Early reviews for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

May 23, 2019 in "Star Wars Galaxy's Edge"

Star War's Galaxy's Edge opens in just under a week at Disneyland Resort, and we are starting to hear the first reviews from Cast Member previews.

This review from WDWMAGIC Forum Member Old Mouseketeer is a great read, covering all aspects of the new land and offering some comparisons to Pandora The World of Avatar. It isn't spoiler heavy, but as always if you want to know nothing of what awaits you in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge, stop reading now.  You can find more Star Wars Galaxy's Edge reviews on the WDWMAGIC Forums.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Disneyland review

Just flew back from Batuu and boy are my arms tired! LOL

WOW! What an incredible land. Easily on par with Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, but with a lot more. It's hard to take in all the scenery. Went on Smugglers Run twice--once as Engineer and once as Gunner. We were too tired at the end to try for a third--wish I had thought to ask about the single rider line.

The Land

Seeing the Falcon in person is incredible. I was with my best friend from college (last century) and I asked him if he EVER thought we would see a full size Falcon and we both said not. The buildings and the layers of scenery are really fantastic. And you're just not in Disneyland any more. One of the first things we noticed was the layered soundscape. The transitions going into the land are great. It reminds me of the cinematic "curtains up" transition of the railroad tunnels into Town Square. The one peculiarity I found is that all the shops in the shop building between the center and right (East) entrance have entries on the West side. The back side faces the Cantina and First Order shop. That's the alley that leads directly to the Falcon (which is really cool). The TIE Fighter looks great and has a fun show moment.

The Souk/marketplace is really fun, but the merch stalls are very small. Restrooms are among the best themed Disney has ever done. Liked the ones in the Souk, but the ones at the South end of the shops building had an unfortunate choice of theming with rust marks on the ceiling and walls. No matter what Walt might think of some of the distressed theming today, I don't think he would go for this. The forest has taller plants than I expected and you can barely even see the "crashed ship" cylinder that is the exit to Rise of the Resistance. And you can only faintly see a little of the white and blue of the Resistance transport that serves as the beginning of RotR, but the entrance and outdoor queue looks great. Can't wait to see the caverns. All the ships look really cool, too.

Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run

We rode twice and loved it. The queue is great. It was very well themed and second to Flight of Passage only because of the undecanted Avatar. The Hondo animatronic looks awesome--love the animation. An alien face really lends itself to an AA figure. The CMs are clearly learning their roles and lack a lot of the smoothness we are used to in places like Mansion and Pirates--but that's what testing and previews are for. The transition from Hondo's port into the Falcon isn't as momentous as I expected. But you still recognize so much of the surroundings, even with some of the cheats that were necessary. Between our two trips we boarded through both the "real" cockpit path and the "extra" path, which was well-executed. It seemed plausible that we were going around the back way of the curving corridor to board the cockpit. The Hondo instructional video just before entering the cockpit that I had heard about didn't seem to be working and the door just before the final turn in the hallway to the cockpit was open and you could hear the CM shutting the previous group in. This is different than I had heard described by friends who rode in the last two weeks.

It was interesting that at the beginning of the ride you feel yourself moving to the right or left (depending on which turntable you are on) and the visual of the spaceport matches the motion. The mission is pretty exciting--Hondo is narrating the whole thing, telling you what to do, keeping up a commentary. The projection is a little darker than I expected, but I really didn't notice the difference in resolution from Star Tours. I think the level of interactivity, while somewhat limited, does add to the experience. Each position gets points on its performance at the end (so, unlike Mission: Space, using the controls and pushing the buttons really does something). I look forward to riding it more and doing the pilots positions. I think there are trade-offs with Star Tours, but I enjoy them both and can ride either repeatedly. You definitely get off in a different position and because we banged up the ship there were sparks flashing in the hallway and comm chatter about how banged up it was. It's a long walk out, but the theming was great.

Is it the same as flying a commercial airplane simulator (or the Space Shuttle)? No. It's a theme park ride. The amount of training you need to pilot a real simulator requires hundreds of hours of training and small plane qualification. But I still found the "hands-on" aspect of it very entertaining. It's hard the first time, trying to take in the visuals and do your job. On our first mission, we were the Engineers and I was fine with that. It's the least challenging and provided a good introduction and a fun experience. The second time we were Gunners and based on what I had heard before, we both chose automatic instead of manual. This meant that we weren't aiming the guns, just hitting the firing button repeatedly. I think they need some pre-show video showing the various ways a control can light up and the different colors. Ideally there would have been three screens--one for each position explaining what we would be asked to do. I'm looking forward to being in the Pilot seat, but based on what I have heard it's not that much more fun than the others--you just get to be in the front.

