Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is now open at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and at Disneyland! This guide details what we know, with tips for visiting, avoiding crowds, and info about Star Wars Land in both California and Hollywood Studios. (Updated September 29, 2019.)
Now that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been operating for a few months at Disneyland and a month at Walt Disney World, we’ve had a chance to make multiple visits to and spend some considerable time in Space Morocco. During those trips to Batuu, we’ve learned about the new land, observed the ebb and flow of crowds, and devised some strategy. All of which is covered in this ultimate guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
What we do not offer here is a subjective assessment or review of the land. Galaxy’s Edge has already proven incredibly divisive and controversial–the bottom line is that you’re going to want to experience it and form your own conclusions. If you are interested in what we think of the land, check out our “Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Review: A Land Like No Other,” which is our mostly spoiler-free review. We’ve followed that post up with several other first-hand reports from the land. You can find those and the rest of our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge coverage to date here…
The first big thing you’ll want to know is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has not seen crushing crowds on either coast. We actually predicted this for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in our 2019 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar Update: When to Visit & Avoid post, as the new land debuted in the heart of Florida’s storm season, just as school went back into session. Large crowds were highly unlikely to turn out as a result.
However, and more notably, we were dead wrong when it came to the California opening, which occurred at the start of the summer tourist season. In our Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low? analysis, we detail what we got wrong crowd-wise about the Disneyland debut. We also offer predictions about why crowds failed to materialize, and when they might.
Suffice to say, the land has not been as busy as anticipated, either by Disney’s internal projections or outside analysts. There has been a lot of controversy and debate about lower guest turnout, all of which is speculative at this point. We’re also not going to touch that hot-button issue here.
If you want a deeper dive into all things Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, continue reading…
Star Wars Land Info
Officially known as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, this new land is the largest settlement on the planet Batuu, set in the remote village of Black Spire Outpost, which is an infamous stop for traders, adventurers, and smugglers traveling around the Outer Rim and Wild Space.
Got all of that? Of course not. Everyone is just calling it Star Wars Land, just as Wizarding World of Harry Potter is simply “Harry Potter Land” or Pandora – World of Avatar is called “Avatar Land” by most guests. This is all mildly amusing, as I remember it being a small controversy that Cars Land would defy Disney naming conventions by not being Carsland.
Back in my day, Disney theme park lands and attractions used clear and concise names, and avoided convoluted syntax that served no discernible purpose and would be ignored by most of the general public. But I digress.
Here are quick descriptions of the major attractions, dining, and shopping in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge so you’ll know what we’re talking about as we continue this Star Wars Land Guide.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – An interactive motion simulator attraction where 6 guests are grouped together, given roles, and put in control of the Millennium Falcon. This collaborative ride promises to be somewhat skill-based, with your team’s performance reflected in the attraction itself and the appearance of the ship as you exit. Think Mission: Space meets Star Tours meets Toy Story Mania–all on steroids. Read our Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Review for more feedback on the attraction.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – A lengthy hybrid walk-through and trackless dark ride with a mixed media presentation including projections, Audio Animatronics, and a variety of physical effects. The attraction will put guests into the middle of a battle between the First Order (including Stormtroopers) and the Resistance, and feature an eight-seat ride vehicle known as a First Order Fleet Transport. This is the flagship attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and we really don’t know what to expect from it, but Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure and Mystic Manor have set our expectations very high.
In terms of dining, the options in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are surprisingly limited, with only a bar, counter service restaurant, and snack stalls. There is no table service restaurant, although that might be added later. Right now, the Lucasfilm Story Group and Imagineering are zealously guarding the thematic integrity of Star Wars, both inside and outside the land.
As might be evident from our Shanghai Disneyland Serves Pepsi article, we are oddly fascinated with soda sponsorships in the Disney Parks. This is a big-money partnership for Disney, but selling only (more expensive) novelty drinks would’ve also been a boon to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Ronto Roasters – This exotic meat stall serves the glorious Ronto Wrap (breakfast version pictured above). Former smelter droid 8D-J8 is cook, using a recycled pod-racing engine to roast meats at this dining stand.
Milk Stand – This small drink stall serves frosty confections, including blue milk and green milk. The vendors at this quirky stall offer travelers an invigorating, refreshing drink that’s a favorite among the locals. Expect a signature snack or two in addition to the green and blue milk.
Kat Saka’s Kettle – Serving specialty popcorn known as Outpost Mix, this small food stall is run by grain merchant Kat Saka, and is unlikely to serve much else besides popcorn and bottled drinks.
Black Spire Outpost has number of small vendors in a street markets, inspired by those in Marrakesh, Morocco. These intimate shops are part retail and part show, with a variety of props and colorful backstory, with a proprietor from the Star Wars universe running each.
In addition to the shops listed below, a variety of stores outside the land, including those in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland carry off-planet and limited edition Star Wars merchandise.
