I saw the finished Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and you’re going to be blown away

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.

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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.

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Disneyland won’t loosen costume policy for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Visitors to Disneyland’s new Galaxy’s Edge themed land will be able to browse through clothing inspired by movie wardrobe pieces, but Disneyland’s strict costume policy means they won’t be able to wear some of the clothing they buy within the Anaheim theme park.

The new 14-acre land opening May 31 at Disneyland will be set in the on the Star Wars planet of Batuu in the remote outer rim village of Black Spire Outpost.

An apparel shop in the Black Spire marketplace will sell a line of handmade robes, tunics, hooded scarves and belts based on wardrobe pieces from the “Star Wars” cinematic universe. Disney’s merchandise team worked closely with Lucasfilm’s archives division to turn movie wardrobe pieces into authentic-looking clothing.

Visitors over the age of 13 will not be able to wear the Star Wars robes and some other Galaxy’s Edge merchandise in the theme park, Disneyland officials said. Disneyland currently sells stormtrooper helmets and other items that violate the costume policy and can’t be worn in the park.

Disneyland visitors 14 and over are not permitted to wear costumes into the parks although “Disney bounding” is permitted. Disney bounders dress in color schemes and design patterns that mimic the look and style of their favorite characters. Visitors of all ages can wear costumes during some separate-admission after-hours events at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

“We believe that our current costume policy allows a lot of Disney bounding and opportunity to come and live your story,” Disneyland Vice President Kris Theiler said.

Disneyland employees will wear costumes that place them into three distinct camps in Galaxy’s Edge: First Order soldiers, Resistance rebels or Black Spire Outpost villagers.

Employees dressed as villagers will get to choose from a mix-and-match collection of costumes that can be assembled into 80 combinations. Cast members will get to pick their own pieces from a selection of tunics, wraps and vests as well as accessories like necklaces, scarves, hats and belts.

The First Order and Resistance looks will be more pre-determined for employees. The bad guy First Order soldiers will wear sleek military-style uniforms. The good guy Resistance rebels will wear flight crew gear with a jacket, vest and goggles on their hat.

Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative arm of the company, has created an immersive and interactive environment in Galaxy’s Edge designed to let every visitor live their own Star Wars hero story.

Visitors will play a role in a continually developing storyline that evolves and progresses throughout the day. Fail in your mission aboard the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction and a bounty hunter might tap you on the shoulder looking for a vengeful space pirate’s lost loot.

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Want to visit Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Brace yourself for big crowds and long lines

Disneyland visitors with reservations to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during the initial “soft opening” period can expect to wait in hours-long lines to get into the new land, ride the Millennium Falcon attraction, visit the cantina and experience the build-your-own lightsaber and droid shops.

Hardcore Star Wars fans heading to Disneyland for the May 31 grand opening of Galaxy’s Edge or on June 24 — the first date that reservations won’t be required — will also have to brave an overnight lineup just to get into the Anaheim theme park.

The reservation-only soft opening gives Disneyland an opportunity for a controlled introduction of Galaxy’s Edge and a chance to understand how visitors react and respond to Black Spire Outpost on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre themed land.

Disneyland will restrict access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23 to visitors with reservations. Each registered guest staying at the Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel or Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel during the initial 24-day window will receive one reservation to Galaxy’s Edge. A limited number of theme park visitors not staying in one of the three hotels will be able to make reservations for Galaxy’s Edge. Disneyland has not yet released details on how the free reservation system will work.

Once inside the land, visitors who want to experience the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride, Oga’s Cantina cocktail bar, Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers shop or Droid Depot store during the soft opening period will have to get into first come, first served queues at each location. None of the attractions, restaurants or experiential shops in the new land will take reservations during the soft opening period.

It will be difficult to do everything in one visit to Galaxy’s Edge during the initial 24-day reservation period. Visitors should expect hours-long waits for the lone attraction operating on opening day, the intimate must-see cantina and the boutique build-your-own experiences.

Disneyland will reassess the need for reservations at Oga’s, Savi’s and Droid Depot after June 24, when reservations will no longer be needed to access Galaxy’s Edge. A virtual queue system in development for Galaxy’s Edge will allow visitors to wander around other areas of Disneyland while waiting to enter the new Star Wars land. The digital system won’t be instituted until after the soft opening period.

Disney’s rival Universal Studios had one of the largest grand openings in theme park history with the 2010 debut of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Florida, which generated 10-hour lines just to get into the themed land on opening day.

