The essential guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland
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After years of anticipation, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is finally fully open and complete. The first phase was unveiled on May 31, 2019, during the land’s grand opening with one of two rides available. On January 17, 2020, the second attraction — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — landed on the planet Batuu.
To be sure, no expense was spared creating this immersive land in Disneyland Park. Guests can pilot the Millennium Falcon, escape capture from Kylo Ren’s First Order ship, build their own lightsaber or sip blue and green milk.
TPG has been at Disneyland for every step along the way, with contributors attending multiple media previews for each phase of the land as well as spending plenty of time as regular guests testing out all the best crowd-avoidance strategies.
We have also been monitoring all the changes Disney has made as it works out the kinks that such an ambitious opening inevitably brought — and there have been many changes! If you are planning a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, here is everything you need to know before you go.
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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge basics
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a themed land within Disneyland Park. A nearly identical equivalent is open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida as well. The land brings to life a settlement called Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu, roughly set in the time of the current movie trilogy, Episodes VII–IX.
The land in Disneyland has three entrances: near Fantasyland, in Frontierland behind Big Thunder Mountain and via Critter Country past the Hungry Bear Restaurant. It’s made up of three areas: a First Order headquarters closest to Fantasyland, a central town and marketplace, and a Resistance encampment closest to Critter Country.
Overview of rides, shows and character meet-and-greets
The land has two attractions now open: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run which opened with the land in May 2019 and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which opened January 17, 2020.
Although rides are certainly a draw for theme park guests, the land is just as much about immersion in the world of Star Wars, much like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal’s theme parks. Just as guests can select their own wand at The Wizarding World, Galaxy’s Edge visitors can build their own lightsaber or droid. Guests can further explore secret features of the land and interact with it by using the Play Disney Parks app on their smartphone or tablet.
Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t have traditional Disney character meet-and-greets or official shows, but familiar faces are all over Batuu. Guests can run into Rey, Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers, Chewbacca and others, all going about their business as visitors to the planet. There is even a new character created just for the land, a Resistance spy named Vi Moradi, who enlists guests to assist her in her missions to infiltrate the First Order’s headquarters. Most recently, a fully mobile R2-D2 was added and can be spotted rolling around the Resistance encampment.
Who will enjoy Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Disneyland is best known as a destination for family travelers, but Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a land that might just be more for parents than kids. Star Wars is a franchise that perhaps means most to Gen-Xers who grew up with the original trilogy. Although the newest trilogy has captured a new generation of fans, the land feels like a playground for the original fans who are now adults.
That said, children — especially tweens and teens who love Star Wars — will enjoy seeing a land inspired by the movies come to life. But Gen-Xers who have little ones of their own need to know that the land doesn’t have a lot of offerings for toddlers and preschoolers (although Disney has been making incremental changes that have helped). Additionally, many of the experiences are premium ones that families may find out of their budget when multiplied by three, four or more participants.
When to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
With a land this new and this popular, everyone predicted an absolute crush of crowds. Believe it or not, the initial predictions turned out to be quite wrong. But there is a good reason for that. Disney worked incredibly hard to control crowds (particularly through annual passholder blackout dates, cast member blackouts and even a reservations system) to make the guest experience in the opening weeks and months more pleasant. It worked. In fact, some might say it worked a little too well.
Now that the land has been open for a while, the crowd patterns have become more regular and predictable, mirroring crowds within Disneyland Park as a whole. The opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has brought a new wave of interest, but that hasn’t resulted in overwhelming the land due to the implementation of a virtual queue for the ride (more details on that below). In short, there is no bad time to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so don’t overthink it.
Although guests no longer need to plan which day, week or month to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, definitely consider time of day when visiting. The land has a very different feel in the daytime compared to the night. I highly recommend that any fan visit both before and after dark. In the evenings, the lighting is just beautiful. The park’s evening fireworks are even visible over the spires of Batuu on nights when fireworks are offered.
How to Save at Star Wars: Galaxy’s EdgeThere are two parks at the Disneyland Resort: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Galaxy’s Edge is located entirely within Disneyland Park. That means that if you only want to visit Galaxy’s Edge, you won’t need to pay extra for the “park hopper” admission option. A ticket to Disneyland Park alone will get the job done.
