Seeing the mandible tips of the 100-foot-long Millennium Falcon poking into view in the open backstage elephant doors nearly made my heart skip a beat as I stepped into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for a preview tour of Disneyland’s highly anticipated newest themed land.
“Pretty cool, huh?” said Disneyland vice president Kris Theiler.
Pretty cool doesn’t begin to describe the feeling of seeing the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy standing before me in all its battle-scarred glory. Try somewhere between hyper-ventilating and cardiac arrest. Thank goodness most people entering Galaxy’s Edge will have to make their way through a warren of winding walkways before coming face-to-face with Han Solo’s famed starship. Otherwise Disneyland might have to install defibrillators at the entrances of Galaxy’s Edge.
Earlier this week, Theiler took a small group of local media on an exclusive tour of Black Spire Outpost on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the 14-acre Galaxy’s Edge themed land set to debut May 31 at the Anaheim theme park.
The Millennium Falcon sat in front of Ohnaka Transport Solutions, a shady interstellar shipping company that serves as a front operation for a clandestine smuggling operation. Towering 135-foot-tall spires formed a dramatic backdrop behind the ship, which serves as the marquee to the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run flight simulator attraction. An E-ticket ride so advanced that it may require Disney to come up with a new F-ticket classification. F as in Falcon.
“Obviously this is the Falcon and this is the Smugglers Run attraction,” Theiler said. “The cast are doing ride testing right now.”
The Millennium Falcon plays the role of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Galaxy’s Edge. What Walt Disney would have called a “wienie” designed to draw you deeper into the land. Galaxy’s Edge visitors will have to hunt awhile before they come upon the famed Corellian YT-1300 light freighter at the back of the land. And hunt they will because they know it has to be somewhere in Galaxy’s Edge. But the Falcon doesn’t reveal herself right away.
The Smugglers Run ride will be the only operating attraction in Galaxy’s Edge on opening day. In order to manage crowds and expectations, Disneyland will require reservations to enter the Star Wars land between May 31 and June 23. FastPasses won’t be used for Smugglers Run during that period, but the park plans to employ a single rider line starting on opening day. Expect the reservation-period queue to stretch backstage as fans rush to be the first to add their names to list of pilots who have flown the Millennium Falcon. Han, Chewie, Lando, Rey and now you. Disney really ought to sell t-shirts that proclaim, “I flew the Millennium Falcon.” No need to send me royalty checks. I’ll take an extra large.
I was fortunate to visit Galaxy’s Edge in February during a construction tour for a small group of media. At that time, the place was a hive of hundreds of construction workers climbing scaffolding, operating cranes and pouring cement. On Monday, it looked like Galaxy’s Edge could open at a moment’s notice. There was merchandise on shop shelves. Cast members, Disney speak for employees, were busy training in the build-your-own droid and lightsaber shops. And Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company, was putting the finishing touches on audio-animatronic characters and stage-setting props throughout the land.
“We’re really in the punch list mode, just finalizing all of the details,” Theiler said. “We have WDI crews in here still doing the final finishes.”
A full-size Sienar-Chall Utilipede-Transport ship sat atop the cylindrical-shaped Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo quick-service restaurant. The food freighter serves as an intergalactic food truck that makes regular deliveries of alien delicacies to the food hall-style restaurant.
“I’m excited about the menu,” Theiler said. “Our chefs did a great job trying to think of traditional comfort foods in a Galaxy’s Edge way. You’ll see something unique and different with every single dish.”
Galaxy’s Edge is about exploration and discovery. It’s like an onion. You have to peel back the layers. The more you look, the more you find. And like peeling an onion, it’s not always easy. Many of the shops won’t have signs out front. At least not in English. It helps if you know a bit of Aurebesh and Huttese. The signs carved into the facades over the shop entrances will need to be translated using the Galaxy’s Edge Data Pad found within the Disneyland mobile app. Unless you happen to be fluent in the Star Wars languages.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is just such a place. From the outside, you’d never know what to expect when you walk through the arched doorway. Inside, visitors will find an animatronic hammerhead alien who deals in black market goods. You can even barter with the dangerous 245-year-old Ithorian if you feel brave enough. Just don’t expect a discount.
“He’s been creating a collection for years and years and years,” Theiler said. “You can come in and get lots of different and unique offerings from the galaxy.”
A group of costumed cast members poured out of a Batuu building on a tour of their own. The walkways were empty except for the occasional cast member dressed in Black Spire villager garb. The vast land is designed to envelop visitors in an immersive atmosphere from a galaxy far, far away.
A team of Imagineers was busy adjusting an animatronic droid who has the thankless and tireless job of turning a spit of “space meat” at Ronto Roasters. The food stand sells sausage wraps and turkey jerky prepared by a smelter droid named 8D-J8 who labors endlessly over a fire stoked by a massive podracing engine. A caged meat locker stood nearby filled with alien delicacies collected from throughout the Star Wars galaxy.
The open-air Ronto Roasters leads directly into the Black Spire Souk, which draws inspiration from the outdoor marketplaces of Istanbul, Turkey and Marrakesh, Morocco. Lanterns hung from the open-air rooftop shaded by what looked like air conditioning coils. A stall at the end of the marketplace displayed a collection of Star Wars blasters. Imagineers huddled under a black pop-up tent poring over plans for the land
“There’s villagers that are living up above,” Theiler said. “This is going to be a busy marketplace down below.”
A short queue weaved inside Kat Saka’s Kettle, a space popcorn stand that will serve a savory and spicy take on the theme park staple.
