Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is an overwhelming, but incredibly well-executed addition to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Comicon went to the new themed land — the largest expansion in the park’s history — on Friday to take in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the far-away planet Batuu and its Blackspire Outpost. What we found is a must-do attraction for Star Wars fans, and a pleasant enough area of added value for Disneyland-goers moderately engaged with the Lucasfilm franchise.
During this initial opening of operation, entrance to the area is available only through a reservation which “sold out” within two hours last month. Allowing access to Galaxy’s Edge in four-hour blocks, it offered plenty of time to explore the region — except for two things we’ll discuss in a bit — and gave us a good feel for what a day will feel like when it becomes available to the general public on June 23rd. At the same time, we expect wait times to change a great deal in twenty days. For one thing, the standby wait for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run topped out at 70 minutes and dropped as low as 30 minutes after the initial rush. While Fastpass will become available at some point, it is entirely possible the waits will get longer. That said, we also noticed the waits for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain also peaked at 70-75 minutes throughout the day, so you’re mileage may vary when you visit.
The ride you will find after that wait is a remarkable evolution of the idea first executed in Star Tours. Smuggler’s Run is a simulator attraction set within the cockpit of the Falcon. It’s really well designed and will be a shock to a long-time Star Wars fan; particularly as they enter a preshow area modeled after the lounge area of the famous ship. Once riders are strapped in, there is a game element as they are assigned roles and scored on their accuracy. While most people will say pilot is the best position, we actually enjoyed engineer as it had the most involved button-pressing. It made our first ride much more intense as the flashing buttons and the voice of smuggler Hondo Ohnaka (Jim Cummings) shouted at us to restore shields and ready tow cables. In fact, we can’t imagine passively enjoying the ride the way one enjoys Star Tours. With that in mind, we expect plenty of criticism from those who did not connect with the gaming mechanic as it is the key advancement from that earlier ride.
A second major ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, is due to open sometime in the fall.
Once off Smuggler’s Run, the accuracy score translates into credits you can use on the Galaxy’s Edge Data Pad game within the Disney Play app — provided the app and the ride actually interface, which is not always the case. When it worked, we used some of our credits almost immediately to “buy” a set of Snowtrooper armor as part of a “job” offered while inside Galaxy’s Edge. Other jobs include hacking droids around the area for schematics, scanning crates, listening to transmissions while near strategically placed antennae, and taking control of radar points to help the Resistance or the First Order. The Data Pad encouraged exploration and was one of the best features of Galaxy’s Edge overall. As game elements occur allover the site, it can always be played while experiencing other things like Smuggler’s Run, the marketplace, the three food locations or while wandering. As it happens, we enjoyed walking around and finding spots to scan the most.
But there were a few things we did not get to experience. Savi’s Workshop, where costumers can build their own costume lightsabers, had a three-hour wait by the time we reached it just 10 minutes into our visit. We were told, up front, that we had the choice of waiting to build a lightsaber or experiencing everything else Galaxy’s Edge had to offer. Though somewhat disappointed, we ventured around the Blackspire Outpost instead of waiting in the long line. We also missed out on the Oga’s Cantina for the same reason: a surprisingly long line. In both cases, the problem comes down to capacity and demand; which may level off after the area has been open for a few months. Nonetheless, manage your expectations if you have a reservation this month or plan accordingly throughout the summer after the four-hour time limit ends. Both spots will be the biggest draws in Galaxy’s Edge for sometime to come.
And should your attempt to make a lighsaber be thwarted by the wait time, there are still plenty of chances to drop your credits around Blackspire Outpost. The marketplace is a well-themed collection of little stalls mirroring the sort of shops one might find on a Star Wars planet. The offerings are quite cute — including a monkey lizard puppet to be your own personal Salacious Crumb — but pricey. Expecting to spend a mint while there, we were surprised to find we only spent $20 on two kyber crystals which will change the color of our lightsabers someday. In the end, we spent more on food.
Okay, so let’s talk about the Blue Milk. Somewhere between a milkshake and a melted Slushie in consistency, the drink is a mix of coconut and rice milk with a vaguely fruity flavor. It’s certainly worth trying at least once, but may not be the repeat draw Butterbeer tends to be over at Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But then, few sugary drinks can compare to warm butterbeer on a cold December evening.
The winning sugary drink we tried at Galaxy’s Edge was the Tatooine Sunset, an Arnold Palmer with added notes of melon and blueberry. While sweet, it was not overpowering and quite refreshing as we ate one of the food offerings at Ronto Roasters: the Ronto Wrap. Though we did not get the chance to sample food at Docking Bay 7 or the Cantina, we’re still ready to call this the best item available in Galaxy’s Edge. A pork sausage wrapped in flatbread with slaw and thinly sliced pork. It was quite tasty. So much so, we went back for a second order.
Overall, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a lot of fun even as it currently offers too many things a person can do in the four-hour allotment thanks to capacity issues. But we will revisit this new land when time limits are no longer enforced and discover how Galaxy’s Edge will behave on a more typical day.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open at Disneyland now. A second Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida on August 29th.