Light Speed to a Galaxy Far Far Away: Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge
At the beginning of June, I was able to visit a galaxy far far away after an exhausting, and rewarding, couple of days at a conference. This was my chance to finally witness what so many of my colleagues loved so much about this magical world called Disneyland. I was even going at the perfect time as Disneyland’s newest addition, and largest since the park opened in 1955, had just opened a few days prior.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (SWGE) is the newest and shiniest toy in the world of Disney parks. The first one opened on May 31st, 2019 in Disneyland whereas the next one will open later this year in Disney World. Originally announced back in August 2015, the construction on the parks both began in April 2016 and encompasses roughly 14 acres.
As someone who works in the world of entertainment and retail at Mall of America, I know the importance of crafting a story. Adding that simple yet complex feature opens an attraction like this to so many different opportunities down the road. SWGE offers exactly that by setting the stage in a world that is already so rich in history and lore. The land is set between the films The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, which is set to release this winter. Guests are taken to a small village located in the outer rim.
Upon walking into the main entrance, you really don’t see a lot in terms of buildings but that’s a good thing. I enjoyed that it didn’t overwhelm me right at the gate. Instead, it slowly touched each of my senses the further I walked in. First was the sight in seeing lush greenery, lamp posts and a few cast members in Star Wars themed outfits. Second was hearing as you hear the soft sounds of ships flying in the distance, animals grunting and the occasional “Greetings traveler!” from the “locals.”
As you continue down the path some of the sounds get louder and for the real Star Wars fans out there you can even differentiate the different ship sounds. Upon rounding the corner it’s apparent that you aren’t really in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge but instead in the village of Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu.
Black Spire Outpost Shops:
The first bit of SWGE is the Resistance Supply shop that offers a variety of Resistance themed merchandise. The shop isn’t necessarily a physical store space but more of a makeshift post as the Resistance hide from the First Order. As I walked up, I continued to get tastes of just how immersive the area was as they greeted me overwhelmingly after noticing my “Rebel Alliance” shirt.
Swore your allegiance to someone else? Not to worry because there is also a First Order Cargo shop which offers a variety of gear and products to show your support. I wasn’t greeted too friendly by the patrolling Stormtroopers which is why I had to sneak in without anyone noticing me in my shirt.
Not far from the Resistance Supply shop there are plenty of Black Spire Outpost shops set up in a marketplace-style area. They include Black Spire Outfitters where you can shop for some of the best galactic outfits, the Creature Stall which is the best place to pick up a critter to take home and the Toydarian Toymaker which is a delightful workshop filled with various handcrafted toys including plush, games and Wookie dolls.
Deeper into the village there is a wonderful shop that was by far my favorite. It’s not just a shop but an experience to visit. Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is an emporium of legendary Jedi secrets and Sith artifacts. The assortment includes famous lightsabers, jewelry, rare kyber crystals, statues and some apparel. I regret not spending more money there for souvenirs sadly but I’ll return someday.
Dining in Batuu:
Like various lands in Disney, many of them have themed food and drink. SWGE has a couple of different options whether you wanted a full-blown meal, some fun drinks or a quick bite including sweet, savory popcorn in Kat Saka’s Kettle. You can also get more familiar drinks like Diet Coke, Coke and Sprite but not without a Star Wars twist. See th for what I mean.
SWGE’s response to the infamous Butterbeer from Harry Potter is by allowing travelers to sip on some refreshing blue or green milk at the Milk Stand. The drink was made famous by Luke Skywalker in the franchise and it was single-handedly the most asked about thing from friends and family. I tried both of the drinks which really isn't milk as they have more of a thick smoothie consistency. The blue reminded me of melted down fruity skittles while the green had more of a floral taste. Now mix the two together? Whoa. Delicious.
The only actual meal I tried was at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. It’s designed to look like inside a working hangar bay. The food wasn’t over the top stellar, but again it was all about the experience. I ordered the Fried Endorian Tip-Yip which was a crispy fried chicken log with roasted vegetables in a potato mash served on top of a herb gravy. The chicken was quite good but the rest of the dish was subpar. As for a drink they had their version of kombucha which was called Batuubucha and was suja pineapple passion fruit flavor. It was deliciously refreshing.
Two other dining and refreshment places include Oga’s Cantina where you can try a variety of phenomenal alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The environment is super entertaining and includes the DJ skills of DJ R-3X, the former Starspeeder 3000 pilot droid that many met from Star Tours. Even if you don’t drink anything there, just visiting the cantina is pretty fun. There is also Ronto Roasters which serves a variety of meat dishes. It’s large enough to simply walk through as well as you continue through Black Spire Outpost.
Immersive to its core:
As I mentioned when I first started walking into the land, I started slowly becoming more immersed in the world. Everyone and thing are completely transformed to transport you into the world of Star Wars. Photographers and cast members will comment on your clothes, how you act around Storm Troopers and even say credits versus dollars. It’s small details like this that make it so incredible to visit. They even go as far as to not have merchandise even say “Star Wars” because technically that doesn’t exist...because you’re in their world.
Next, to shopping and food, there are really three different experiences to try. The first is Savi’s Workshop where you can build your own lightsaber. This adventure does have its limits as you cannot even walk into the workshop unless you have a reservation which also means you're required to purchase your lightsaber which starts at $199.99. There also is the Droid Depot which is a bit easier to access and view as it’s attached to a shop. It’s a little less secretive as you can see all the droids part around the shop, laying on the workshops and whizzing above your head.
The third is one of the best and what I think is one of the most sought after things in SWGE and that is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. It’s currently the only ride in SWGE, with the second set to open later this year. Smugglers Run lets you pick between being a pilot, engineer or gunner and every role are crucial to the success of your adventure. The queue line has a ton to keep you engaged while you wait, like many Disney rides, but what they do something different that I’ve never seen in a ride before. Once you hit a certain point, you’ll be given a color and a role with your group. You’ll then be escorted into the legendary Dejarik, or chess, room where you’re free to roam, take photos and explore until your group color is called.
You’ll then be taken straight to the ship’s cockpit where everyone will man their positions and jump into hyperspace. I had the pleasure of being one of the two pilots, and let me tell you it wasn’t a cake walk. It’s pretty difficult as you command either up and down or left and right while your co-pilot is the other. Overall, Smuggler’s Run is fun but not the highlight of SWGE.
A Destination In Itself
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is quite possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. If this is the future of theme parks and experiential attractions, I can’t wait to see what other companies do with their own. Every detail completely emerges you into the world of Batuu. While it was exciting to attend, I can’t wait for other to travel there to experience everything I did. Visit as soon as possible and tell me what your favorite thing about Batuu was in the comments or what you look forward to seeing the most!