On May 20th, 2019 Disney opened up their latest and most immersive land for a Cast Member preview. These loyal and hardworking Disneyland employees were allowed to bring one companion along for their journey, and seeing as how I’m currently dating a lovely and wonderful Cast Member named Megan Kathleen, I was able to finagle my way into the opportunity of a lifetime where I could explore this brand new 14-acre manufactured fantasy and all of its attractions without the hindrances of a public crowd. Disney is calling it Galaxy’s Edge, anal-retentive basement nerds are calling it The Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, and the general population will probably be calling it Star Wars Land forever, but on that day for my next four hours, I was about to call it home.
Once our phones were put away and secured in shiny bags we were herded into a loading area that used to be Big Thunder Ranch, a much beloved and reasonably priced BBQ restaurant that had been heartbreakingly torn down almost three years prior. We finally got to walk in and a smile immediately appeared on my face that would last throughout this entire magical experience. A majority of the crowd went straight for Smuggler’s Run, the only ride that would be open until later in the year, but I wanted to actually experience this new land. I wanted to taste its food, check out its souvenirs, and mingle with some First Order Stormtroopers while enjoying an out of this world drink at the cantina. The ride was a low priority, I wanted to be immersed in this world I grew up wishing I could be a part of as a kid. We decided to try the Blue Milk and the Green Milk drinks from a vendor located immediately to the left of the entrance. The individual drinks were $7.99 for a small cup of a rice and coconut based frozen concoction. My girlfriend preferred the Blue Milk, which had a taste I couldn’t put my finger on, but I preferred the Green Milk, which seemed like it had a bit of mango flavoring to it. I decided to try a bit of role-playing by asking the Cast Member how many times throughout the day people had waved their hands around like they were some kind of Jedi Knight trying to mind trick themselves a free drink. She stared at me blankly and replied, “What’s a Jedi?”
“I wanted to taste its food, check out its souvenirs, and mingle with some First Order Stormtroopers while enjoying an out of this world drink at the cantina…”
I felt an intense feeling of confusion and anger. This was supposed to be an immersive experience set in the Star Wars universe of canon, was it not? How could this dimwitted dung of an Ewok not know what a Jedi was? The Cast Member then added, “Jedi…aren’t those things legend?” Oh, okay. I guess that’s how they’re going to play this then. J.J. Abrams established in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that on some backward planets like Jakku, Luke Skywalker and the Jedi had been reduced to myth and fairytale. I didn’t like it then, and I didn’t like it now, but I carried on with that tidbit in mind. We paid our “credits” and walked on by. We next stumbled upon Savi’s Workshop, the secret location where you can purchase and build your own custom lightsaber based on four different types of styles; Peace and Justice, Power and Control, Protection and Defense, and Elemental Nature. I was immediately drawn to Elemental Nature because one of the customization options was a Rancor Tooth lightsaber hilt. This reminded me of one of my favorite old school Extended Universe/Star Wars Legends characters, Tenel Ka. I always thought the idea of a primal looking saber was cool, but when we found out the price of building your own saber was over $200 we decided to walk away. We naïvely only brought with us only $340, but the potential of returning and forking that kind of cash over for an impractical souvenir would definitely be discussed at a later time. I just wanted to learn more about it. We decided to check out Oga’s Cantina and get a Star Wars-themed drink, but the line was way too long and we had other things we wanted to do, our new priority was to get a bite to eat.
“Jedi…aren’t those things legend?”
As we made our way towards the eatery we passed by the life-sized recreation of the Millennium Falcon. She was gorgeous and so precise in her detail that it took my damned breath away. I was a kid again; this was everything I imagined it to be and so much more. Despite the fact that Disney had mandated we would not be allowed to take pictures, we were afforded photo pass opportunities where our Star Wars themed portraits would be sent to our accompanying Cast Members registered email. We opted not to wait in line for a picture in front of the Millennium Falcon just yet, but we would definitely return before the night was through. While waiting in line to order food, I asked a passing Cast Member if there was a map or brochure of some sorts we could use to guide us. His answer came in the form of a blank stare and an emotionless delivery of the line “Uh, what’s a map?” I could reluctantly play along with the idea that in this world setting the Jedi weren’t really a well-known thing, but the idea that these Cast Members were trained to pretend not to know what a map was downright infuriated me, maps are canon in Star Wars! MAPS ARE CANON!
