Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge lives up to the hype

Last May, Disneyland opened its newest attraction: an entire Star Wars-themed land named Galaxy’s Edge – John Range

Last fall, I went to California for a long weekend. Being an avid gamer, I was on my way to the Halo Outpost Discovery event in Anaheim. But interestingly enough, that wasn’t the highlight of my trip. That honor belongs to my one-day trip to Disneyland to check out its new Star Wars-themed land Galaxy’s Edge.

The land had its grand opening last May, and there had already been a flood of videos and articles sweeping the internet about it. I had to see what the hype was all about.

One of the great things Disney parks have to offer is their level of immersion, and Galaxy’s Edge is arguably their most ambitious immersive attraction yet. The very layout of the Black Spire Outpost (the name given to the Galaxy’s Edge setting) is designed so that park goers see nothing outside of the attraction. The moment you enter, you are surrounded by everything Star Wars.

The desert landscape is complete with sandstone formations surrounding the outpost. You’ll find the Resistance X-Wing parked outside, a First Order transport ship (home to Kylo Ren) across the way, and docked in the center of the Spire is the most notable Star Wars ship– none other than the Millennium Falcon.

The immersion also includes cast members (a Disney term for its theme park employees) in proper Star Wars attire. And it isn’t enough for Disney that they dress the part; they speak the lingo too.

John Range with Chewbacca – Courtesy of John Range

In the Black Spire Outpost, the equivalent to “good day” is “bright suns!” In the evening, it’s “rising moons!” And when you’ve finished your day at the outpost, a formal way to say goodbye is “May the Spire keep you.” Being met by such adoring cast members keeps the Star Wars spirit alive and well in the Spire.

If the atmosphere isn’t enough to get you, the food and merchandise might help to change your mind. $1 USD translates to one galactic credit. Within the shops, you’ll find everything the galaxy has to offer. The street vendors have a variety of games and plushes for every little fan. The food court serves up some of the best barbeque this side of the sector (even if it was cooked over an old ship reactor). And for those who want something a little stronger than blue milk, Oga’s Cantina is stocked full of the galaxy’s best brews and mixed drinks.

The Spire is home to only one major ride, the Smuggler’s Run. In this adventure motion ride, six participants team up to command the legendary Millennium Falcon as they pull off a daring heist. There are two pilots, two gunners and two engineers to control the ship. Riders communicate to ensure their shot at claiming the top spot as best heist crew aboard the Falcon.

And for those who prefer a more intricate attraction? Perhaps the Droid Depot is the place for one’s fix. There you can build your very own companion droid, whether it be the new BB-unit or the iconic R2 unit.

The final attraction provides what I consider the most in-depth and well thought-out experience. The Build a Lightsaber experience is unlike any other. Without any real spoilers, it gives every fan, young and old, the opportunity to finally become a jedi. Surrounded by cast members dedicated to the experience, park-goers discover the meaning behind the lightsaber and the call of the Kyber crystal, the very power source of the saber.

Every moment spent in the Spire kept me entertained, awe-struck and full of childish glee. It’s rare to find an attraction that hits with such nostalgia. Regardless of how one felt about the final film of the Disney trilogy, one thing holds true–Galaxy’s Edge shows that Disney wants to do right by its fans. And this fan in particular is genuinely satisfied.

by John Range, Special to Ka ‘Ohana