All in all, I enjoyed it. It's a strong E-ticket. I would say there were some aspects of the Flight of Passage preshow I liked better, but this stands on its own. I'm going to be enjoying this ride for years to come, especially if there are more missions.

Food of Batuu

OK, I'll admit it--I was nervous about the Blue Milk. This was one of those legendary things that almost couldn't fail to disappoint. I was very pleasantly surprised. We tried the Blue (which they said was "fruity" versus the Green being more "citrusy"). It's a fruity slushy slightly creamy drink. It wasn't cheap, but it was definitely worth trying for the sake of Star Wars history!

I was disappointed at the selection at Ronto Roasters, despite the clever theming of the engine doing the roasting. One criticism--the "smoke"coming from the engine was cool fog and no amount of red and orange lights will make it feel like there is heat coming from the roasting meat. Seriously, Bengal BBQ has a bigger selection, so we passed.

We had lunch at Docking Bay Seven and sampled both the Pork Ribs and the Tip Yip chicken. Both were very good and spicier than we expected. The only utensil available is a metal spork, which takes a little getting used to (but we were thrilled it wasn't plastic). Not sure how people will react to the "chicken loaf", but the crispy coating is good. Liked the blueberry corn muffin (almost a dessert in itself) and we enjoyed sharing the two meals to sample and compare. We finished with the chocolate dessert, which we both liked, including the tart passionfruit smear on the plate. I had the iced tea/lemonade/desert pear concoction which was very refreshing next to the slightly spicy entrees. I look forward to eating here again. For theme park food I put it up there with Plaza Inn and Boardwalk Pasta. I just hope they don't dumb it down like they did Flo's.

We didn't try the popcorn, but I have friends who sampled it at the CM showcase. If I were here for a full day with family I would get a bag to share and enjoy together. Sadly, there were no special bottles of Coke, Diet, and Sprite--only Dasani (in Arabesh). The modified beverage logos were displayed on the video menu board at Docking Bay Seven and the credit card logos only appear on the guest input screen where you swipe your card.

Merchandise

There are lots of choices here. The only shop we didn't enter was the Light Saber experience (there was a line). I found it interesting that none of the shops or food places had names outside in Terran/English. I wonder how long this will last, although it does make it fun to explore like you are really in a foreign place. We picked up some magnets and patches and a replica of the Falcon with the curved entrance behind it (I think it was only $15 or 20 before discount). You never see the words "Star Wars" on anything. Yes, you can pay hundreds of dollars for collectibles, but we found a wide range of choices and much to like. The Den of Antiquities was really great--lots of good stuff and great theming.

Entertainment

We saw Rey and Chewie walking around the forest (Resistance) end of the area. Chewie was interacting around the blue and white X-Wing which is on a bit of a stage. He alternated between interacting with guests and fixing the ship and moaning as it malfunctioned. The character host talked with him through this as a subtle way of translating. People really loved seeing him doing atmo as opposed to a formal meet and greet. Stormtroopers were present walking around, up on the catwalk above the landspeeder repair place, and escorting Kylo Ren. It's the first time I've seen Kylo interacting with guests doing atmo. It was clear to me that they're still getting the hang of being out and about like this (with added dialog options). At the TIE fighter there was a First Order Officer who reports in to Kylo and gets disciplined (the old Force choke routine) before Kylo exits up the ramp into the TIE. It was a nice bit of business that added authenticity. They make it clear that the Resistance controls the village. I hope there will be more like this.

Overall Impression

In short, we had a fantastic time. The place is amazing and lives up to my expectations, it's huge. The theming is, well, immersive. I love the wardrobe for the CMs and the fact that they can mix and match from a range of separates. The Smugglers Run CMs just wear their distinctive blue Onaka Transport vest over whatever they have chosen. The four-hour window was just enough time to get a proper first taste and we got to take in everything except the Cantina. Just looking around and taking in all the layers is terrific. There are so many things to experience just being in the environment--much like Animal Kingdom.

It's hard to compare this to Harry Potter, because the two lands in Orlando are specifically from the films. There is a familiarity and a wonderful expectation fulfilled. To a lesser extent, Pandora gives you some of this. Batuu and Black Spire Outpost is a new place with defininte roots in the Star Wars universe. I'll need to ride Rise of the Resistance to give a full judgement. But I definitely think Disney has risen to the occasion. My friend and I really were agog trying to take it all in. I can't wait to see it again, but I don't know when that will be and it certainly won't be this pleasant crowd-wise. There's so much more to cover, but I think I'll let others review it from their perspective.

Bright Suns, Travellers!

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Article Posted: May 23, 2019 / 7:41am ET