If you haven’t heard already, a brand new land is opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios later this month: Star War’s Galaxy Edge! This past weekend we were lucky enough to be able to explore this new world before the official opening on the 29th as part of Annual Passholders preview days. We scored a reservation on the very first day for a 1-5pm time slot to be able to enjoy the area with lower crowds. So come along as we give an overview of the new land as well as share five tips to help you enjoy your first trip to Batuu…
Location: Hollywood Studios Park - You can find one entrance near Muppet Vision 3D while the other is at the back of Toy Story Land (not currently in use yet)
Opening: August 29, 2019
Attractions: 2 - Smugglers Run & Rise of the Resistance (opening Dec 2019)
Food & Beverage: 5 options for quick service, snacks, and drinks
Shopping: 9 locations for all the SW march you could ever ask for
Theming & Design
Seriously… wow! The Imagineers did an amazing at job of completely immersing guests into the Star Wars universe. Guests leave a Hollywood street through a tunnel and suddenly find themselves visitors of the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu. The outside world really truly disappears upon entering as a perimeter of rock like structures stretch up to the sky and you walk past space vehicles and well costumed cast members. There are even small details such as machine noises in the background and droid prints in the ground. This place certainly feels remote, more like you are in the middle of a desert, not a popular amusement park. It also feels pretty expansive, we were actually lost at first wandering the streets between the buildings, it seems almost purposeful to not have standard theme-park signage everywhere making it clear of where to go. (at least the restrooms were clearly marked!) The land even feels like the desert, especially with the Orlando sun beating down on the area without much foliage for shade.
Walking through the outpost there are so many details in the architecture & decor to take in. From stone archways with carved letters, alien animals hanging in a meat market, and plenty of space vehicle parts and cargo piled about. There is a ton of merchandise it seems, but even that is presented in a way that feels more authentic and crafted versus your typical souvenir shop. The most notable design of the area is the super sized Millenium Falcon parked in the middle of it all. We can only imagine that big Star Wars fans seeing this iconic ship in person must feel similar to seeing the Castle at the end of Main Street for the first time. We certainly kept looking around in awe.
TIP #1: Pack for the Destination
If you plan on spending time here be prepared for the landscape. Most other park areas were built with guest comfort in mind with plant life, covers, and shady spots. Galaxy’s Edge was more designed with the theme in mind and much is out in the open. Bring sunscreen! It is super bright and easy to get burnt. On the flip side we also got caught in a down pour and there was not enough cover for everyone, bring a poncho or you most likely will get drenched.
It seems the Cast Members here are most likely huge Star Wars fans already or they must have received a ton of training. Everyone is in character from line attendedants to the people pushing trash carts. Conversations are had in character. They may refer to your phone as a “data capture device” or asked if you want to spend some “credits” at a store. When chatting with a bartender at Oga’s he was talking about being from Batuu and explained where his house is in the same manner a local would tell you they live down the street.
We also saw many roaming characters. There weren’t designated “picture spots” but instead it was like getting a peek into a character’s daily life. We saw Rey doing some work on a space ship. Storm Troopers were walking around questioning guests of their actions. Julie all of the sudden ended up face to face with Kylo Ren, (she was so stunned she can’t even remember what the conversation was about). It was really cool to just see and experience these interactions instead of the typical wait in line to “meet characters” behind closed doors.
TIP #2: Brush Up on Your Knowledge
If you are not into Star Wars, be prepared to be somewhat confused at times. We have seen the movies over the years and enjoy them, but to be honest we would most likely be the losers at a trivia night. While the interactions were very immersive we could see where certain conversations could get lost in translation. If you want to prepare for a great interaction here are some phrases to strike up conversation:
Hello/Good Day: “Bright Suns”
Good Evening: “Rising Moons”
Goodbye: “Til the Spire”
Thank You: “Well bartered”
Cheers!: “Under the shadow of the spire!”
Good luck: “Good Run”
This new world is very photogenic. Make sure to stop and see some Photopass Photographers while you are there. You can find spots in front of space ships and most notably the Millennium Falcon. We found that the “force pose” seemed to be the most popular. Some photographers were more creative with poses while other just had you smile and move on. So we recommend trying a few different spots and photographers to make sure you capture a great shot. It’s good to note there are some magic shots available too. We also saw may folks using some of their newly purchase props for photos too. While there aren’t character meet and greets, keep your own camera out as you never know who you may run into!
Currently this is the only ride open in Galaxy’s Edge (a second, Rise of the Resistance, will be opening this December). Smuggler’s Run is a motion simulator where a small crew pilot the Millennium Falcon during a mission to steal Coaxium from a First Order transport ship. The queue for the ride goes through what appears to be a maintenance bay with a ship on a lift (you also get a cool view of the Millennium Falcon from above!). After entering a room to learn the backstory of the attraction, guests go down a hallway to receive assignment cards. Everyone is put into crews of six including 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers. Each guest has a specific job to do and the success of the mission is dictated by how good of a job each guest does. Soon after, you are ushered into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon where your mission begins.
It kind of reminds us of Star Tours but much more advanced and more intimate. It is cool to sit in a cockpit that looks legit (and we loved not having to wear 3D glasses for once!). The one thing that is both good and bad about this ride is that your skill level actually makes a difference in your experience. A lot of the responsibility of the success of the trip is on the pilots. If you are a pilot you get front row seats and the ride is extra interactive. But if you are an engineer you get stuck in the back with less of a view and the possibility of being driven around by pilots that crash into everything. We actually did NOT like the ride the first time because of this, we were so confused as to what was going on in the back, kept being told to hit buttons, and overall just thought it was meh. We felt very fortunate to have shorter lines to be able try it again in a different position (we actually rode it 3 times during our visit!). The next trips were way better for us. We could see where some guests will be disappointed after waiting a long time to have the same situation and not want to go back. (Although some guests may enjoy being in the backend not interacting just going along for the ride!) Overall, we really enjoyed Smuggler’s Run (especially as pilots). But we do admit other rides still rank higher for us such as Flight of Passage in Pandora.
TIP #3: Try Different Assignments
If you can, ride multiple times see if you can sit in different seats to experience viewpoints and see what you prefer. We were able to request to be pilots on our second trip and were able to wait off to the side for a minute or two. You should also note there is a single riders line available, and while it makes for a shorter wait, you will most likely be in the back of the ship as you are added to the tail end of other parties.
Rise of the Resistance (Opening Dec 2019)
This second attraction will be opening later this year. We will update this article after we experience it. We did see the entrance to the ride while there.
Food and Drink
There are quite a few different places to try some refreshments on Batuu, but note all is the quick service variety. (We imagine one day there may be some sit down options connected with the future hotel perhaps?) It seems that the menus really tried to push the theming as well, with more creative items and some odd looking treats.
Kat Saka’s Kettle
Here you will find Outpost Popcorn Mix, a colorful sweet and savory blend. Someone shared some with us so we could try the blue berry flavored pieces mixed with the red hot sauce flavored ones. It seems a novelty item that is cool, but we were glad we didn’t buy a whole bag of it. Here and any other stands you will also find little round bottles of themed Coca-cola products. At $6 a pop we personally think these were a little ridiculous. However, we saw plenty of people buying them so Disney knows what they are doing.
Here you can get the famous blue and green milk (with alcohol or without) to go. (It is good to note for allergies these are dairy free and made with a Rice and Coconut milk blend.) We decided to try the blue version while visiting Oga’s (see below). It does appear that the milk at the stand appears more slushy in consistency than the version we tried.
A small but tasty menu. We stopped by here to try a wrap that features two different cuts of pork, coleslaw, and a peppercorn sauce inside a pita. A little messy, but really, really good. They have a breakfast version too. And some kind of turkey jerky. Unfortunately if you don’t eat meat there isn’t much here for you.
Docking Bay 7
This is the main quick service food hall. It was large with plenty of themed seating. The menu looked really good but was on the expensive end for quick service. But since you won’t find burgers and fries here, the price is most likely warranted for more unique dishes such as shrimp with noodles. Some friends said it was super good, but since we had already spent our budget in the Cantina (whoops!), we are planning to come back and try this restaurant another time.
We were super excited to snag a reservation for Oga’s and see a scene from a movie come to life. Note that currently even with a reservation, you still need to wait outside in the sun (or in our case rain) until there is space to be seated. We were ushered in to some space at the bar, and noted while there are some larger booths that line the walls most of the space is standing room only. It is pretty dark with colorful accent lights, lit up bar tops, and eclectic visuals above the main bar. There appeared to be a small amount of themed decor such as a robot DJ (not working during our time there) and some small creatures hidden around the bar area.
There menu had an impressive amount of colorful and unique drinks, and many came in souvenir vessels. We were able to try a few to see what we thought:
Jedi Mind Trick - with vodka and grapefruit flavors Julie was excited to try this electric blue drink. While the flavor was good, it was a little disappointing when it came out and looked like the tiniest drink in the world for $15
Yub Nub - Andrew loves rum and this was similar to a rum punch drink. Unfortunately it wasn’t very strong at all and tasted a majority of juice. It does come in an etched Ewok themed glass if you choose to purchase it for $45.00
Bantha Milk - If we came all the way to Batuu, we had to try the blue milk. While the milk stand features a thicker more frozen variety, this one was closer to the normal consistency of milk. It kind of tasted like fruity cereal milk. Julie thought it was ok, Andrew was not a fan and would never order again. It came with a cool looking cookie on top inspired by a Bantha, but with the ingredients used it tasted less like a treat and more like a dry health food bar. Boo. Plus a non alcoholic beverage for $13.00? That was a bit of an ouch.
Unfortunately Oga’s Cantina did not meet our high hopes. While we are fine with paying more for a novelty experience, this one just didn’t seem to measure up. We were expecting an experience similar to Trader Sam’s where this is constant entertainment and interaction, but we didn’t see anything happen during our visit. Instead of walking into a scene from a movie, we ended up just standing around in a dark and crowded bar. We aren’t sure what we were expecting, perhaps more animatronics, characters, a show, something? The drinks were pretty disappointing too. While everything certainly looked instagram worthy, the actual drinks weren’t that enjoyable to warrant the price. Between being odd tasting, too small, and lacking a proper amount of alcohol none of what we tried offered a good tasting experience. For three drinks (including a non alcoholic one) our bill was over $50. We both agree that we would rather spend that money at a cozy lounge in seats with really high caliber drinks (a place like Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom comes to mind.)
TIP #4: Research the Food Options Prior to Arrival
At first glance there seem to be quite a few options in this new land, but when you break it down it is somewhat limited. A few places only serve one thing. If you don’t like the popcorn, milk, or don’t eat pork you are pretty much out of luck for a few places. Oga’s had one snack on the menu but we heard it was terrible. This leaves you with Docking Bay 7, which certainly looks super delicious to us. But this menu could be adventurous and not appeal to some palates. This isn’t like the rest of the parks where you can trip over a snack cart every few feet or easily find a burger, if you think that you may not like the options here make sure to bring snacks or grab something before hand because it is a long walk back out of Batuu.
The biggest listing of things to do on the map featured stores. The possibilities seem endless when it comes to merchandise in this new land. From small tent outposts, to cavernous themed stores, Star Wars fans will be in their glory. We aren’t super fans so while we poked our head in some places we didn’t end up buying anything. Some may say that this is a money grab for Disney to offer so much to buy. But we have no problem with it. For fans it must be amazing to have so many choices of very special items. Here are the offerings:
These small kiosks feature an impressive range of general star wars gear such as tees, pins, and toys.
Black Spire Outfitters
This shop features tons of apparel. We aren’t talking shirts but thematic character jedi robes and such.
First Order Cargo
This smaller shop features all things Storm Trooper, including one you can buy for a mere 6K!
This area feels like an open market with a wide range of things to buy. You can find all sorts of plush and figures at the Creature Stall and Toydarian Toymaker.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities
This shop was worth going into just to look around. While there was some cool merchandise to buy, the whole store featured what appeared to be movie memorabilia to explore and a crazy good animatronic behind the checkout stand.
Special Shopping Experiences
If looking for an attraction with your shopping check out the Savi’s Workshop to build your own lIghtsaber or the Droid Depot to customize your own robot. While pretty pricey we can see where certain folks would love the customization experience and souvenir combo.
TIP #5: Prioritize Souvenirs
While we aren’t big into the merchandise we know many people are. It could be really easy to drop a ton of money before even seeing everything offered. We suggest to explore it all before deciding what treasures are your favorite to bring home from Batuu. It also seems the workshops will be super popular, so If a lightsaber or droid is important to you, make sure you book it in advance! Another good thing to note is souvenir mugs available in Oga’s Cantina make a great keepsake. But if that isn’t your thing many of the drinks can be ordered for a cheaper price if you want to leave the mug behind. Happy shopping!
We really enjoyed visiting Galaxy’s Edge and appreciated Disney hosting an Annual Pass preview. We were lucky enough to spend four plus hours in the land which gave us plenty of time to take it all in. Even though we aren’t Star Wars geeked we still loved wandering around and soaking up this new land. While there are quite a few experiences that are out of this world, keep in mind many of them will add up in price wise. Between building a droid and a lightsaber to enjoying a drink or two at the Cantina, it could get expensive quickly. However, this experience is unique and immersive and could be worth it to many to have the ultimate experience. We believe that both true Star Wars fans who know all the details as well as passing fans looking to be entertained will be impressed overall. We are excited to go check it out again in the future and see how the land continues to develop (especially when the new ride launches in December). Until then, for those braving the crowds, may the force be with you!