Three days after the opening of Disneyland’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, I was lucky enough to be exploring Batu (the fictional planet) from the Star Wars movie franchise. It’s a position which left many of my big, and little, friends green with envy. I love Disneyland so any excuse to wander through those magical gates is a good one, but I have to admit to not being a Star Wars fan. I can hear your gasps from here and I realise I am no doubt in the minority.
I can assure you, even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, Disney’s attention to detail and ability to wow, will ensure you still appreciate the experience. Despite not knowing a thing about the First Order or resistance, I enjoyed my time exploring Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. I must admit, a translator would have been helpful in deciphering what was being said by the in character cast members but I made it out okay despite an encounter with the Stormtroopers.
The life-size Millennium Falcon is the star attraction in this land (see what I did there?). At more than 30 metres long it’s an imposing sight and makes for great photo opportunities. It also plays host to Galaxy’s Edge’s ride, Smugglers run, where I dutifully took the challenge to help complete a mission.
As my group entered we were each handed a ticket with our position. I was handed a ticket which declared I would be an engineer.
Feeling somewhat unqualified to assist in any way with what I’m told is the fastest hunk of junk in the universe, I took my seat and secured my seat belt. I was joined by a pilot, co-pilot, gunners and another engineer.
Swift instructions were given and with a jolt and a rumble we were off and flying. Although the pilot position appears to be the desired one, I felt as an engineer I had time to enjoy the experience. Although I had buttons to man and problems to fix, as we were hurtled through hyperspace, I had time to take in the spectacle of the ride. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run combines realistic graphics with the action and adventure of a computer game. Like a computer game, this ride and your experience is guided by your choices. And scores are issued at the end so you want a good pilot.
STAR WARS GALAXY’S EDGE RIDE ACCESSIBILITY
Guests using a wheelchair need to transfer for this ride. It should also be noted the ride is relatively rough with lots of jolting movements. Riders sit in individual seats with quite a gap between seats so you are unable to assist a person with a disability during the ride. Access around Batu is good with ramp access and wide doorways to enter stores and attractions.
BUILD A DROID
While I appreciated being in Batu, my favourite experience was building a droid for BJ for his birthday. Although it was more logical to buy a smaller ready-made droid, I loved the idea of personalising BJ’s droid and having a hand in putting it together. So I decided to ignore any luggage limitations and make one.
A conveyer belt moved past me with a dazzling array of options of parts. A cast member helped guide me through the process and I was ready to build.
With my parts all picked out, it was over to the table to put BJ’s droid together.
I’d love to say it was tricky and I’m a droid master, but I’ll be honest and tell you it’s easy. Literally anyone can do this which is great for kids wanting to take part.
With my handsome droid built it was time to activate him and have a test drive.
I felt ridiculously proud and can’t wait for August when I can give it to BJ and tell him all about how I made it just for him.
My little droid pal proved a talking point, even stopping the Stormtroppers in their tracks as they inspected him and mumbled something about me being careful of the droid.
While Stormtroopers and Chewbucker were roaming Batu interacting with people, they did not stay in one stop for the usual photo opportunities. It was a catch them if you can kind of scenario.
Having the characters roaming does mean more people get to see and interact them which is appealing, but if you’re looking for a selfie, you’ll have to do it on the run.
If you’re looking to buy a gift for that Star Wars fan back home, there’s no shortage of merchandise on offer. Building your own droid (US$99) and lightsabre (US$200) is pricey but there’s a range of off the shelf options.
Inside the Catina, which sells delicious alcoholic cocktails, tubes of blue, yellow and purple liquids bubble in glass containers surrounded by industrial metal and piping.
And of course the blue and green milk (which in the photo looks oddly yellow) is super popular. I tried both and couldn’t decide which I preferred but both are delicious.
Dining at Galaxy’s Edge also requires some translation for those not in the know. Menu items include Smoked Kaadu Ribs (sticky pork ribs, blueberry corn mufffin and cabbage slaw), Fried Endorian Tip-Yip (crispy chicken, roasted vegetable potato mash with gravy) or the Yobshrimp Noodle Salad (chilled shrimp, marinated noodles and salad).
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is one of the biggest expansions in the theme park’s history. Something tells me the 56,000 square metre expansion will draw crowds for many years to come. And later this year Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will be opening at Disney World Florida.
If you’d like to know more about Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Disneyland, check out the Disney website.
I was hosted for my evening in a galaxy far far away and all opinions are my own. This is probably blatantly obvious by my lack of Star Wars knowledge. But hey, I know more than I did before my visit so there’s hope!