The Avatar: Flight of Passage flight simulator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida generated 6-hour queues when it debuted in May 2017 before settling down to 2- to 3-hour average wait times.

Touring Plans, which uses big data and statistical analysis to calculate daily crowd sizes and ride wait times at theme parks, anticipates visitors could encounter 6-hour waits for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run on opening day of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland.

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Wait times for the marquee Millennium Falcon attraction will be affected by two key factors. First, Disneyland will not offer FastPasses for the ride during the soft opening period. Second, Rise of the Resistance, the other major attraction in Galaxy’s Edge, won’t open until later this year, reducing the overall ride capacity for the new land.

Fortunately, Disneyland has vast expertise in attraction queue management.

Disneyland plans to offer atmosphere talent, mobile app games and snack vending options for those waiting in line for Smugglers Run. Riders waiting in the Falcon queue will be able to get a bathroom pass and rejoin their party at the FastPass merge location in the attraction. Disney plans to eventually offer the same bathroom relief in the Rise of the Resistance queue when the attraction opens.

A Disneyland initiative dubbed Project Stardust — a mash-up of Star Wars and pixie dust — has been preparing for the massive crowds expected to descend on Galaxy’s Edge by taking a comprehensive park-wide look at operations, infrastructure and crowd management with an eye toward improving efficiency, traffic flow and access.

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Here’s what Disneyland unveiled about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at its cast party

Disneyland held an after-hours party just for cast members Tuesday night — and they got to be the first people to see some of the uniforms that will be appearing soon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Most people know that Disney’s building a new Star Wars land near Frontierland that’s expected to open in June, but this was the first time anyone had seen uniforms that will be worn by people working the attractions. In Disneyland, most attractions and areas have their own specially designed uniforms that enhance the fantasy world inside the park. For example, the Jungle Cruise skippers look like they’re ready to take off down the Nile.

But now there will be good guys and bad guys in the new land — and you can tell them apart by how they’re dressed. There will also be villagers roaming around the Black Spire Outpost, which is the smuggler’s village on the Planet Batuu where the new Star Wars land is supposedly set. (Spoiler alert: It’s not a real planet.) And, of course, there will be storm troopers and droids, not to mention alien species. Note that the First Order bad guy uniforms are modeled after those that appeared in the “Star Wars” film series. And note the “code cylinders” on the chest that carry encrypted information.

Cast members were eagerly looking forward to arriving in Tomorrowland for their private party from 10 p.m. to midnight, especially the costume reveal scheduled for 10:30 p.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace. Popcorn, fountain drinks and the chance to ride a few attractions were also in store.

The costumes revealed showed mix-and-match styles including four tops, five bottoms and, for the first time, accessories, according to a tweet by @shyhoof

Disneyland President Josh D’Amaro showed off his new name tag, revealing that Star Wars name tags will have names in English and Star Wars language Aurebesh.

Instagram Photo

Take a look at the costumes from Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge pic.twitter.com/eD5gFOtjXM

— Sasaki Time (@SasakiTime) February 27, 2019

Instagram Photo

Here’s a look at an official name tag that #StarWars: #GalaxysEdge cast members at #Disneyland and #WDW will wear, too. The name will be printed in English and Aurebesh. pic.twitter.com/jbbGEdZ5le

— DisneyExaminer (@DisneyExaminer) February 27, 2019

MiceChat.com provided several photos of what was described as “rogues and spies” in the new land:

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge costumes were revealed at a Disneyland cast party Feb. 26, 2019. These are “rogues and spies.” (Courtesy of MiceChat.com)

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge costumes were revealed at a Disneyland cast party Feb. 26, 2019. These are cantina workers. (Courtesy of MiceChat.com)

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  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge costumes were revealed at a Disneyland cast party Feb. 26, 2019. These are villagers in Black Spire Outpost. (Courtesy of MiceChat.com)

  • Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge costumes revealed at a Disneyland cast party Feb. 26, 2019. (Courtesy of MiceChat.com)



Tweets by DisneylandDrive

Disney will be revealing Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge costumes to cast members later this evening, but we’ve just been tipped off that this is the Rise of the Resistance uniform 👀 Keep following us for more from the edge of the galaxy and beyond 🛰#StarWars #Disneyland pic.twitter.com/nSLfEE4lzj

— MiceChat (@MiceChat) February 27, 2019

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