Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is an immersive, Star Wars-themed land now open at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. The experience at the two parks is similar, though not in every way the same, so for clarity, Liliane Opsomer has funneled her insights into two independent and overlapping guides:
Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World (Florida) | Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland (California)
As of this morning (January 17, 2020), Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance—Disney’s most epic ride to date and an anchor of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land—is open at Disneyland, California, completing both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands, coast to coast. The two lands (at Walt Disney World and at Disneyland), which are nearly but not quite identical, are the most detailed and immersive lands ever created, with lots to offer both Star Wars fans and non-fans (but especially Star Wars fans).
Here’s my guide to Florida’s own Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and how to prepare for your own voyage to a galaxy far, far away:
An introduction to Galaxy’s Edge and the world of Black Spire
Though not quite to the degree of it’s Disneyland counterpart, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is isolated from the original Walt Disney World park, which helps guest immerse themselves in the story that will guide your experience there. That story…
In the Star Wars universe, Batuu is a backwater planet that’s home the outpost village of Black Spire. Formerly a busy trading port, Black Spire is now a place where rogues, adventurers, bounty hunters, and smugglers live among the villagers. It’s also a place where the First Order and the Resistance live in an uneasy coexistence. In the Star Wars movie timeline, this story of Batuu and its inhabitants takes place between Star Wars: The Last Jedi, released December 15, 2017, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, playing in theaters right now.
More backstory: If you want the full details, check out “Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire” by Delilah S. Dawson and “Crash of Fate” by Zoraida Cordova.
Inside the park, cast members have modular wardrobes. Each has his or her own backstory. Engaging with these cast members, whose name tags are translated into Aurebesh, is part of the overall experience. Don’t expect them to direct you to the next bathroom; rather, listen carefully to the directions to the next “refresher.” When I asked for the best way to Oga’s Cantina (at Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland), I was told to turn right at the next pile of junk, meaning the Millennium Falcon.
Star Wars characters such as Rey, Chewbacca, and Vi Moradi—General Leia Organa’s (a.k.a. Princess Leia’s) top spy—roam the land, but there are no scheduled character meet-and-greets. There’s also no shortage of bad guys, as Kylo Ren and the First Order’s stormtroopers make it their business to interrogate inhabitants and visitors alike.
Getting around (use the app)
Before you embark on your voyage to Batuu, I recommend that you download the Play Disney Parks app. Once you enter the Galaxy’s Edge park, the app’s interface converts into a datapad that allows you to interact with the land’s many control panels and droids. Pledge your alliance to the Resistance or the First Order, or roam the land as a rogue looking out for yourself.
The datapad allows you to translate languages from across the galaxy—including the Aurebesh signs posted throughout Black Spire Outpost. Use the scanner on your datapad (phone) to discover hidden cargo, or hack and interact with select panels to help the Resistance. You can even tune into the planet’s communications to decrypt signals from satellite dishes.
With each task you complete, you’ll collect information, digital rewards and even galactic credits. And as you take the controls of the Millennium Falcon, make sure to pay attention. How you operate the most famous ship in the galaxy will also affect the game. If you wreck Chewbacca’s ship, it will cost you. The game is a lot of fun and can really get you hooked.
Ride: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
The new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is Disney’s most epic ride. Guests enter through the Resistance military outpost, which is cleverly tucked away in a scrubland forest. BB-8 and Rey, who appears in a holo-transmission, recruit visitors for a strike against the First Order and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren.
On the ride, you’re launched into space abroad an I-TS (“intersystem transport ship”). All goes well until the shuttle is caught in a tractor beam of a Star Destroyer, which strips the I-TS of its ability to jump into lightspeed. Your ship is pulled into a massive hangar bay, where you’re greeted by 50 animatronic stormtroopers, a docked TIE fighter and stern First Order officers (aka cast members). The scene, set in front of a 100-foot-wide bay window looking into outer space, is breathtaking. Next thing you know, First Order officers are herding their prisoners (you) into a cell for interrogation by none other than Kylo Ren himself.
Eventually, you’re off on a daring escape aboard an eight-passenger First Order Fleet Transport piloted by a reprogrammed R5-series astromech droid. The route is perilous, and there are plenty of encounters with stormtroopers, giant AT-ATs, and a relentless Kylo Ren. Thousands of special effects—like slashing lightsabers, exploding walls, blaster bolts, and turboblaser cannons—accompany your vehicle en route to an escape pod. The narrow escape ends with a crash landing on Batuu, courtesy of a multi-sensory plunge enhanced by digital projections.
Rise of the Resistance is Disney’s longest attraction ever and truly epic. It seamlessly combines a walkthrough experience, a ride in a trackless vehicle, a motion simulator, and an elevator drop.
Ride accessibility: People in ECVs and wheelchairs can participate in the pre-show experiences but must be able to transfer onto the ride vehicle to enjoy the entire experience. The ride also has a 40” height requirement.
Ride: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
The Millennium Falcon sits in a spaceport surrounded by the black spires that give Black Spire Outpost its name. The 110-foot ship is impressive and a sight to behold day and night. Once you enter its interactive queue, it’s time to get that datapad out.