Creature Stall – This exotic shop offers a glimpse into cages and crates filled with hard-to-find species from across the galaxy. Bina, the stall’s proprieter, scours star systems to keep this storefront stocked with unique companions for her customers, including porgs, tauntauns, rathtars, and more.
Black Spire Outfitters – This local apparel shop features an eclectic selection of stylish, functional clothing suitable for a variety of occasions and worlds.
First Order Cargo – The First Order has recently arrived in Black Spire Outpost at Docking Bay 9, where they’ve set up a temporary post next to their shuttle to win the hearts and minds of the locals…and to sell gear to those who want to show support for the First Order.
Resistance Supply – Rendezvous with Resistance allies in a forested area near the ancient ruins. Here, members of the Resistance have set up a secret makeshift post where guests can join the cause to defeat the First Order…and buy Resistance merchandise to show their support.
The Jewels of Bith – Accessories, trinkets, and other treasures are sold in this street stall.
Toydarian Toymaker – This humble, jumbled shop contains all manner of artisanal playthings and collectibles handmade by the busy toymaker, Zabaka the Toydarian. Her fantastical storefront is cluttered with crates of toymaking supplies and other unique works in progress.
Star Wars Land is located in the back of the parks at both Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. The lands are nearly identical on each coast, with only minor differences in layout and orientation. Substantively, the lands are 100% the same, and cosmetically, they are 99% the same. As such, the specifics about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge apply equally to both versions.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios late last month, and through the end of September 2019 has not been particularly busy. However, crowds have been low throughout Walt Disney World this month, which is typically the slowest month of the year due to it being storm season and school going back into session. It was unlikely that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would cause it to buck this trend–even if both rides had opened at the same time.
What is likely is that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will start to get busier as we head into October, and crowds in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will get progressively worse leading up to the December opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (and thereafter). It’s also possible that crowds will never be as bad as originally expected.
In terms of strategy and touring info applicable to both coasts, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is the only attraction operating at first, and it won’t be utilizing FastPass, MaxPass, or FastPass+ (again, at first). This is almost certainly a matter of capacity, as a virtual queue means you’re effectively two places at once, and Disney wants to fit as many guests as physically possible into Star Wars Land if/when the crowds do show up.
Irrespective of all that, the good news is that on-site Walt Disney World guests can avoid whatever crowds exist this fall and winter as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is included in morning Extra Magic Hours. For both the debuts of Pandora and Toy Story Land, morning Extra Magic Hours provided the best and easiest opportunity to experience those lands.
This is especially true during the New Extra, Extra Magic Hours (ExEMH) at Disney World, which begin at 7 am each morning and feature Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Without question, arriving super early on these mornings is the best way to experience Star Wars Land with minimal crowds.
While our strategy in the above itineraries recommends visiting Batuu in the evenings, some of you might want to rope drop Galaxy’s Edge. While the natural impulse is to run immediately to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, we’d instead suggest starting at Oga’s Cantina if you’re interested in experiencing what’s likely to be the best themed bar Imagineering has ever built, or Savi’s Workshop if you want to purchase a Handbuilt Lightsaber. (Both Oga’s and Savi’s also accept reservations, and getting those is definitely the preferred route to go–in which case you would race directly to Smugglers Run.)
Our rationale for this is simple: capacity. Even though it’s likely to have multi-hour waits during peak times, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a healthy hourly capacity of 1,800 to 2,000 guests. By contrast, Oga’s Cantina has a capacity of around 150 guests. Even though it’s standing room only, people tend to linger in bars, meaning the hourly capacity is around 300 people. Savi’s capacity is even lower, but its $200 price point means lower demand.
There is far less demand for Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop, and also that the balking point is lower (meaning that if guests are quoted a 180 minute wait for a bar, they’re more likely to turn away, whereas they’d queue up for an attraction). However, based upon capacity numbers alone, the smart approach is starting with the bar or lightsaber building, and then doing Smugglers Run.
On days when crowds are higher, a timed entry “boarding pass” system that guests can book via the My Disney Experience app (for Walt Disney World), the Disneyland app, or via in-park kiosks are used. This is likely to occur throughout December at Walt Disney World and potentially in December at Disneyland. However, as of September 2019, the boarding pass system for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been used a grand total of one time on each coast.
We’ll continue visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge throughout October, November, and December at Walt Disney World (and in December at Disneyland) to monitor the situation with crowds, and how strategy changes once Rise of the Resistance debuts. We will continue to update the tips in this guide with info and analysis that we observe while inside Star Wars Land. It’s going to be a wild ride, but with smart planning, Galaxy’s Edge is a satisfying experience that was worth the wait.
What are your thoughts, tips, strategy, etc. for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Will you be visiting in the first few weeks or months that Star Wars Land is open? Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!