Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

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“Just imagine: if you were standing right here over 60 years ago, you’d be standing in the middle of an orange grove.  One visionary man stood right where you are now, but instead of orange trees, he envisioned a Magic Kingdom.  This man’s name was Walt Disney, and his dream would be called Disneyland.”  So begins Disneyland Forever, the fireworks-and-music show over Main Street, U.S.A., every evening at 9:30 p.m.  I piloted the Millenium Falcon.  And I drank the blue milk.  Whatever it cost Disneyland was money well spent to create Black Spire Outpost, the section of the park that is known to outsiders as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  Disney’s going to attract all sorts of new visitors that are Star Wars fans and otherwise wouldn’t have gone out of their way to visit Disneyland.  I recently spent two days there.  Had never been before.  Didn’t know what to expect.  Even if I had not done any rides on my first visit (flying the Millenium Falcon was the very first ride I got on), Disneyland would’ve still been ten hours of non-stop sensory overload.  In a good way.  Here’s my thoughts about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and some of the other attractions.  Also, because there will be plenty of other Star Wars fans visiting Disneyland for the first time, I’m putting some tips for first-time visitors at the end of this post, based on research I did before visiting and my own experience.

Tomorrowland

Before getting to Galaxy’s Edge, there’s five Star Wars attractions in Tomorrowland.  I’m mentioning these upfront because Tomorrowland is near the entrance to Disneyland, right after walking through Main Street, U.S.A.  Hyperspace Mountain is an immersive indoor rollercoaster where riders fly through hyperspace with the Star Wars galaxy projected all around.  It’s Space Mountain, a classic Disneyland ride, but with Star Wars visuals instead of just space visuals.  Star Wars Launch Bay is a Star Wars museum with authentic props, costumes, and other memorabilia.  Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is a fifteen-minute video montage of the important plot details from the Star Wars movies.  The Star Trader is a shop to buy Star Wars souvenirs.  The souvenirs in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge don’t say “Star Wars” on them or have pictures of the movie characters, because that section of Disneyland is supposed to exist within the Star Wars universe.  So for a shirt that says Star Wars or has a picture of Han/Leia/Chewbacca/etc, then the place to buy it is Star Trader.

Star Tours – The Adventure Continues is a turbulent ride where riders wear 3-D glasses and accompany an animatronic C-3PO on a Starspeeder through various Star Wars planets.  Admiral Ackbar is alive and well, at least on-screen, and briefs riders on the mission before getting on-board.  This ride recently replaced the original Star Tours.  The ride is a mini movie theater with seats for about three dozen people and flies through various Star Wars planets chosen at random.  Every Star Tours journey is at least a little different, with at least 52 officially-known locations to fly through.  One time we flew between some AT-AT Walkers on Hoth.  Another time we flew behind a podracer on Tatooine.  The experience of sitting on the front row is particularly immersive.  This ride is quite possibly my favorite ride in Disneyland.

Black Spire Outpost

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is referred to inside the park as Black Spire Outpost.  It’s a galactic outpost that exists during a typical day between the events in The Last Jedi and upcoming Rise of Skywalker.  The Disneyland map, and most photos, make the Star Wars section of Disneyland look smaller than it is.  It looks like just a courtyard with a Millenium Falcon in the middle and a few shops around it.  The Millenium Falcon and two of the dining places, Docking Bay 7 and Oga’s Cantina, are indeed right there when first walking into that section of the park.  However, there is a bazaar of shops between the Millenium Falcon courtyard and a second half of Galaxy’s Edge.  That second half is where Rise of the Resistance is located, the Galaxy’s Edge ride that doesn’t open until December.

Everything in Galaxy’s Edge looks and feels authentic.  In addition to the life-size Millenium Falcon, there’s a TIE Echelon, a transport vehicle used by the First Order, where Storm Troopers sometimes enter and exit.  There’s a life-size wookie that walks around sometimes, too.  Surprisingly, though, there’s no droids that move around Galaxy’s Edge.  The bazaar-like corridor to walk through between the two halves of Galaxy’s Edge was a clever layout choice and had little shops to buy snacks, garments, jewelry, and souvenirs like stuffed animals.  When the Rise of Resistance ride opens in December, I’m sure there will be other new things on that side of Galaxy’s Edge.  Right now, there’s just attractions on half of Galaxy’s Edge: the one ride (Millenium Falcon), two indoor places to eat/drink (Docking Bay 7 and Oga’s Cantina), and several cool shops.

Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

Actually seeing a life-size Millenium Falcon in person, and even getting to walk around in it, would be incredibly awesome even if there were no ride.  The hologame table is there, where Chewie and Threepio played Dejarik.  Once inside the Millenium Falcon, riders get to just walk around for a few minutes, check it out, and take photos.

After getting onboard, some Disney employees with boarding passes will eventually start asking who wants to be a pilot, gunner, or engineer.  Be assertive and request to be a pilot as soon as it’s offered.  And when actually inside the cockpit, take that front seat on the right.  Only the right pilot has the lever to jump the ship into hyperdrive.  The cockpit for the Millenium Falcon has three rows of two seats, but all the seats are the same height.  Pilots sit up front.  Gunners sit in the middle row.  Engineers sit in the back.  Only riders in the front row piloting really get the full experience of looking out all the windows in front and seeing all the scenery and everything going on around the ship.

The premise for Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is that the riders have been hired by space pirate Hondo Ohnaka to retrieve/deliver a shipment of coaxium, a volatile chemical used to manufacture hyperfuel.  Smuggling coaxium was a big plot point in Solo: A Star Wars Story.  While flying through the galaxy and smuggling coaxium, riders are also tasked with not damaging the Millenium Falcon.  At the end of the ride, a point total on some little screens shows the crew’s overall points based on the amount of coaxium smuggled minus damage to the Millenium Falcon.

The experience of flying the Millenium Falcon feels real.  I have an FAA private pilot license and steering the ship feels like being in a real aircraft.  The controls feel like how I imagine it would it would feel to steer something the size and weight of the Millenium Falcon.  When crashing into something like an asteroid, as the pilot inevitably will, it feels like how I’d imagine it would feel to run into an asteroid with the Millenium Falcon.  The controls in front of the cockpit light up and pulling the lever to go into hyperspace is fun.

Overall, I liked Smuggler’s Run and went through the line and flew the Milleniun Falcon multiple times.  The bragging right of saying “I walked around in the Millenium Falcon and actually flew it” is enough bragging right by itself to make the whole experience worth it for any Star Wars fan.  The ride doesn’t last nearly as long as a Star Wars fan would want it to last, though.  But how could it?  Everybody would fly around in the Millenium Falcon all day if given the option.  There’s also only one mission.  I get that there’s only one mission because the ride just opened.  It would be cool if there are eventually multiple mission options to do while flying the Falcon.  And boarding passes are collected (permanently) when entering the cockpit.  After standing in that line, the boarding pass should just be stamped as used and everybody should get to keep it.  I would’ve happily paid money to keep my boarding pass that proves I flew the Millenium Falcon.

Oga’s Cantina

Oga’s Cantina just serves beverages and a few snacks, and is noteworthy as the only place in Disneyland that sells alcohol.  A reservation is required because the cantina isn’t that big.  Reservations are made in the Disneyland app, which only accepts same-day reservations.  The reservation system is available in the app starting at 7 a.m., Disneyland opens at 8 a.m., and Oga’s Cantina is already booked full through midnight by noon (at the latest).  Make a reservation for after 10 a.m. to get the “Afternoon” menu that has alcohol and the collectible souvenir mugs.

Something different and unique is what I wanted when I went to the cantina.  Oga’s Obsession is what I ended up ordering, which is a little dessert served in a petri dish.  To compare it with something here on Earth, Oga’s Obsession is essentially jello with gelatin pearls, sprinkled on top with a pinch of dried fruit and Pop-Rocks.  It makes for a nice little dessert after a meal, tastes good (the Pop-Rocks are an interesting culinary touch), and if eaten at the bar (which lights up from underneath), then the snack looks extra interesting.  Oga’s Obsession doesn’t have any booze in it, but if a jello shot version with vodka is ever on the menu then I’m game.

I liked the vibe in the cantina, and so did everybody else I saw in there.  Everybody was walking around, chatting, and having a good time.  Every detail about Oga’s Cantina is just right.  It’s dimly lit and the right size, with a standing-room-only bar and a few booths along the walls.  The animatronic D.J. R-3X and instrumental music create the right ambience.  And the bartenders do a competent job of tending bar.  Be sure to grab some drink coasters while in the cantina.  The Oga’s Cantina drink coasters are free and one of the best souvenirs in Galaxy’s Edge.

