Our family recently headed to Walt Disney World to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! While we’re Disney veterans, we haven’t been to the parks since 2018, so we were extremely excited about visiting this new land — especially because all three Cataldo men are die-hard fans of the franchise.
From the moment we arrived at Orlando International Airport, Galaxy’s Edge was calling to us! The new land is being heavily promoted around the airport, perfectly setting the tone for our trip. (Yes, the above photo was taken before we even left the airport.)
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a 14-acre addition to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and it features two rides that will put you right into the Star Wars universe: Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run. Rise of the Resistance topped our list of things-to-do, simply because it was the newest ride and also the one in the most demand. We have great friends who live in Orlando who (thankfully!) researched the ways to effectively increase the odds of being able to experience this attraction, and they came along to join in the fun with us too.
Step 1: Be at the park for “rope drop.”
We arrived at the park at 6:00am, and as you can see here, while everyone in the family was onboard with Operation: Rise, our youngest son was still a little sleepy! At 7:00, the gates opened, and we entered the park to wait for the park’s actual opening time of 8:00am. If you’ve never been in a Disney park prior to opening, you’re allowed to roam around a little bit, but there are cast members at various roped-off areas of the park where the various lands reside. Head over to the area of the park that you’re interested in visiting, and when the rope drops at 8:00am… run to your ride of choice!
Step 2: Get your app ready.
It was especially important to be in the park prior to opening to stack the odds in our favor for riding Rise of the Resistance too. Due to demand, Disney has not yet allowed Fastpasses for this attraction. Instead, they have a virtual queue system set up for the ride. In order to try for a timeslot to ride, you must use the My Disney Experience app. Prior to entering the park, you’ll need to link all of the people in your group who wish to ride together. Then, with your location turned on, you open the app and select Rise of the Resistance. Just before 8:00am, an announcement plays over the park’s public address speakers to get ready to press the virtual queue button when it becomes available exactly on the hour.
Step 3: Tap your phone and cross your fingers!
As you might imagine, the park is filled with people anxiously tapping their phones as soon as 8:00am rolls around! Happily, we were successful. At 8:01am, the app noted that we would ride in Group 33. The app notes that boarding groups up to 59 would ride today, but any groups over 59 were not guaranteed to ride at all. (Yes, it is that popular!)
By 8:05am, cast members were setting up signs like these around the park:
Now that our ride slot was secure, we were free to enjoy the park! We were waiting at a rope-drop area at the entrance to Toy Story Land, as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge connects to Toy Story Land, and we intended to run through and get in line for Smuggler’s Run, the Millennium Falcon ride. However, due to the crowds, Disney cast members had temporarily closed the walkway between the two lands. So, we remained in Toy Story land and ran to line up for the park’s newest coaster, Toy Story’s Slinky Dog Dash!
We had a very short wait for Slinky, and what a fun ride he is! It’s the perfect balance between thrill ride and family-friendly coaster. The ride is much longer than we expected it to be, and the toy-themed details in the queue are just outstanding, with lots of nods to classic toys and build-it-yourself kits and games.
After riding Slinky, we headed over to Galaxy’s Edge to explore! This new land is rich with tangible details, both true to the movies and believable as the new Star Wars-canon land of Batuu.
It has an innate sort of familiarity for anyone who’s a fan of the films, but it also overflows with pleasantly unfamiliar thematic elements and details to explore and immerse yourself in.
At the center of Black Spire Outpost is an enormous Millennium Falcon, drawing guests in to experience being a member of the Falcon’s flight crew in the Smuggler’s Run ride. We excitedly got in line and discussed who would take which role! Each flight has room for six crew members: two pilots, two engineers, and two gunners.
The queue area wraps around the Falcon outside and continues with a detail-rich tour inside the “garage” and underground work areas. One of my favorite features of Galaxy’s Edge is how visible the Star Wars characters are — they’re out walking around everywhere all the time!
While we waited in line, Chewie and Rey walked around the Falcon, examining it. Chewie was pulling on some hoses inside a compartment above his head, and Rey was pointing out necessary repairs. Little details like these keep you both immersed and completely enthralled while you wait to ride.
Of course, as the characters roam around, they may just surprise you and interact with you too!
The queue for the ride is an attraction unto itself. It winds around and above the Falcon, giving you a fantastic view of the ship from the top. For perspective, look at the size of the people on the right side of this photo — the Falcon is just enormous and amazing to see up close.
Finally, we boarded the Falcon! I am nowhere near the level of Star-Wars die-hardedness that my sons and husband are, but it was really incredible to step into the bridge of the ship we grew up watching in the movies and know that it would be our job to pilot it!
The ride is a motion simulator somewhat like Star Tours, but the high level of interaction makes this much more than a sit-down-and-ride attraction.
