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– by James Burns
Photo Credit: Mary Burns

“Bright suns!” was a greeting that was shouted at me as I entered Disneyland’s new attraction: Galaxy’s Edge. As the name implies, it’s the Star Wars-themed land set within Black Spire Outpost on the remote planet Batuu. After two visits, what follows is my review of the whole experience.

As you probably already know, Galaxy’s Edge was available by reservation only. After having procured my own, I received an email containing a QR code and instructions for the day. The instructions said to arrive no more than two hours early and check in at Star Wars Launchbay, a pavilion in Tomorrowland that has featured character meet and greets, props and costumes from the films, and merchandise. Once there, Disneyland cast members scan your badge and you’re allowed to go upstairs to a blocked off area with some of the exclusive merchandise featured in the land.

There is a total of three possible entrances for Galaxy’s Edge you can be instructed to go to at your reservation time. I was told to enter near Splash Mountain, alongside the Hungry Bear restaurant. The email said not to arrive early or line up, so I arrived promptly at my reservation time, only to be greeted by a line that would rival something seen at Star Wars Celebration. To make things worse the line was directly in the grueling sun without any possibility of shade.

Arriving On Batuu

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

After a moment, the line began to swiftly move as our group was ushered into Batuu. As I transitioned from Critter Country to the planet Batuu, I noticed a distinct change in atmosphere. Firstly, the ambience became that of soft music, otherworldly wind chimes, and alien creatures. Sounds of speeders whooshing by or starships taking off overhead drowned out the normal Disneyland cacophony.

“Bright Suns!” One Batuu inhabitant greeted. “Looking to make some credits? Hondo Ohnaka docking bay eight! You’ll thank me later!” Another purposed. Then I spotted it; a life-size T-70 X-Wing docked with its engines reverberating. I was outside a Resistance Base, with satellite towers, A-Wings, and little shops set up to sell merch adorned with the rebellion logo.

Still on the outskirts of the outpost, though, I didn’t yet realize just how massive this place was. It wasn’t until I was ushered further into the land until I see the massive black spires — of which the whole outpost is named — that I comprehended its grandness. Additionally, I noticed looking in every direction that I could not see anything outside of the land. My vision, hearing, and even my sense of smell were immersed. I had officially been transported to a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Black Spire Outpost

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

I had a plan, though, and I couldn’t get distracted. You see, each restaurant, shop, and ride in Batuu is it’s own experience. Savi’s Workshop (lightsaber building), Droid Depot (Droid building), Oga’s Cantina, and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities all had massive lines to get into. Savi’s and Droid Depot even required their own separate reservations to be made as soon as you entered the Outpost. Now, I’ll get into reviews for some of the individual experiences in later parts but for right now I’m sticking to an overview.

After standing in line to make a reservation for Savi’s, I quickly made my way to Docking Bay Eight, aka Smuggler’s Run, to meet with Hondo as I was instructed. On the way, I passed what looked to be a market for Droids, the bubbling vats of blue and green milk being sold to weary travelers, and even a First Order outpost guarded by Storm Troopers, where Kylo Ren’s Transport Shuttle is docked.

Finally, I arrived at the docking bay where a life-sized Millennium Falcon emits smoke and makes all sorts of sound effects. It was as if the ship was alive, even taking breaths. The ship seemed so real that even my toddler got a little scared and asked if we were “really going to space.” The scale of this area of the park could be the most impressive imagery amongst all of Disneyland. Having been to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World hundreds of times, I can confirm that this is the largest piece of scenery I’ve seen at either resort. I instantly regressed to childhood (in a good way). My full review of Smuggler’s Run will come later but, to keep it brief, I had a ball.

