Bright Suns, Travelers!
Finally, finally, I made it to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, two months after it officially opened in Orlando, Florida. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, modeled after the Black Spire spaceport on the planet Batuu, is located in Hollywood Studios at Disney World. My partner and I went on a perfectly chilly day (for Central Florida at least), got there at 10:30, and didn’t leave Batuu until 6:00. We flew the Millennium Falcon, ate a Ronto Wrap, built a droid, crossed paths with Stormtroopers, all in the span of a day. Here I’ll give my thoughts as a first-time visitor, what I experienced, and what’s coming up for Batuu.
The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
10:30, and the first thing we did was get in line for Smuggler’s Run. In usual Disney fashion, the line stretched from one side of the spaceport all the way to Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter in the back (if you’ve been already, you’ll know where that is). The queue is exceptionally long for such a short ride, but it’s immersive and well crafted. When we got there the line was only about 65 minutes and it moved fairly quickly; throughout the day it stretched to 95 and 110 minutes, but that’s to be expected with a new attraction.
The ride itself is incredible, especially if you get the pilot positions. There are two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers, and you all work together to fly the Millennium Falcon. I got to steer the Falcon left to right, while my partner (co-pilot) steered up and down. He also got to pull the lever to jump to light speed twice, while I got to push some buttons and flip some switches, so we were both happy campers. You really feel like you’re flying the Falcon, and I will say we were both ecstatic walking into the cockpit. It’s so immersive and incredibly real, and we came out on top with only 900 credits in damage to the Falcon. I’d say a win for the smugglers.
What made the Smuggler’s Run line that much more fun—and actually added to the entire experience of Black Spire—was the Datapad feature on the Disney app. Once you enter Batuu, the app gives you the option to start up the Datapad. The app then turns into an interactive experience within Batuu itself; you get to chat with characters to get missions, scan marked crates and boxes to collect supplies, choose to side with the First Order or the Rebellion, spy on transmissions, decode messages, translate Aurabesh. It’s just one more thing that immerses you in the world.
What’s great about the characters is they wander around freely. You could be standing in line for Oga’s Cantina and suddenly there are two Stormtroopers standing behind you. Or, in our case, you could have Rey just stride right past you, looking everything like a woman on a mission. Kylo Ren does a little spectacle, dramatic as always, and then stalks through the crowd with his two guards in tow.
The timing for the characters is perfect. Disney makes sure to never have, say, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren in the same place at the same time. Personally, we kept running into Chewie; we saw him about five times that afternoon. For those of you who want to get pictures with the characters, it’s a little more difficult than when you could go see them at the Launch Bay. For us, it was cool just to see them all out and about. Especially Rey; she walked right past me twice and I felt as if I’d just seen an angel.
As I’ve said before, the world of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is so incredibly immersive, you can easily spend a whole day there. Disney really thinks of everything, down to the last detail. For example: the flight suits have “pull to inflate” written in Aurabesh upside down because that’s the way it would read on a real flight suit. With two ships in the main area and people milling about you get the sense of it being a real spaceport; like being at the airport but way, way better. The Black Spire marketplace didn’t have a huge selection of things (not like we’re into paying Disney prices though), but it was well put together, and beautiful at night with all the lanterns lit.
There were so many places to go. I still feel like we missed something, even though I know we went everywhere. There just seem to be hidden nooks and crannies where you don’t know what you’re going to see, and then suddenly you come upon a whole X-Wing.
Even though we brought food to avoid spending a lot of money, we eventually broke down and went to Ronto Roasters. The Ronto Wrap is $13 but it’s good; according to the menu it’s “Roasted Pork, Grilled Pork Sausage, Peppercorn Sauce, and Tangy Slaw wrapped in Pita Bread”. I also had probably the best mixed drink I’ve ever had in the Surly Sarlacc: “Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit and Rose Vodka, Minute Maid Limeade, Raspberry, Spicy Mango Flavors.” Delicious.
If you want sit-down food, there’s Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. This has a varied selection of more knife-and-fork fare, like the Braised Shaak Roast: beef pot roast, cavatelli pasta, kale, and mushrooms. For drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic there’s Oga’s Cantina; when we were there they were only taking reservations, so we weren’t able to get in. The soundtrack is available on Spotify, though; you can listen to what DJ Rex is spinning inside the cantina if you can’t make it in.
Now, something I was wary of was alcoholic blue milk. I’m not a fan of alcoholic dairy, but the blue milk is more of a cream-soda slushy than a full-on dairy product. At least, that’s the best way I can describe it. There are some slushy-like chunks in it, but it’s not completely frozen. It’s an odd mouthfeel, to say the least, but the taste is fruity and creamy and delicious. Blue and green milk can be found at the milk stand at the Black Spire Market near Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter.
The one thing we really splurged on was making a droid. At the Droid Depot, you can spend $100 (plus any extras) to build your own working droid. Choose from an R2 or BB model; pick your head and body colors; grab all your pieces from the conveyor belt; then head over to one of the stations to assemble your new droid.
We chose a BB model because they actually roll, and we named it BB-4RT (Bart). The construction for a BB is fairly simple; the two body halves twist together around the motor, and the head is magnetized so it stays in place while the body rolls. What’s really cool is you can get personality chips for your new droid; depending on which personality it has (First Order, Rebellion, or Smuggler), it’ll react to different things around Batuu. Ours has a Smuggler’s personality, and reacted to Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter and the Millennium Falcon. We can’t have pets so this is our pet now.
What’s coming up for Galaxy’s Edge? There might be a new restaurant; there might be something going up behind the big doors in the First Order sector of Black Spire. But what we know for sure is going up is the new Rise of the Resistance ride on December 5th. According to CNBC, Disney has called Rise of the Resistance the company’s “most ambitious park project to date.” The new, innovative attraction features “more than one ride system…the ride vehicle…actually travels into a number of other vehicles in order to achieve different types of motion.” According to the article, “you are loaded onto a transport vessel with the promise of meeting General Organa and teaming up with other rebels to take on the First Order.”
Rise of the Resistance sounds like a ride like we’ve never seen before. I’m excited to see how it’ll work, and would love to see the secret mechanics of both this ride and Smuggler’s Run. But that, of course, would spoil the magic.
Galaxy’s Edge is cool. It’s cool if you’re not a Star Wars fan, but if you are, it’s just that much cooler. Being in a spaceport is a once in a lifetime experience, and Batuu certainly delivers. Flying the Millennium Falcon? Previously only in the realms of fiction; but now you can go to Disney World and fly the Millennium Falcon. Owning a droid of your own? Also fiction. Guess what? Not anymore. My closing thoughts on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are this: if you like Star Wars even a little bit, save up and go to Batuu. It’s worth the trip.