My Honest Disneyland Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Review & How Some Might Be Disappointed

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Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Honest Review

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Honest Review

After the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 rumors of a “Star Wars Land” started circling immediately. Then, in August of 2015 Disney made every fan out there weep when they announced that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would be coming to both Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

As many of you know I have visited every single Disney resort multiple times including having revisited every resort and park (Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai) within the last 2 months. I did that for a new Disney project I am working on, but it also gives me a great fresh perspective on what Disney has to offer and how Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge fits within that.

Disney is touting SWGE as the best they have ever built. Is this true? I decided to go as a normal fan who paid to see. I didn’t ask for nor was I given media access so I saw the land for the first time the same way you will. Here is my Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge honest review.

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Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Honest Review Millennium Falcon
The land is stunning both day and night.

Reservations

As of Friday 5/31 Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is open to the public…..sort of. In order to visit between 5/31 and 6/23 you need a reservation. I was able to snag one back in early May which allowed me to visit from 5-9pm on opening day. If you don’t have one then you’ll have to wait until June 24, 2019 or book a Disney owned hotel such as the Disneyland Hotel where they will provide you with a reservation.

Background

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is 14 acres and sits on land previously occupied by backstage buildings, the Rivers of America and Big Thunder Mountain Ranch. By chopping off the top of the river, rerouting the railroad and demolishing some buildings they were left with an impressive chunk of land. Considering the rest of Disneyland is only 85 acres, SWGE at 14 acres represents a HUGE expansion.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Honest Review waiting to enter
Our final waiting place before being let in completely to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Getting Into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

I have to start by commending Disney on how they have organized the reservation system for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I had a 5-9pm reservation and was able to check-in at their location in Tomorrowland with minimal wait. If you do check-in make sure to check your wristband since I was given one for a past time! It was quickly fixed, but I’m glad I caught it before going out to the rest of the park.

After getting my wristband sorted out I headed over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant on the other side of the park to wait for my time to enter. I got there a bit early and ended up being one of the first in my group of 1,000+ people which was advantageous. We were lead into SWGE in stages with the group being walked slowly along until 5pm when we were allowed to explore the planet of Batuu.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Honest Review – The Ride(s)

As I mentioned before, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is supposed to have two “E-ticket” attractions. While both rides (Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run) are headline attractions, RotR is thought by many to be the groundbreaking ride of the land. With it not being open, the only ride to enjoy right now is Smuggler’s Run. 

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Honest Review Smuggler's Run ride
Inside the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon during Smuggler’s run.

Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run Review

The most iconic part of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the full size replica of the Millennium Falcon that resides outside of the attraction. While you won’t technically go inside of the model, you will get to go inside of the ship! The Smuggler’s Run experience starts with an interactive queue that winds along the backside of the Falcon before eventually heading inside the ship where you have a few minutes to wander and even take photos in the iconic space.

Just before reaching the Falcon’s Chess Room area you will be grouped with up to 5 other people who will join you on your adventure. The group of six consists of 2 pilots, 2 gunners and 2 engineers. Let me describe their duties below:

  • Pilots: One pilot controls horizontal while the other controls vertical movements.
  • Gunners: Each controls one of the Falcon’s guns to shoot an enemies
  • Engineer: Fixes the ship when it is damaged and provides logistical support for the mission

 

When you boil it down, Smuggler’s Run is a simulator ride turned video game. This will lead to comparisons with Star Tours, but I feel both attractions have their place. The truth is Smuggler’s Run can both be “just alright” and spectacular at the same time. It really depends on how much fun you are having with the controls and more importantly how much fun people in your group are having.

I ended up getting to ride the attraction 4 times during my reservation window. This allowed me to be an Engineer, Gunner and to sit in both pilot positions. Since I was there by myself I always had to join others. Some rides were simply more fun with some groups getting more into it while others were more serious. 

To sum up my honest review, I loved the ride but it’s not perfect. Check out more photos of the ride and the queue.

Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run Ride Photos

Black Spire Outpost

Smuggler’s Run is located within Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu. This outpost is full of residents, cantinas, ships, stormtroopers, restaurants and shops. It is a living breathing place (all castmembers have a backstory and are residents of Batuu) and is truly one of Imagineering’s finest accomplishments. With that said, it is all designed to cost you money.

Among the biggest lines of the day in Galaxy’s Edge were the following:

  • Oga’s Cantina 1-2 hour waits: Drinks from $7-$42
  • Savi’s Workshop 2+ hour waits: Build your own lightsaber for $200
  • Droid Workshop 45-60 min waits: Build your own droid for $100 and up

and then there are a ton of other shops that sell everything from Star Wars universe pets to propaganda posters about joining the First Order. But as you can see it all costs money. Casual fans might just ride the one ride and not be impressed that the rest costs $$$$. Star Wars fans should prepare to spend.

Note: I plan to try Droid building and Oga’s Cantina with my family, so I’ll relate whether they were worth it after my next visit to Batuu on June 12.

More Shop & Merch Photos

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Criticisms

As I mentioned at the start I have visited every single Disney park (14 of them) and resort (6 of them) in the past two months. I have seen everything that Disney has to offer when it comes to theming and this is above and beyond anything they or anyone else has ever done. It is a true masterpiece of theming, but it isn’t perfect.

I myself am a big Star Wars fan. I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t have collectibles or advertise it everywhere, but I have seen the past 6-7 movies on opening weekend and almost always get tears in my eyes when the iconic Star Wars music comes on at the beginning of the movie. As that person I was deeply satisfied on many levels, but I don’t think everyone will be.

The truth is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is HUGE at 14 acres, but for now contains only one ride. Compare that to Fantasyland which has 12+ attractions in a similar footprint. The absence of Rise of the Resistance looms large over this land, but it is still deeply enjoyable. 

More Photos of Black Spire Outpost

My Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Bottom Line Advice

As a Star Wars fan Galaxy’s Edge did everything I wanted it to do. The detail is simply STUNNING and Smuggler’s Run is a great family friendly ride. With that said, here is my deeply honest advice for the average person in order to avoid disappointment. 

  • Visit now (after June 23) if: You already have plans to go or you have an annual pass and it won’t cost you extra
  • Visit later if: You are anyone else

I suspect many people won’t be paying for $200 lightsabers, $42 drinks or even the expensive merchandise throughout the land, so they’ll need those “free” rides to make this worth it. After June 24 you’ll also likely have to deal with hoards of people trying to see it, so waiting until later when you can experience the complete land (with even more crowds) may be beneficial.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Honest Review
Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Black Spire Outpost

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Honest Review – Final Thoughts

To close, if it sounds like I am being negative about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge then you have it all wrong. I do think it is a homerun, but it isn’t finished and I’m not sure how the expensive prices and lack of free things to do will go over with the “normies”. Even fans who revisit after having dropped hundreds of dollars on merchandise and custom droids on their first visit may feel just a little let down until it all opens.

I’ll be back on Batuu with my wife and daughter on June 12 and will write a follow up honest review based on being there a second time and visiting with a child to see how that changes my thoughts.

More Resources

Miles to Memories isn’t primarily a Disney site, so I won’t be publishing a strategy for Galaxy’s Edge here (although look for that kind of stuff with my new Disney project coming soon), so for now if you want even more Galaxy’s Edge coverage from someone I trust, checkout what Trips with Tykes has to say.

Have you been to Black Spire Outpost on Batuu? Let me know what you think below!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland has to be one of the most immersive and entertaining experiences I’ve ever had in a theme park. There is such attention to detail and the ambiance is impeccable.

    My wife and I were stopped by Kylo Ren and a pair of Storm Troopers and we were asked if we would answer the First Order’s call to serve. I was hesitant given that we had just literally interacted with Rey and Chewbacca down the path from The Black Spire towards the Resistance area where they are finishing construction on their newest ride. To my surprise my wife immediately agreed to join the First Order. My hesitance led to suspicion and Kylo Ren ordered that our “data pads” be analyzed and purged.

