I just got back from two weeks in California and was lucky enough to be one of the first people in the world to ride the new, highly anticipated, Millennium Falcon at Disneyland’s new Star Wars themed land, Galaxy’s Edge.
Scroll down for the video…
This new “land”, because it is waaaay more than just a ride, was announced in 2015 and in May 2019 it opened on 5.6 hectares (14 acres) of new space beyond Frontierland and behind Mark Twain’s ship, with a matching park to open in Florida’s Disney World in August 2019 costing what is widely known to be more than $2 billion. (Did your eyes just pop a little bit?)
This has been so highly anticipated, grown men have been known to cry – just when it was announced. What they’ll do when they step foot inside, after walking as fast as they can through Frontierland to get there, who would know, but there will most certainly be fans wanting to spend the whole day (or make that three days) here without seeing anything else the Happiest Place on Earth has to offer.
What Disney has worked out is that their new audience of younger potential fans are no longer stimulated by just sitting on a ride and watching what is going on. They are gamers, they want interaction and they want to be involved. Toy Story over in Disney’s California Adventure Park offers a 4D interactive experience, but it’s geared towards the younger ones. Star Wars is different.
Firstly the land itself is designed for full immersion, from recognition of so many intricate details from the movies, to scannable QR codes for phone apps, to the “cast” (Disney staff) in full character from costume to conversation.
But it’s the the ride on the Millennium Falcon that has everyone queueing for hours. It is a simulator ride where you to get to be immersed into the action, but it won’t mean much unless you know the movies. (Don’t hate me, but I’ve never seen the movies!)
You will be drafted into teams of six, two are designated pilots, two gunners and two engineers (you don’t get to pick). I was an engineer and had no idea what that meant accept to shoot out harpoons which I did through a frenetic bashing of any button that lit up to my right.
Here’s my video which I managed to film with my phone in one hand while doing my job as one of two “engineers” sitting in the back.
Some “pilots” reported the joy stick was very “touchy”, but at the end of it all we were not sure whether the ride was a pre set sequence and our button pushing and the pilot’s manoeuvring was just for funsies or whether it was our fault that we crashed constantly! I guess we’d need to go on it a few more times to be sure…
Hard core fans are completely blown away by the attention to minute detail of this galaxy far far away, right down to the tread of R2-D2’s original tyres embedded into the dirt-like concrete.
When you finally arrive at Galaxy’s Edge (it’s a long walk from the entrance gates down sing-song Main Street past Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted House and beyond the log flume ride) you’ll be struck by the olde worlde look where a war has clearly been fought.
Look carefully and you’ll notice blaster shots on the walls and you get a sense of an apocalypse (although now filled with tourists) with shops selling quirky porgs (ugly toys) that vibrate or purr or meow ($25-$45).
And in a first for Disneyland, you’ll find a bar serving alcoholic drinks (shock!). Fans will remember the cantina from the first episode (confusingly called “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope) where outcasts and aliens hung out and you can expect the bartenders here at Oga’s Cantina to stay in character as long as you’re there. You’ll also find blue and green milk – which I didn’t try but it hasn’t gone down too well by those who have. Especially at $8 a cup.
And on that, the 700 different merchandise items in the nine stores within this new land are designed to make you shed a few eye-watering pennies with everything from toys to suits, to build your own robots and light sabres (the latter costing US$199).
Disney is pinning its hopes on this new galaxy to bring a fresh round of punters through its spend gates and a second, rollercoaster ride is still under construction, supposedly opening in November. And Florida gets it’s own Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge in August 2019.
More of my posts on Disney
If you’re heading to Disneyland or Disney World soon, you might like to read some of my other posts:
What you’re NOT allowed to take into Disneyland, with a few items that might surprise you.
How to hang out for FREE and still get the Disney experience, this post is great for those who arrive in the afternoon and don’t want to use up a whole day ticket. Head to Downtown Disney, plus I have a great place which hardly anyone knows about to see the fireworks.
And this one: How to do Disneyland with Kids (and avoid the happiest place on on earth becoming meltdown city!