Just in case you have been living under a rock for several years, Disney has added Star Wars themed lands to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Also, are you okay? How big was that rock? This new land is set as a new planet in the Star Wars Universe (SWU) named Batuu. In this post, I’m going to give a broad review of Galaxy’s Edge (many other posts on the land are in the works), including many photos and thoughts on the land’s quality and fit.
While Galaxy’s Edge is and has been open for a while, the land is still waiting on the marquee ride to open. Rise of the Resistance is set to open in Hollywood Studios on December 5th and January 17th in Disneyland. Without the attraction being open, the land does feel slightly incomplete. Galaxy’s Edge is divided into two sections, the Resistance Forest and Black Spire Outpost. Without Rise of the Resistance open, the Resistance Forest seems pretty bare. That’s not to say the area is a negative, it isn’t.
Resistance Forest, at this point in time, is extremely peaceful, with many sounds to hear and greenery to enjoy. The area looks like a national park with the amount of evergreens around, and the lead up to this area is long and forest driven (namely in Disneyland). There are a few ships docked inside the Resistance Forest and the area has room for small shows that may take place once the attraction opens. As it is right now, not much action happens here but it’s a very pretty and pleasant place to sit or walk around, especially at night.
Moving past Resistance Forest, guests enter Black Spire Outpost and are met by a market. This section of Galaxy’s Edge is an absolute joy. Many others have made the comparison of this market to the Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion and DisneySea’s Arabian Coast. I think both comparisons work and the Arabian Coast actually works for all of Black Spire Outpost. The market place is a winding street with little food and shopping stalls off to the side. Each shop and food window is uniquely themed. I love this approach relative to a giant gift shop in the land. The market has a lived in feel and the whole area feels alive.
Batuu feels uniquely Star Wars without having actually been in the film franchise. Part of that is thanks to the beautiful details throughout the land. The market in Black Spire Outpost has gorgeous lamps hanging near the entrance. They’re unique and one of my favorite design details of the entire land.
At the end of the market resides Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, Galaxy’s Edge counter-service restaurant. Right around the corner from that restaurant is another place to get a meal in Ronto Roasters. Both places offer interesting items and are a good place to get a meal. We’ll have individual reviews for both of those places eventually but they certainly keep the theme going, enhancing the story instead of diminishing it.
Moving away from the market leads guests to the reveal of the Millennium Falcon. With the narrow streets and tight sight lines that the market offers, having a grand courtyard and visual icon at the end is a treat. The reveal is similar to how the castle parks hide the castle until you are physically on Main Street. Once out of the Market, the Falcon is just sitting there in all of its glory.
The amount of detail etched into the Millennium Falcon is truly absurd, as you can see in the photo above. Imagineers did a nice job of giving the icon plenty of room to breathe. The courtyard surrounding the area is very large and there’s plenty of places to take photos from. Yeah, the fence isn’t great but otherwise the area is beautiful. If we were to pick nits in the story of Batuu, it’s a little weird that the Falcon is parked all by itself with so much room. That’s getting really picky though and, frankly, sacrificing a little bit of story for the reveal of the Falcon is well worth it.
Behind the Millennium Falcon rests the ride building for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The architecture blends in well to the rest of Galaxy’s Edge and the gigantic spires behind. Having the outpost blend in to the hills and topography (that the Imagineers have construed) of the area was another excellent choice. The land being on different levels makes for some interesting sight lines and beautiful views. Spires in the background are similar to the Cadillac Mountain Range in Cars Land. It adds texture and a setting for this land.
As for the actual ride, we’ll cover that in detail in a few days. In short, Smugglers Run is an exceptional second attraction for a land. I have it in the top 10 of Disneyland’s attractions and near the top of Hollywood Studios attraction list. While the ride is really good but not great, the entire experience is top notch between a great pre-show and an amazing queue which involves walking inside the famed Falcon, Smugglers Run is a can’t miss attraction.
Moving away from the courtyard where the Millennium Falcon is parked, there are several specialty stores that are larger than what the market has to offer. Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop, and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities are all obvious bits of fan-service that still work exceptionally well within the land. Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop both offer special experiences where guests will get to build a droid or lightsaber. While the price is steep, the prize is alluring to Star Wars fans and I was surprised at just how many guests were taking part in these experiences. While we couldn’t stomach the cost of a lightsaber, this is a pretty good souvenir to splurge on and would be a fun experience.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is far more accessible than the other two shops in that you don’t need to be signed up for an experience to enjoy the environment. Dok-Ondar, an alien antique dealer, showcases many treasures he’s collected throughout the galaxy. So, it’s a gift shop with a backstory? If you had to label it, I guess that would be it. But I think that’s very harsh as I saw this store more as walk-through exhibit with Star Wars collectibles. There were lightsabers, kyber crystals and much more to buy. That goes along with an audio-animatronic shopkeeper and some outstanding props. I’ve never given Disney credit for a gift shop before but this is exceptional and well worth seeking out, even if you aren’t planning on buying anything.
