I consider myself to be a mid-level Star Wars fan. I’ve seen all the movies, but I’m not familiar with the other mediums in the Star Wars franchise. Still, since I saw the first movie as a kid, I’ve loved the adventure, triumph, humor, and even the peril of the Star Wars universe. I also love Disneyland, and that it allows us to escape the everyday world and live (even for a little while) in a world of fantasy and imagination. But, when Disney announced it was building a Star Wars-themed land, I didn’t know how I felt about that. Of course, I always thought it would be cool to be in a Star Wars movie – what 70s-era kid didn’t at one time or another? I wasn’t sure if a Star Wars land inside Disneyland would work. And I also wasn’t sure if I was enough of a Star Wars fan to appreciate it.
But, it does. And I am.
Check it out:
With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Walt Disney Imagineering not only created a place where you can escape the everyday world and live in a world of fantasy and imagination, but also live your own Star Wars adventure.
“No matter how you feel about Star Wars, no matter how much you know about Star Wars, there’s a place for you here,” promises Cory Rouse, Creative Director for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney Imagineering.
When you enter the land, it can be a bit overwhelming. Sights, sounds, and smells are all coming at once (underscored, of course, by iconic John Williams music). It’s cool. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing… Wait. Is that actually the Millennium Falcon? It’s fun. It’s even a little scary at times. The land offers layers of experiences that everyone can appreciate, from the Star Wars rookie to the superfan.
There are two things you need to know before experiencing Galaxy’s Edge; the rest can (and should) be discovered when you’re there.
1. The land actually has a name: Black Spire Outpost. It’s located on the remote planet of Batuu at the outer rim of the galaxy. The location plays an important part in the land’s immersive and interactive storytelling.
2. “Bright Suns” is hello during the day and “Rising Moons” is hello at night. You’ll hear it a lot; the inhabitants of Batuu are extremely friendly.
“Long ago, [Black Spire Outpost] was a trading port, a crossroads,” explains Margaret Kerrison, Managing Story Editor for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney Imagineering. “With the advent of hyperspace, this planet was bypassed so it attracted shadier characters like rogue adventurers, traders, smugglers, and scoundrels – basically the more interesting and colorful characters of the galaxy.”
Because these sketchy outliers live in Black Spire Outpost, interactions with the inhabitants (aka cast members in Disney speak) are more complex than usual. If you ask (and I recommend you do), they will tell you their backstory, and if they think you share their views, they might even confide if they are loyal to the First Order (in Star Wars = bad guys) or if they support the Resistance (in Star Wars = good guys). Something as simple as chatting with a few merchants in the Black Spire Marketplace can exponentially enrich your Galaxy’s Edge experience.
There are also two interactive retail experiences that immerse you in the story even further (though they’re on the pricey side, so tell your kids to start saving).
Anyone in need of a trusty droid sidekick (and really, who isn’t?) should head to Droid Depot. Here, you can choose the components to build your very own BB unit (like BB-8) or R-series droid (like R2-D2). You can even select the Astromech chip that dictates its sounds and personality and decide if it has a Resistance or First Order affiliation. Once activated, your remote-controlled buddy can interact with other droids as well as with elements in the land through Bluetooth technology. This is considered a premium experience and costs about $100, but Droid Depot also carries droid-themed merchandise that won’t break the bank.
The second premium experience – and likely a bucket list item if you’re a big Star Wars fan – is crafting a hand built lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop (about $200).
“Of all the experiences we developed here, this is the one that checks every box,” says Brad Schoeneberg, Director, Merchandise Strategy and New Park Experiences Development. “It’s hard to shake the memory of the first time you saw Luke Skywalker use his green lightsaber…to be able to bring that to life…is a treasure.”
The bespoke lightsaber-building process is serious business, so this experience requires an appointment. In Savi’s, they only let 14 people build lightsabers at a time and each person can only have a max of one guest with them to watch/video (so for example, both parents can’t go in with one kid, but if two kids in a family did it, then both parents can go in).
“Star Wars is all about choices, not just the choices you make but the choices of things you leave behind,” Schoeneberg says. “The result of those choices is the lightsaber you walk out of Savi’s with.”
