Walking through the Hungry Bear restaurant entrance to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, the excitement and anxiety were at full blast. The crowds, which Disney cast members tried very hard to keep to a minimum, were thick and we walked elbow to elbow, all jockeying to keep our place in the walking convoy. The cast members on point stopped us at a few places on the path into Disneyland’s highly anticipated new land, and finally held us near a set of parked star fighters. The T-70 X-Wing and RZ-2 A-Wing fighters looked incredible, from their paint jobs to construction details. It took everything I had to not break ranks and attempt to jump into the A-Wing. Then, just shy of our reservation start time, Chewbacca walked up to the crowd to thunderous applause. Smiling, I raised my hands in the air and yelled, “Chewie!!!”. Catching myself, I had to remind myself that I was an adult…. Whatever that means. Then, we were escorted into the main area of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, with lines breaking into two – those wanting to go to the cantina and those wanting to venture out on their own.
Set after the events of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Galaxy’s Edge takes place in the Black Spire Outpost on the outer rim planet of Batuu. Once a fruitful outpost of growth, it has long since become a place for those who want to go unnoticed from First Order, or the New Republic for that matter.
On Savi’s Workshop and Lightsabers…
The first place we walked to was Savi’s Workshop, where galactic travelers (more on why I don’t refer to them as “park guests” later) can build a rare lightsaber. In the lead up to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, it was said that travelers would only be directed to the workshop if they knew a special pass phrase, and that building a lightsaber would not be mentioned until one entered inside, for fear of the First Order noticing. Unfortunately, this was not true as our party ran up to the workshop line and a cast member greeted us with “Are you here to build a lightsaber? Line up here”. I needed no pass phrase and paying for the experience was not hidden at all. After standing in line, a cast member asked me what kind of saber I wanted to build – there are four choices, each dictating what physical parts you will get to choose from in its construction. I initially thought I’d go the “elemental” route, as I was interested in the saber seen with a Rancor’s tooth on its hilt. Despite that, I had a moment of truth with my inner child and chose the “peace and justice” set. Modeled after sabers wielded by the Jedi Order, and the likes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, it spoke to me.
We were told to come back in a half hour and given an appointment card. So, we used that half hour to buy some themed Coca-Cola products (this bottle design is so much fun) and explore the immediate area. We watched as First Order Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren walked around, questioning travelers and policing the area in general. These characters were all exceptionally trained and never broke the immersion or narrative. Even the actor playing Rey, whom we met while meandering later, was completely in character.
I came back at my appointment time and waited to enter Savi’s Workshop. Thankfully, the previous pattern of cast members not holding up the lore of the land was broken. We were greeted and ushered into the workshop by a very scared and secretive “Gatherer” (what those that work the shop call themselves), and the lightsaber construction experience began. You’ve no doubt seen video of the experience by now, but it is worth noting that, much like my design choice, my crystal choice changed when actually presented with the option. I had been intent on choosing a violet/purple crystal. The lightsabers will change sounds and blade color based on the crystal within, and I had really dug the noises made by the purple crystal. But, once again, that inner child got the better of me and my gut told me to choose green – the color of Luke Skywalker’s saber in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The whole experience is meant to be a semi-religious experience with Force, and if you’re lucky not to be in the room with chuckling teens or crying babies, it is! When we were all instructed to activate our sabers and their holders slide open allowing us to raise them high, the hairs on my neck stood on end. Hearing Frank Oz’s Yoda again was a delight to my ears and I can’t say enough good things about it. I especially love that Disney provides lightsaber-clad travelers leaving the workshop with very nice saber carrying cases that sling across their backs.
On Oga’s Cantina and Alcoholic Drinks…
Thankfully, we’re personable folk here at GamingShogun and we met two nice people in the line to get into Galaxy’s Edge. They said they would add our party of two onto their reservation to Oga’s Cantina (the only way to get in) so we could do our lightsaber building. Once we left the workshop, I received a text that our reservation was ready and we went right into Oga’s Cantina. I’d like to thank Nana and her friend once again if they’re reading this. Without their help, we simply would not have had been able to get an Oga’s Cantina reservation any reasonable time before our four hours in Galaxy’s Edge was up. Walking into Oga’s was a total, for lack of a better word, trip. It was everything I could have wanted in a Star Wars universe-set cantina. Blaster marks on the ceiling and walls, IG droid head tap heads, and alien creatures secreting substances into canisters for bartenders to make drinks from. In terms of overall design, it had a lot in common with the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope, but not a copy by any means – it was clearly its own cantina. Aside from the large bar where travelers could order drinks, Oga’s is home to DJ-R3X, a droid who spins catchy tunes for entertainment. R3X is the same droid that used to pilot the original Star Tours attraction in Tomorrowland. Apparently, he’s been re-purposed by Oga, albeit poorly as he often spouts lines from his famous time as a pilot – each time, bringing a smile to my face. If I had more time to spend in Galaxy’s Edge, I would have stayed in the cantina for much longer.