Nestled fairly close by is Oga’s Cantina, a lively bar serving drinks and a few small plates. This is reminiscent to the classic Star Wars scene but has been made to fit in with the rest of Batuu. Rex, of Star Tours fame, is the DJ and the place is themed exceptionally well. I’ll have a full review of Oga’s soon but it’s well worth stopping in (get a reservation) even with the high price tag.
Toward the back (I guess that depends on what entrance you take) of Black Spire Outpost is the First Order section of the land. There is a Tie Fighter parked in one corner and another fairly large courtyard with a shop of First Order souvenirs off to the side. Based on the ship and the banners hung over head, this area is heavily under Imperial watch as opposed to the neutral parts of Black Spire Outpost and the rebel base in the Resistance Forest. Across the Courtyard from the Tie Fighter is the Blue Milk Stand where guests could get Blue or Green Milk. The drink has been quite divisive in Disney circles but we really enjoyed them both.
This layout tells the story well. Imagineering did a fantastic job of giving an area for both the Rebels and the First Order (good and bad guys for those uninitiated with Star Wars), knowing that there are huge fans of each. On top of that, there’s the Outpost section of the land that just lets the story breathe without hitting you over the head with obvious Star Wars references. The layout is nearly perfect.
Something that pushes the story along is the lack of meet & greets. I absolutely love this decision, as Disney opted to just have characters roam around. Close to the First Order section, there are Storm Trooper and Kylo Ren appearances. By the Millennium Falcon and Resistance Forest guests are likely to get a glimpse of Rey or Chewbacca. The Storm Troopers are always looking for the resistance but never end up finding them. From what I’ve watched, all of these characters are receptive to photos and interacting with guests. It’s far more organic than standing in a half hour line to meet one of these characters and the decision adds to the lived-in feel of Batuu.
Our brief run through of the land above, doesn’t scratch the surface of the immense detail that Galaxy’s Edge possesses. There are Star Wars vehicles throughout the land parked off to the side. Many droids are just sitting around, discarded or ready to turn on. There’s etching on walls and back paths leading to more details throughout Batuu. We spent many hours in there and still came away wanting to see more.
While being it’s own planet within the Star Wars universe, I love the architecture featuring domed roofs and circular buildings. Something feels incredibly Star Wars-esque about it without them even having to mention the name. Likewise, the color throughout the land is that yellowish-tan that feels like it’s pulled straight out of Tatooine. Again, all of it just feels like you’re on a planet from the franchise without it screaming Star Wars in your face.
While I enjoy the colors and think they nailed it, Galaxy’s Edge may be best at night. The lighting package the land received is incredibly beautiful. I’ve come around a little bit on Pandora – World of Avatar’s lighting at night but Galaxy’s Edge is at another level. Throughout the land there’s a blue glow that hovers above the sights that is just gorgeous. The Falcon looks exceptional and the Market is gorgeous as all of the lamps turn on. While there’s never a wrong time to visit, make sure you see Batuu at night. As a lover of theme parks at night, Galaxy’s Edge is one of the prettiest nighttime areas I’ve ever seen.
As far as fit goes in their theme parks, Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios is a non-issue. Disneyland, on the other hand, was met with some trepidation. Thankfully, the addition was done with respect. In a somewhat weird move, there is next to no signage for Galaxy’s Edge within Disneyland. Once inside Galaxy’s Edge, it doesn’t feel like you’re inside of that classic park. That’s a credit to the land the Imagineers created and truly helps once inside the land.
I do think there’s an argument to be made that Galaxy’s Edge not feeling like it’s inside of Disneyland means that it might not fit in the park. Most of Disneyland’s lands augment the park, with broad themes that all boost each other. I’m not sure Galaxy’s Edge fits into that. With that said, I certainly think the positives outweigh any fit issues. Adding an incredibly themed land with an excellent attraction (soon to be two of them) is a boom for any park, even one with as much history as Disneyland.
We were completely blown away by Galaxy’s Edge. The story told within the land, the beautiful details throughout, the unique offerings, and absolutely stunning views make the land one of the best in theme park history. There are a few nitpicks here and there but overall Galaxy’s Edge surpasses every expectation. Instead of just a land for Star Wars fans, it felt like Imagineering really dug in and made a land for theme park fans. That’s something I worried about after the debut of Toy Story Land and others over the last few years. Putting Galaxy’s Edge even in the same sentence as those is not fair, as it’s incredibly done. Star Wars fan or not, go enjoy this masterpiece by Imagineering.
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Categories: Attraction Reviews
Oooooh, I actually really like this. There’s a lot of detail and they clearly put a great deal of thought into this. I definitely want to visit sometime!
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