Riders enter the ride/experience in groups of six (two pilots, two engineers and two gunners). After spending time in the fabled lounge of the ship, complete with the holo-chess table and many memorable props from the films, they eventually settle into the cockpit to complete their mission.
The video-game-like experience is exhilarating—in fact actually way better than a video game, as you get to sit inside an authentic replica of the Millennium Falcon without any distractions!
Ride accessibility: There are two stationary simulators that allow disabled guests to experience the attraction without interrupting operations for other guests. The five-minute ride also has a 38” height requirement.
What to eat and drink
Hungry off-worlders should make their way to Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Even if you don’t speak Aurebesh, you’ll find the quick-service restaurant easily. Just look for the Sienar-Chall Utilipede transport ship parked smack on its roof.
If you like chicken, go for the “Fried Endorian Tip-yip” served with quinoa-curry salad. My favorite dishes are the “Smoked Kaadu Ribs” served with a blueberry-corn muffin and cabbage slaw, as well as the “Yobshrimp Noodle Salad” with spicy Thai dressing and cilantro. For desert I suggest the “Batuu-bon.”
For a quick bite go for the “Ronto Wrap” (roasted pork and a grilled sausage served on a pitta) at Ronto Roasters.
If galactic food is not your thing, but a great drink is, make sure to visit Oga’s Cantina, the seediest establishment on Batuu. Here, Captain Rex, the former Star Tour droid pilot, takes on the role of DJ, spinning galactic tunes. In alien proprietor Oga Garra’s establishment, off-worlders are asked to make reservations well in advance. If you get one of the coveted spots, make sure to try the “Bespin Fizz” (a bubbly Cosmopolitan) and the “Outer Rim.” If your reservation is early in the morning, try the “Spiran Caf” or the “Bloody Rancor.” After all, it’s five o’clock somewhere in the galaxy.
Good to know: You can make a reservation for a visit 180 days in advance via the app or online. A no-show fee of $10 per person will be charged to your credit card if you decide to skip Oga’s Cantina, or use the reservation solely to obtain guaranteed entry into Galaxy’s Edge. Some same-day reservations may be available early on the morning of your visit.
Where to shop (including for snacks)
The merchant’s alley of Batuu is home to shops and small stalls selling furry friends looking for a home, plus hats, pins, badges, blue and green milk, and for good measure, a colorful and tasty popcorn.
Droid Depot is the place to go if you want to build your own droid ($99 plus tax).
At Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, you can find ancient artifacts and pre-built legacy lightsabers, but any aspiring Jedi will want to build his or her own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop. If you’re in the market for your own mysterious, luminescent blade, make sure to reserve your spot via the Savi’s website as Savi’s Workshop can only handle 14 paying guests every twenty minutes. Beware, though, the fee for no-shows is the entire cost of the lightsaber: $199 plus tax!
Good to know: Disney uses a reservation system for Savi’s Workshop and Droid Depot. A reservation includes guaranteed entry into Galaxy’s Edge (not the rides). A credit card is required to make a reservation and no-shows will be charged a cancellation fee of $200 for Savi’s and $100 for Droid Depot. Reservations are accepted up to 60 days prior to your visit via the app or online. Some same-day reservations may be available early on the morning of your visit.
Getting in and getting around
You should arrive at least 60 minutes prior to the park opening, as on busy days Disney may restrict entry to the land.
When this happens, and you’re on the outside looking in, you can use the Disney Parks app (same one as above) to secure a free spot in a “virtual queue.” (Make sure to link the theme park tickets of your entire party in the app.) You can also use a FastPass kiosk to join the virtual queue, but the app is really the way to go. Guest demand for entry into Galaxy’s Edge, and for the new Rise of the Resistance ride, is high—and it will be so for quite some time. You must be signed into the app and inside the Walt Disney World park to join a boarding group; there are no advance reservations for access to the land and you can join a boarding group only after official park opening.
Once you’ve received a confirmation with a boarding group number, you can check the status on the app or on the digital signage in the park. You’ll also get a smartphone notification when it’s time for you to enter the land. From the time of your notification, you have two hours to enter Galaxy’s Edge.
On some days, Disney will get through all of the distributed boarding groups more quickly and earlier than expected. When that’s the case, “backup” boarding groups are distributed. Guests with a backup boarding pass will be notified via the app. Note that the backup boarding pass does not guarantee the ability to experience the land’s two attractions (Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run). And be warned, even if you’re lucky enough to get a regular boarding group, you’re not guaranteed the chance to experience them, either.
For now, there’s no FastPass service, and Galaxy’s Edge is not open for Magic Mornings or Extra Magic Hours. There’s also no stand-by line to enter the land, but once you’ve landed on Batuu, there’s no time limit on how long you can stay.
Good to know: A reservation for Oga’s Cantina, Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop includes entry into Galaxy’s Edge an hour prior to your appointment, but remember that if you don’t show up for your reservation, you’d better be ready to part with your credits. Entry into Galaxy’s Edge does not guarantee that you will ride either of the land’s attractions.
Entry into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is included in the admission price of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Access to the land, its rides, Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop, and Oga’s Cantina are the same at both parks, coast to coast.
For more on visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World, visit the website here. Access procedures to the land and the rides can change at any time, so make sure to check constantly for updates.