16 insider tips for living out your ‘Star Wars’ dreams at Disney
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But that was really just the beginning of a whole new chapter of Disney-fueled “Star Wars” experiences.
With the recent launch of the two-night Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World and more “Star Wars” experiences coming to Disney Cruise Line, there have never been more real-life opportunities to step into the world of “Star Wars.”
If you’re planning a Disney trip and “Star Wars” tops your list of entertainment priorities, don’t just yell “Punch it, Chewie!” and head straight for the rides, or you’ll miss countless opportunities to delve deeper into all the parks have to offer for “Star Wars” fans.
If the Force is strong in your family, you’ll want to pack these 16 tips and tricks to live out your dreams of a galaxy far, far away on your next Disney vacation.
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Treat Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge like its own walk-through attraction
It’s easy to scan the attractions at Walt Disney World or Disneyland and quickly add the two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge rides, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to your hit list. However, you should also consider this breathtaking land an experience to prioritize in its own right.
As you enter Galaxy’s Edge, aka the Outer Rim planet of Batuu, and wander through the bustling trading center, Black Spire Outpost, you’ll quickly feel parsecs away from Disneyland’s nearby Fantasyland or the adjacent Toy Story Land in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
“Star Wars” fans could easily spend the better part of a day exploring the stalls of the marketplace, bellying up to the bar in Oga’s Cantina and discovering hidden details concealed around blaster fire-marred corners.
The land invites immersive role-play — signs are written in Aurebesh, the main alphabet used in the “Star Wars” galaxy. The citizens of Batuu (aka Disney Cast Members) greet you as a visitor to their planet (“Bright suns, traveler”) and play dumb if you refer to Earthly, “off-planet” places.
Also, characters chat casually with passersby rather than invite a queue for posed photos. Come with a curious mind and an openness to play along and you’ll end up wanting to devote more than a few hours to Batuu during your trip.
Have a plan for riding Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run
Yes, there’s plenty to do in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge even before you set foot on a ride.
However, both of the land’s attractions are also not to be missed, so you’ll still want to strategize. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run are both accessible by standby queue or two different Lightning Lane options.
If you’re willing to spend some extra money, your best bet for riding Rise of the Resistance is to purchase an a la carte Individual Lightning Lane. Ranging from $15-$20 per person depending on the day and whether you’re at Disneyland or Walt Disney World, an Individual Lightning Lane reservation lets you skip the standby queue, which can regularly average 90 minutes or more.
You can get Lightning Lane access to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run as part of Disney Genie+ — $15 a day at Walt Disney World or $20 a day at Disneyland allows you to reserve Lightning Lane access to a long list of attractions, one at a time, pending availability.
At Walt Disney World, all guests can book their first Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation at 7 a.m. Guests staying at a Disney resort hotel can book their first Individual Lightning Lane reservation at 7 a.m. and guests staying off property can book their first Individual Lightning Lane at park opening.
Be aware that Individual Lightning Lane reservations for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance nearly always sell out at Walt Disney World before becoming available to off-property guests, so if you’re not staying at a Disney hotel, expect to wait in the standby queue.
If you’re paying for both, be sure to make your selection for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance first, as it sells out before Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Lightning Lane reservations fill up for the day. At Disneyland, you can only make Lightning Lane selections once you enter the park, and reservations don’t fill up so quickly.
If you don’t want to pony up the extra cash, rope-drop one of the rides — plan to arrive 30-45 minutes before the official park opening (be sure to use the early theme park entry for Disney resort hotel guests if you’re staying on property at Walt Disney World — this is your best standby approach for Rise of the Resistance), and plan to do the other one during the slower lunch window or just before park closing.
A word of warning — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance breaks down … regularly.
If you wait until the end of the day to try to ride, you risk not getting on this epic nearly 20-minute attraction. Given the ride’s unpredictability, I recommend spending the money on an Individual Lightning Lane reservation to secure your best chance of not missing it. If the ride breaks down during your return period, you’ll be given an open-ended return window for the rest of the day once it’s back up and running.
Come ready to interact, but don’t expect traditional character meet-and-greets
Traditional character interactions like hugs and autographs have recently returned to Walt Disney World and Disneyland after a pandemic pause.
However, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has never offered typical meet-and-greets and posed photos. Here, character interactions are impromptu — often more suited to video capture than a Disney PhotoPass session.
Wave to Resistance heroes Rey, Chewbacca and Vi Moradi at their hangouts near the X-wing in Resistance Forest, around the speeder garage or in front of the Millennium Falcon, and find Kylo Ren flanked by First Order stormtroopers in front of the imposing TIE Echelon.
At Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, characters roam the land and interact more closely with guests (R2-D2 also makes the rounds, in addition to the others listed above). However, at Walt Disney World, characters still remain on stages and behind barriers, so it’s more challenging to engage.
Still, if you step up and make eye (mask) contact with Kylo Ren, there’s a good chance he’ll have some choice words for you.
Use your datapad to unlock more of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
While you might be hesitant to spend even more time on your phone after searching for Lightning Lane reservations within Disney Genie+, Todd Martens, an immersive entertainment journalist who writes about games and theme parks for the Los Angeles Times, recommends spending some time using the Play Disney Parks app.
“I love Galaxy’s Edge because there are opportunities throughout to play,” Martens shared. “The Play Disney Parks app has a robust collection of minigames hidden in its Star Wars: Datapad, all of which help turn the land into an environment that feels full of life. It’s the third attraction in the land.”
You can use your datapad to fire up the Millennium Falcon, translate Aurebesh signs, hack into and activate droids, scan crates and virtually stash contents. You can also complete missions and tasks for members of the Resistance or the First Order, helping to establish your allegiance to one side or the other.
The datapad also includes tasks you can complete as you wait in standby queues for Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run — a great way to pass the time with impatient kiddos. Although we typically follow a no-device rule on family vacations, we break it here and bring our kids’ iPads to Galaxy’s Edge so that they can use them as their datapads while we use our phones.
Visit Oga’s Cantina — but know what to expect
Oga’s Cantina, the watering hole inspired by Mos Eisley’s infamous cantina first introduced in “A New Hope,” has been open since 2019, but first-timers are still confused by what exactly a visit entails.
Oga’s is where weary travelers, scoundrels and smugglers come to sip intergalactic cocktails like the Fuzzy Tauntaun and Jedi Mind Trick while animatronic droid DJ Rex spins Modal Nodes remixes and new classics (we love listening to the full album at home).
Advance reservations are a must, and although you’ll book a time slot for breakfast, lunch or dinner, Oga’s is a bar, not a restaurant, and only offers a couple of very light snack options on the menu.
Many tables and bar spots — even for those with reservations — are standing room only. And while kids are allowed, it’s a somewhat grown-up vibe. However, my kids still have a blast watching DJ Rex and sipping their Blue Banthas — blue milk topped with a bantha horn cookie.
If you’re with kids or just have tired legs and are willing to wait a little (and occasionally a lot) longer, let a Cast Member know when you check in for your reservation that you’d like a seated table and that you’ll wait for one.
Make sure to pull out your datapad while in Oga’s, too — you can hack into DJ Rex (plus it gives kids another way to stay engaged while parents relax with a cocktail).
There’s a 45-minute, two-drink-per-person limit here. Reservations are scooped up immediately at the 60-day mark, so set those alarms. Disneyland guests should also take note that Oga’s is one of only two places in Disneyland Park where alcohol is served — and the other, Blue Bayou, is temporarily closed, so this is your one chance for that adult beverage right now.
These are the details you’re looking for
You could fill volumes with the “Star Wars” Easter eggs hiding in plain sight around Batuu. Lucasfilm Vice President and Executive Creative Director Doug Chiang oversaw the design for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and says even he rediscovers hidden details.
“Recently, while visiting Galaxy’s Edge, I found myself discovering things that I had already forgotten,” Chiang said. “I thought, ‘Hey, that’s cool.’ Then I remembered I had designed it,” he laughed.
Chiang said guests should look out for those little details everywhere, and shared a couple of pointers. “On the full-sized Millenium Falcon outside of Smugglers Run, look for a tiny Millennium Falcon ship on the underside of the cockpit pod. It was in the original set, too,” he shared.
Chiang told me when I first interviewed him nearly three years ago that there’s a hidden Mickey somewhere on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. My kids and I had been looking ever since and we were so excited to finally find it last month. No spoilers but I’ll give you a hint: Look closely at the control panels on the Star Destroyer.
Choose your weapon
For the ultimate “Star Wars” souvenir, it’s hard to compete with that elegant weapon for a more civilized age: the lightsaber. Building your own saber at Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers is a moving, bucket list experience for fans. It will definitely set you back a few credits, though, at $219.99. For a less expensive option at a similar quality, legacy lightsabers sold in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities typically start at $139.99 for impressive replica sabers modeled after the iconic weapons of characters like Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
For a far less expensive option, a Choose Your Destiny lightsaber-building station is available at Tatooine Traders at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the Star Trader in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park. Here, you can build your own lightsaber for a starting price of just $29.99.
Bond with fellow fans during a lightsaber meetup
Whether you build your own lightsaber, buy a pre-made version or bring one from home, wielding a saber after dark in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge definitely gives “Star Wars” fans all the feels.
Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe and actress best known as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels,” enjoys connecting with other fans on Batuu during lightsaber meetups, unofficial gatherings organized through social media.
“One of my favorite things to do in Galaxy’s Edge is attend a Lightsaber Discord Fan Meetup,” said Eckstein. “There are several throughout the year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come together with fellow ‘Star Wars’ fans and use your lightsabers for some really epic photo ops!”
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Go on a creature scavenger hunt (and maybe take one home)
It’s not “Star Wars” without a few alien creatures in the mix. Spot all sorts of species around Batuu, including a dianoga lurking in a tank near the Marketplace “refreshers” (that’s Batuuese for restrooms), a baby sarlacc in Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and a snoozing Loth-cat in the Creature Stall.
If you’re exploring Batuu West, Martens recommends stopping at the Creature Stall to get a copy of “Bina’s Guide to the Creatures of Batuu,” a free book that details the types of creatures and tracks you can encounter around Batuu West and includes facts about each creature.
“It’s a free scavenger hunt game that will encourage you to more deeply appreciate the details of the land,” Martens said.
Bina, the proprietor of the Creature Stall in Black Spire Outpost’s Marketplace, also has plenty of creatures for sale that guests can take home. Adopt pets like a Kowakian monkey-lizard, Loth-cat or porg and take your new friend home in a special vented carrying case.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge isn’t the only place to tap into your inner Jedi at the parks. However, there are definitely fewer ways to live out your “Star Wars” dreams outside Batuu than there were pre-pandemic. Many fans are still holding out hope for the return of traditional “Star Wars” character meet-and-greets to Star Wars Launch Bay, as well as the chance for young Padawans to once again face Darth Vader and Kylo Ren during Jedi Training.
It remains to be seen whether those experiences do return, though. In the meantime, we love to grab a Wookiee Cookie from Backlot Express at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and take photos in front of the giant AT-AT walker outside Star Tours before riding the ride or shopping at Tatooine Traders.
Don’t overlook Star Tours
It’s less popular now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has taken center stage, but Star Tours is a classic attraction that no “Star Wars” fan should skip.
The motion simulator ride first opened at Disneyland Park in 1987 and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1989. Its updated 3D version, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, debuted in 2011, thanks to a creative partnership between Disney Imagineers, Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic.
The ride features a possible 100 different story combinations, including segments from the sequel trilogy, and remains surprisingly satisfying after all these years (as long as you aren’t especially prone to motion sickness).
“Star Tours allows us to visit greatest hits from all over the ‘Star Wars’ canon … and to visit all kinds of new places in a different way that is not quite so story consistent,” Walt Disney Imagineering Portfolio Creative Executive Scott Trowbridge said during a discussion about how Star Tours differs from the attractions in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Another benefit: Unlike the rides in Galaxy’s Edge, Star Tours almost always has a manageable standby wait and is an easy Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation to snag.
Catch Hyperspace Mountain’s limited run at Disneyland Park
If you’re lucky enough to be at Disneyland from April 29 through a yet-to-be-confirmed end date, add Space Mountain to your list of “Star Wars” attractions.
The coaster, which in my opinion is already far superior to Walt Disney World’s on a normal day (top marks for the side-by-side seating and a vastly smoother ride), achieves undeniable supremacy when it gets a limited-time overlay as Hyperspace Mountain. Blast off at lightspeed accompanied by a Rebel X-wing squadron and evade Imperial TIE fighters, all to the tune of iconic John Williams melodies.
This ride would definitely be a smart use of a Genie+ Lightning Lane.
Don’t miss some of the best food in Disney parks
A feast for the eyes and the taste buds, the food in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is among the most inventive — and delicious — at any of the theme parks, so don’t miss a meal (or two) here.
At Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, Batuu’s main quick-service spot, chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs has docked a food freighter and serves his specialties in the hangar below (just look for the ship high above the land to find this spot). Menu highlights include the Smoked Kaadu Pork Ribs and the plant-based Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread (a favorite even among meat-eaters).
Padawans (aka kids) love the Fried Chicken Tip Yip Youngling Meal served with mac and cheese.
Next door at Ronto Roasters, a pitmaster droid helms the podracing engine-turned-spit at this counter-service spot. It serves the fan-favorite Ronto Wrap, roasted pork and grilled sausage served in a pita with peppercorn sauce and tangy slaw.
Vegans and vegetarians get solid plant-based options too — the Zuchii Wrap at Disney World swaps sausage for a grilled zucchini spear topped with a spicy chickpea slaw and at Disneyland, the Ronto-less Garden Wrap made with Impossible meat is another cult favorite.