At the bar, you’ll find both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages for sale. Some of these drinks come in really cool collector tiki mugs. One is in the shape of a Porg while the other displays the climactic battle from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. We sampled each of these drinks – and were very happy with their quality and overall taste. The decision to have an alcohol serving bar in Disneyland, albeit at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, was controversial, and time will tell how it pans out. For my experience there, however, I had a fantastic time and left happy.
On the Droid Depot and Batuuan Spiras…
We didn’t have any interest in building our own droid during our visit, but wanted still wanted to check it out. We walked in through the exit of the Droid Factory and toured the assembly line. Travelers eagerly chose droid parts and assembled new friends and companions – some looking like BB series droids and others like R series ones. An overhead conveyor constantly runs, swinging various droid parts around the depot. One of the coolest things of note in the Droid Depot is actually not a droid at all, but a Batuuan Spira. This Spira is the local currency on the planet of Batuu and acts as a refillable Disney gift card. The Spira is made of metal and very hefty for its size. Unfortunately, they sold out a mere ten people before us in line to the register. But, I digress, it’s something to look for on my next voyage to a galaxy far, far away!
On Millennium Falcons and the Smuggler’s Run Ride…
Currently, the centerpiece of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has to be the 1:1 scale Millennium Falcon sitting near Hondo Ohnaka’s transport service. It’s truly breathtaking – a work of art that saw one of my childhood dreams come to life. I always wanted to touch and see the Falcon, ever since Star Wars: A New Hope. In many ways, the Millennium Falcon is a character all its own, delivering our heroes in and out of danger as they race across the cosmos. Walking around it, I was blown away by just how massive of a ship it is. It brought me closer to the Star Wars franchise and my own childhood adventures in a way I never thought possible. Previously, the Trials of Tattooine, an ILM VR experience, was as close as I could get to seeing it in person and it pales in comparison to taking it all in at Galaxy’s Edge.
As for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run the ride? Well, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, you do get to see a truly outstanding animatronic Hondo Ohnaka (voiced by the incredible Jim Cummings) as he briefs you on your mission. You do get to walk aboard the Millennium Falcon and explore its crew deck – including Dejarik table and the “kissing hallway”. And, you do get to “fly” a version of it from a slightly altered cockpit – well, two of your crew gets to fly it. The other four members of the crew get to smash buttons while waiting for them to turn green, making them take their eyes off of the action unfolding outside the cockpit window… Smuggler’s Run is part sim/part ride and it doesn’t do either of these roles really well. The piloting is divided up in the strangest way I could think of – one pilot controls pitch while the other controls yaw. It’s a sort of Pacific Rim “the drift” take on flying the ship that isn’t really necessary and leads to a lot of shouting back and forth at each other. I would have rather had one pilot control flying the ship and a co-pilot work the hyperdrive lever and harpoon control while the rest of the crew sit back and enjoy the experience – maybe fire the turret blasters somehow. As it stands now, it just handles in a very unnatural way. At the end of the ride, each station receives a score and stats about their performance while the Millennium Falcon interior will change slightly based on how you all did. Perform poorly and it will feature all manner of arcing flashes and sounds as well as calls for maintenance over the launch bay public address system. Overall, Smuggler’s Run is a very fun motion ride, but don’t get too crazy on doing everything perfectly, it’s just too hectic and strangely laid out to be intuitive.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is here, and Walt Disney Imagineering should be given every kudo possible for its design, decoration, and immersion. We ended up doing just about everything within our four hour time limit and walked out with a multitude of merchandise and souvenirs of our trip. Walking back into Disneyland proper, it was as if we visited an entirely different park. It was jarring. My first instinct when picking up a churro was to greet the fellow there with “Bright suns!” only to catch myself right before uttering the phrase. I can’t wait to get back to Batuu at some point in the future. Currently, Disneyland is allowing visitors into Galaxy’s Edge by reservation only, but it will open to the public at large on June 24th, 2019.