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First Impressions: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios

by | Aug 30, 2019

I walked into the park, cautiously optimistic. Just a bit before dawn, I boarded the bus at my resort. Here I was a few minutes later, buying coffee at the Trolly that looks suspiciously like a Starbucks. I even used my trusty app to pay for the regular coffee. Whatever, I thought. Star Wars.

The crowds were not nearly what I anticipated for the hour. I got into a line down on Hollywood and Vine and picked up a bunch of pins and a Funko Pop of Hondo Ohnaka for my burgeoning collection. Of Funko Pops, that is. Not pins. Of those, I have plenty. I left, and the sun was up. I finished said coffee as I stepped into the dawn, ready to enter Galaxy’s Edge.

I was surprised and a bit disappointed when I arrived. The AT-AT outside, stomping through the Endorian forest, set the stage well, but where were the people? I walked onto the ride and sat down. I’ve been here before, haven’t I? C-3PO shouted at R2-D2 as our ship crashed on Hoth and took off again. We buzzed through the Death Star (2) and escaped unscathed. Shaken, but whole. What was the big deal? As I exited, I noticed the trees had scaffolding behind them. They weren’t even whole trees! Come on, Disney!

OK, fine. I admit it. That was Star Tours. We’ve all been there, right? Random assignment of Star Wars locations with rolling of the ship. An exterior designed like a studio set. Sometimes kids train as Jedi and sometimes Chewbacca shows up. Fun and exciting! Until Batuu, that is. Until Batuu.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge goes beyond any theming Disney has ever created. Done. I wrote it, so it’s out there. Still an opinion, but whatever. The land encompasses an area so large that nothing else compares! Disney stepped up their game and did so on both coasts. Galaxy’s Edge represents the pinnacle of theming, blending a classic property with a real-world locale. It was a blast to visit and I can’t wait to go back!

The entrance from Grand Avenue

Batuu, a planet on the edge of the galaxy, is a hub of trade and villainy. This is reflected very well in the people you meet and the environment around you. Entering through Grand Avenue, right by the Muppets and all their tomfoolery, you move from a typical bridge overhead to a tunnel hewn from rock as if a giant machine bored its way to a galaxy far far away. Walking in, you see a couple of ships supporting the Resistance, an A-Wing and an X-Wing on the opposite site. Steam and sound effects make it seem like these ships have just landed and are cooling off. The Resistance holds a few shipping crates to the side, offering wares that will improve their financial stance against the First Order. Buy a replica of Poe Dameron’s helmet if you really feel the need to support their cause. One will set you back over $400, but do you want the First Order to win?

Step in a bit further and soak in the details. The trash cans are aged. The lights are aged. A tall transformer hums as its supports the twenty-odd wires running off it. This land is rich! Within a few steps, I watched the land change as it left the wilderness for civilization. Soon I found a helpful denizen who told me that the wait to enter Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquity was a mere 90 minutes. Sounds good to me, as I was in the mood to purchase some ancient Jedi and Sith holocrons along with the accompanying kyber crystals. Three hours later, I entered the establishment, having befriended some folks on either side of me and the kind attendant at the entrance of the shop.

Here’s a tip: learn the lingo. The cast members are out in force right now and they have all been trained to speak with the local metaphors of Batuu. “Bright suns,” they may say, assuming you don’t know what they mean. Respond in kind! Depending on the time of day, it is appropriate to say, “Bright suns,” or, “Rising moons,” to express welcome to travelers. That’s you. If you respond to these folks with their native metaphors, you are more likely to get a beaming smile. Make sure you leave the interaction saying, “‘Til the spires,” indicating you are sympathetic to their cause. I’m being serious here. It’s super fun to play along and participate in the game. Understand that your money is Galactic Credits. Are you an Annual Passholder? Now you’re a Frequent Traveler. Want a picture? Try a holovid or an image capture. I thought it was fun to play along. Help these poor souls who had to learn a whole new language over the last few months!

Shopping! Understanding what you want will help you get through quicker. If you need a lightsaber but didn’t get into the custom experience of Savi’s Workshop, don’t fret. Dok Ondar has plenty of replicas available, based on your favorite heroes and villains from the Star Wars mythos. They’re cheaper than the custom sabers and don’t require a reservation either! You may have to wait in line, though. There are plenty of other excellent options in the shop that make it popular. Jedi and Sith robes are available elsewhere, but I did not find busts of famous Jedi or ancient holocrons anywhere but this shop. Do you want to hear the sage words of Qui-Gon Jin or Yoda? Pick up a holocron and a kyber crystal here!

The other shops are great too, and their lines are usually less full. Things like toys and mugs look hand-made and are sold out of little alcoves in the marketplace area. The whole area feels great. The crowd milling around, looking into shops from the main hall has the effect of making the area feel more authentic. The shop selection helps, too. A shop selling textiles and Jedi robes feels like it belongs here, as do the rest. And why not throw in a popcorn stand at the end of the hall?

There are so many other things to write about, but I will end it here for now. Coming up, I will write more about my impressions of them food and drink options in the park and its one attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Stay Tuned!