Disneyland Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review: Mixed Feelings

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Disney Hacks Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review

My love of Disney knows no bounds with 2019 being quite the year of Disney for me so far. As many of you know I recently completed my Disney around the world trip (6 resorts in 6 weeks) with my wife and daughter, but perhaps the most anticipated event of the year was the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

For years Disney has been talking about Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and how it will be an immersive experience unlike any other. I decided to visit on opening to day as a paying guest to see if they had accomplished their goals. (Spoiler: I have mixed feelings.) For the record I neither requested nor was I granted media access. Now let’s get into my Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review!

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Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Review

Background

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is a 14 acre expansion to the 85 acre Disneyland Park representing a large increase in overall space. It is located on land that was mostly backstage, although it did replace some parts of the upper portion of the Rivers of America along with the former Big Thunder Ranch BBQ & petting zoo in Frontierland.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Entry & Boarding Groups

For the first few weeks it was open Disneyland used a reservation system for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. That period is now over and there are no reservations required to visit Batuu! Now, if the land isn’t too busy you can simply walk in. If crowds get too large then Disneyland has implemented a virtual queue with boarding groups to visit the land. You can get assigned a boarding group via the Disneyland app or at kiosks throughout the park.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review – The Ride(s)

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was originally going to open with two large attractions, however only one of them was ready at opening. The unopened Rise of the Resistance (opens December 5, 2019 in Hollywood Studios and January 17, 2020 in Disneyland)  is perhaps the land’s headline attraction, but Smuggler’s Run is quite elaborate as well.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Review
Jasmine, Ellie and I inside the Millennium Falcon just before boarding the ride.

Disney Hacks Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run Review

One of the most striking moments of being in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is seeing the full size Millennium Falcon for the first time. While you won’t technically go inside of the model, you will get to go inside of the ship! The Smuggler’s Run queue winds along the back side of the falcon before you encounter an incredible animatronic of Hondo Ohnaka who fills you in on the mission details.

From Hondo you’ll wander down a corridor before eventually reaching the Millennium Falcon chess room where you’ll be grouped together with up to 5 other people. In total there are two of each of the following per group:

  • Pilots: Controls light speed and movement. One pilot does horizontal while the other does vertical
  • Gunners: Controls guns on the left and right side of the ship
  • Engineer: Fixes the ship and shoots harpoons to collect “cargo”

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Review
Ellie at the pilot controls of Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run. We wanted her to be a gunner, but they forced her to ride up front next to one of us.

The truth is that Smuggler’s Run is part traditional simulator ride and part video game. Some may compare in to Star Tours, but each attraction is different enough to warrant its existence. Like Star Tours Smuggler’s Run is a bit different every time you ride, although not for the same reason. While Star Tours has different missions, Smuggler’s Run is largely the same each time, however the crew you are with will set the tone for your mission.

I have now ridden Smuggler’s Run 7 times across 2 visits and have completed all positions. I visited once with my wife and daughter and once solo. This allowed me to experience the ride with crews consisting of everything from families to hardcore Disney/Star Wars nerds. Some rides were simply more fun with some crews getting more into it while others were more serious.

To sum it up, I loved the ride but it’s not perfect. Check out more photos of the ride and the queue.

Black Spire Outpost Review

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is located on the planet of Batuu. Most of the land’s shops including Oga’s Cantina, Savi’s Workshop and even Smuggler’s Run are located within Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. The outpost is full of residents, eateries, ships, stormtroopers, shops and more. Disney attempts to make it a living breathing place and for the most part succeeds. It is definitely Disney theming at its finest, although I would prefer to see more characters interacting with guests.

The three most popular things to do in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge are:

  • Oga’s Cantina: Drinks from $7-$42
  • Savi’s Workshop: Build your own lightsaber for $200+
  • Droid Workshop: Build your own droid for $100+

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is designed to cost you $$$$. Smuggler’s Run is free (with admission) of course, however just about everything else is expensive. In addition to $200 lightsabers and $100 droids, there is a ton of other stuff to buy. You won’t find Star Wars branded merch here, but instead will find exotic “pets”, exotic foods and even First Order propaganda to separate you from your money.

