We just visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and are basically all ready to pack up and move to Batuu now! As much as a small part of me wanted to loathe the opening of the newest land at Hollywood Studios (for taking over Lights, Motors, Action! aka where I worked during my Disney College Program) I have to admit visiting Black Spire Outpost was such a surreal experience.
For starters, we totally lucked out during our first visit in terms of crowds, or lack thereof. Our last Disney trip fell immediately after Hurricane Dorian, and I think the combination of the hurricane just leaving Florida and school having recently started made for the perfect mix for low crowds. We were also able to take advantage of Extra Extra Magic Hours during this time still, and while our entire trip was only three days long we ended up getting into the park at 6:00 am for two days.
Upon entering Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge my first thought was obviously excitement. People love to ask me if I ever get tired of going to Disney, and my answer typically includes some kind of explanation in the way of “I lived there for a year and STILL couldn’t do everything there is to do- I can’t be tired of things I haven’t experienced!” Even with this mentality however, I’m so familiar with the parks. I may not have already done every single thing I can possibly do, but I’ve walked every inch of the parks more times than I can count, and as a result entering a new land regardless of what it is will always be exciting.
During our visit, Cast Members had an entrance/exit system set up for Galaxy’s Edge (it most likely is not like that anymore), so we had to enter through the Grand Avenue entrance and exit near Toy Story Land. If the land isn’t set up like this during your first visit, I still recommend entering through Grand Avenue. The transition here is much more detailed and I think you’ll get a bigger “reveal” this way.
I do have to admit, when we first walked into Galaxy’s Edge I kept trying to picture where the rest of Streets of America would have been, but truth be told the land is so detailed this is actually impossible. Any remnants of Streets of America save for a very small tribute to Lights, Motors, Action have been totally removed.
The level of detail in Galaxy’s Edge is really unlike anywhere else in a Disney park, or any theme park for that matter. In the Orlando area, the next most-similar areas to Galaxy’s Edge would likely be Pandora: World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Universal Studios’ Harry Potter areas, however both of those while incredibly detailed still feel like a theme park. Don’t get me wrong, I feel immersed in the stories of both Pandora and Harry Potter when I visit those lands, but only as immersed as one can get while still knowing that they’re in Animal Kingdom or Universal.
I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan. What I mean is that I love Star Wars, but I’m relatively new to the fandom, so I’m sure someone who grew up with it will be able to pick out loads of details that I’m missing, but my overall thoughts were simply that the land is immersive. Once get got away from Grand Avenue, I wouldn’t have guessed we were in Hollywood Studios anymore.
We spent so much time on our first trip just walking around and taking it all in (which is always what you should do the first time you experience something new in Disney). It’s tempting to take out your phone and capture every moment, but for your first time seeing it you’re really better off seeing everything in front of you and not from behind a screen.
Since the crowds were so low, we were basically able to do everything we wanted to do on our first couple of trips: We had reservations for Oga’s Cantina, and since our flight the first day was slightly delayed we just made it for this to be our first stop. Then we rode Smuggler’s Run and explored more of the details in the land including the characters (who walk around!) like Rey, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren and a handful of Stormtroopers. (We’ll have posts devoted to all of the dining/snacks in Galaxy’s Edge soon…)
The overall vibes of Galaxy’s Edge made me feel like it was more similar to a living history museum than a theme park. The way the characters walked around with a purpose (we even caught Rey repairing one of the ships in the area) and how the Cast Members each have their own background stories really added to the immersive feel of the land.
.., a living history museum with food that’s authentic in appearance (but still something I’d want to eat) and complete with interactive elements (in this case via the Play mobile app) and even sounds, with the sounds of ships flying over the entire area. Even the level of detail in distressing certain areas of the ships and buildings and the way all of the merchandise locations are set up (particularly the Droid Depot add to the immersion that I think is unmatched in other themed lands.
Whenever I write anything like this, I really do try to find at least one ‘negative’ to keep everything balanced, however I think it’s really hard to do so with Galaxy’s Edge. For the most part, the criticisms I’ve seen from other guests online seem to be the result of gatekeeping by fans (that unfortunately happens within every fandom) and details that are ‘negative’ only as a result of other guests’ (ie: the lack of sporks at Docking Bay 7 now- which is not necessarily a knock on Disney but a knock on the soul-less eBay resellers who steal them all making it an issue in the first place).
I do agree that the transition from Galaxy’s Edge to Toy Story Land could be better (which is why if it’s your first time coming or going I recommend sticking to the Grand Avenue side) but it’s really not as bad as some people are making it out to be. Part of me also wonders if the stark contrast was a logistically planned choice to account for crowds while the land is new, and perhaps in the future they’ll add more walls or something to make the transition a little smoother.
Speaking of logistics, I have seen some comments (mostly from DisTwitter so take them with a grain of salt) that Cast Members are staying in character to the point of being unhelpful (for instance someone asked where the restroom was, and they don’t know that word on Batuu so the CM was unable to help). I really can’t imagine that Cast Members are being trained to not help guests- there are ways to stay in character without being totally crazy like that, so I would hazard a guess that DisTwitter is overreacting with things like this. (Though I will say I was totally not up on the lingo at times and I definitely froze the first time someone said “Bright Suns” to me.)
I think this about sums up my initial thoughts- I’ll be sharing more posts on the food (because there is a lot of it in Galaxy’s Edge!) and our thoughts on the Smuggler’s Run, the shops, and everything else, but for now I just wanted to get my first impressions out there!
Have you been to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge yet? What did you think!? If you haven’t visited yet, let me know what you’re most excited for in the comments!