Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Nightly fireworks from beneath the Millennium Falcon.


For years, the hype gained momentum. Star Wars Land was coming to Disneyland.

In anticipation, Disney warned us how crowded it was going to be. Columnists wrote about it. Instagram models invited to the media events talked about the exclusivity of admission to Star Wars Land and how hard it would be for regular guests to get in. Disney even put a reservation system in place barring access to the Land without special reservations, separate from ticketing. And the park ticket prices were raised too, making admission to the park itself even more exclusive, available only to those who could afford to pay $150 for one day, one park tickets, or $200 per person for park hoppers. It’s almost like Disney wanted to chase people away to stem the tide of oncoming hordes.

Finally, the day arrived for the opening of Star Wars Land.

The Batuu skyline at dusk.

The result? People stayed away. Whether it was due to lack of reservations or unaffordable ticket costs, the crowds never really showed up. Reservations were hard to come by at first, but didn’t fill up after the first few weeks. Now reservations aren’t required into the Land and guests may enter freely and stay as long as they wish … but they still aren’t coming. Though large in footprint, the Land feels even bigger due to a lack of guests. But hey, as a guest myself, I am not complaining.

Everything is accessible, from tables at Oga’s Cantina, the premiere bar in Disneyland, to the shops and experiences of just being in the Land, to the only 45 minute wait time on the Land’s one and only ride, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. All the hype of crowds didn’t pan out and what we’re left with is a really cool Land that benefits from feeling like a desolate spaceport on one of the rim planets, far from the decisive control of the Empire.

The First Order doesn’t have full control of the Outpost yet, but they are trying.

The Land is fully immersive; guests really forget that they are standing in a former orange grove in Anaheim about 1,200 feet from the 5 Freeway. The First Order stormtroopers, Rebellion heroes and scoundrel smugglers intermix with the guests, who are encouraged to interact with the characters like a huge LARP (Live Action Role Play) playground. Think RenFaire level commitment to character for every single cast member from Kylo Ren all the way down to the shopkeepers and food merchants. Guests can stroll around sipping blue milk – a rice and coconut milk slushy drink – and build lightsabers in the secret, underground workshop of Savi, or go to Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities for all their Jedi or Sith relics from times long gone when the Force sensitives were alive and well. But carrying a lightsaber or Jedi relic may put a target on your back for the First Order troops who are looking for Rebel sympathizers, and they may very well stop you and intimidate you into swearing allegiance to the Galactic Empire.

The one ride that was completed in time for opening is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in which guests are recruited by smuggler leader Hondo Ohnaka to pilot the Millennium Falcon, on loan from Chewbacca, to complete a mission. Guests can be pilots, gunners or engineers on the ship and each one has a specific job to do in the mission – be it shooting tie fighters, harpooning the crate of loot or flying the ship. The ride is super fun and very well done, being a variation on the classic projected screen and motion simulated ride like Star Tours, but with a significant twist in that the screens are not within the capsule but outside, giving a more realistic experience and allowing for individual-person parallax between the seat, the windshield and the action of the ride.

The trader’s marketplace.

Overall, the Land is a lot of fun. I have more to say on the shops and dining experience, as well as in-Land activities, so keep an eye out in the next few weeks for more on that. Until then, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a fun Land now open at Disneyland, and it’s a fun time while you’re there. I don’t know if I’d recommend going down for just that experience because, even without park hopper tickets, it costs $600 for a family of four to get in, plus $25 for parking, plus theme park-priced food for four (about $80 per meal depending on options) and you’re looking at nearly $1,000 for a day. And that’s without buying any souvenirs like the $50 Bluetooth communicator from the trash compactor in “A New Hope” or the $200 lightsaber from Savi’s Workshop. It’s just too expensive to warrant a one-off trip, especially considering the second ride in the Land, Rise of the Resistance, will be opening in January and, for those who wait, they can see both at once. But if you haven’t been in a while and are planning to head down for the annual trip anyway, now is a good time to go. You will definitely have a lot of fun and get lost in the experience.