to be found. The popcorn from the marketplace we didn’t have a chance to purchase. But we noticed that it was served in a brown paper bag that was discreet and had no markings on it. We found great merchandise and other souvenirs ranging from $1 to hundreds for perfect Sith or Jedi robes and other hard-to-find collectibles. I was most impressed. The Den of Antiquities was beyond great. Besides fantastic merchandise there were more Easter Eggs to be found on the second level of the place.
At the rear of the marketplace, we noticed there was even more areas to explore!
We were thrilled to see both Rey and Chewie walking around the Resistance area. Chewie was interacting with guests around a blue and white X-Wing. He was quite a busy Wookiee as he would interact with guests while fixing the ship as he was clearly frustrated with it. There was a character escort with Chewie who at times would “interpret” what Chewie is saying. I loved the fact that all the characters at Galaxy’s Edge were more interactive with guests, rather than be stuck at the end of a cue line for a meet and greet. Near Kylo’s shuttle, stormtroopers were patrolling nearly everywhere. They were also quite stiff and orderly when escorting Kylo Ren. Yes, it was a great job by Kylo who interacted with the guests.
We checked on the wait time for the Cantina and it was now 90 minutes. We figured we were done for the day and we might be ready to leave Batuu and head out the Disneyland. But I felt I wanted one more place to seek. We walked a bit more and we noticed a storefront for written in Aurebesh. We were greeted by the nicest “gatherers” in the galaxy and were more than happy to sell us some “spare parts.” If you ask to purchase a light saber, they will politely dismiss you and seek out the next guest to help. However, they did double check with me and ask if I truly wanted some special spare parts, which I truly did. The custom light sabers was $200 for me and it was worth every penny.
I chose the “spare parts” of Control and Power (the dark side) and there is a pin that corresponds with the destiny you choose or path you wish to follow. There are four different pins and it is attached to the one who will be assembling the spare parts for it inside. When the time is right, you are whisked inside by gatherers as they try hard to avoid any outside conflict by the First Order. You are allowed to bring along up to two guests to experience what it’s like to follow the path of a Jedi or a Sith. Once inside, the gatherers assist you by mixing and matching parts during your build session in order to assemble a very personalized and customized lightsaber. The lightsaber building parts are high quality and are nothing near the plastic parts found in the Hasbro Bladebuilder’s toys.
I got to choose my own kyber crystal and of course, it was red. Available kyber crystal colors include: blue, green, red, or purple. In addition to ‘powering’ the lightsaber, the kyber crystal may be removed and attached to a cube-shaped holocron. Once attached, the kyber crystal will enable the Force user to hear the wisdom and guidance of ancient masters. I was told there are different voices you may hear at each session.
Once again... Worth. Every. Penny.
Overall, I had the time of my life. As an ultimate Star Wars fan, the place is beyond amazing and most definitely lived up to my expectations. Whoever had the job to give castmembers wardrobe did a great job. They are able to pick, mix and match from a range of separates available to them I believe the four hour time slot was almost just enough for this fan to receive ample time to take it all in. Well, except for the Cantina. I’ll do that some other time when I arrive at the park early some day. I look forward to Rise of the Resistance that will be opening soon. For all toxic “fans” that exclaim that “Disney destroyed Star Wars”, I find their lack of faith disturbing. I honestly believe that Disney did this right and has risen to the challenge presented to them. I can’t wait to go again. And when you do go, enjoy it all just as I did.
The Force is definitely strong with this one.