My wife and I were fortunate enough to attend a pass holder preview of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the Star Wars themed area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios that will soon be opening to the public. As a lifetime Star Wars fan I had a lot of feelings about what I saw there, what I did there, and some advice I’m giving myself for when I inevitably return.
And that right there should probably tell you a lot about my experience. I will go back. But let’s get into this.
First, just being in the park is amazing. As soon as you enter Galaxy’s Edge you feel as if you’ve completely left Hollywood Studios. It doesn’t feel like a section of Hollywood Studios the way Toy Story Land does (another recent addition to the park). It really feels like you’re in a Star Wars theme park. And the visuals are amazing. They’ve done a masterful job of creating a landscape that is so unmistakably Star Wars it was hard not to feel like a little kid again.
Chewbacca walks around, interacts with guests, and so do Stormtroopers, Kylo Ren, and other officers of the First Order. We actually watched a First Order officer ream out a teenager (a guest of the park) for slouching. There are beep-booping droids seemingly around every corner and enough parked space vehicles to make you feel like smuggling some kyber crystals.
For me, the best part of Galaxy’s Edge was being there—just seeing it. And the moment it all really hit was when we made our way to the back of the area, turned a corner, and saw the full-scale Millennium Falcon before us. Or should I say above us? It’s massive.
And it takes you right back to that magical age, when long ago, in galaxy far, far away, you tried to use the force on a pile of rocks while Yoda coached you, or pretended to have a light saber battle with Darth Vader, or imagined you were blasting TIE Fighters at the guns of the Millennium Falcon.
The visuals of the park are enough to warrant the trip. I did have a few disappointments, but my overall impression is this: If you’re a Stars Wars fan, seeing this park is something you’re absolutely going to want to do.
Now before we get down to the individual attractions, I’ll give this disclaimer for anyone planning a trip to Galaxy’s Edge. GET RESERVATIONS.
Seriously, plan ahead and get reservations where you can. Probably the most disappointing thing about Galaxy’s Edge was the distinct lack of things to do. And this is compounded by the fact that certain attractions can become reservation only if enough reservations are made. You can’t even wait in a standby line.
In fact, this was my single biggest disappointment with the pass holder preview, specifically. If this is an event to use pass holders as guinea pigs, or to reward faithful customers with a sneak preview, it was disheartening that we couldn’t even get in Oga’s Cantina because of reservations. Probably the thing I wanted to do the most, after the Millennium Falcon ride, and it wasn’t an option for us.
But let my disappointment serve as a warning to you. If this was how difficult getting into the Cantina was at a limited guest preview it will be nearly impossible once the park is open to the public. Oga’s Cantina, the Droid Depot (where you build your own droid), and Savi’s Workshop (where you make your own light saber) are all attractions you can make a reservation for. Given the popularity of Star Wars, these attractions might be reservation only for years. I’m not kidding. Try to get a fast pass for Avatar: Flight of Passage sometime. The popular attractions at Disney parks stay that way for years, not months.
So don’t get locked out like we did. GET RESERVATIONS if you’re planning a trip to Galaxy’s Edge.
With that said, we also made a choice between a building a light saber or a droid, and chose the Droid Depot. This was mostly because we wanted to see our dogs interact with a BB unit, but also because a droid costs is $100 and a light saber costs $200. Yes, that’s right parents with multiple children, save your pennies. Galaxy’s Edge is not for those light in the pocket.
Normally, I don’t really complain about the price of things, and usually feel like finding happiness with things you can afford is the way to go. But again, this speaks to the limited number of things to do at Galaxy’s Edge. If you don’t want to drop that kind of cash be aware there are not a ton of other options to fill your time. In fact—where Galaxy’s Edge is concerned—your ticket to Hollywood Studios will cover a ride on the Millennium Falcon and that’s it. Everything else is food or merchandise. Plan accordingly.
But enough with the depressing stuff. I don’t want it to sound like I’m panning Galaxy’s Edge. I’ll repeat: I plan to go back. And there was an area where you can see the beginnings of a second ride I’ve been told will open in December. I just want you to have all the info I can give for planning your trip, especially if you want to do everything.
A couple of quick hits:
Food and drink: This is another area where Galaxy’s Edge really shines. With the exception of Oga’s Cantina there were plenty of places for a snack or meal. Kat Saka’s Kettle if your interested in popcorn that is sweet, savory, and also spicy; Ronto Roasters for quick meaty fare; Docking Bay 7 for more seating and food options; and the Milk Stand if you’ve been dying to try that blue milk that’s been a Skywalker staple for years. Given that Galaxy’s Edge is not a massive park, there were good options for eating.
Gift Shops: Costumes, costumes, kids toys, and more costumes. If you want to dress up, Galaxy’s Edge is your place. Resistance, First Order, Jedi, Sith, you name it. I’m not exactly sure why the gift shops were so skewed toward dress up merchandise, but they really were. I was hoping for a large selection of tee shirts, but nope. Costumes and kid toys. You want a Chewbacca tee, sorry. You want a $5,000 Stromtrooper outfit, bingo. You want a Yoda staff, you got it. Poe Dameron’s helmet, yup.