Docking Bay 7

Docking Bay 7 is the only in-door eatery in Galaxy’s Edge.  There’s plenty of tables to sit, enjoy the air-conditioning, and have a meal.  The food is mainstream, which is what I wanted.  When I ate at Docking Bay 7, I actually kinda just wanted a quick lunch so I could get back to having fun and riding the rides.  I ordered the Fried Endorian Tip-yip, which is a really large white-meat chicken strip, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  The meal itself was satisfactory, filling, and I enjoyed it with a Coca-Cola.

The ambience at Docking Bay 7 has room for improvement, though.  The experience at Docking Bay 7 felt like the opposite of Oga’s Cantina.  Docking Bay 7 felt too big and industrial, like sitting and eating in a big parking garage.  The acoustics were even like a big empty concrete warehouse.  There wasn’t any Disney-esque magic in there, by which I mean there wasn’t really anything interesting to look at, comment on, or mention to anybody later.  The place didn’t have any animatronics, lighting, music, or sound effects.  Even Ronto Roasters, which is a quick-service eatery stand that sells tasty Ronto Wraps, has a full-time droid out-front roasting the meat under a podracer engine.  Nothing like that here.  Another option may be to even split Docking Bay 7 into two restaurant concepts, each with their own unique feel.  For being the only dine-in restaurant at Galaxy’s Edge, Docking Bay 7 should’ve been a more fun experience.

Snacks

Everybody asks if you tried the blue milk, as seen in the original Star Wars movie, when you mention that you’ve been to Galaxy’s Edge.  So trying the blue milk is a must.  Milk Stand and Oga’s Cantina are the only two places to get blue milk.  Milk Stand sells blue milk by-the-cup and Oga’s Cantina sells it in a sharing-size glass.  The taste and texture are how I kinda imagined blue milk would taste.  Some people expect blue milk to be a smoothie and taste like coconut, neither of which is true.  Blue milk is served chilled and the texture is like when leaving a glass of regular milk in the back of the fridge too long and the water kinda separates from little frozen bits.  The taste is not exactly sweet and kinda like soy milk.    Green milk, seen in The Last Jedi, is also available at Milk Stand.  The texture is the same, but tastes a little more citrus-y than blue milk.

Outpost Mix is a good snack for walking around or standing in line.  It’s available at Kat Saka’s Kettle.  Outpost Mix tastes like what we on Earth call Fiddle Faddle popcorn.  It tastes pretty good.  I got a bag of the stuff and went through it in like five minutes.  There aren’t really any snack-like foods available throughout Galaxy’s Edge besides Outpost Mix.  There will be hopefully more quick snacks to buy and enjoy while walking around and experiencing everything.

The spherical Coca-Cola bottles, along with Diet Coke and Sprite, are exclusive to Galaxy’s Edge.  They look like thermal detonators.  The Coca-Cola logo and wording on the bottle is written in Aurebesh.  The bottles are sold chilled.  There is a limit of purchasing two of these at a time from the kiosks that sell them.  The spherical Coca-Cola bottles are a cool Galaxy’s-Edge-only souvenir.  On my way out of Disneyland, I went to the kiosks a few times and got enough of these Coca-Cola bottles to give to friends.

Souvenirs

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities has artifacts from both the Light Side and Dark Side of The Force.  In addition to the items available for sale, there’s interesting objects and curios along the upper walls.  I took a panorama of the inside of this shop and still haven’t identified even half the items.  Of particular note are the replica lightsabers sold here, including the ones used by Luke Skywalker, Kylo Ren, and Darth Maul.

There’s other shops in Galaxy’s Edge, but I admit I didn’t buy any souvenirs on either day I went.  The main reasons are that I plan on going back soon, I wanted to save some first-time experiences for another visit, and the primary reason for my visit was to fly the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.  Among the other shops, of particular note are the Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop.  Droid Depot sells pre-build droids, custom-built droids, and has a life-size R2-D2 astromech droid.  Savi’s Workshop (allegedly) sells custom hand-assembled lightsabers, but going in there requires committing to buying the lightsaber before entering the shop.

The Force will be with you. Always.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is a lot of fun.  As I said, everything feels authentic and there’s attention everywhere to detail.  There’s certainly more in Galaxy’s Edge than I can write about in one blog post.  I look forward to the fact that there’s a second ride, Rise of the Resistance, opening in just a few months in December.  My visit to Galaxy’s Edge was combined with the fact that it was my first time to Disneyland at all.  For people like me, that go to Disneyland specifically because of Star Wars and have never been to Disneyland, it’s almost like everything in Disneyland that’s outside of Galaxy’s Edge is just like a major bonus reason for going to Disneyland.  I had a great time at Disneyland, so did all the other people and families I saw, and Disneyland may in fact be, as advertised, The Happiest Place on Earth.

