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A short while ago, in a galaxy not too far away, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge unlocked its gates at Walt Disney World in Florida for the very first time. Disney World annual passholders were able to enjoy the new land on a reservations-only basis slightly in advance of the main opening day. With my own annual pass in hand, I made the trip to the planet of Batuu on the first preview date to see how Florida’s version measured up to the Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in California.
Spoiler alert: it’s very, very similar.
While the two versions of the planet of Batuu share many elements, they aren’t identical twins. Here’s an overview of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge within Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World and a peek at what differs between this location and the Disneyland version, located over 2,100 miles away as the Millennium Falcon flies.
Galaxy’s Edge Basics
Set in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Galaxy’s Edge has two entrances — one near Muppet Vision 3-D and one next to the Alien’s Swirling Saucer side of Toy Story Land (though only the first option is open during previews). With roughly the same 14-acre footprint as its counterpart at Disneyland, Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World contains the same main elements: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (ride), Rise of the Resistance (ride, opening Dec. 5), Oga’s Cantina (themed bar, kids allowed), Docking Bay 7 (serves food all day), Ronto Roasters (serves a limited but good menu), Savi’s Workshop (build a lightsaber), Droid Depot (build a droid), Milk Bar (blue and green “milk”) and other assorted shopping and snacking outlets.
Rides at Galaxy’s Edge
A cornerstone of Galaxy’s Edge at both parks is unquestionably the life-size Falcon, parked right outside the entrance to the ride that bears its name. For a die-hard Star Wars fan, seeing the Falcon for the first time is a moment to remember. If you’re going to go all teary-eyed living out your Star Wars dreams, this is probably where it’s going to happen.
The ride itself will not have a FastPass+ option for the foreseeable future, but there is a single-rider line. Regular waits for the ride ranged from 25 — 50 minutes for much of the preview date. Once inside, you are given instructions from a very lifelike Hondo, who unfortunately did have technical difficulties at least once during the day, but otherwise is quite impressive and leaves the animatronics of yesteryear firmly in the space dust.
Just like at Disneyland, the Millennium Falcon is an interactive simulated flying ride, where what happens on the ride depends somewhat on your crew. I’ve had three out of six positions on the ship, and there’s no doubt the pilots are the most involved. I prefer the right seat (up and down) to the left (side to side), but both are fun. However, what I learned today is just how much fun the ride can be with the right crew. My friend and I were placed with a fun-loving group of four other Star Wars fans to fill the ship — we had an absolute blast, but your experience may vary based on your crew.
(Oh, and we totally spotted a “Hidden Mickey” on the wall right before entering the ride part of the attraction, so Mickey has indeed made his way to Batuu.)
While it won’t open for a few more months, it is also worth a mention that the Rise of the Resistance ride appears to have a queue that is quite exposed to the elements. As in, rain or (lots of sun) shine, expect to cope with whatever Mother Nature gives you for at least part of the wait. My fingers are crossed that some Disney magic creates additional shade before this second ride officially opens. Thankfully, much of the line for Smuggler’s Run is covered and air-conditioned.
You can make advance reservations to build a lightsaber at Savi’s, visit the Droid Depot, or enjoy a cool drink at Oga’s Cantina, space permitting.Waiting in line the old-fashioned way was not permitted while I was at Galaxy’s Edge for a preview, but entering without a reservation can be possible on lower demand days or times, so don’t despair if you can’t snag a reservation for one of these options in advance.
To visit Oga’s, you can make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance of your visit now on Disney’s website. Note that you aren’t going to enjoy a full meal at Oga’s, but you absolutely want to reserve a spot to check out the space and enjoy a snack and a drink.
Currently, dates to build a lightsaber at Savi’s or a droid at the Droid Depot are largely already booked up for many December dates, but available on most other dates. Know that building a droid cost about $100 and lightsabers start around $200.
Buying Galaxy’s Edge Merchandise
There are other shopping options on Batuu where items cost fewer “credits” (as they are called in this galaxy) than a droid or saber. A stuffed porg may or may not have made the trip home with me — for my daughters, of course.
However, if you want traditional Disney and Star Wars branded pins, T-shirts or other merchandise, you have to get those provisions after you leave Galaxy’s Edge in other areas of Hollywood Studios. The only items sold within the land are ones that you would find on the real planet of Batuu, such as toy creatures, Jedi cloaks and bottles of soda shaped like thermal detonators.