Use discounted Disney gift cards on single-day tickets
If you are going to Disneyland for just a single day visit, there are usually no ticket discounts available (although occasionally Disneyland will offer bring-a-friend deals for annual passholders). The best strategy you can use to decrease ticket costs is to purchase Disney gift cards at a discount. Then, purchase your single-day ticket on Disney’s website or at the park gate ticket booths using those discounted gift cards.
Purchase multiday discount tickets from an authorized ticket broker
For longer Disneyland vacations, it’s possible to snag discounts on multiday park tickets. Authorized ticket brokers like Get Away Today and Undercover Tourist offer a variety of deals throughout the year at discounts that are often steeper than using discounted Disney gift cards. Charges from these brokers tend to code as travel with most credit cards as well.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge highlights
If you’re going to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, these attractions and experiences are most worth your time.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Many theme park watchers have called Rise of the Resistance the most epic attraction Disney Imagineering has ever built. I can’t say I disagree. Rise of the Resistance is the can’t-miss feature of the land. More than just a ride, this attraction takes guests through an experience: You’re captured and then escape from a First Order ship. Multiple scenes and ride vehicles are used, making the scale and scope beyond anything else Disney offers.
Physically, the thrills are pretty modest, featuring only a single small drop. Rise of the Resistance is, however, pretty emotionally and psychologically overwhelming. It might scare some more sensitive kids who are tall enough to ride (the attraction has a 40-inch height minimum), so tread carefully.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
As the only other ride in the land, Smugglers Run is certainly a must-do for anyone tall enough (38-inch height minimum required). Guests on the ride go on a smuggling mission in the Millennium Falcon, actually taking the controls. The queue is one of Disney’s best and the ride itself offers moderate thrills most similar to Star Tours.
While Disney cast members won’t guarantee you a specific seat on the ride, do your best to position yourself to pilot the Falcon. The left pilot seat responsible for controlling left and right movement is arguably the best. The right pilot is responsible for pulling the lever to activate light speed, so many fans will enjoy that as well.
Even casual Star Wars fans are likely to recall the scene in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. Oga’s Cantina captures that same intergalactic watering hole vibe. It’s also the first place in Disneyland Park to serve alcohol. While kids are allowed and there are nonalcoholic drink choices aplenty, it’s probably not a good fit for families with young kids due to the lack of seating.
Related: Best restaurants at Disneyland
Visitors to Batuu can visit this secret unmarked location to make their own lightsabers. Part show and part shop, Savi’s is the must-do experience for the Star Wars superfan. But it comes at a price: $200 plus tax. While demand has leveled off a bit since the land first opened, you should still prioritize making a reservation if you want to build a saber.
If a lightsaber is a bit out of your budget, a droid is a little more budget-friendly souvenir. The build-your-own droid experience at Droid Depot is $100 plus tax. Additional upgrades, like a personality chip for your droid to interact with the land, are available. No reservations are required.
Traditional theme park food has no place on Batuu, where burgers and pizza are truly a galaxy away. Menu items like “tip-yip” or blue milk are much more common. To be sure, Disney got adventurous (and maybe sometimes a bit too adventurous?) with the food on Batuu in the opening days.TPG’s guide to the best and worst food and drinks in Galaxy’s Edge has all the details.
The land itself
Last but certainly not least, the scenery and setting of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a highlight unto itself. Be sure to make time to look up and just to explore and admire the land. Poke your head in the shops, especially the main marketplace and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities where Easter eggs abound. Look for Hidden Mickeys made with blaster fire or walk in the tracks of droids. The Play Disney Parks app has been popular with some guests to help unlock the secrets of the land and increase interactivity.
How to minimize lines
With a theme park land this epic and newsworthy, what most guests are worried about is lines. Rightfully so. Many of the usual line-busting tips at Disneyland don’t apply to Galaxy’s Edge. There are currently no attractions that offer FASTPASS (although that could change soon, as Walt Disney World recently added Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to its Fastpass+ system effective February 19, 2020). Figuring out the best Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge touring strategy is a complex and ever-changing puzzle.
Lines for entrance into the land
Although the land initially opened with a reservation system and some capacity controls, these are no longer in place. If you want to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it’s now as simple as walking in from other areas of Disneyland Park at your leisure.
Lines for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
While Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has received pretty solid reviews, wait times for it have not been unbearable. Now that the ride has been open for many months, standby wait times are predictably averaging about 30–75 minutes. This is quite reasonable for any moderately popular thrill ride at a Disney park.
