Disney’s Star Wars land – what you need to know about Galaxy’s Edge
By Helen Wright
Hurrah! In a Galaxy’s Edge, not so far far away (well, America), the out-of-this-world moment all Star Wars fans have been waiting for has arrived. The ALL NEW ‘Star Wars land’, or rather Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is now open at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando. In a quick Star Wars land update, here are a few things you need to know about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge before you jet off:
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando opened on the 29th August 2019 and is a mega crowd-fest of epic proportions. Lines for the main ride, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Cove were at least five hours or more for the first three months after the official opening date. Ouch. However, super Star Wars fans in the know will be up to speed with the news that the original Disneyland Park in Los Angeles, California, has an identical Star Wars land – also called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge – and it is now open for intergalactic business! We were lucky enough to get a glimpse at the park with the IPW US Travel Association on opening week in Anaheim, so here is the key information and some top tips for visiting Disney’s Star Wars land in style.
Everything you need to know about Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge – Disney’s new Star Wars land
A virtual tour of the new Star Wars park – watch the video from preview day below!
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Disney’s Star Wars park Florida
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened on May 31, 2019 in Anaheim (near Los Angeles) in California. Walt Disney World Florida saw Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge open on August 29th 2019. The Star Wars park in Florida is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, which is also home to the brilliant Toy Story Land. So yeah, when it comes to Infinity and Beyond, there is a LOT going on over there.
What to expect at the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge park
To clear up any confusion, Star Wars land is not a separate theme park at Walt Disney World, or at Disneyland Park California, but part of the existing theme park – hence why everyone and their droid is calling it ‘Star Wars Land’. Though not the official description, this is the best way to describe the new Disney offering. Even if you are not a Star Wars fan, entering the park is pretty impressive with a real feeling that you are entering a new planet. No stone has been left unturned by Disney and Lucasfilm, who collaborated to design Galaxy’s Edge, and the effect is captivating. If you’re planning on visiting either of the Disney parks within a year of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening, brace yourself for a busy day. Fans of the franchise have been ‘troopers’, waiting for the Star Wars park to open since it was first announced in 2015 and they are more than ready for an out-of-this-world experience.
The best bit of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
Despite spanning more than 14 acres, making it Disney’s largest themed land, and incorporating rides, interactive experiences, gift shops and restaurants, the best part of exploring the new Star Wars world is the immersive experience it offers. Just wandering the (fake) dusty streets of the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu is quite mesmerizing and it’s even more atmospheric and exciting at night.
What rides are at the Disney Star Wars park?
At the opening of both parks, only one ride will be open to guests but once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has reached completion, there will be two Star Wars themed rides: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Not much is known about Rise of the Resistance but it is set to be a trackless ride with interactive elements – perhaps similar to Universal Orlando’s Skull Island, Reign of Kong. Hopefully, this will also mean the height restriction on this ride will be 36-inches, and so suitable for younger guests.
Driving the Millennium Falcon – what is the height restriction on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run?
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a minimum height requirement of 38-inches – which is roughly the height of an average five year old. The ride is a lot of fun (getting to drive the Millennium Falcon is always going to be a hit!). Together with six comrades, you enter the cockpit to embark on a smuggling mission, actually taking the controls and ‘really’ flying the Millennium Falcon.
Watch our video here to see the view from inside the ride
The computerised ride is, essentially, a modern virtual reality simulator. I have to be honest, with Avatar: Flight of Passage at Walt Disney World Florida’s Animal Kingdom, really setting the bar for 4D effect rides, this felt a bit more dated and basic. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, which is was, but here are some things to be aware of to avoid disappointment:
Not everyone gets to drive the Millennium Falcon
After (likely, an epic) queue – more on that later – upon entering the Millennium Falcon lounge, a Disney cast member will hand you a card to assign you a role on the ride. There are only two pilots, definitely something to be aware of if you have more than two kids / Star Wars fanatics in your party, as you may want to manually divide the group before this point. Behind the pilots will sit two gunners and two engineers. If you are sat in these seats, you don’t get to fly the Falcon but your role is to shoot the enemy (gunners) and repair the ship (engineers) to make the mission a success as a team. We conveniently had six people in our group, two of which were the primary Star Wars fans, so the rest had no trouble missing out on the chance to fly the spaceship. However, the design flaw of this ride did not go unnoticed. It isn’t known if staff will allow you to hang back for your own opportunity to pilot the Falcon – and if so, what effect this will have on the loading time and the, already gargantuan, line behind you.