Eating in Galaxy’s Edge
The lunch line for Docking Bay 7, the only true quick service restaurant in the land, can stretch out of the building, so you’ll want to use mobile ordering to cut down on the wait during busy times. Here are our favorite food items in Galaxy’s Edge. Hint: The blue and green milk is not our favorite item.
Comparing Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World and Disneyland
Having visited both versions of Galaxy’s Edge, I felt like the Disney World version differed in subtle ways from Disneyland. The coloring and details of the two lands are not identical, even though the main elements remain constant.
For example, I found the colors at Disney World to be a bit brighter and more vibrant than at Disneyland. While I didn’t count tables and chairs, the Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World also appeared to offer more seating throughout than what was available in California.
Then there’s the issue of alcohol, which is served in both parks, but only within Oga’s Cantina at Disneyland. In fact, Oga’s is the only public spot in all of Disneyland where you can order an adult beverage. At Disney World, you can purchase alcohol throughout the park, including at Docking Bay 7 in the form of a Takodana Quencher, made of berry rum, pineapple and kiwi, or a Gold Squadron lager. For those feeling a little braver, $14 gets you alcoholic blue or green milk at Disney World — with rum for the blue, tequila for the green.
Food items on Batuu vary a little too, though not in huge ways. For example, the ronto morning breakfast wrap ($12) comes with what seemed like an egg patty at Disney World, whereas the eggs were scrambled at Disneyland. I preferred the Disneyland version by a small margin, though both were solid choices. Here are our favorite Galaxy’s Edge food picks.
If you make it into Oga’s at Disney World there is the addition of a jello-like provision available with or without alcohol called Oga’s Obsession (without alcohol, $7.50) or with alcohol (Rodian Ration, $13.50).
Even if the lands were 100% identical, the experience and functionality of the land in California vs. Florida will inherently differ because of climate. According to Best Places, Anaheim experiences precipitation 35 days per year while Orlando experiences more than three times that number, with 114 annual days of some precipitation. During the summer months, Florida afternoon storms are the norm at Disney World. The reality is that there’s not a ton of built-in places to escape from showers on Batuu.
For example, the open-air Black Spire market is lovely, but the stores aren’t nearly large enough to hold many shoppers looking to wait out the rain. The line for Smuggler’s Run is a pretty good spot to kill time during inclement weather, but time will tell if the same is true for Rise of the Resistance.
Even on a nice day, there’s not a ton of respite from the Orlando sun on Batuu. Disney does have some umbrella shades up, but pack your neck cooling towels and water bottles or try to plan an early or late-day visit during the summer months.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is similar enough at both Disney World and Disneyland that there’s no reason to feel compelled to purposefully visit both parks unless you are just a true die-hard (raises hand). I personally preferred the Disney World version a tiny bit more as some small details, such as the seemingly brighter coloring, just spoke to me a bit more than at Disneyland. Being much more familiar with Walt Disney World on the whole, experiencing the land as part of a capacity-controlled pass holder preview and having already spent a day familiarizing myself with Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland likely all played into that overall take-away.
Galaxy’s Edge is not only beautifully well done, but brought to life by a cast that owns their roles. From Kylo Ren’s patrol, right down to the shopkeepers and cashiers, cast members stay in character. But for now, even with all that going for it, the Galaxy’s Edge experience is slightly muted. At the end of all the thoughtfully recreated droid tracks and lifelike ships, there’s only one operational attraction available that doesn’t cost extra.
Spending extra time shopping and eating can round out your day, but how many droids does your family need to build before you just want a thrill ride? I’d love to see the addition of a Star Wars parade, a show, more of the original trilogy’s characters integrated, or maybe an interactive themed play area for the kids.
Don’t get me wrong, the addition of a Star Wars Land enhances Disney’s Hollywood Studios by a good margin and likely elevates it to a park that requires a full day of exploration on your next Disney World vacation. Galaxy’s Edge is a solid base hit, but it’s not yet a home run in the way that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is for Universal Studios. We’ll check back in December and see if the Rise of the Resistance attraction is indeed the missing link Galaxy’s Edge needs to grow into the theme-park-Jedi it was born to be. Until then, may the Force be with you on your visit to the edge of the galaxy.
To plan your adventure to the other side of the galaxy, here are some tips:
- Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland
- Guide to Visiting Disney World
- Best Restaurants at Disney World
- Best Times to Visit Disney World
- Is the Disney Visa Worth It?
- How to Save Money at Disney World
- Everything We Know About Disney’s Star Wars Hotel
- Disney World’s Skyliner Sets Opening Date
- What’s New at Epcot Food and Wine Festival
- New Disney Riviera Resort to Open December
All photos by author.
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