From building lightsabers to taking a ride on Rise of the Resistance, these are the best Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge experiences for kids and adults, plus tricks to make the most of your family's visit to a galaxy far, far away.

By Brooke Geiger McDonald
January 22, 2020
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Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Like the Star Wars franchise itself, Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has a special way of bridging generations of fans. As a reporter and a massive Star Wars fan, getting to be one of the first to experience the opening of Galaxy's Edge and its centerpiece ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, has been unforgettable. But as a mom, each time I experienced a new attraction, I only had one thought:

"I can't wait for my kids to do this."

Last Christmas, we trimmed our holiday spend at home and booked a trip to Walt Disney World as our family's big gift instead, deciding to go all-in on Galaxy's Edge. From lightsabers and droids for my boys, ages 3 and 6, to Oga's Cantina for my husband and me, we explored the land and all it has to offer from top to bottom. Here are our family's favorite parts, plus some tips and tricks for kids and adults we learned that will help you make the most of your family's intergalactic visit.

Galaxy's Edge Rides

It's no surprise that my kids' favorite parts of Galaxy's Edge are its rides, but there's a chance I might love them even more than they do. Both of the land's attractions are hands down must-rides and shouldn't be too scary or intense for any kid who meets the minimum height requirement.

Have a sibling who's too small for a ride? The 38" minimum height requirement will shut out the littlest kiddos from riding anything within Galaxy's Edge, but this doesn't mean parents and bigger kids have to miss their chance. Disney's Rider Switch service allows one parent to take bigger kids on the attractions while the other parent hangs back with the smaller child. The second parent can then hand off the smaller kid and return and skip the queue—and big kids get to ride twice!

Rise of the Resistance – Minimum Height 40"

Without question the most epic ride Disney has ever created, Rise of the Resistance is now open at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The nearly 20-minute attraction plunges you into the world of Star Wars on a mind-blowing scale that is so immersive and true to the films (the ride is set between Episodes 8 and 9 of the newest trilogy), kids will swear it's all real—and parents will be equally blown away.

Favorite characters like Rey, BB-8, and Kylo Ren, incredible special effects, and numerous thrilling ride sequences all come together to create one showstopping experience. I've ridden this ride 10 times and have discovered something new every single time and it's still leaving me awestruck. Both of my kids stepped off the ride and instantly proclaimed it the "BEST. RIDE. EVER."

Pro tip: At the time of writing, the only way to experience Rise of the Resistance is to be inside Disneyland Park or Disney's Hollywood Studios before park opening with your My Disney Experience or Disneyland app launched and join a virtual boarding group. There's no guarantee, so if you're desperate to get on the attraction—which you should be—plan to begin trying on the first day of your trip.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – Minimum Height 38"

Climb into the cockpit of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy and get ready to blast off on a smuggling mission from Batuu, the remote Outer Rim planet where Galaxy's Edge is set. Get your marching orders from audio-animatronic Hondo Ohnaka, who kids may recognize from the animated show, Star Wars Rebels, before being assigned one of three positions: pilot, gunner, or engineer. Kids will have the most fun as pilot, but if you're like me and prone to motion sickness on simulator attractions like this one, try the engineer position, which bothered me much less. Groups of six riders work together to complete this fun, light-hearted mission.

Pro tip: If your child is under 42" and wants to be pilot, a parent should take the other pilot position to help them reach the controls. Our 3-year-old was tall enough to ride, but couldn't reach some of the buttons or the handle to help our ship make the jump to hyperspace, so Dad had to help out.

Paid Experiences at Galaxy's Edge

I won't beat around the bush—"shopportunities" abound at Galaxy's Edge, and an afternoon in the land can really cost you. On our trip our kids participated in the two main paid experiences, building a lightsaber and a droid. A caveat: Doing both—or even just one—of these experiences costs more than many families will be able to spend. This was beyond our budget as well, so we asked family to contribute to the experiences in lieu of Christmas gifts this year—and it was so worth it.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Build a Droid at Droid Depot

At Droid Depot, guests can build their very own R-unit (shaped like R2-D2) or BB-unit (shaped like BB-8) for $99.99 plus tax. Each builder gets a basket then heads to a conveyer belt where they select the parts they need to build their customized droid. The experience is recommended for ages 3 and up and each builder can be accompanied by one other person. The droid comes with a Build-a-Bear-esque cardboard box carrying case, but if it's in your budget, you may want to spring for a backpack ($49.95) that displays and protects the droid. Each droid comes with a base personality, but customized personality chips are also available for an additional cost.