Because the wait times continue to be a moving target, the best strategy is simply to use the Disneyland app on the day of your visit to find a reasonable wait. If you see a wait time of 30 minutes or under, get in line. Rope dropping the attraction increasingly makes sense as well if you can arrive early and be in the front of the crowds.
Finally, if you have ridden the attraction before, consider using the single rider line to reduce wait times for additional rides. You won’t get to see the interactive queue and likely won’t get to pilot, but you can get in a few more rides that way.
Lines for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Although Smugglers Run is hitting its stride in terms of lines, the wait for the brand new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is another story entirely. The demand for this attraction currently far exceeds the supply. Disneyland, therefore, implemented a virtual queue to handle the crowds. There are no other ways to ride Rise of the Resistance for now — no standby line, no FASTPASS, no single rider line, etc.
To join the virtual queue, guests must log into the official Disneyland app and link their park tickets as well as scan into the tapstiles at Disneyland park (not Disney California Adventure). At the very second of official park opening, they can then request a boarding pass to ride the attraction within the app. Boarding groups are called by number throughout the day as the ride’s capacity permits.
So far, boarding passes are regularly gone for the day within less than a minute, making this process much more like a lottery than a queue. App crashes and Wi-Fi troubles are unfortunately par for the course, meaning there is simply no guarantee that guests wanting to ride this attraction at Disneyland will be able to for now. To improve your chances, use multiple phones in your traveling party trying all at once for boarding passes, use cell data service instead of Disneyland’s Wi-Fi, and hope for a little bit of luck.
Lines for Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop
While the ride lines get the most attention, two other experiences — Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop — within Galaxy’s Edge have seen pretty large demand and some line woes.
Disney has implemented reservations systems for both, now available up to 60 days in advance just like Disneyland dining. While demand has decreased now that many die-hard fans have now experienced them, both experiences are low capacity so making reservations well in advance is smart.
Lines for food
The other lines that guests will experience in Galaxy’s Edge are those for food, especially at peak meal times. It’s so easy to save time on those, however, by making use of mobile ordering in the Disneyland app. Three of the five food service locations in Galaxy’s Edge offer mobile ordering: Docking Bay 7, Ronto Roasters and Milk Stand.
Many other guests are making use of mobile ordering as well, making return times to pick up food sometimes as much as an hour later. For that reason, it’s vital to watch the app and be ready to lock in a mobile order return time before you are hungry!
Where to stay
If you’re planning a galactic voyage to Batuu, there are many nearby hotels at every price point. For hotel recommendations, be sure not to miss TPG’s guide to the best points-friendly hotels near Disneyland.
During the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there was a real incentive to stay in one of the three on-property Disneyland hotels: Disney’s Grand Californian, the Disneyland Hotel, or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. All guests of these hotels were guaranteed one four-hour reservation into the land when it was capacity controlled. Currently, however, there are no special Galaxy’s Edge perks for on-property guests. In fact, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is not even currently open for Extra Magic Hour, the early-entry perk that hotel guests are given.
Related: Use promo code TPG10 to price Disneyland vacations via Get Away Today
If you’re concerned about getting into the park before opening to secure a Rise of the Resistance boarding group, you might want to stay at a hotel within walking distance of Disneyland. A nice points-friendly option within walking distance to the Harbor Boulevard entrance is the Fairfield Inn Anaheim, that is bookable for 35,000 Marriott points per night, or you can use the up to 35,000-point Marriott award provided annually with both the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is an epic Disney achievement likely to draw crowds for years to come. But the operations and logistics of the land are changing very quickly. Guests will need to adopt new strategies as Disney makes tweaks and additions to this land. Of course, TPG plans to keep you updated as things change.
For more information relevant to planning your visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the Disneyland Resort, check out these related stories:
- Opening Day of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland
- A First Look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
- How to Use Points for Disney Tickets
- 9 Things Families Should Know Before Visiting Disneyland
- Where to Stay at Disneyland: On vs. Off-Property Hotel Comparisons
- Skip the Lines at Disneyland: 10 Line-Busting Tips for Less Waiting and More Playing
- How to Save Money Buying Discounted Disney Gift Cards
- Best Restaurants at Disneyland
- Save Money on Disney Resort Stays By Renting Points
Featured image by author.
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