My name is Sharon and I’m not a Star Wars fan. There, I said it.
I went with my dad to see the very first SW movie when it was released and as we exited the theater when it was over, I distinctly remember telling him that I thought the movie was, “too intense for kids.”
Thus was the beginning of 40+ years of non-fandom.
That being said, I’ve SEEN all the movies, some of them more than once. But I was never one to say I loved or even liked most, if any of them; just that my friends (or later on, my husband and friends) were going and so I’d go too, just because. But I never really enjoyed them.
So when Disney announced in 2015 they were building virtually identical Star Wars-themed lands in Disneyland and Walt Disney World, my response was, “Meh.”
However, I’m married to a Star Wars geek and I knew that once the land opened at WDW, there was going to be some “Star Wars land” in my future. So we made a plan, at my suggestion, to go on the Sunday after it opened – they would have an early opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the park where Galaxy’s Edge is located, for guests staying on-site, so Joe got us a hotel room. And away we went, to a galaxy far, far away.
Unlike walking from one land/themed area to another in, say, Magic Kingdom, the main entrance to WDW’s Galaxy’s Edge is through a huge tunnel with a curve in it, which means you don’t see the land until you’re out of the tunnel. Between this and the high sets/”mountains” surrounding you once you’re in the area, you’re almost entirely immersed in the land, almost as well as the Diagon Alley area of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter did when they opened in 2014 – you can’t see anything of the outside from the inside (I say “almost” because Galaxy Edge’s secondary entrance/exit, over by Toy Story land, has no tunnel and you can clearly see the neighboring land as you exit Galaxy’s Edge).
My very first impression was that the land was HUGE. Smuggler’s Run, the one ride/attraction in the land (Rise of The Resistance, the land’s second ride, is scheduled to open later in the year), was still getting 120-minute waits during that first week (it’s since decreased to a more manageable 40-45 minutes during the day) and we had to walk and walk and WALK to get to the end of the queue. To be fair, the land is 14 acres and the lands in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando are about 13 (Hogsmeade) and 20 acres (Diagon Alley), but Galaxy’s Edge just feels much bigger.
The land itself is beautifully done, with lots and lots and LOTS of attention to detail. Even if I don’t care that we’re supposed to be on the planet Batuu and don’t know the back history of the planet and its place in Star Wars lore, it was still enjoyable to walk around and see everything they had done to make this land seem “real.” The plants, shrubs and trees. The forced perspective of the rock formations. The lighting. The background music and the occasional sound of a starship taking off or landing. The Storm Troopers and characters (Chewbacca, Rey, etc.) walking around also helped to make the land feel very “Star Warsy.”
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is a simulator where you and 5 other people
drive pilot the Millennium Falcon. Expecting huge crowds, the queue is long and a lot of it is outdoors. However, once you get close enough to the full-size Millennium Falcon model in the park, you’re still outside but covered, and they have what I can only describe as outdoor air conditioning, which makes standing on line in the summer that much more comfortable.
As for the ride itself, Wikipedia explains it best without giving away any spoilers:
Park guests are seated in a 6-passenger motion simulator, themed after the Millennium Falcon. Guests go on an interactive “smuggling mission” with each guest on the attraction being assigned a different crew role. The story is set between the films The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
I don’t know if it’s because of my lack of interest in Star Wars (being able to pilot the Millennium Falcon just isn’t a big deal when you’re not a Star Wars fan) or just the overabundance of simulator rides that have opened at both Disney and Universal in recent years (Avatar Flight of Passage, Skull Island: Reign Of Kong, Soarin’ Around The World, Fast & Furious Supercharged, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, etc.), but frankly, I was underwhelmed with the ride – it reminded me of the Invasion! An ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter game that they used to have at DisneyQuest, but higher-tech.
Heads up for those of you fellow non-Star Wars fans who, like me, have never even considered piloting the Millennium Falcon before – pay close attention to what the guy on the screen (or the in-person guy – Joe has had both experiences) tells you to do before the ride starts, so you know what’s expected of you. I missed that part and it took until halfway through the ride, when Joe said, “DO THIS!” (he actually told me what I needed to do but I’m trying to make this spoiler free), that I got the hang of what my responsibility was. Which brings me to another point – it’s an active ride that requires you to be able to understand directions that are given in English. With all the WDW visitors who don’t have a good (or sometimes ANY!) command of English, I wish the instructions were either a little more intuitive (not everyone knows if a green light is flashing around a button that it means to press that button – and if you don’t, the ride won’t know you’re there and will do your job on “autopilot”) or were available in other languages, since what those “crew members” do on and to the Millennium Falcon will affect everyone else in your pod.
As of this writing, the only way to get into Oga’s Cantina is with a reservation made on Disney’s app. Once inside, you are allowed to order up to 2 drinks per person and/or visit for up to 45 minutes.
I was looking forward to visiting Oga’s most of all, because I collect Tiki mugs and wanted to get the drink that came in the souvenir Endor mug. Like the rest of the land, Oga’s was themed beautifully and I appreciated all the thought and work that went into it.
The Rest of The Land
The rest of the land is restaurants and souvenir shops. Well, DUH…it’s a theme park and of course that’s what the rest of the land is ;-). We didn’t eat at the restaurant but a brief look at the menu showed that, no surprise, all of the food was “Star Warsy.” So were the souvenirs.
Actually, that’s one nice thing about being in Star Wars land and not caring about Star Wars – it saves you an awful lot on souvenirs ;-).
Which brings me to another point – I have no interest in buying a build-your-own lightsaber for $200 and
thankfully, Joe isn’t a collector and doesn’t want one either (although if he did, it’d seriously be fine). Unfortunately, you can’t go into the “make your own lightsaber” show (it’s called Savi’s Workshop) unless you’re buying one (or are the “+1” of someone who’s buying one) (one point for Harry Potter land – ANYONE can go into the wand show, even if they have no intentions of buying a wand).
Anything else in the land is available to look at/experience and there’s certainly enough to see and appreciate. And I guess that’s the thing…as opposed to some attractions (Journey Into Imagination With Figment, Superstar Limo) and even whole parks (the original Disney’s California Adventure) that have been made “on the cheap,” they sunk a whole lot of money into Galaxy’s Edge and it shows. Even as someone who isn’t a Star Wars fan, I can still say the land is done beautifully, and there’s still a whole lot to look at and appreciate.
But do I appreciate it as much as hard core fans like these?
I doubt it. Those who are actively into Star Wars fandom got references incorporated into the land that went whoosh over my head (and not just because I’m 4’6″ and everything is over my head ;-)). They’re people who’ve been waiting their whole lives for the moment when they can finally visit Batuu and pilot the Millennium Falcon, and I don’t begrudge them any of that.
But I still thoroughly enjoyed my visit there and look forward to future ones.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary