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All theme park eyes have been on Anaheim, California, this month as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened on May 31, 2019. Disney spared no expense creating this immersive land in Disneyland Park. Guests can now pilot the Millennium Falcon, build their own lightsaber or come face-to-face with Kylo Ren and Chewbacca.
TPG attended the media preview to get a first look at Galaxy’s Edge and also entered the park as a visitor in the land on opening day to test out all the best crowd-avoidance strategies. As Disney works out the kinks that such an ambitious opening inevitably brings, we’ve also been monitoring all the changes Disney is making. If you are planning a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, here is everything you need to know before you go.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Basics
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a new themed land within Disneyland Park. A nearly identical equivalent is also coming August 29, 2019, to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. 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 is 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
Currently, Galaxy’s Edge has a single ride — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. A second, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, is planned for later this year.
Although rides will certainly be a draw for theme park guests, the land is much more 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.
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, Chewbacca and others, all going about their business as visitors to the planet.
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 love seeing a land inspired by the movies come to life. But Gen-Xers who have little ones of their own now need to know that the land currently lacks offerings for toddlers and preschoolers, in particular. 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 to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
With a land this new and this popular, it’s safe to say that there is really no ideal or slow time time to visit Galaxy’s Edge. Crowds will be a major issue for a long time to come — probably for years.
That said, guests with the ability to plan a last-minute vacation quickly may experience lower crowds through June 23. Until that time, Disney will require reservations to enter the land and that helps with overcrowding. Note that the only way to get reservations is by paying for an on-property Disney hotel.
Disneyland will also be controlling capacity all summer long after June 23 using a virtual queue, but crowds are likely to be higher. There will almost certainly be another high surge in demand when the second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opens later this year. It might make sense to at least avoid the first few weeks after the ride’s opening when crowds will be at their worst.
Admission and How to Save
To get into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, guests need a ticket for Disneyland Park (or Disney’s Hollywood Studios once the equivalent land opens August 29, 2019 at Walt Disney World).
There are two parks at the Disneyland Resort: Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. Galaxy’s Edge is located entirely in 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.
Use Discounted Disney Gift Cards on Single Day Tickets: If you are going to Disneyland for just a single day visit, there are no ticket discounts available. The best strategy you can use to decrease costs is to purchase Disney gift cards at a discount. Then, purchase your single day (non-hopper) 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 Undercover Tourist offer a variety of deals throughout the year. Charges from these brokers tend to code as travel with most credit cards as well.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Highlights
If you are going to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, these attractions and experiences are most worth your time.
The Land Itself: 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 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.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: As the only ride in the land at this time, 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.
Oga’s Cantina: 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, its probably not a good fit for families with young kids due to the lack of seating.
Savi’s Workshop: 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: $199.99 plus tax. And it’s one of the most popular experiences in the land, making even getting in a bit of a challenge.
Droid Depot: 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 $99.99 plus tax.
The Food. 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. Be sure not to miss TPG‘s guide to the best and worst food and drinks in Galaxy’s Edge for more details.
How to Minimize Lines
With a theme park land this epic and newsworthy, what most guests are worried about is lines and 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 and advance reservations for the other experiences are not available, although both could be options in the future. Figuring out the best Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge touring strategy is a complex and ever-changing puzzle.
Lines for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: The choke point thus far has really not been Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, as many feared. Because of the capacity controls on the land during the reservation period, wait times for this attraction have usually averaged about 30 minutes, which is highly reasonable for any moderately popular thrill ride at a Disney park.
Once the reservation period ends and a virtual queue is implemented, it remains to be seen whether those times will increase (spoiler alert: they will!). For now, the best strategy for riding Smugglers Run with the least wait is to visit between two and three hours into the four-hour reservation windows. After the reservation period is over, the early birds into the land every morning will likely have the shortest wait times all day.
Lines for Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop: Currently, the choke points in Galaxy’s Edge are Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop. Both of these experiences are very low capacity, so they simply can’t handle the demand. Since opening day, both Oga’s and Savi’s have instituted waiting lists to help prevent guests from standing in long lines in the sun for hours. You can add your name to these lists as soon as you enter the land. You will receive a text with an anticipated return time and then another text to tell you to return to stand in a much shorter in-person queue.
If your traveling party wants to enter Oga’s Cantina or Savi’s Workshop, our advice is to go straight there — and as fast as humanly possible — to get on the waiting list. Often these lists fill within minutes of the four-hour reservation windows that Disney is currently operating. How this process will work once reservation windows are over remains to be seen.
Lines for Food: The other lines that guests will experience in Galaxy’s Edge are those for food. 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 often as much as an hour later. For that reason, it’s vital to mobile order early! Consider ordering even before you enter the land, selecting a pickup time that works for your overall touring plan.
Where to Stay
If you are planning a galactic voyage to Batuu, there are a number of nearby hotels at every price point.
If you are planning a visit on or before June 23 and don’t yet have a reservation, it’s essential to stay at 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 get one four-hour reservation into the land as part of the price.
For guests who already have reservations or who are going June 24 or later, after the reservation period is over, be sure not to miss TPG‘s guide to the best points-friendly hotels near Disneyland. Staying within walking distance of the parks is especially helpful for arriving early to beat the crowds that Galaxy’s Edge will bring.
Additionally, if you want to improve your chances of shorter security screening lines to save time, I’d recommend staying at a hotel within walking distance of the Downtown Disney security entrance. The Harbor Boulevard security entrance into the Disneyland esplanade (the side on which most off-property hotels are located) tends to have the longest lines. Options on the Downtown Disney side include the three on-property Disney hotels as well as more budget-friendly options like Best Western Stovall’s Inn. A new Westin property is under construction near that entrance as well, targeted for an August 2020 opening.
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
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!
Know before you go.
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