The bottom line is that Star Wars fans should bring their wallets and a healthy line of credit. 😉

More Shop & Merch Photos

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review – Oga’s Cantina Impressions

On my second visit to Black Spire Outpost I had the pleasure of visiting Oga’s Cantina with my family. During the visit Jasmine had a beer while Ellie and I tried some of the non-alcoholic libations (Jabba Juice & Carbon Freeze). Oga’s Cantina is loud, crowded and a lot of fun. It keeps that Star Wars cantina vibe despite the hectic atmosphere.

While you are limited to two drinks and 45 minutes of loitering, I found this to be enough. We only had one drink each and were ready to go in about 30 minutes. This gave us time to check out the show put on by DJ R3X and to even see him malfunction. Overall I think the music and general atmosphere kept Ellie’s attention and we really enjoyed Oga’s. I am not a huge fan of crowded spaces and overpriced drinks, so it probably won’t be my favorite hangout, but it is a definite must visit if you are going to be in Galaxy’s Edge.

Oga’s Cantina & Savi’s Workshop Reservations

You can make reservations for Oga’s Cantina or Savi’s Workshop each day on Disneyland.com or the Disneyland app. There are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Reservations open at 7am each day for same day reservations only
  • Reservations are not transferable
  • At least one person in the party must be 14 years or older (Oga’s Cantina only)

Reservations have been filling up almost immediately, so if you know you’ll want to visit the Cantina make sure to get to the park early and reserve your time. Even if Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is full your Oga’s or Savi’s reservation means you’ll be granted entry.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Criticisms

Over the past couple of months I have revisited every single Disney park and resort around the world. I have seen everything that Disney has to offer and its true that the level of immersiveness here is above anywhere else including Tokyo DisneySea, but it isn’t perfect.

As a Star Wars Fan I was satisfied with Galaxy’s Edge on many levels. It looks and feels not like a movie set, but like a real town from the Star Wars universe. This is a triumph of theming, but at 14 acres it is huge and at this time it only has one single ride. Everything else will cost you a lot of money.

Now Rise of the Resistance is coming and it will no doubt bring balance to both The Force and to Galaxy’s Edge. The absence of the land’s signature attraction is noticeable but it doesn’t ruin the experience or make it unenjoyable. It just will be so much better when that ride opens. I can’t wait!

More Photos of Black Spire Outpost

Should You Visit Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Now?

Theming wise Star Galaxy’s Edge delivers on just about every level promised. The detail is above and beyond what Disney has built before and Smuggler’s Run is a mostly great family attraction as long as your crew doesn’t ruin the ride. With all of that said, here is my Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge advice:

  • Visit now if: You already have plans to go to Disneyland or you have an annual pass and it won’t cost you extra
  • Visit after Rise of the Resistance opens if: You are anyone else

The bottom line is that $200 lightsabers and overpriced drinks aren’t going to appeal to everyone. At some point people are going to want to experience the “free” rides. If you are going to plan a visit to Galaxy’s Edge and can wait, I would make sure to come when Rise of the Resistance is open.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Review

Disney Hacks Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review – Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is both a homerun and a land that is not yet finished. Experience wise the land has a ton of stuff to do, but most of it costs money. Smuggler’s Run is fun, but it is far from Disney’s best ride and Rise of the Resistance will be the real draw when it opens. Go and enjoy Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge if you already planned to because you won’t regret it, but otherwise save your money until you can get the full experience.

Have you been to Black Spire Outpost on Batuu? Let me know what you think below!

Shawn Coomerhttp://www.disneyhacks.com
I grew up an hour from Disneyland and spent most of my childhood at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. As I grew up my love of theme parks and Disney grew as did my love of travel. For the past 13 years I have circled the globe with my family for pennies on the dollar. I am an expert at travel hacking, saving money, family travel and of course Disney.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Back in the early 80’s, I rode Star Tours and realized as a teen that I have motion sickness. Is Smuggler’s Run also a motion ride, or close to it?

    • It is a motion based ride, although I don’t think the motion sickness is as bad as it was on the old Star Tours. The quality is much better and the visuals match what you are doing since it is a much smaller ship. I think there is still a chance of motion sickness, but these rides have come a long way since the 1980s when it comes to counteracting motion sickness.

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