    You can build your own Droid, walk around a life sized, docked Millennium Falcon, try some local cuisine at Ronto’s, go to the Cantina (which sadly was busy enough to be reservation only all day) or stroll the bazaar through many unique stores with unique storekeepers with their own personalized stories.

    My wife and I delved into some of the backstories that each cast member in the sector had prepared. They told us stories of their original homes off planet and their feelings about the First Order‘s recent occupation and the Resistance. We were encouraged to try the local delicacy of Banthu Milk in either the blue or green varieties. We opted to try both and it was interesting for sure. My wife described the unique texture as a “fuzzy snow cone” by the way the milk coated the tongue.

    Overall it was an incredible experience that I would recommend for any Star Wars fan!

  2. We went to Disney Star Wars land for the first time last weekend. We are Disney fans and have season tickets to Disneyland. We have been to Disneyland 8 times in the last year and once to Disney World. We live in San Diego and are less than an hour from the park. We were truly disappointed in the new land due to one experience.
    We made a lunch reservation on the Disney site at the cantina after we paid to spend a night in at the Disneyland Hotel. When we got to the cantina we were told to wait in a line. This was even for people with reservations. The staff managing the line was truly unkind. They kept wanting to condense the line and move the line along a wall. They even harassed a wheelchair bound person about getting on the wall. When we finally got to the door 30 mins later the lady at the front continued the rude manner of the other staff. She finally had someone take us into the bar and they had us wait behind a stand up bar for someone to leave. We thought we had reservations for a table but soon discovered that the cantina isn’t a restaurant. The cantina didn’t sell food. Only drinks. Even though Disney listed it as a lunch spot in their app.
    A space finally opened up in front of us at the bar and as we were about to claim the spot another couple rushed in. We told them that we had been assigned to that spot and they explained that they had been assigned to that spot as well and had been waiting for almost an hour. Based on their anger .. I believed them.
    The bat wasn’t that great. We never did get to the spot because a staff member told two more groups to wait for the same spot – and we just left.

    It was a horrible experience!

    The ride was well done and enjoyable. The hotel was really good and is a really good alternative to the California Hotel. The themeing of the Haunted Mansion was great as always when it changes. The new night time themeing for the Gardian of the Galaxy ride was nice.

    But the cantina experience was so bad it shadowed All of the fun!

  3. I have been going to WDW since 1981 (the Tencennial). We raised our two kids on Disney and Star Wars and I am very happy they are now grown and have their own money to spend on Star Wars memorabilia, otherwise, I would be in hock to the credit card company for quite a while. Annual pass holder discounts were FEW and far between. I would be very disappointed if I took my younger children there, I doubt the experience would be enough for any of us. ONE attraction that was OK at best. I was very lucky the wait was only about 30 minutes because if I waited for more than that and had that ride experience I (as a longtime Disney fan) would have been very disappointed. As for the staging and set dressing, as a movie and photography buff, I could find myself entertained for hours, but I cannot see young children entertained for the day. I understand you can play games on your phone throughout the experience, but I did not take advantage of that experience. I noticed my daughter-in-law was having problems trying to access the program in the Smuggler’s Run queue. Dinner for 3 in a counter service restaurant was around $75 and coke in ‘cute’ bottle was $6, I did appreciate the free water stations and the fans throughout Batuu. I feel if I had to take my young children there it would be endless “Them: Can I have this? Me: No Way! Them: Is there anything else to do? e: Enjoy the environment?” As adults though, they LOVE it!

  4. I loved the detail of the land. Disney always does great in that department, but come on there is nothing to do there. One ride, that’s it?! Even when they open the second ride it really is a bit flat for me. I’m also really disappointed that they have actually made an area in DISNEYLAND that children are not allowed in. Disney, are you kidding me? What would Walt say to this?! Disneyland is no longer a family park. Do you know how sad it made my children to have to tell them , no that line isn’t for you, at DISNEYLAND!

