We got a preview look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and if you get a chance to visit Star Wars fan or not – you should. It is a very different take on an amusement park and a lot closer to West World than it is It’s a Small World.
The basic premise is you are on the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu on the edge of the Outer Rim Territories. Once you cross through the underpass from Hollywood Studios you are in the immersive experience. The Cast Members will talk to you as though you are in their world and will not acknowledge certain elements of the world you left behind. The only thing close in a Disney park is Pandora in the Animal Kingdom and it feels tiny by comparison. After you make the transition from Hollywood Studios to Batuu you start to see the life-size weapons and vehicles you remember from the movies.
A little further in and you start to see the outpost built into the rocky landscape. There are a lot of hidden Easter eggs throughout the entire park linking back to the movies.
Winding through the market and around some interesting food and beverage options you come to what I think is the highlight of the park – a full-size Millennium Falcon. No matter which way you walk towards it there is nothing that isn’t exciting about it.
There is a lot to explore in the Market including the Creature Stall, Toydarian Toymaker, Savi’s Workshop, Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and the Droid Depot. All themed in the “you are really here” idea that drives everything in the park. There are no carded Star Wars figures like you had when you were a kid. This is all the toys for kids and adults that would be found on the outer rim.
Hungry or need a drink? The food options are themed as well and while the only food you may know by name is the infamous blue milk they have that (with rum) and everything else you can think of named after something Star Wars. Just remember the exchange rate on Batuu is a credit to the dollar so you aren’t getting a cheaper price here than you would anywhere else in the parks.
On the good news front, R-3X (from the original Star Tours) is out of retirement and spinning tunes in Oga’s Cantina as DJ R3X.
And finally the star of the show – Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. You take on the role of a smuggler and get the opportunity to be part of the crew of the fastest ship in the galaxy. You are assigned a role – pilot, gunner or engineer (2 per flight) and you fly a mission to help the rebellion by stealing coaxium canisters from the Empire. You are in control and the outcome of your flight depends on how well your crew works together and responds. Simply put – you are a team flying a Millennium Falcon simulator. The ride is fun and the more you ride it the better you get. We got to ride it three times and by the final flight, we were chasing our third canister when the mission ended. (We were told you could get up to three.) Much like the rest of the park the theming of the entire ride is amazing. You feel like you are in the spaceship from the Dejarik (holographic creature chess) board to the hallways that seem movie perfect. The detail both inside and out is really beyond description.
Final thoughts – I can’t wait to go back. It is a very interesting take on an amusement park and one that takes a little getting used to. I don’t see me buying a $200 lightsaber or a $100 build your own droid but I think a lot of the experience isn’t in the activity but in seeing the small details and having a walk down memory lane. Many years ago when there were just three movies I would have done anything to walk up on a “real” Millennium Falcon. That feeling comes back when you see it today. There is a sense of excitement about being in Star Wars that is hard to describe. This park probably isn’t for everyone but they did a really good job for all the folks that grew up with Star Wars and always wanted to visit a galaxy far far away.