Apparently you are ‘really flying the spaceship/shooting at enemies/fixing things’ and so therefore every ride is unique – however, for a follow up attempt to man the mission as a group, be prepared to head to the back of the line and keep your whole day free just to line up an do this. Gratefully, there is a single rider line, for anyone who is happy to ride again (Hans) solo – but it is unlikely you will get a chance to pilot from the single rider queue (as your job is to fill empty seats) and when we visited, the single rider line was actually closed because it had so many people in it! Only time will tell how this will work…
Even if you don’t get to sit up front, the queue line experience (despite the length) is a fun one with lots of to look at and photograph. Inside the Millennium Falcon, the main lounge is the most impressive. It does feel like a real spaceship with lots of props and imagery that fans my recognise – like the Holo-chess table that Chewbacca and C-3P0 played dejarik on in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Can I use Fastpass+ to skip the line at Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run?
Quite upsettingly, the answer is currently no. Even if you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel in 2019, when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, there will be no access to advance-booking FastPass+ for Smuggler’s Run or for Rise of the Resistance (when it opens). There are also currently no FastPass privileges in place at Disneyland Park, California either. However, the good news is that the ride entrances at all the parks have been designed for the addition of FastPass in the future – if and when, only Disney know and no one from either planet will confirm or deny! Heading to the parks? Follow us on Twitter for important Disney updates!
When is the best time to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run?
If you are heading to Orlando, you may know that staying at a Walt Disney Resort hotel means you can take advantage of ‘Extra Magic Hours’. This means that selected parks open either earlier or later for hotel guests than for regular ticketed guests. So, racing to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during these designated times is the best way to avoid super long lines to experience the attractions. As a sweet Star Wars bonus, between September 1 and early November 2019, Walt Disney World have added Extra, Extra Magic Hours, with the selected parks opening for on-site guests at 6am (wowsers), giving hotel guests three hours of exclusive park access to select attractions. If you can bear to set your alarm on holiday, that’s got to help a bit, right?
If you are not staying at the resort or haven’t reserved a FastPass (when available) – morning is definitely the best time to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. If Avatar: Flight of Passage is anything to go by, FastPasses are usually all gone by 11am and the line still closes 3-4 hours before the park (to allow the line to empty), even though it opened in 2017. When the attractions are this big a deal, everyone wants a turn. So get there when the park opens and go go GO!
For more information about Disney’s FastPass+ system, read our Orlando FAQ post.
What else to see at Disney’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
One of my favourite parts of the Star Wars park was Oga’s Cantina, a bar/club that actually sells alcoholic drinks and has a robot DJ. (Star Wars fans – remember the scene in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope? This is your chance to recreate it). Kids are allowed in Oga’s Cantina and there are non-alcoholic drinks on sale too. Be aware that the cantina is one of the most popular areas of the park and you may find there is a wait to enter. However, you can join a ‘waitlist’ and a recieve a text when space has become free for your party, which saves hanging around or missing out. Ask a cast member at the door.
Fans will be thrilled that Disney has definitely followed some of the creative ideas found at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. At Diagon Alley, Harry Potter fans have been able to select their own bespoke wand at Ollivanders, as part of an immersive experience and a similar attraction is on offer at Galaxy’s Edge. Guests can design their own lightsaber or droid, but be aware – these unique toys come at a cost!
At Savi’s Workshop you can make your own lightsabers in a hands-on character experience. As well as a lengthy wait to get in (three hours during our visit), this cool opportunity comes at a hot price of $200+tax (roughly £180). So, unless you are ready and able to splash out, maybe warn your kids that the whole family might have to share…
A similar experience is also available at Droid Depot, where guests can build-their-own droid and the price tag on this comes in at $99.99 plus tax (approximately £70). I felt this looked a lot more fun actually, but I guess it depends on your personal preference. Again, you may find a long wait for this but like at Oga’s Cantina, you can opt for a text service which will alert you at a designated time to come back and build your bespoke souvenirs.
How can I maximize my time at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
As well as boarding at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and taking advantage of Extra Magic Hours, using the single rider lines and attempting to ride the attractions first thing in the morning, you can also save precious Disney time by using the My Disney Experience app to order food. This is available at certain locations, and information is on the app. By the way, the app is well worth downloading, especially if you are using Memory Maker, as you can view your photos as they appear and keep an eye on wait times and other guest information at all the Disney parks.