Blue milk or green milk — choose your side
There’s no more iconic food or drink in the “Star Wars” universe than that glass of blue milk Luke Skywalker sipped in “A New Hope.” Disney’s polarizing take on the drink — frozen versions of blue and green “milk” served at the Milk Stand in Galaxy’s Edge — continues to divide fans. Blue milk is the hands-down winner in my book, but try it and choose for yourself.
If the idea of milk on a hot theme park afternoon freaks you out, don’t worry — it isn’t actually milk in the traditional sense. The flavors are made with coconut and rice milks enhanced with fruit flavors.
Blue milk is flavored with dragon fruit, pineapple, lime and watermelon. Green milk is flavored with mandarin orange, passion fruit, grapefruit and orange blossom. More fruit smoothie than creamy milkshake, the plant-based concoctions were developed with the hot Florida and California climate in mind, said Walt Disney World Culinary Director Brian Piasecki.
“We wanted it to be cool, crisp, refreshing,” Brian Piasecki explained, noting that blue milk is the more popular of the two flavors. “The coconut milk and the rice milk and all those fruity elements really helped us put that flavor profile together.”
For a grown-up version at Walt Disney World, you can also order your blue milk spiked with rum and green milk spiked with tequila.
Voyage on Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
At Walt Disney World, there’s a new way to take your “Star Wars” experience to the next level. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser launched March 1 and transports guests to a galaxy far, far away aboard the Halcyon starcruiser for two full days and nights (without actually leaving Walt Disney World property).
At less than 48 hours but with a starting price of $4,809 for two guests, a voyage on Galactic Starcruiser is definitely an investment, but hardcore “Star Wars” fans who can pull it off are likely to enjoy it. My “Star Wars”-obsessed family was able to experience the full two-night Galactic Starcruiser experience as guests of Disney during a media preview and we are still reeling.
During the two-night adventure, guests become deeply embedded in their own bespoke, interactive “Star Wars” experience. You’ll explore the ship, learn to wield a lightsaber and dine on intergalactic cuisine. This is all while developing relationships and alliances with “Star Wars” characters and truly becoming part of the story.
“This is the only time you’re ever going to have an experience like this where you can interact for a prolonged period of time with a character and that gives you such a unique way to connect with them,” shared Matt Martin, senior creative executive at Lucasfilm. “One of the most rewarding parts of this is watching those character interactions and seeing people become friends with people that are in ‘Star Wars.’”
The two-night voyage includes a visit to Batuu via an immersive transport shuttle that drops you directly into the land. You’ll also get Lightning Lane access to both Rise of the Resistance and Smugglers Run. If you’ve never been to Galaxy’s Edge, Chiang said starting with a voyage on Galactic Starcruiser is the ultimate way to truly immerse yourself.
“In a perfect world, you’d do Galactic Starcruiser first,” said Chiang, “because then you’ll be transported to Batuu and you can experience Batuu for the first time fully in story. To see it all tie together in one giant experience is the way to go.”
Experience ‘Star Wars’ at sea on Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line has replaced Star Wars Day at Sea itineraries with Pixar Day at Sea for upcoming 2023 sailings.
However, the Force is still strong on the high seas with lots of “Star Wars” fun to be had aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, and two big reasons to get excited about Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Wish.
On the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, the Oceaneer Club, designed for younglings ages 3-12, features “Star Wars”-themed spaces with games and activities. This includes a flight simulation in the Millennium Falcon cockpit on the Dream and an interactive holotable on the Fantasy. Big kids at heart, you’ll get your time, too — Disney Cruise Line kids clubs hold open houses when guests of all ages are invited to visit and play.
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When the Disney Wish sets sail on its maiden voyage on July 14, passengers will have two new ways to experience “Star Wars” at sea. In the Oceaneer Club, kids become creature caretakers at Star Wars: Cargo Bay. Here, they’ll help feed and care for some of the most iconic “Star Wars” creatures in the galaxy, including a porg, Loth-cat and worrt.
Also coming to the Wish is a luxe, “Star Wars”-themed watering hole — Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge.
Inspired by Dryden Vos’ yacht-class ship in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and Canto Bight’s glitzy casinos in “The Last Jedi,” Hyperspace Lounge will have an elegant vibe a la Sublight Lounge on Galactic Starcruiser, with rich leathers and shimmering metallics. The piece de resistance will be a “space window,” an HD screen developed as part of a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering, Lucasfilm and ILM, displaying passing planets, ships and space debris.
The lounge menu will feature signature cocktails and exclusive beers, each with its own “Star Wars” backstory.
There are lots of ways to get a healthy dose of “Star Wars” while at Disney — even beyond the new Galactic Starcruiser. You’re now armed with lots of ideas to live out your Jedi — or First Order — dreams.
Featured photo by Brooke McDonald for The Points Guy.
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