The choices, from the type of lightsaber – Peace & Justice, Power & Control, Elemental Nature, or Protection & Defense – to the color of the Kyber crystal that provides its power, will dictate the final product.
Once you’ve chatted with a couple of scoundrels in Black Spire Marketplace and you’ve built a droid (and maybe even a lightsaber). What next? The ride, of course! The land will have two anchor attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Rise of the Resistance is scheduled to open later this year and promises to be an epic conflict between the Resistance and the First Order, but with Smuggler’s Run, fans get to check something else off their Star Wars bucket list: piloting the Millennium Falcon.
This attraction relies on teamwork as each of the six people in the cockpit has a specific responsibility during the mission. Riders are assigned a job as they enter – pilot, engineer, or gunner (Note: After receiving your assignment, you can explore the Millennium Falcon, which is pretty amazing). Your job determines your seat, so I’m guessing pilot will consistently be hot tickets (there are two) since they not only get to sit in the front row and steer but also jump the ship to lightspeed, which is obviously extremely cool. The two gunners sit in the second row and shoot at whoever is shooting at us – also extremely cool. The third row is the engineers. They’re responsible for fixing everything that the other four break (I was an engineer and my crew broke a lot of stuff). This might not be the sexiest job, but since your crew is docked for damages, they will be thankful if the engineers did a good job.
Fun Fact: To build the Millennium Falcon for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (the first time a full-size 100% complete Millennium Falcon has ever been built), Imagineers selected the best pieces from every different iteration, so the ship in Black Spire Outpost is the quintessential Millennium Falcon and will be the model for future films.
The food in Galaxy’s Edge is on the exotic side. For some, that might be great news, but pickier eaters might want to eat before they catch their transport to Batuu.
The drinks, however, are out of this world.
The first notable thing about the drinks is that for the first time in Disneyland park (except for the members-only Club 33), alcohol is available – and Oga’s Cantina is exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find it. After all, no self-respecting remote outpost inhabited by smugglers and scoundrels would be complete without a cantina, right? The cantina we all know and love from the first Star Wars movie is clearly referenced here, so another Star Wars bucket list item checked.
In the morning, Oga serves a mean Bloody Rancor (vodka, chile liqueur, and spicy Bloody Mary mix) and a spiked coffee called the Spiran Caf with coffee, orange marmalade, rum, vanilla whipped cream, and citrus zest. Non-alcoholic options include Black Spire Brew (coffee with honey, falernum, passion fruit, and citrus) and Moogan Tea (tea, chocolate milk, vanilla, and cinnamon). Later in the day, DJ R-3X (in a new job after his accident-prone stint as a Star Tours pilot) spins tunes as the intergalactic cocktails (and mocktails) flow. These include the Yub Nub (pineapple rum, spiced rum, citrus juices, and passion fruit) and the Fuzzy Tauntaun (peach vodka, peach schnapps, tangerine-orange juice, and “buzz” foam). Non-alcoholic concoctions on the menu include Jabba Juice (orange juice with pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, and blueberry popping pearls) and Hyperdrive (Punch it!) made with PowerAde mountain berry blast, white cranberry juice, black cherry puree, and sprite.
While we’re checking items off our bucket list, Kerrison says that drinking the blue milk we saw in “A New Hope” was #1 on the list of things fans wanted to experience, so there was no way Imagineers weren’t going to make that happen. The blue milk, which can also be found at Oga’s in the Blue Bantha non-alcoholic drink, is a frozen plant-based combination of rice and coconut milks with a tropical flavor. The milk stand also serves the green milk from “The Last Jedi” – the same frozen rice-coconut milk mix, but with citrus and floral notes. My personal preference is blue, but either flavor is a refreshing sweet treat on a hot Batuu day (and both are definitely insta-worthy).
There are two places to eat in Black Spire Outpost. Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo and the Black Spire Marketplace. Mobile ordering for both is available through the Disneyland app (and also for the milk stand).
At Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the land’s storyline determined that the menu would be farm-to-table comfort food since the remote planet has a fairly small rural community who has passed down recipes through generations. Because of that, you will find things like Braised Shaak Roast (beef pot roast with pasta, kale, and mushrooms), “Fried Endorian Tip-yip” (AKA fried chicken with vegetable-potato mash and herb gravy) and “Smoked Kaadu Ribs” (sticky pork ribs with blueberry corn muffin and cabbage slaw). There are also two plant-based options: Ithorian Garden Loaf, a plant-based “meatloaf” with vegetable-potato mash and mushroom sauce and the Felucian Garden Spread, a plant-based “kefta” with herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish, and pita bread). The kids’ menu at Docking Bay 7 (age 9 and under) includes a smaller portion of Tip-yip with mac & cheese and vegetables, “Yobshrimp Noodle Salad” (shrimp, noodle vegetables, and sweet orange dressing), and ”A Taste of Takodana” (black bean hummus, chilled dipping vegetables, and multi-grain crisps). So, yeah, super picky kids might want to eat before or after visiting the land – or maybe just have some blue milk.
A particularly popular item in Galaxy’s Edge is the Ronto Wrap, the specialty of the house at Ronto Roasters. This grilled pork sausage and shredded roast pork sandwich is served in pita bread and topped with tangy slaw and a slightly spicy peppercorn sauce.
Next door, Kat Saka’s Kettle pops up colorful Outpost Mix, a combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and even fruity-flavored popcorn.
There are also shops in Black Spire Outpost Marketplace that are worth checking out:
· The Toydarian Toymaker – This marketplace stall sells handcrafted toys, instruments, and games that were made by Zabaka, a Toydarian like the winged junk dealer from “The Phantom Menace.” Zabaka also makes dolls of Star Wars heroes and villains based on stories she’s heard from around the galaxy.
· The Creature Stall – This stall’s proprietor, an Amani alien named Bina, finds space critters from across the Star Wars universe. Here, animal lovers can adopt exotic interplanetary creatures like a cackling Kowakian Monkey-Lizard (Jabba the Hutt’s pet) or an adorable chirping Porg.
· Black Spire Outfitters – This shop is where you go if you really want to get into character and have your own adventure. The authentic Star Wars tunics, sleeves, belts, and robes were re-created from original patterns in the LucasFilm archives.
In addition, Resistance loyalists can stock up on gear at Resistance Supply at the Resistance hidden command post across from the X-Wing Fighter (where Rise of the Resistance will be located), while those pledging allegiance to the First Order should check out First Order Cargo next to a never- before-seen First Order TIE echelon ship.
That brings us to the Play Disney Parks app, the land’s most technologically advanced layer. The Play Disney Parks app was introduced a few years ago and can be played in Disney’s California and Florida parks, but with Galaxy’s Edge, Imagineers have raised the bar on the app’s interactive components.
“We know people have been pretending to play Star Wars for over 40 years,” says Anisha Deshmane, creative producer for the Star Wars; Galaxy’s Edge Data Pad Experience and Play Disney Parks. “But we wanted to give people who come to Batuu a way to play for real.”
It works like this:
When you enter Galaxy’s Edge, your phone turns into an in-story, immersive Star Wars Data Pad. Characters like Zabaka at the toy store and DJ R-3X in the cantina also have Datapads, so you can engage with them to uncover cool storytelling moments you can’t find any other way. Your Datapad also has four tools:
- Hack into devices and droids, including the X-Wing and the Millennium Falcon
- Scan crates in the spaceport – you might find some interesting artifacts inside
- Translate the Aurabesh writing into English to understand what the signs say
- Tune into the land’s antennas to eavesdrop on communications
According to Deshmane, there is also a whole land-wide experience called Outpost Control, which is a brand new experience that’s never been done in a Disney park. When First Order arrived in Black Spire Outpost, they installed a surveillance system on many of the door control panels, but the Resistance wants to stay under the radar, so you can help the First Order install their surveillance system or help the Resistance by installing defenses.
“This is an experience that everyone in the land is playing simultaneously. It’s completely organic and changes every time you play,” Deshmane explains. “Things you do and choices you make are what create your Star Wars story, so everyone will have their own unique experience.”
Amazingly, even after all this explanation, there is still so much more to see, do, taste, and discover, so the best advice is don’t try to do everything on the first visit.
Bright Suns, Rising Moons, and may the Force be with you!