Disneyland began accepting reservations yesterday for folks who want to be the first park visitors to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the theme park’s newest expansion. Set to open May 31, the $1-billion attraction is expected to draw a huge crowd of fans. The Star Wars land is being replicated at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. That attraction will open Aug. 29.
Update: Reservations for the Disneyland attraction have sold out through the end of the grand opening. Reservations were only required between May 31 and June 23, 2019, so after that date anyone with a Disneyland ticket should be able to get into Galaxy’s Edge.
The new land, which will resemble an out-of-the-way outpost on the planet Batuu, will feature two rides, four eateries, one space-themed cantina and five retail shops.
Only one of the two rides — the interactive Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — will operate at first. The second attraction — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — is to open later in the year.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge represents the most game-like attraction yet at a Disney theme park, recognizing both our culture’s shift to experience-based entertainment and the generational shift in today’s guests — and certainly those of tomorrow — increasingly weaned on games.
You fly the Millennium Falcon. You choose to help the resistance. You opt to align with the evil First Order. You get thrown in a detention room of one of the latter’s imposing Star Destroyers.
If you want to bring home a droid, you build it in a cavernous warehouse with tool-shed-like fixtures. Guests, for instance, will fish for robot bits from an assembly line. Want a lightsaber? Hunt down a not-so-secret shop where you and just 13 others will learn how to construct and use one under the guidance of a Jedi Knight sympathizer.
And while Galaxy’s Edge certainly won’t emphasize role playing as much as other experiences — for that, you’ll likely have to wait for a “Star Wars” themed hotel being built in Walt Disney World — it still represents a shift for a modern Disney park, utilizing the land not just as a home for shows and rides — and there are two massive attractions here — but as a locale for deep, interactive exploration. For guests who seek it, there is essentially a persistent, living game baked into the land.
For those who’ve long envisioned a video game coming to life — and then having the ability to walk inside it without the need for virtual-reality goggles — Galaxy’s Edge could be a dream come true.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run puts six guests in the flight cabin of the Falcon, each inhabiting a different role — pilot, gunners and engineers. The Falcon’s lounge — where one will find the famed holographic game table — is faithfully re-created, complete with metal floorboards that clank and echo as if they’re hiding something beneath them.
Guests will be allowed to roam free for photo ops before they board, walking through a runway ramp that’s pumping cold air to re-create the sensation of a spaceport.
Once seated, it’s time to game — or fly. The group is given a transport mission, and though there’s no fail point, how well guests fare on the quest will affect their reputation throughout the land (it’s assumed this will be handled via the Disney app, but no details were provided). No Disney attraction will feel as much like a video game, but with levers to pull, buttons to push and weapons to fire, the ride emphasizes tactile touch as much as screens.
Rise of the Resistance isn’t nearly as game-like, but guests will move among multiple locations and ride vehicles, and also encounter characters from the current trilogy (Daisy Ridley’s Rey, for instance, will appear as a hologram). It represents a Resistance mission gone bad, with guests journeying from a transporter ship onto a Star Destroyer. Expect to actually move, as some clever machinery will have guests entering a transporter via one door and exiting onto a First Order ship via that same door.
Rise of the Resistance is pegged as the showcase attraction of the land, one featuring multiple full-scale ships and vehicles, as well as a host of animatronics, including fan favorite Nien Nunb. The ride has guests traversing cramped caves as well as grand vistas, namely the docking bay of a Star Destroyer, where war is seen in the distance.
Throughout the experience, guests will get thrown into a detention cell, encounter villain Kylo Ren, and then board a trackless ride system to make a hectic escape. Expect plenty of “how did they do that” special effects, such as laser fire that results in some authentic-looking explosions.
If the recent trend in theme parks has been to sit back and watch a screen, Rise of the Resistance is certainly not that. “That’s what guests want,” says John Larena, a creative director with Imagineering. “They want real tactile things in front of them. That was one of the key things when we first started developing this project. No glasses — period.”
Here’s how to see the new land:
- If you make reservations to stay at one of three hotels in the Disneyland Resort during the first three weeks after the new Star Wars land opens, the park will automatically send you reservations to visit Galaxy’s Edge for a four-hour period.
- If you want to visit Galaxy’s Edge during its first three weeks without booking a hotel room, you need to make a reservation by going to the Disneyland website after 10 a.m. Pacific time Thursday. Reservations are free, but you can’t get in without paying admission to the park.
- After the first three-week period, no reservations will be needed. Disneyland representatives say the park will likely adopt a virtual queueing system to manage how many people get into the attraction. The park already operates a virtual queueing system, called FastPass. A similar online version operates from the Disneyland app.
Susan Rogers in our Vacation Department can help you get booked as well as traveling to Disneyland. You can reach Susan at (678) 420-2510 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org