  5. We just got back from SWGE in Orlando and I was grossly disappointed. The ride was average at best. Honestly, the buttons were distracting and you have no idea what you’re doing….just look to the side(instead of the actual screen) and press the blinking lights. I actually enjoyed star tours more. I agree on the cast members…interaction with them was annoying. There is no signage anywhere so it’s nice when someone will answer a question instead of looking at you like you’re crazy. The replica planet is strange too. Just pick a planet people know…people want to go in Mos Eisley, not some place they’ve never heard of. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while and just could have not been more disappointed.

  6. Went gor ghe grand opening. Got up at 4.30am. Got there for 5.30am. Already a 5 hour queue for Millwnium Falcon Smugglers Run. Didnt bother and so glad I didnt. I went two days later and wueued for only an hour. I would have been doing time now for murder if I’d queued for 5 hours for this mediocha ride. Compared to Avatar the flight which I would give 10 out of 10, I would give Smugglers run no more than a six out of 10. The graphics were poor compared to Avatar.
    I wouldnt bother doing it again.

  7. I am a life long Disneyland fan. I also love the Star Wars movies. I think Disney really missed the boat on SWGE land. Making the entire land based solely on the last movie, which is entirely grey/beige and kind of depressing, doesn’t fit in with the rest of Disneyland. To sum it up correctly, Star Wars Galaxy Edge is nothing more than a desert, space, Moroccan themed Shopping Mall. Stores, restaurants and a bar. It is nothing but a mall with a MMO video game. You can’t call it a ride at all.
    We went in August, just a couple months after the hugely hyped and massively marketed and anticipated new land opened and it was very empty in comparison to the expectation and the rest of the park. Every other land had longs lines for everything, including packed shops and food lines. There were no lines for anything, it was extremely hot, 2 storm troopers which no one seemed to care about, and it was so dead and boring. The “ride” is one you only need to go on once, as it’s boring.
    I think they missed a great opportunity to have Star Wars land contain what made Star Wars what it is today – Wookies, Ewoks, Jedi’s, Yoda…. Yoda’s swamp, the Ewok planet, the Wookie Planet, fun, colorful, exciting lands that connected and felt like you’re in Disneyland. This felt like touring the abandoned movie set of the last film. No one was happy or excited to be there. We got off the ride and people all said, hmm ok that was that ride.
    We exited the land after about an hour and re-entered a magical park that Star Wars land doesn’t match or fit in at all.

  8. As someone who grew up with Star Wars and have a good amount of Star Wars collectibles around (even had a Star Wars birthday or two growing up), I was flat out bored and unimpressed with SWGE. I had enough after circling twice. It didn’t pull me in. The music wasn’t themed as you’d expect. The setting was just bland. Batuu?!?! Really? It feels like a random space desert with random food and junk to buy! Who cares about Batuu?!? C’mon – give us Tatooine, Hoth, Degobah, Hoth, Endor, an “uncharted” Death Star…SOMETHING we can relate to other than a random planet.

    The ride was like a simulator with video game controls, although you’d get a better gameplay experience piloting the Falcon in Shadows of the Empire on the N64. I rode twice. Same basic path. Nobody said “that was awesome” or even talked about the ride on the way out. A kid and Mom piloted the 2nd time…crashed into pretty much everything possible and the storyline and result were the same.

    After 45 minutes…I just wanted to go back into the rest of the park…any part of it. First time I’ve ever been bored in a Disney park. It can’t be only me. I’m guessing once we get past the people who were there as free media invites, we’ll see more. Needless to say, as a huge fan of the parks, I was just not impressed.

    • Haven’t been there but it looks boring, monochrome (prison gray?) and drab. Doesn’t seem that immersive. Hopefully the one at WDW will be better.

      • They are both essentially the same, although perhaps you’ll appreciate the more saturated colors they chose for Florida because of the different climate. Experience wise though I wouldn’t expect anything different.

      • I agree. It is rather monochromatic and drab. And everything has been aged and battered. I understand why; it fits the theme. The sound effects are also not quite satisfying: robotic, non-melodic. I get that too, but it needs a lot of John Williams and much less R2D2. It also seems a little claustrophobic. It may be 14 acres but the structures are very vertical. You are at the bottom of a pit. I am fascinated by the vertical rock formations that are supposed to be in the far distance. They are very effective in expanding the horizon, but it is still a horizon hidden behind tall structures.

