After two days of gushing over tiny details (There’s a dianoga in the tanks above a water fountain and a baby sarlacc in Dok Ondar’s collection!), it’s time I get down to the main attractions in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. That’s right, “attractions” plural. There may be only one ride, but there are a lot of extras out there that you and your family need to see to believe.
First up, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. The ride can be a crazy mess at times, but with the right crew, it is consistently fun. The queue is supposed to be pretty great, rivaling that of Avatar’s Flight of Passage. Hondo Ohnaka, a smuggler who appeared in some great episodes of the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon series, introduces your mission in person as you get close. I am a little disappointed I did not invest the time in the queue to see the new Hondo animatronic, but the single rider line was too tempting.
The average wait for the single rider line in my experience was 20 minutes. The main downside is a complete lack of theming. Well, not complete. The stark hallways are painted to look fairly dank and unsafe-looking bundles of wires emerge from the walls at times. There is a fairly steep stairwell at the end of the line, but immediately after you ascend it, you are greeted by cast members. Wait your turn and understand that you will be handed a role when a spot is open in somebody else’s crew. If you are trying to fly with family or friends, there is a fairly low chance of it happening in this line, but sometimes crews need two or three extra people. Once, when the ride was down for a few minutes, they took twenty or so people from the singles line as the main queue had not yet caught up.
Once in, you are handed a role. There are two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers. I played engineer every time, and there was plenty to do, depending on those pilots. Pilots actually steer the ship, avoiding obstacles using somewhat-too-responsive controls. Run into something and you cause damage to the ship, giving the engineers something to do. Lights and toggles flash green, indicating that you have something to push or flip to fix the ship. Gunners mostly jam on one of two buttons repeatedly. It’s a little odd, the angle that you have to turn to hit those buttons. I found it especially hard to go lefty.
Before you head into the cockpit, you get a chance to walk around and take pictures of the galley. There will likely be a loose cluster of people waiting to sit and have their picture taken by the dejarik (holographic, circular chess) table. The wait inside is almost always too short, as cast members will gather your boarding group and prepare you for the mission. Try to soak in some details anyway. I was excited to just touch the table before an irritated mother exclaimed that there was a line. Oops!
The ride is frantic. Focus on the screen and wait for those lights to tell you what buttons to push. Don’t worry about your performance, especially the first time you ride. You get to see iconic images unfold in front of you! The cockpit feels amazing and when I saw that first jump to light speed, I got chills. Have fun and laugh it up with your crew mates. Hondo doesn’t expect you to do the best job, so don’t hold yourself to too high a standard. At the end, you get “credits” based on your performance, tempered a bit by the performance of the rest of the crew.
One note for those worried about their little ones. If your kids have been on Star Tours, they will do just fine on Smuggler’s Run. The ride is fairly gentle compared to Star Tours. Even a steep pitch forward is just a light roll. The vibrations and swings are a lot less pronounced. The visuals provide a lot more stimulation and the ride is fairly loud, if that is something you might need help with. It suggests more action than it actually provides. In my opinion, it all comes together great. In some ways, it’s a simple flight simulator, but you get to do a lot more than you ever could in Star Tours.
When you get off the ship, you can check out your haul with the Disney Play app. Hondo will pop up on your “datapad” and give you the cut he promised on the ship. Let’s move on to that topic next.
Disney has been pushing its new Play app for a while now. It was originally designed to offer you some distraction while in longer lines. The activities can range from small games to play with your line-mates or trivia. There wasn’t any major compelling reason to use the app until now. It was fun to try out, but I never used it much.
In Galaxy’s Edge, Disney changes the game again. Logging into your “datapad” turns your phone into a communicator that can access a lot of activity and extras in the land. The app is an attraction in itself, allowing you to participate in the struggle for supremacy in the land and unlock more story. Hacking terminals allows you to support First Order surveillance, defend the Resistance, or act as a scoundrel, siphoning credits from the First Order for yourself.
Tidbits of story are everywhere. Intercept transmissions about characters around the land. Read the signs around the area that are written in the Star Wars written language, Aurebesh. Translate the Ithorian trader Dok Ondar’s language in real time. Take a peek inside various crates around the area. Gain street cred with the three factions in town, the Resistance, the scoundrels, and the First Order.
