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!