This summer, Disneyland’s newest land, Galaxy’s Edge will be one of the most crowded places guests from around the world will try and visit. The land itself is the largest expansions since Disneyland was built in 1955! Is Star Wars lad really worth all the hype? It’s a difficult question to answer. I myself go back and forth between yes and no. Here is my trip report from June! Note that there is so much to include I’ve decided to break up my trip report into multiple posts!
The Waiting Game
I arrived in Anaheim last week about 12 p.m. and after a little bit of a late start dropped my bags at the hotel and walked down Harbor Blvd to the Disneyland Park entrance. The focus of my visit was to check out Galaxy’s Edge, or Star Wars land; I’ve experienced Disneyland so many times from working there, I didn’t feel the need to rush around. Sometimes its relaxing to just watch other families and guests experience the magic of the park for themselves.
I was lucky enough to be able to have a reservation to explore Batuu from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. I wouldn’t be able to check in, however, until 6 p.m. Guests with reservations were e-mailed directions to check in at the Star War’s Launch Bay area of Tomorrowland two hours prior to their timed entry. We were asked to show a government issued photo ID and either an e-mail or print out with a QR code showing your time and day for the reservation. They gave you a wrist band with your entry time on it and scanned it again to activate it. The entire process took less than 5 minutes.
As of June 23, reservations are no longer required. Guests over the last couple days have been allowed to attempt to queue up first thing in the morning at one of the Galaxy’s Edge entrances to try to enter on a first come, first serve basis. Guests unfortunately are only able to get in until the land reaches capacity which has been by about 9 a.m. Thereafter a virtual queue allows guests to put their name down in hopes of being one of the lucky few to enter Batuu.
One problem, according to my Cast Member friends has been that there is no time limit for guests to enter and leave the land. With the reservations, you had 4 hours, but I found that most people were done within an hour and a half. This is something that Disneyland is going to have to work out how to handle the crowds.
A lot of guests are also unaware, but the Disneyland App is going to be one of your best friends if you want to have a better chance at trying to get into the land! Beginning at 7 a.m., once your theme park ticket has been activated for the day, you may use the MaxPass service to try and get a Fastpass for Smuggler’s Run. If you are looking for a dining reservation, you can also begin making a reservation at Oga’s Cantina as well. More on this in a bit.
Not sure what I wanted to do until 6 p.m., I bought a park hopper ticket and started in California Adventure. It’s absolutely worth stopping in to experience the limited run of Soaring Over California, and the new Story of the Lion King show in the Paradise Gardens area. If you are looking to beat the heat, having one of the Ghirardelli sundays from the Pacific Wharf and walking around Pixar Pier is a refreshing way to people watch and enjoy the afternoon.
At First Glance
After hopping back over to Disneyland and getting my fix of Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and seeing Mickey Mouse in Toontown, it was time to make my way over to the Hungry Bear restaurant area. Disneyland officially has 3 entrances to Galaxy’s Edge, but only one entrance was open. The entrances near Fantasyland and Frontierland served as exits. It was 7:40 p.m. and the line was about 150 people long. Cast Members walked the line to ensure only those with a wrist band would be able to enter.
The minutes passed by and at 8 p.m. exactly, the crowd was finally allowed to walk into the land. A long pathway separates the Critter Country area and Galaxy’s Edge. Disney really shines in way they are able to transport you to a galaxy far far away. It really feels as if you are in another world as opposed to a theme park.
One of the first things you will see are an X-Wing and a ship repair garage where Disney Imagineers planted all sorts of hidden gems for Star Wars fans to enjoy and nerd out over. A Photopass Cast Member was available to take your photo in front of the X-Wing, but the vast majority of people kept walking to try and be one of the first to experience the only attraction that’s open, Smuggler’s Run or line up to eat at Oga’s Cantina.
Across from the X-Wing are signs for the “Old Trading Outpost” and a Cast Member selling drinks in the shape of a droid. If you are looking to collect the special Coke or Sprite bottles you may want to stop here first. Next to the refreshment cart was a Cast Member standing up an area where I think the queue for the Rise of the First Order attraction will be, but don’t quote me on that. That attraction will not be opening until August 29. After walking past the shops and the Smuggler’s Run entrance, I decided it was time for a snack.
Let’s start with the two most popular options: the milk cart and Oga’s Cantina. The milk cart was probably the busiest when the 8 p.m. crowd entered Batuu. Like many places in Disneyland you are able to order through the Disneyland App to pick up your refreshments. You had the option to choose between blue and green frozen milk. They were about $8 each.
The milk didn’t really have a distinct flavor, but from most people standing around me, the consensus is that the Green Milk tasted better than the blue milk. Normally I would be hesitant to spend $8 on a frozen beverage, but it was all part of the Galaxy’s Edge Experience. The beverage does contain (coconut or almond) and has a fruity taste similar to a watermelon or pineapple flavor.
The line for Oga’s Cantina stretched out as far as the eye could see after the 8 p.m. crowd rushed to try and get places in line. When I walked by to try and poke my head inside the Cantina, I was turned away. I inquired abut the wait time and was told it was a 3 hour wait! I had really hoped to be able to check out the Cantina, but I wasn’t planning to burn 3 or my 4 hours in line waiting to order food!
I want to advise you again about how key it is to use the Disneyland App here! You are able to make reservations for Oga’s Cantina up to 14 days in advance, but if you are not lucky enough, you are able to try getting a reservation on the app as beginning at 7 a.m. on the day you plan to try to visit the land. The app releases a limited number of same day reservations. Note that you are not guaranteed seating when you get there and to consume any alcohol you do need to be over 21 years of age with a valid photo ID. If you attempt stand by, Disneyland will use a virtual queue and text you if you want to try to get in this way.
The only other food options are the quick service food over by the Black Spire Outpost. You will a popcorn stand, Ronto Roasters, which contains meat in the form of sausage and pork, and Docking Bay 7. The Docking Bay is your best bet for burgers, salads and other more “traditional” food options. I had eaten at the Spokejumper’s Grill previously over in California Adventure and didn’t feel like anything heavy before going on Smuggler’s Run!
Wrapping Up Part 1
If you are an a Star Wars nerd, you are in for a little piece of heaven. No expense was sparred by Disney’s amazing Immaginers who built every inch of the new land to perfection. The attention to detail is down to the smallest parsec. There are droids, an X-Wing and a full scale version of the Millennium Falcon for you to enjoy from the moment you step foot into the trading out post.
What really stood out to me was that the rest of Disneyland Park was almost non-existent once you were in Batuu. It truly felt from the sounds and atmosphere as if you were experiencing another planet. Even the signage to the land is written in the Star Wars language of Aurebesh. Stay tuned for more information about shopping in Batuu and experiencing Smuggler’s Run!