There’s energy in the air, waiting to visit another galaxy. You’re standing by the Hungry Bear Restaurant just having purchased a terrible cup of coffee because, once you go off world, there’s no coffee to be found, and you have an 8pm-12am time slot. You’ll need that caffeine for the adventures that lie ahead. Everyone around you excitedly anticipates the fateful hour hitting – the hour when you finally get to journey to the galaxy far, far away.
That early moment of anticipation is quickly followed by mounting excitement. You start the long trek off world. (Who knew that you could travel off world and through time on foot?) There’s vegetation; ambient music plays quietly around you; cellphones are held high as everyone wants to catch their first glimpses of Batuu for their Instagram or Facebook live streams. But somehow, the crowd doesn’t bother you because you’ve never felt so connected. These people aren’t pushing and shoving to get there first. They’re calming walking, drinking in every beautiful, nostalgic, fulfilling moment.
Honestly, Galaxy’s Edge (although I slip-up all the time and call it “Star Wars Land”) is everything I could have dreamed of – and I was a bit of a nay-sayer when it was first announced. Star Wars? At Disneyland? That just didn’t quite fit. But now that it exists and I’ve been blessed to traverse that hallowed concrete that looks like rocky stone paths, I am a true believer.
I am one with the force, the force is with me.
The thing that Disney really succeeded at with this newest addition to Disneyland (and soon to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida) is create a fully immersive experience. All of the entryways (three of them) are somewhat set back from anything else in the park. There’s X-Wing tucked behind Mickey Mouse! It feels like a true journey elsewhere.
Every cast member is in character (mostly to the betterment of the experience, although I did have one too many “what’s a ride?” “what’s a bathroom?” conversations for my own comfort) and if you aren’t careful, will gleefully tell their backstory to you.
Chewbacca wanders, looking good for his age, and even joining a group of random guest children in a game of hide-and-seek. Like, literally, kids were running and hiding around the land, while Chewbacca tried to find them. Tell me that isn’t a dream come true.
The market is filled with those characters, all hawking their wares, trying to get you to purchase exotic creatures, handcrafted goods, and colorful popped grains (which taste like fruity pebbles and were not appetizing to me in the least, but it meant I got an amazing MSE-6 “mouse” droid container, so it was worth it even though I gave the grains to other people in my away team).
The food overall (apart from that colorful popcorn) is perhaps the best in Disneyland, and also the most diet conscious. There are plant protein based options! Like the most delicious “meat” loaf I’ve ever had. Even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, the food is worth the trip off world. And although I didn’t make it in to the Cantina, word on the planet is that the drinks are absolutely delicious.
There’s Instagram worthy photo locations at every turn, excellent photographers with a wide lens to catch you and the entirety of the Millennium Falcon behind you, and so many Disneybounds.
As a quick aside, Disneybounds are outfits inspired by your favorite characters, but made entirely of clothing that you might normally wear to a theme park. Disney has a strict “no adult costumes” rule, so go for inspiration, not exactitude.
Speaking of the Falcon, Smuggler’s Run is the only ride currently open in the land, but it is so, so worth it. Similar in concept to Epcot’s Mission: SPACE, Smuggler’s Run allows riders to actually pilot the Millennium Falcon, launching it to hyperspeed, firing at enemy targets, and grabbing the smuggled goods.
Plus, you literally board the Falcon, complete with a hologame table just waiting for you to sit for a nice game of Dejarik. I screeched in excitement through most of the queue and the ride. The cast member remarked that us “off-worlders” get so excited about a piece-of-junk ship.
For those concerned with motion sensitivity, you should be fine on this ride if you sit as the gunner or engineer. Of those in my party, almost all cannot ride Star Tours but were able to ride this with little to no problem. All save one of our pilots, who really let us down thanks to her motion sickness. But my screeches of joy more than made up for our lack of collected smuggled goods.
If you get a chance, this new land is worth it. I went during the reservation period, but the system will be changing on June 24th. From what Disney has announced, it will be open to all park visitors, unless it is a particularly crowded day. At that point, they will resort to a quasi-reservation system, much like the Fastpass systems of the rides in the rest of the park. The best place to stay up-to-date on the crowds and the reservation system is through the official Disneyland app.
Personally, this off-worlder can’t wait to return, grab a blue milk, and watch the heavens light up with fireworks in the sky. Yub-nub and may the force be with you.