Friday morning, I woke up late. Can you blame me? The park opened at 6am again, but there I was in my hotel room, sleeping as if I didn’t have a super-fun job to do! A few short miles away, people were building lightsabers, sampling alien concoctions, and arguing over how they were going to get their thermal detonator Cokes past the TSA.
But sleep is important too, I guess. In any case, I had a great time at Hollywood Studios on Day 2. It was an exhausting day, but I got to accomplish my mission of seeing the new land in both the morning and the evening light.
By the time I arrived, much of the early gate rush for Day 2 had settled down. In fact, it was so chill in the area that I stepped out to ride Toy Story Mania since it had no wait at the time and Smuggler’s Run was still about 90 minutes with the Single Rider line down. But more on that attraction later.
Heading back in, I found a lot more activity because of the lower crowd level. PhotoPass stations were everywhere, in front of all the things you wished you could have gotten a clear shot at on day one. It made sense. When the line for Smugglers run was five hours long and stretched outside the land on Day One, how could you get a photographer to clear a path in front of the A-Wing?
These photos were an unexpected and fun addition for me. My wife and I go out of our way to visit the park photographers on normal trips and like a lot of the extras they have been throwing in lately. Disney stepped things up again for Galaxy’s Edge. First off was a simple question at the A-Wing. I was greeted with a cheery, “Bright suns!” The cast member followed with questions about my day and whether this was my first visit. We chatted about the craziness of Opening Day and then my turn came up. A few quick shots (I imagine Disney trains their photographers to instruct anyone taking a picture alone to cross their arms and lean back. It happened at every station except one.) and I was on my way. The picture popped into my app quickly. There in the corner: a circle with the phrase, “Back to Batuu.” And I was.
Knowing where things were helped a lot on Day Two. I quickly navigated to Docking Bay 7. I wanted to try the Bright Suns Breakfast and get to eat with one of those hefty sporks again. It was a pretty satisfying breakfast, volume-wise. The sausages were just spicy enough, but I would have liked a bit more cheese flavor from the egg and cheese bite. Still, it was enough food to sustain me for a while. As I wondered how long it would take my coffee to cool off in the hot morning sun, a cast member whisked away my tray and the spork. I’m pretty sure they learned to guard the exits after Disneyland had all of their sporks stolen in a few short weeks. I don’t think I could convince myself to pay for a Disney-stolen spork, no matter how cool it is.
After breakfast, more pictures. In the square outside the First Order’s depot there were two locations and both were pretty interesting. One used an odd sphere on top of a pole to capture the entire square in a 360-degree view. I was told to stand straight up for a few seconds and that the final result would take a few hours. You can see it below. It’s weird, but cool. I was also tipped off to another station across the square that had no visible camera. There, I had to stand awkwardly on a spot for a few seconds and look at what looked to be First Order surveillance across the way. The resulting zoom over the area is below as well.
Try out these opportunities when you visit! There are a lot more spots to take pictures than I anticipated. Of course there are at least two by the Falcon. I opted to get one at night. Sorry, but it’s more of that same pose. I’m unoriginal. I did get a decent Force push in, for one shot, though. If you haven’t signed up for Disney’s Magic Maker package before, give it a try the next time you’re around. Your mobile phone takes great pictures, yes, but Disney continues to stay a few steps ahead with magical additions that you and your family will continue to treasure. One payment before (or during!) your trip ensures your entire party get to share all of the great memories. The package covers ride photos too! It’s been a consistently great value every time my family visits. Even more so when we have family reunion trips!
I took a siesta from the land after a while since Smuggler’s Run was such a long wait. I popped on to Slinky Dog Dash and got to eat a little too much food over at the Food & Wine Festival. As evening came on, I found a last-minute Oga’s Cantina reservation for late at night. Then one of the friends I made this trip texted me, saying he was going to build a light saber at Savi’s Workshop and wondered if I wanted to be his witness to the ceremony. Looks like I was bound for Batuu again!
The area is almost more exhilarating at night. The sounds change and the lights provide perhaps more ambiance than clarity. If your first visit is at night, it may be hard to find what you are looking for. The ceremony was, and I am not exaggerating, emotional. Completely worth every penny, but this is coming from the person who got in for free to watch somebody else pay. More on that experience another day, though. I spent the rest of my night roaming the area, soaking in the details, now overlaid with shadow and colored lights.
The First Order
The lighting is often indirect, pointing up at buildings. Blinking lights are everywhere, on all of those panels that you expect to see in a Star Wars movie. The Falcon itself has blinking lights everywhere and dramatic lights underneath. Steam bursts out of unexpected locations as hidden machines vent their exhaust. Droids beep and blink in the corners of alleys and shops. It was perhaps more satisfying than my first visit the day before.
As I walked out to watch the fireworks show at the front of the park, I admired the slow decrease of the Star Wars theme. Electric lights hastily strung along the walls of the Resistance camp morphed into simple industrial lights under a bridge. I was back on Grand Avenue, cast members welcoming me back to Earth. A strange Earth, true, with a music shop on the left and Muppets on the right, but Earth. It wasn’t too jarring, though. Because I knew I would be back to Batuu again in a few months.
And because I bought way too much stuff and had to carry all of it back to my room.
Next up, I’ll spend some time with the attractions and experiences around the land. Disney really pulled out the stops, creating believable and engaging activities. The thing that sells it the best, even over the detailed atmosphere, is the talented cast members everywhere. See you next time!