Talking of the food – we were so busy running around, trying to see everything that we didn’t get much time to eat but there are extra fun food an drink options at Galaxy’s Edge too. Guests can sample the famous blue or green milk, fruity and spicy popcorn at Kat Saka’s Kettle and some very artistic desserts at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (namely, the oi-oi puff and Batuu-bon)
Can I meet Chewbacca? What characters will be at Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and how to meet them
If you have visited the other Disney parks and lands, you may be familier with the queue system guests must adhere to in order to meet their favourite Disney characters. (Essentially, characters will be in a certain place at a certain time to meet and greet guests. You join a line and wait your turn – or you can reserve a FastPass+ for some characters, like Elsa and Anna). In Galaxy’s Edge, Disney are throwing back to the old way of doing things. In an attempt to create a real sense of Batuu being a living planet, your favourite Star Wars characters, such as Chewbacca, Rey, Kylo, Ren, Star Troopers, the resistance and more will be spotted exploring the planet as you are. Keep your eye out for them as you’re having fun in the park and they will be more than happy to stop for a chat, sign autographs and pose for photos.
What is at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for toddlers and younger children?
It has to be said that the new Star Wars land definitely had an adult feel about it. Perhaps this was enhanced because we visited during the evening, but also because there is a distinct lack of attractions and things to do for toddlers and younger children, who may find it a bit dreary and overwhelming (and maybe, dare I say it, boring…). Things may change, but if you have little ones in tow, they are definitely going to want to stay over in the colourful and happy Toy Story land (if you are in Orlando, that is), so maybe hit Star Wars first before they spot Woody, Buzz and co and never want to leave.
There are also no shows at Galaxy’s Edge and no plans to add any, so really, soaking up the other-worldly atmosphere is the main attraction.
Check out the merch!
One aspect of the park that is going to be a huge hit for fans is the choice of exclusive merchandise on sale! As well as the custom-made lightsabers and droids, there is a huge choice of collectables, T shirts, toys, memorabilia and costumes – all exclusive to the Disney parks. See a glimpse of the merch highlights in our preview video at Disneyland park here.
Nine locations will sell merchandise across the Black Spire village and marketplace. As well as Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop, check out the unique gifts at (my favourite) Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, The Creature Stall alien pet store, The Toydarian Toymaker – which sells exquisite handmade dolls, Resistance Supply, First Order Cargo, Black Spire Outfitters and, for unique jewellery, Jewels of Bith. But, be warned, they all sell different and exclusive items – so if you see something you like, pick it up then and there because you might get lost and never be able to find it again* (*This happened to us in search of an elusive keyring…)
Another TOP TIP to avoid disappointment – some brilliant costumes can be purchased at the Black Spire Outpost but to maintain Disney’s well-thought out storytelling, guests are not allowed to wear Star Wars costumes in the park. T-Shirts and other accessories (like these droid headbands) are fine to parade around in.
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By the way? Have you seen the excellent Coca Cola bottles designed exclusively for the park?
Can you pre-book for the Star Wars park?
You can’t pre-book specific dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or, in fact, the main park (Disneyland Park / Disney’s Hollywood Studios) in advance or currently reserve any FastPass+ times – although the FastPass+ status for hotel guests may change so follow us on Twiiter and Instagram for any key updates.
Entrance to the Star Wars land is included in your general admission ticket (as with Toy Story land) and no additional ticket is required. Pre-booking your Disney tickets in advance before you fly to the USA can save you money and offer additional perks (like extra days, Memory Maker and attraction bundles and I pre-book my tickets with AttractionTickets.com in the UK. Click here for our very helpful piece on how to choose the right Orlando theme park passes for your trip.
We have lots of helpful advice when planning your holiday to Orlando! Check out some of our other posts below:
A two-week sample itinerary for Orlando – taking in Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and more.
Top reasons to stay at a Disney Resort Hotel
Orlando and Disney insider tips – we asked the experts.
What to do in Orlando besides the amazing theme parks
The BRAND NEW Harry Potter ride in Orlando – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike adventure.
Where to buy the best tickets for Orlando theme parks and find deals and bargains.
What is the best hotel at Universal Orlando?
Finding a villa in Orlando – where we stayed.
What to do during a hurricane in Orlando?
Disneyland Park California – how to do it without a car.
Tips for Driving in the USA