While we successfully flew the Falcon on our journey, you absolutely can crash this beast if you’re not a good driver! In talking to a cast member, we learned that if you crash the ship, the Falcon’s exit hallway shows sign of damage and electrical issues as you exit!
After exiting Smuggler’s Run, our Rise of the Resistance queue time had not yet alerted us that it was time to ride, so we continued exploring Galaxy’s Edge. The land features both a cantina and a beverage stand selling the famous Star Wars blue milk and green milk.
Reactions in our family were mixed. First, it’s not milk — and we knew that it wasn’t before we bought a glass. It’s a non-dairy sweet beverage that somewhat resembles melted rainbow sherbet in flavor, but the consistency is more gelatinous. I have to admit that I was not a fan — the consistency of it really was an issue for me — but the Cataldo men all enjoyed it.
When we booked this trip, my husband told everyone, in no uncertain terms, that he would be purchasing a “real” lightsaber at Galaxy’s Edge. It is the one thing my husband wanted to get, and judging from the number of people carrying them around the park, he certainly wasn’t alone! They’re everywhere, and they’re not inexpensive.
Before peeking at the price sheet, take another look at the photo above. We are in line to buy a pre-made lightsaber, and the wait to do so is 45 minutes long!
Yes, these are premium souvenirs that come at premium price points. For the Star Wars lover in your life, though, is there anything more enticing than this?
You can either purchase these pre-built lightsabers at the Den of Iniquities shop in the park, or you can opt to build your own at Savi’s Workshop for $199. Savi’s takes reservations for this experience up to 180 days ahead of your trip, which includes a 30-minute ceremonial workshop where you will design and build a custom saber.
We weren’t able to secure reservations ahead of time for the day we wished to visit this park, unfortunately, as we only began planning our trip this winter. So, on this day, we left our names at Savi’s for their waiting list, and they told us to return later in the day in case someone cancelled their reservation.
Finally, finally, our My Disney Experience app let us know that it was time to experience Rise of the Resistance! We purposely avoided spoilers, ride videos and all reviews as we wanted to be completely surprised by this attraction. And surprised we were — I expected it to be a dark ride, but it didn’t start out that way at all. I snapped this photo as we walked through a heavily-vegitated area with waterfalls. Was this a walk-around attraction?
Without spoiling too much, Rise of the Resistance is part walk-through, part ride, part simulator. It takes almost 20 minutes to experience the entire attraction, and a fair amount of that involves walking through a storyline that involves being captured by the First Order. As exciting as it was to move ourselves through a story unfolding before us around every bend and turn, the moment you step into a room and see this…
This attraction is simply enormous, and there’s been no apparent expense spared to bring this world to life. Animatronic or not, there’s something very intimidating about being held hostage by thirty Stormtroopers, all of which move just the tiniest bit in a variety of ways to let you know that you’re not looking at stationary mannequins. Amazing!
After being captured by the First Order, guests are herded into small vehicles which move you through the Star Destroyer, and some of the effects and situations you encouter are incredibly realistic — think a lightsaber blazing, sparking, and sizzling its way through the roof above you, among other hazards.
The vehicles are trackless and use GPS technology, so you never really know which direction you are heading. Then, your vehicle becomes an escape pod which drops you into outer space so that you can return to Batuu. The mechanics that make all of this possible are unlike anything Disney’s ever done before on one of its rides. It was absolutely thrilling from start to finish — and I’m saying that as a lukewarm Star Wars fan. I was completely enthralled by this ride!
You arrive back on Batuu the same way your adventure begins — outdoors. I absolutely loved this attraction, and so did these guys.
We continued enjoying much of what Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge had to offer, and later in the day, we stopped back at Savi’s Workshop to see if there had been any lightsaber-building experience cancellations. Incredibly, there were two for the 8:30pm slot!
We headed over to Epcot via the new Skyliner to have dinner (I’m a huge fan of their food festivals, and Festival Of The Arts is one of my favorite ways to “eat around the world!”) We returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios after dark and the men went to fulfill their lightsaber-building dreams!
When you build a lightsaber, you are allowed to take just one guest with you. Of course, both our boys wanted to tag along while their father built his saber, and our friend Eddie was kind enough to take the other saber-building slot and bring our other son along as his own guest. Both of these dads were kind enough to allow the boys to be the first to raise their two completed lightsabers at the conclusion of the build experience too!
At $199, this is not an inexpensive experience by any means. However, all four of the guys were ecstatic about their experience. They felt they absolutely got their money’s worth and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. The sabers themselves are not “toy” quality – they’re heavyweight with metal handles, and they can definitely sustain a duel. They also come with a heavily-padded carrying case so that you can get your saber home safely.