Now let me tell you what it was like to build a droid — Droid Depot
My wife chose the droid and built it while I watched, but the experience was no less entertaining. After making your way through the line—where you are given a part menu, and where you can view a display of the parts along the wall—you enter the construction room. Droid parts cycle across the ceiling like a dry cleaner for interstellar junkers, and there is enough beeping and booping sounds to spin BB-8’s head off.
You have the choice to make an R2 unit or a BB unit. Had it been my choice, I would have been boring and made a replica of R2-D2, but my wife chose to make a purple BB unit. She paid for the droid and was given a tray detailing which parts to look for on a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is a novel way to pick your droid’s parts. It was fun and feels very authentic to Star Wars. Unfortunately, I have another warning—especially for those with children. You pay for the droid before you pick the parts from the conveyor belt, and you’re not paying for exact parts. So if they are out of the design you had your heart set on… tough luck. They ran out of purple BB-8 heads, so the all purple BB-8 my wife wanted to make had to be a purple and black droid instead. An easy thing for an adult to get over, maybe not for a kid. So just be aware.
Once all the parts were gathered, we were ushered to an assembly table where my wife worked on our little BB. Again, a really fun way to interact with what is basically a merchandise purchase. You even get to drill the head together. And once assembly is complete, a cast member activates the little droid, gives it a test run, helps you box it up, and then you're off.
But the experience doesn’t stop there. Your droid is now alive, and our BB unit had all sorts of beeps to tell us as we passed other droids in the park, and all sorts of boops to give when the First Order came too close. Our BB-8 became a member of our party. And if you really want to flesh out your new friend, Galaxy’s Edge has personality chips you can buy for your droid and pouch carriers for you to wear your droid around the park while it reacts to the world of Galaxy’s Edge.
As much as the little boy in me wanted a light saber, the droid is a far better buy in my opinion. It remains a part of Galaxy’s Edge and the Disney Resorts, as a whole. Our BB unit went crazy when we entered the lobby of our resort at Coronado Springs. He even woke my wife up in the middle of the night because she forgot to power him down. And then when we returned home to our dogs… yeah, our BB-8 is a lot of fun.
But the greatest moment of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the reason every Star Wars fan has to put this on their bucket list:
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
A huge benefit of the pass holder preview was that the line for this ride was relatively short. We only waited about 45 minutes. One of the cast members at the Coronado Springs Resort said Walt Disney World will be shutting down a section of highway the day Galaxy’s Edge opens to the public, so you can get an idea of how popular this part of the park will be. Avatar: Flight of Passage is usually a 2-3 hour wait, and this line will surely be longer, even after months of being open.
But I really think the wait will be worth it for two very distinct moments. The first is the room you enter before the cockpit of the Falcon. You’re allowed a good five minutes to hang out in the room with the chess board. Memories of the iconic scene where C-3PO tells R2-D2 to “let the Wookiee win” flood your synapses with nostalgia. You can sit at the table and snap a pic. I felt like a total nerd, but a happy nerd. I was in the Millennium Falcon with a moment to breath and take it all in.
And the next distinctive moment was walking into the cockpit. I’m pretty sure I didn’t blink for five straight minutes. You enter with a crew of six; two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers. I was an engineer. Then you buckle in and get ready for take off.
Now an unfortunate aside from all my gushing. I have to be real for a minute. Disney wants you to get in line for this ride repeatedly. There are three positions (pilot, gunner, engineer) and each position gives a little variation on the experience. Also, how you perform at those positions influences the ride. This is where things get a little muddy. I have no idea how our ride would have been different if we performed better. Also, in no way do I want to pick on anyone, but one woman in our crew didn’t perform any of her tasks. She was nervous and buried her head for most of the ride. Did this make our ride worse? Our ride seemed overly bumpy, was that her fault? I really don’t like the idea that a ride I might wait hours for can be negatively affected by someone else. Also, the tasks themselves really took away from the overall experience. I wanted to look out the cockpit window as we zoomed from location to location and take it all in, but the flashing buttons to my right side I had to press for my engineer tasks constantly pulled my attention away. If I’m being honest and evaluating this ride objectively, I wasn’t all that impressed. There are far better rides in the Disney parks, not to mention the Universal parks. Smuggler’s Run might not crack the top 10 and it will definitely be the longest wait in all of Orlando.
But… it’s the FREAKIN’ MILLENNIUM FALCON!!!
LOOK AT THESE PICS!!!
For more pics of Galaxy’s Edge check out my facebook page.
And if you’re a Star Wars fan like me, check out my novels. They’re all heavily influenced by 70s and 80s sci-fi and fantasy just like Star Wars.
Thanks for reading, and maybe I’ll see you on my next trip to Galaxy’s Edge.
– Dylan Lee Peters