Droids will interact with the land while they're there, beeping and moving in reaction to entering First Order or Resistance territory, for example, depending on the type of personality chip they have. There's also an area with flooring laid down specifically for builders to take their droids to play and have them interact with each other. Our kids spent more than an hour here (full disclosure, this part got a little old for my husband and me) while we waited for our Rise of the Resistance boarding group—Chewbacca even came over to check in and see how they were doing!

Pro tip: The R-units are much easier to operate than the BB-units, so consider encouraging your youngest builders to select an R-unit. I learned this the hard way: My 3-year-old built a BB-unit but had a much easier time controlling his big brother's R-unit.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Build a Lightsaber at Savi's Workshop

This experience will definitely cost you, but for Star Wars fans, it will become a lasting memory—and send you home with a pretty epic souvenir. At Savi's Workshop, builders are led by "Gatherers" through an approximately 20-minute experience, part shopping, part show. Here's how it works: Choose your parts from one of four hilt themes that create more than 120,000 possible combinations. You'll also select the kyber crystal that gives your blade its color and power.

At $199.99 plus tax, these lightsabers don't come cheap, but the quality is excellent, the experience moving, and kids will have a ball wielding their blazing-bright lightsaber around Galaxy's Edge when night falls. (See above!) The experience is technically for kids ages 5 and up, but each child should be accompanied by one adult, so younger kids are still able to participate with an adult to help them. Be warned: The hilts are very heavy and not easily controlled by smaller children. My 3-year-old LOVES his Savi's saber, but he's not able to wield it very gracefully since it's so big and heavy.

Pro tip: Lightsabers are TSA-approved to carry on the plane (droids get the green light, too!), but to lighten your travel load, detach the hilt and pack it in your checked luggage and carry on just the blade in its case.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Meet the Characters

If your kids love Star Wars as much as mine do, they'll be floored by the chance to rub shoulders with their favorite characters throughout Galaxy's Edge. Be on the lookout for Rey and Chewbacca, who can be found in the Resistance Forest, near the Millennium Falcon, and around the speeder garage. Vi Moradi, a new Resistance hero introduced in Black Spire, a Star Wars canon book that tells the story of Galaxy's Edge, is also roaming. Kylo Ren and First Order stormtroopers and officers patrol the First Order end of the land, near where Kylo Ren's imposing TIE Echelon ship is docked.

There are no traditional character meet-and-greet opportunities in Galaxy's Edge though—character interaction just happens naturally, so be bold and help your kids approach them if they want to interact. Usually, they'll stop to pose for photos, but you may have to settle for candids instead.

Pro tip: Most character meetings in Galaxy's Edge are best captured with video since they are so interactive (there are quite a few that have already gone viral), so be ready! If you really want those posed character photos, you can meet Chewbacca, BB-8, and Darth Vader outside the land—"off planet," as it's referred to on Batuu—over at Launch Bay in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park and in Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Where Parents Will Want to Hang: Oga's Cantina

Galaxy's Edge really is a land for the whole family, though older kids will get more out of it than their younger siblings. But there's one spot parents absolutely can't miss: Oga's Cantina. The ultimate intergalactic watering hole, modeled after the infamous cantina on Tatooine in A New Hope, Oga's is a must-visit for Star Wars fans, and a great chance for parents to take a break and quench their thirst with an out-of-this-world cocktail.

While it might not be kids' favorite part of the day, there's still plenty to keep them entertained here. Droid DJ Rex holds court at the DJ booth and is the life of the party. Our kids went crazy for him, dancing to his wacky beats while my husband and I sipped signature cocktails like the Jedi Mind Trick and Fuzzy Tauntaun. There are also some seriously kid-friendly drinks and snacks here: My kids can't get enough of the Blue Bantha, a glass of blue milk topped with a delicious cookie.

Pro tip: Reservations here are a must; Book them up to 180 days in advance at Walt Disney World and up to 60 days in advance at Disneyland. Due to its extreme popularity, all Oga's guests are limited to a two-drink, 45-minute time limit (which, of course, is no problem when you're in there with antsy kids). Many of the tables are high-topped and standing-only, so when you check in, be sure to tell them you're willing to wait for a seated table—it's worth it.

Credit: Brooke Geiger McDonald

Where Kids Will Want to Eat: Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo

To feed hungry kiddos, head to Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the larger of the land's two quick-service dining locations. Kids menu highlights include Fried Chicken Tip-Yip, the Ithorian Garden Patty Bun (only at Disneyland) and the Peka Pasta Rings Meal (only at Disney World). For a snack, head over to Kat Saka's Kettle for colorful popcorn or to the Milk Stand for a glass of blue (our favorite!) or green milk, a sweet, plant-based, slushy-like frozen treat.

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