As Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge speeds towards completion at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we have new details about the land’s design, its two attractions, menus at the dining options, customizable merchandise ‘experiences’, and much more. In this, we’ll take a look at what’s known in a spoiler-free manner.
Disney invited distinguished travel writers from all over the world to come and do hard hat tours of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Unfortunately, all of them showed up…leaving no space for us. Womp womp. (I feel like there’s a good MuppetVision reference to be made in there somewhere, but that certainly isn’t it.)
Rather than simply regurgitating info from other sources in brief snippets, I’m going to direct your attention to some of the articles we’ve seen and enjoyed. Many of these pieces are well-written and convey the author’s first-hand reactions ‘behind the walls’ in Star Wars land, and there’s no way to properly convey that in ‘recap’ form. After a slew of links, I’ll share a few brief thoughts about crowds, the rides, and opening dates…
Some of this has been covered before; the Dish at Imagineering has been featured in a several past publications (and mentioned a few times at the last D23 Expo, I believe), and utilized for previous high profile attractions. To my knowledge, this is the first discussion of how the Unreal engine or building information modeling are being used. I found the latter, referred to in the article as BIM, to be particularly interesting.
It’ll be interesting to see how this tech is leveraged to maximize the impact of architectural reveals, and create more convincing forced perspective. Anyway, rather than reading my synopsis, head over to TechCrunch and check out the real thing. That article is pretty much spoiler-free until shortly after the image reproduced below…
A couple of things that article did confirm are that a standard ticket to Disneyland gives guests access to Galaxy’s Edge (expected, but confirmation is nonetheless good) and that no reservation system for the land will be used at this time. The latter is a bit of a disappointment, as it means a timed entry system is unlikely…which means long lines to enter are likely. (It also leaves the door open for paid Galaxy’s Edge FastPasses.)
Honestly, an article with granular detail about the operational side of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is something I’d really like to see, particularly for Disneyland. How is congestion at parking and security checkpoints going to be alleviated? What about potential backups on surface streets and highway off-ramps? Closer to the park, how are capacity closures going to work?
I can understand why Disney doesn’t want to devote coverage to the nitty-gritty of crowd management, but there are some potentially serious problems and headaches that need to be addressed in Anaheim well before guests even enter the park. This kind of topic isn’t exactly “sexy,” and brings the hype crashing back to reality. It’s what interests me, though.
I don’t need to be further hyped about the substance of Galaxy’s Edge. I have zero doubts that Imagineering has designed and built something revolutionary that’ll blow everyone away and make even Cars Land look like an amateur effort. I have far less confidence that Disneyland has worked out the logistics of ensuring it won’t be a seemingly never-ending series of gridlock just entering the park, with even more frustrations from there.
In case you’re like me and are trying to avoid spoilers but want vague overviews of the attractions, here goes. As we’ve known for a while, there are two attractions inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. I’ll warn you now that writing knowledgeably about these attractions is difficult as I scrolled past several full paragraphs in every article I read once the topic turned to attraction-play-by-play.
Based upon what we’ve gleaned from these stories, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is a next-generation simulator ride that you control in real time with a crew of 6 people. Different results are possible not in terms of random destinations, but how you perform inside the cockpit. These results are then ‘carried with you’ around Galaxy’s Edge.
Prior to its debut, we anticipated that Avatar Flight of Passage would be like Soarin’ on steroids. Well, it would seem that what Flight of Passage is to Soarin, Smuggler’s Run is to Star Tours. (Much more detail about Smuggler’s Run is provided in the above-mentioned articles, so refer to those if you don’t mind spoilers.)
While the idea of piloting the Millennium Falcon is irresistible to many fans, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the flagship attraction of the land. This attraction puts guests in the middle of an epic battle between the Resistance and the First Order in an epic setting (or should we say, settings).
Rumors have been circulating for a while that this multi-stage attraction nears 30-minutes in duration. Disney has suggested it won’t be quite that long, but that it will be the longest attraction they’ve created. This one is going to be part walk-through and part trackless dark ride. Even though I’m trying to avoid spoilers, the bits and pieces I’ve seen here and there have me absolutely hyped. If you want to know more, this article from EW discusses the attraction in vivid detail.
Finally, there’s the matter of grand opening dates, which many were hoping would come from this info dump. One thing you might gather from the articles is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is really far along at Disneyland–far enough to allow major media outlets to take a hardhat tour of the land, much of which is in near-final form. So, what does this mean for an opening date?
In an interview last month, Bob Iger mentioned June for Disneyland. This reiterates what has been rumored for a while. In our 2019 Disneyland Planning Guide, we’ve been saying for months that our prediction is a grand opening on June 23, 2019. We’ve yet to hear any information to contradict this, but we also haven’t heard anything to corroborate it, so there’s that.
As for Disney announcing official opening dates, don’t sit on pins and needles. If there’s one takeaway to be made from the construction tours, it’s that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is incredibly complex and has a ton of moving parts, with two of the most advanced attractions Imagineering has ever built. Even if almost everything is ready to go, there’s always the possibility of unforeseen problems during test and adjust.
Releasing official opening dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and then missing those dates or not having both attractions open, would be catastrophic. While there definitely are internal targets for both coasts, that’s not nearly the same as announcing something official.
When it comes to Disneyland, a huge amount of advance notice isn’t really necessary. To the contrary, it might even be undesirable. There are plenty of people in Los Angeles and Orange Counties to ensure that crowds will be overwhelming without every Star Wars fan in the United States also booking a plane ticket to be there.
As for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the “rumored” months for an opening are all over the place. Take your pick from September to December. What we’ve surmised is that the earlier dates are ambitious (and perhaps overzealous?) target goals, whereas the later ones are more conservative drop-dead dates.
Either way, I’d give zero credence to any opening dates for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at this point, whether they’re unofficial rumor or even the offhand remarks by Disney officials in investor calls. It’s simply too complicated of a land and we’re still too far out.
Ultimately, even without opening dates for either coast or a clear plan for how Disneyland plans to address crowd management, this has me even more excited for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which I didn’t think was possible. While other additions on the horizon are cool and interesting, I think it’ll be a long time before a single land is built anywhere with this level of ambition and attention to detail. Even if you’re not a diehard Star Wars fan, this should be something special.
What do you think of the new info about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Are you excited about this revolutionary new land…or dreading the crowds it’s likely to bring with it? Thoughts on the attractions, merchandise, dining, interactivity, or anything else about Star Wars land? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!