 

(Editor’s Note: The fireworks photo was taken by me at the end of my first visit to Disneyland.)

 

Tips for Disneyland First-Time Visitors

Dramamine really does prevent motion sickness.  Save time from having to take a break between rides by  bringing some tablets.   An entire roll of dramamine is just a few bucks at any convenience store.

When to Visit Mid-week not immediately before or after a major holiday is apparently the best time to visit Disneyland to avoid long lines for rides.  I went during the middle of the week and there weren’t so many people as to make it impossible to ride everything I wanted to ride.

Where to Stay The hotels and motels around Disneyland are surprisingly reasonably priced, especially if willing to stay a few miles away.  Many of them also offer a free shuttle ride to/from Disneyland.  If staying at the Disneyland Hotel across from Disneyland, guests can ride the monorail directly from the hotel into Tomorrowland.

Admission Tickets There is a three-day “SoCal Resident” pass for $179 that can be found in the Los Angeles area at the gift card kiosk in Target, Walmart, and some other major retailers.  Most people will probably buy the two-day pass, like I did, available outside of Southern California at places like Target and most major grocery stores.  For $210, there is a two-day pass that’s good any day that Disneyland is open.  A one-day pass directly from disney.com is about $150, and requires reservation of a specific day of use at the time of buying it.  Save $100 by purchasing the two-day pass instead of individual one-day tickets.

For $280, there is a two-day “park-hopper pass”.  That lets guests also go into Disney California Adventure, a separate theme park across the entrance from Disneyland.  Like I said, for visitors that have never been before, Disneyland by itself will easily fill up one entire day to explore and probably both days.  Disney California Adventure also closes earlier at 10 P.M., while Disneyland closes at midnight.  For first-time visitors to Disneyland, maybe save the extra $70 it costs for the park-hopper pass for another trip.

All Disneyland passes are non-transferrable.  The admissions people take the guest’s photo when first using any admission pass so it can’t be given/sold.  All multi-day passes also require the second day to be used within thirteen days of first use.  That might not sound like a big deal, but two days in a row may be too much for somebody that’s never been to Disneyland.  After ten hours of non-stop stimulus and walking around, I was personally so exhausted mentally and physically after just one day that I couldn’t do two days in a row.  Also, after seeing everything there was to see and do in Disneyland, I wanted some time to plan an itinerary before visiting the second day.

Parking Parking costs $25 if parking in one of the two official parking lots, named “Mickey & Friends” and “Pixar Pals”.  I can’t speak for the “Pixar Pals” lot, but “Mickey & Friends” was big enough that a parking space wasn’t difficult to find, even though I didn’t arrive at Disneyland until noon.  Also, in the “Mickey & Friends” lot all of the parking levels are covered.  From what I’ve read online, in “Pixar Pals” some of the spaces are uncovered, meaning the car could be way hot at the end of the day.  Remember to take a photo of the level and row where parked.  Visitors are likely too tired at the end of the day to go looking for the car.

Prepare to Be There All Day After parking, a tram is the only way to get from the parking garage to Disneyland itself.  That’s noteworthy because it also means taking a tram from Disneyland back to the car to leave for lunch or take a nap back at the hotel.  Once parked and on the tram to Disneyland, just prepare to be there all day without leaving.

Water fountains are all over Disneyland.  Some of those water fountains are designed for refilling water bottles.  Outlets to charge a smartphone are also all over Disneyland.  Main Street Cinema has USB charger outlets along the wall.

Disneyland App The Disneyland app is essential for getting around the park.  It has a map that shows the person’s specific location in the park, has a search feature for finding specific attractions, and allows placing orders for food in advance of arriving at Disneyland’s numerous eateries.

Disneyland Forever and Fantasmic! are two events that occur daily and are worth staying in Disneyland to watch at least once.  Disneyland Forever is the fireworks display that occurs daily at 9:30 p.m.  Fantasmic! is a live show over Rivers of America, where Mickey Mouse (as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice) battles the Maleficent fire-breathing dragon, involves pyrotechnics, lights, and visuals projected onto mist, and occurs daily at 9 p.m.

Sunscreen On a clear day in Southern California, it can get very hot.  There’s plenty of spots in Disneyland to take a break and get some shade.  Many people just find some shade next to a building and just sit on the ground.  I personally made a mental list of indoor places that had air conditioning.  However, most of the time is spent walking and exploring.  Wear sunscreen.

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