“Cast Members were trained to pretend not to know what a map was…”
I ordered the Kaadu Ribs from Docking Bay 7’s eatery; they came highly recommended. When my food was served it came with an alien looking and very heavy spork-like utensil, which I thought was pretty neat. The ribs were delicious but small, the sauce was tangy and yummy, and the red slaw was awesome. I finished off my meal with a complimentary blueberry corn muffin and we decided to walk through the market place. There’s a Creature Stall that sells high-quality plush toys of tauntauns, banthas, wampas, and more. You don’t “buy” these things; you “adopt” them. I thought that was a cute touch. I was really intrigued by a Kowakian Monkey-Lizard puppet that could ride on your shoulders, but it was too expensive. Everything was super expensive! You expect that from theme parks, sure, but this was beyond outrageous. There were several other souvenir shops we stumbled into along the way, all with their own unique items, costumes, props, and dolls. I really dug Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, a store that sold legacy lightsabers, kyber crystals, and neat interactive holocrons. Another standout was the Droid Depot, where you can build your own customized droid with various pieces and unique personality chips that set your new droid friend’s affiliation with either the menacing First Order or the benevolent Resistance.
“I was really intrigued by a Kowakian Monkey-Lizard puppet that could ride on your shoulders, but it was too expensive. Everything was super expensive!”
We decided to check out the loading queue for Rise of the Resistance, the second ride at Galaxy’s Edge that wouldn’t open until later in the year. The queue looked cool, and in the surrounding area, you could see a grounded X-Wing and A-Wing hiding in bushes. Chewbacca was walking around high-fiving and hugging attendees, but we did the standard Tomorrowland photo opportunity with him earlier and his fur made me itchy, so this time we just gave him a wave. Next, we waited in line for Smuggler’s Run. The line queue was neat, it has four loading rooms with lots of really cool things to see and experience. The last one was a recreation of the inside of the Millennium Falcon, complete with a dejarik table. There are so many remarkable things I definitely don’t want to spoil here, but if you get a chance to go be sure to keep an eye out for familiar faces and deep-cutting canonical lore references. It took us about 20 minutes, but we finally boarded the ride. Each of the six riders gets randomly assigned jobs based on three roles, there are two pilots, a couple of gunners, and the engineers. We were selected as engineers, our role in the ride consisted of flipping switches as they lit up. My girlfriend and I had a perfect score, but our teammates didn’t fare so well at all. The actual ride is very similar to the old Star Tours attraction, thankfully without the nauseating 3D that was recently added to it.
“The actual ride is very similar to the old Star Tours attraction, thankfully without the nauseating 3D that was recently added to it.”
After that, it was time for me to build my lightsaber. We circled back to Savi’s Workshop and forked over my $200 credits. I chose my hilt style and was given an appointment time. We waited around, and suddenly a Cast Member rushed us inside the workshop, explaining that The First Order’s spies were everywhere, and we had to be quick and careful. When you pay the $200, you’re not just getting a cool lightsaber, you’re buying an experience. This is a show that will be sure to please any Star Wars fan, hardcore and casual alike. Again, this is something I want everyone to get a chance to experience so I’ll be vague on details here, but as a lifelong Star Wars nerd, there were quite a few points during the presentation where I teared up. It was an incredible experience, and the lightsabers are of very high quality. If you have the spare $200, I highly recommend doing this. It was, by far, the highlight of my night. Once the show ended, we were given a carrying bag that came along with our new customized weapon from a more civilized time. I wish the bag was higher in quality, as almost immediately my drawstring ripped. We decided to line up to take a picture in front of the Falcon as our night was drawing to an end. One last time we walked by Oga’s Cantina, hoping that the crowd had died down, but it had not. The Cantina line was consistently the longest all throughout our time there, sadly it was just not meant to be.
“Bring lots of money, enthusiasm, and child-like wonder and get ready to take your first steps into a larger, more galactic Disneyland.”
This was a dream come true. Although I have my gripes like lackluster Cast Member interactions, absurd souvenir prices, and a ridiculously long line for the cantina, this was an amazing, one of a kind experience that I am beyond grateful for. I’m well aware that this is a preview experience, and by the time Galaxy’s Edge is armed and fully operational, everything might be drastically different and (hopefully) improved, I was still extremely impressed by the amount of detail and love that’s been put into everything. Keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel because there is stuff hiding in the nooks and crannies that will blow your mind. I can’t wait to return to Batuu, grab a drink at Oga’s Cantina, build my own droid, and actually pilot the Falcon in Smuggler’s Run. Bring lots of money, enthusiasm, and child-like wonder and get ready to take your first steps into a larger, more galactic Disneyland.