What does all this do in the end? Well, it’s fun solving little puzzles in line, so there’s that. If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, you might be able to learn a few things that tie Black Spire Outpost to the larger universe. You can outfit your “character” in the app, too, equipping items you find in crates. The whole process feels a bit empty in the end as there’s no overall goal. Supposedly, that goal is coming! Disney promised us some next-level interactivity in the land. They haven’t fully enabled a lot of this yet, but then, they still have another attraction to finish and an entire hotel to start! I’d like to think that when all of this comes together, what you do in the app will actually matter. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but if anybody can pull it off, it’s Disney.
Disney Food Blog has a great rundown with some screenshots if you’d like to check it out.
Savi’s Workshop and the Droid Factory
Two major experiences in the land are retail-based, but in a whole new way. If you thought it was cool having a kid from the audience pick a wand at Hogsmeade, you haven’t seen anything yet! Disney created some first-class entertainment that will make you feel a little better about shelling out more cash.
First up, the Droid Depot. Check out these pictures. It’s noisy. It’s colorful. It’s amazing! Overhead, droid parts slide by on tracks. Junk lines the walls and counters. All of them. Parts are grimy, but familiar, based on every droid you’ve ever seen in any Star Wars movie. Step up to the conveyor belts and a random assortment of droid bits in every color roll past you. You can assemble a BB-style droid or the more traditional R2-D2-style astromech. Mix and match colors and consider getting some accessories. The backpack is really nice and allows you to show off your droid to everybody else. I almost got one and I didn’t even make a droid!
A personality chip is another $13 accessory. If you carry your droid around the land, it will make noises as you pass into various areas. Get a Resistance chip and you will hear nervous chirps when in the First Order area. That sort of thing. In my experience, things were very loud the first day in particular and I rarely heard anything making these noises. I asked a few people who were a little disappointed. The second day of operations, more people reported hearing droid comments and felt it was a good amount of fun for the extra cash.
Savi’s Workshop is on a whole other level. Yes, it’s the most expensive option out there for making a lightsaber, but the experience is what you’re paying for in addition to the fairly solid construction. The sabers are made from metal components and fit together with precision. It looks a little difficult to assemble some parts, but helpful Gatherers are on hand to make sure you assemble everything properly.
The ceremony itself is amazing. You are introduced to the process with an amazing performance by the Gatherers. Stirring music and lighting effects highlight the entire process. You will feel chills as familiar themes are perfectly timed with the script. These cast members treat what you are doing as a real experience, presenting kyber crystals in special containment cylinders. You power up your lightsaber for the first time by entering it into a special chamber, complete darkness being transformed by the glowing weapons. Everyone raises their new sabers together as the music swells. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Give it a try with your family! Each saber-builder is allowed one guest to witness the ceremony.
The Cast Members
That brings me to the one of the undeclared attractions: the cast of this massive land! The actress playing the part of the lead Gatherer in Savi’s Workshop completely sold the experience. Resistance fighters and First Order Stormtroopers alike actively engage with people in the park. If you play along, they will play right back! There is a sense that you are actually part of something, not just standing in line to buy a hat.
I mentioned in my first article that it’s fun to interact with the non-character cast members, too. Almost everyone I talked to had their lingo down. You may have read that not only do cast members get to pick their own costumes for the day, but they get to develop a backstory within certain guidelines. Hearing some of these stories was great. The biggest hams I found were located in front of Dok Ondar’s shop and in and around Oga’s Cantina. One cast member had a story about how she got stuck on this planet after pirates stole her ship and its cargo. Another told me she was from a local village on Batuu. When I didn’t hear the name and asked her to repeat it, she chastised me, “What, am I speaking Wookie? Listen closer, kid.” One informed me and a few other bearded men in line that Oga’s last boyfriend was a Wookie and it did not end well, so we had better watch our step inside the cantina. The bartenders in the cantina all interact with DJ R-3X and the music the former flight droid plays.
It’s a tremendous amount of fun if you let it happen. Ask questions. Talk to people. Don’t be shy around Kylo Ren when he gets in your face. Most of these people aren’t actors, but enough will have thought through their stories. If they’ve been practicing, they will want to try out their skills with you!
That’s all for now. And it’s a lot! The major accomplishments of this land go way beyond so many expectations. If you take the time to notice, almost everything is part of the immersive fun. I can’t wait to go back! If you want to book your trip, our ConciEARS planners are ready and willing to craft the best experience for you. Give them a call or request a free trip estimate today!