A Parents' Guide to Disneyland's Star Wars Galaxy's Edge
If you've ever dreamed of flying the Millennium Falcon, sipping an intergalactic cocktail at a space cantina, building a droid, wielding a lightsaber, or sharing a hug with Chewbacca before joining the Resistance, then Disney's newest land, Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, should be at the top of your family travel list. Even if your kids aren't Star Wars savants, this completely immersive land will wow them with cutting edge interactive technology and out-of-this-world fund food and toys.
Ready to launch into Star Wars hyperspace? Here's what you need to know:
What to Expect
The land, known as Galaxy's Edge, opened May 31, 2019, and is the single largest expansion in Disney's history, spanning 14 acres and built at a cost of one billion dollars. It is, in a word, staggering. As you enter you're greeted by 130-foot spire mountains, hovering spacecraft, and dirt-caked droids. It feels like you've landed on another planet, in this case Batuu, a planet on the edge of the Star Wars galaxy.
Here you'll meet costumed guides that will suss out whether you're a good guy, the Resistance, or one of the bad guys, the First Order. Since the entire land is designed to be interactive and let you build your own character and live out your own Star Wars story (super cool), there's no wrong answer; whether your kids want to join Kylo Ren in creating chaos or save the galaxy with Chewbacca and the Resistance, they'll find plenty of supporters on either side.
Tucked into every corner and crevice are details meant to transport you to another planet: odd creatures, unusual artifacts, strange alphabets, creaky cargo. And the food and beverages are equally enticing and exotic, with everything from frozen blue milk to Ronto Wraps cooked by a droid on offer to transport your tastebuds.
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Star Wars Land Rides
The centerpiece of the land is a 100-foot-long replica of the Millennium Falcon that looks like it just landed after a long space flight. It's overwhelming scope and detail are stunning on its own, but keep going and it leads into Smuggler's Run, a simulator ride that puts you right on deck of the ship. Groups of six are ushered into the control room, and you're either assigned to be one of two pilots, gunners, or engineers. The entire queue leading up to the ride feels like you're walking through a spaceship, and when you're finally sitting in your seat it's like you've stepped directly into a movie; especially when the action starts and you warp through hyperspace, the special effects are dazzling.
According to Imagineer Jacqueline King who helped design the immersive ride, it was created with the entire family in mind with dynamic difficulty and intergenerational appeal so "anyone from 3 to 93 can find challenges or simply push buttons" for optimal enjoyment. (Do note though, that there's a 38" minimum height to ride).
That said, the pilot's position is a little more like working a video game with the ability to fly the ship and maneuver around, or more often, into obstacles. Smaller kids who aren't familiar with driving games will have an easier time as gunners, where repeatedly pushing a button fires at attacking ships, or in the engineer position, where you push buttons as they light up.
Another ride, Rise of the Resistance, will launch the end of August.
Things You Can't Miss
In addition to Smuggler's Run, there are other incredibly themed highlights you won't want to miss, the first of which is Oga's Cantina. If you're a fan of the original 1977 Star Wars "A New Hope," this meeting place for guests from around the galaxy will instantly transport you to that movie's alien filled bar. Here, a robot named DJ R-3X spins tunes from around space, including the famous "Cantina Song" you probably already have in your head. Drinks bubble, smoke, and pop and come in a prism of hues. Because this is Disney, there are plenty of nonalcoholic options, including the lemon-lime Carbon Freeze with billowing smoke and floating boba balls.
Bonus: there are real cocktails as well, a first for Disneyland; the Spiran Caf is made with both coffee AND rum!
We're not going to lie, there's a lot of opportunities to shop here that are cleverly presented as activities; you can craft a custom lightsaber at Savi's Workshop ($200), build a personalized astromech droid at the Droid Depot ($100), or even adopt an intergalactic pet at the Creature Stall (an adorable Pog is $45). Even the Coke bottles look like orbs (and are a cheap souvenir for $5), but you may want to set a budget for your kids before you start exploring. One great shopping spot is Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities which has an amazing animatronic shopkeeper who tries to bargain for artifacts and sports a wall of space trophies and has plastic lightsabers on hand starting at just $20.
Want a few free souvenirs? Interact with the costumed "resistance" guides who wander through the land, if you mention "the Wookie" you'll get free pieces of a map that can be used to explore the land.
Another hot tip: According to Imagineer Cory Rouse, the entire land was "designed with interactivity in mind," so be sure to download the free Play Disney Parks mobile app before you arrive. This will turn your device into a data pad that lets you do everything from tune into "secret" transmissions to translate intergalactic signs, and it will also allow you to play games to get points and to interact with the Millennium Falcon ride as well.
Planning Your Trip
While popularity is still at its peak, staying at one of Disneyland's three on property hotels is still a good strategy to visit Galaxy's Edge since resort hotel guests can enter Disneyland an hour before the general public at 8am. Currently, you can only enter the land at 9 a.m. when it opens, but the early entry will put you first in line at the land's entrance. Note that a regular park ticket (around $100) is required for entry, but there are no additional charges to enter Galaxy's edge.
The best way to reach Galaxy's Edge is to enter Disneyland park through Main Street, then head to the left to Frontierland and follow the path that frames Frontierland to the left. This will bring you into Galaxy's Edge with Droid Depot to your immediate right and the Millennium Falcon pretty much straight ahead.
Keep an eye on ride times with your Disneyland Parks app. Currently, there are no FastPass options available for Smuggler's Run, but lines have actually been shorter (less than 30 minutes in most cases) than for Oga's Cantina. If Oga's is your top priority, get your kids a snack to munch while they wait to avoid a blackhole worthy meltdown (the multihued kettle corn at Kat Saka's Kettle is a tasty choice). This is also the time to rev up the interactive Disney app to translate signs and get an x-ray view inside crates and containers.
If your kids can stay up late, it's worth visiting again after dark when spaceships, droids, and the extra planetary landscaping are illuminated with an interstellar glow that makes it feel even more like you've traveled far far away.
Finally, if you can't make it to California this summer, don't despair. Another Star Wars Galaxy's Edge will open at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios August 30.