Obtainer Of Rare Antiquities

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

After disembarking the Falcon, and making my very own Lightsaber at Savi’s, I head into Dok-Ondar’s to check out what he has for sale. A brief line proceeds entering the circular shaped shop where Dok-Ondar, an Ithorian trader, is working behind the counter making sure everything is in order. This is where travelers can “shop for mysterious and unique galactic artifacts collected by a legendary antiquities dealer.” The products here include: Legacy Lightsabers, lightsaber blades, Kyber Crystals to change the color of your blade, and even Jedi and Sith Holocrons. I was lucky enough to snag both the elusive white and black crystals.

Pro tip: While checking out at Dok’s, if you stand by the registers and look up you can view a very special artifact that a certain Doctor may be looking for. Yes, the rumors are true, Dok-Ondar is somehow in possession of the Ark of the Covenant.

Next was Docking Bay Seven, a quick-service restaurant where you can fuel up on all sorts of drinks. I didn’t partake in all this fine establishment had to offer, but the decor in this place was breathtaking. Everything seemed so… Star Wars, that is to say, used and dirty futuristic stuff that seemed like they had taken it off the set of the original films. I ordered Moof Juice, which was a sort of sugary punch with a small bit of spice to it. “Addictive” would be one word to describe this drink. I don’t know why moof milking is such a degrading job in the Star Wars Universe because the juice tastes so darn good.

A Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

The Market area at Black Spire outpost is where, if you have younglings, they will want to spend all your money. Never fear, though, shops like the Toydarian Toymaker will please even the oldest of Star Wars fans. One of my favorite things about this area was the giant podracer engine cooking meat. Disney must pump some kind of smell into the air because you can even smell the meat cooking.

Another fun little easter egg was the trash compactor monster hiding in the dirty water tank above the drinking fountains. Picture taking a drink, only to look up and see it’s monstrous eye emerge from the very water you may be drinking. If that’s not Star Wars enough then I don’t know what is. I was having sensory overload by the end of my visits. There was simply too much to enjoy in one trip and I feel like one could spend their entire vacation just visiting Batuu; but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have complaints.

One thing that I instantly noticed was the lack of aliens and droids freely walking around the park, as depicted in various concept art. There were no bounty hunters to arrest you if you owe credits to Hondo as previously claimed, and the droids you hack using you datapad are all behind railings to keep you out. I don’t know if this is still to come or if Disney has abandoned this concept but it is blatantly missing. The Datapad on the Disney Play app, although fun, is a complete battery drain, and only gives you digital missions to hack datapads. I think these missions not coming from actual costumed cast members was a missed opportunity.

Also, Galaxy’s Edge has a strict no costume rule for adults. Seriously, if you buy a Jedi cape, you can’t even wear it until you leave the park. This a major disappointment. I don’t cosplay, but I can’t help but think of the aesthetic cosplayers would bring to Batuu, enriching the visuals all the more. Let’s get the 501st in there, Disney!

Also, for some, setting the land in a specific sequel era might put them off. If you’re a die hard original trilogy stan, you might want to prepare yourself because there’s no chance of a Vader encounter. That being said, there is a presence of these characters and even a surprise voice or two.

You can, however, meet Chewie, Rey, Kylo Ren, and Stormtroopers randomly throughout the land. There’s even a new Resistance Spy named Vi Moradi. I stress random, though, as these characters are only spotted and have no set area to take pictures.

We met Chewie after my Toddler piloted — and obviously wrecked — the Falcon. He just so happened to be checking the ship for repairs, which totally fooled my kid into thinking Chewie might have been mad at him because of the damage. So, my kid apologizes to the angry and Wookie, and the two become instant best friends. For a long moment they walked around the Falcon, holding hands and talking about Star Wars stuff. This is an example of the magic you can encounter on Batuu.

All in all, Batuu is a magical place where Star Wars comes to life. It may not be everything Disney promised, but it’s pretty darn close. I can’t wait to go back! May the spires keep you, travelers!

That’s it for Part One of my review for Galaxy’s Edge. Have you visited the new land? Planning to visit? As always,  please feel free to leave your comments below and stay tuned for part two: Smuggler’s Run.

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