Plush dolls of Ahsoka Tano, Lando Calrissian and Jabba the Hutt lined the shelves of the Toydarian Toymaker. A silhouette of a winged alien named Zabaka will flit around the back of her workshop amid toys, dolls, games and musical instruments inspired by the Star Wars universe.
Oinking Puffer Pigs, tongue-flicking Worrts and vibrating Rathtars collected from across the Star Wars galaxy stuffed an alien pet store in the marketplace. The Creature Stall was crammed to the rafters with cute and cuddly animatronic beasts that filled hanging cages.
The marketplace souk spilled into a secret rebel base camp in a wooded area on the edge of the Black Spire village, where the heroic Resistance was hiding from the villainous First Order. Imagineering crews were testing the sounds of starship engines spooling up before takeoff during our tour of the land. Every once in awhile you could hear the distinct sound of a X-wing streaking overhead. The newly planted trees are so lush I couldn’t see the massive Rise of the Resistance that boasts four rides in one attraction. Disney calls the trackless dark ride its most ambitious to date.
At a clearing in the forest, a military outpost will sell merchandise to Resistance loyalists. The shelves were already filled with fighter pilot helmets and the distinctive orange and white flight gear of the rebel forces. Beverage stands selling the distinctive “thermal detonator” Coca-Cola bottles exclusive to Galaxy’s Edge had yet to installed.
Deeper into the forest, a rebel gun turret stood at the entrance to the Rise of the Resistance attraction. The dark ride, which won’t open until later in the year, will take riders on a journey to outer space where they will be imprisoned on a Star Destroyer and have to figure out how to escape.
A full-size X-Wing and A-Wing sat docked across from the Rise of the Resistance entrance.
“We’re going to activate this space with entertainment and characters,” Theiler said.
Down around the bend stood the Critter Country entrance to the land. I couldn’t see even a hint of Disneyland in any direction I looked. In fact, Galaxy’s Edge is a hermetically sealed space bubble that doesn’t let in any whisper of the real world, let alone the Happiest Place on Earth.
Heading back into the Black Spire village, a collection of astromechs stood sentinel in front of the droid-building shop near the Frontierland entrance to Galaxy’s Edge. A broad-shouldered yellow and red droid looked like a short but stout body builder. The sad EG-series power droid seen in the belly of the Jawa Sandcrawler in the original 1977 “Star Wars” film joined the lineup in front of the Droid Depot shop.
Across the way, a trio of landspeeders sat in a garage awaiting repairs. A Tatooine landspeeder similar to the one used by Luke Skywalker was parked next to a Jakuu Raider model seen in “The Force Awakens.”
“It’s a location for all the space vehicles that are coming in and need work on them,” Theiler said.
Following a set of droid tracks in the cement took us into an intimate courtyard covered by a sail-like canopy. A red R5 and a yellow R2 were getting an oil bath behind the Droid Depot shop. Across from a well-labeled restroom, a worker tinkered with a drinking fountain with a glass cistern attached that will occasionally be populated by an animatronic dianoga beast. The one-eyed garbage squid that nearly drowned Luke Skywalker dwells in the pipes of Galaxy’s Edge, according to the backstory for the land.
A menacing full-sized TIE Echelon starfighter lurked near the Galaxy’s Edge entrance from Fantasyland. Talk about a dramatic transition. The Red Fury flags of the First Order’s 709 Legion hung from the Galaxy’s Edge buildings. First Order stormtroopers will patrol the sector of Black Spire village that lays just a few steps away from the genteel Dumbo the flying elephant ride and the regal Sleeping Beauty Castle.
“This is really a big First Order statement right here,” Theiler said. “We’ve got a First Order shop over there. They are really trying to sign up recruits and make sure they know they’re going to bring order to the land and help everybody live a more disciplined life.”
The last stop on the tour took us to Oga’s Cantina, the wretched hive of scum and villainy that will be the first public location in Disneyland to serve alcohol. The copper dome-topped cylindrical building was built into one of the many petrified tree spires dotting the village. A double take revealed “cantina” spelled out in a futuristic font above the arched doorway. The bar menu will include a Jedi Mind Trick cocktail, Bad Motivator IPA beer and Imperial Guard red wine.
“It’s highly themed and very immersive,” Theiler said. “There’s a lot of neat little touches by our Imagineering team.”
Off in the distance, the Millennium Falcon came into view again beyond a curved archway.
“The long shots in the land are really beautiful,” Theiler said.
The sight of the Falcon’s cockpit once again quickened my pulse. The heart palpitations returned. As I said farewell to the Falcon and Galaxy’s Edge.
READ MORE about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland
- Millennium Falcon: Inside Smugglers Run | Flying tips
- Rise of the Resistance: 4 rides in 1 | Bathroom pass
- Experiences: Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers | Droid Depot | Mobile games
- Cantina: Inside Oga’s | Inspiration | Cocktails | Beer & Wine
- Food: Docking Bay 7 | Ronto Roasters | Blue Milk | Kat Saka’s Kettle | What to eat
- Shops: Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities | Toydarian Toymaker | Creature Stall | Clothing
- Black Spire Outpost: Construction tour | Books & Comics | Animatronics | Set-dressing props
- Soft Opening: Reservations | Crowds | 4-hour time limit | Parking garage | Hotels | Project Stardust
Read more about I saw the finished Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and you’re going to be blown away This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. Mission Viejo Shredding Service
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