    • No you actually have control. The pilots actually control the movements of the ship and gunners actually shoot enemy ships, etc. It is more like a video game I would say.

      • Three of four times we rode the Falcon we were able to get 2 loads of coaxium for Hondo. Even with my 10 year old at the helm. Only time we came back with only 1 my wife was in the left seat….not letting her forget that any time soon. 😉

        TD

  9. Hey, whatever happened with the Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore? Did they end up honoring their mistake rate or what?

  10. Loved the review. I have a layover in LAX coming back from Australia next week with a SWL reservation and wasn’t sure whether to make the trip over. While I have an AP, the Uber/rental car costs are not small and I live near WDW so I’ll just wait for September.

    Strong claim that it’s the best theming anyone has done! I am not a huge Star Wars fan but it’ll have a long way to go to top certain ports at TDS, Universal’s HP efforts, and Hobbiton Movie Set, which remain my Top 3 themed built human environments.

  11. Suggestions to anyone going during the reservation period.

    1) Don’t ride The Falcon first. Most go there and the wait can be 45-60 minutes at the beginning of the reservation period. An hour later and the wait is 5-20 minutes.

    2) If interested in the Cantina or making a Saber pick one and get in line. Not likely to get both done. We had an 8-12 reservation. They cut of the Saber line at 10:00 for that reservation period.

    3) Know that reservations overlap by an hour. To get one last ride in make sure to be in line before the next reservation comes it.

    TD

    • We had a reservation from 8 am – 12 pm, got into the saber line at 8:05 and was then informed at 8:15 that the line was cut ahead, we couldnt get a light saber. Went to cantina right after and we were out on the waitlist then told we didn’t make it. The look is great but everything else is very badly organized and overcrowded. I cannot imagine the nightmare it’s going to become when it opens up to everyone. Very disappointing. If you are able to get reservations before it opens up to everyone, get in line two hours before 8am.

  12. Shawn

    Nice report. I agree with your assessment of the land. Mostly a home-Run, but wish it would have been complete on May 31st. We had 2 reservations (May 31 / June 1st). Fully enjoyed both days.

    Do you have any info on the closed area near the Resistance Supply. I know it is not a ride, but there I a pretty large area, with walk-ways no yet open. I have not been able to locate anything on that.

    TD

    • Which direction are you talking? Near the RotR queue or on the other side? I believe the queue of Rise of the Resistance goes all the way back to the left into the forest before going into the show building. I also think there will be some more retail in that area when it all opens.

      • I you enter from the Hungry Bear its the first area you come to on your left. Right next to the Resistance Supply kiosks.

        TD

        • Ok…looks to be ROTR….I had assumed that is what it was, it when I asked a cast member they told me that was not the ride…a little opening confusion …

          TD

    • Hi Shawn, thanks for the review. I love Star Wars and was really looking forward to going to this. While the ride was fun the interactions with the cast members was so frustrating. I asked “Where’s the restaurant?” Answer: “I don’t know what that is” (And I have so many more examples). But my biggest complaint is it seems that 40 years of my beloved Star Wars is being erased in Galaxy’s Edge. I asked where I can find Boba Fett or Princess Leia items and they said “Who’s that?.” I said (thinking they really didn’t know) they are part of Star Wars and they said “what’s that?” Unbelievably frustrating!! Maybe I’m missing something but a lot of the merchandise says Star Wars on it so I don’t understand why Star Wars is not a part of it?
      I was told they train them in this manner but there is nothing at Disney to tell a guest, who paid a lot of money and love Star Wars, what the experience is going to be like when you walk into Galaxy’s Edge. No signage or video to say “before walking in forget everything you know about Star Wars and please don’t ask any questions you’d ask on planet Earth because the answers will confuse you and leave you empty. Have a great time!”
      I think if Disney did something like that and prepared their guests for the experience it would really help.

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