We also discovered a fun perk about being the last group of the night to build sabers — you’re also among the last few guests to leave the entire park, as it has closed to the public by the time you exit Savi’s. You’ll have the opportunity to take some crowd-free pictures of Galaxy’s Edge, but that’s not all…
… you’ll also have plenty of time for wild lightsaber fights throughout the empty Galaxy’s Edge universe as you make your way toward the exit gates.
As we were leaving the park, our boys saw the empty Hollywood Boulevard and immediately said they wanted to take a crowd-free photo of their own:
One turned to the other and said “Let’s do ‘Abbey Road!'” (Yep, we’re raising them right.)
We had a perfect, magical day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from rope-drop to last call. I’ll post a second trip report soon about changes for 2020 in Walt Disney World, as well as some need-to-know tips for your next trip!
Special thanks to my friend Jill for taking some of these photographs — especially the ones of our husbands battling it out with their new sabers!
We were looking to go to WDW in August, also for Star Wars specificaly. Do you know if the light saber you buy in the shop (the one that is around $130) is different than the one you build for $200? My son really wants to do this and by August he may have saved enough $ but if possible he would like to afford the actual build too.
Coupon Maven says
Amanda, the light saber you build at Savi’s is indeed different than the pre-built ones you buy at Den of Iniquities. The biggest differences are (and I asked my husband the specifics here, as he is completely enthralled with his new lightsaber!)
– With the sabers you build yourself, you can change the crystal color, which in turn changes the color of the light saber blade. They sell Kyber Crystals in the shop in red, blue, purple, yellow, and green, and if you take the crystal out, the saber is white. Your saber comes with one crystal in the color of your choice when you build it.
– There are more design options at Savi’s. There are four or five different base designs, and when you get your parts kit, you choose the pieces you want from the parts kit in front of you, but you don’t get to use -all- the parts — there are two different styles of each part available.
– The blade comes off the ones you build at Savi’s, and you can carry just the handle around if you want to. My husband says that it is possible the blade may come off the ones from Antiquities too, but we are not sure as we did not handle one.
– To an extent, you can disassemble the lightsaber you built and then swap parts with another person’s saber who also built one at Savi’s.
Hope this helps!
I’m really glad you and your family had such a wonderful experience but, I really need to wonder, especially in light of the recent price increases, if Disney can be considered a real value for the average family. I’m starting to think that they’ve priced themselves out of consideration for most people. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Coupon Maven says
Wolverine70, I agree that the prices have increased significantly from the first year we began bringing our children back in 2002. My first trip was in 1978, so I am from that generation that grew up going to Walt Disney World. My mom went to Disneyland when she was a kid (1960!) which started a lifelong love of the Disney Parks for her, and in turn, for us.
Disney is one of those things that we can’t imagine ever -not- doing, even as prices go up. We were really stunned how inexpensive the Tokyo Disney parks are compared to the US parks when we went to Japan in 2018 — everything from park tickets to food to souvenirs were 1/3 to 1/2 the price you could pay here. Of course, you have to score a good airfare to Japan too to take advantage of that! :)
We always try to save as much as possible on our Disney trips, and if we’re there, it is safe to assume we got a great price on everything from airfare to resorts. Our last few trips (this one included) we have split our trip with part of it at one of the Disney Hilton properties, because I use my Hilton credit card points for free nights, and then a portion on-site as well. This trip was wonderful because we have friends who are Disney Vacation Club timeshare owners, and they offered to let us stay with them in an 8-person villa. So, between the Hilton and the Saratoga Springs DVC resort, our lodging was completely covered — incredibly, one of the least-expensive trips we’ve ever taken there. (We thanked them for their generosity by treating them to many meals around the World during our stay!)
One of my best Disney trips, which has sadly come to an end, used to be to buy the largest multi-day pass that you could afford. We would buy 10-day non-expiring park hopper passes for Walt Disney World, and then we’d use them across multiple trips. We still have three of these passes with days left on them, so the men in our family used those, and I requested media passes from Disney to write this post. Disney approved my request, so again — for us, we were really down to meals and souvenirs. (Which is also why my husband justified buying that light saber :)
I’m working on helping my sister plan a WDW trip for her family later this year, and it can definitely still be done on a budget. Their value resorts (All Stars) are currently around $110/night for the time she’s looking at, which is a good rate for an on-property resort. She also has non-expiring passes to use, so again, it won’t be a terribly expensive trip for them.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the park closures due to the Coronavirus issue — never in my life have all five Disney resorts around the world been closed at the same time. It is possible that resort & ticket rates could be affected by this, and once the virus fears have passed, it could be a good time to plan a trip from a financial perspective.