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.
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