Batuu Beckons – The opening day of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” is how the story began. Recently, in a slightly less distant destination, that story now continues and has jumped off the screen!
August 29th, 2019 is a day that will go down in Disney’s history books, as when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. Guest can now enjoy and explore the largest park expansion in their illustrious history, and it was amazing to be there to experience its public debut!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge welcomes guests to Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu. Batuu is a melting pot of curious characters and outcasts, who have made the area their home. They spend their days selling goods and services and love sharing their stories with visitors. Fans of the beloved film franchise can now see, hear, touch, and even taste what they’ve enjoyed on-screen for so many years! There are several merchandise shops, dining locations, droid and lightsaber building workshops, and even the chance to speed through the galaxy on the Millennium Falcon!
After a long wait, Disney announced the opening date for the land-expansion and we began planning our first visit! After much anticipation, opening day arrived and it was time to make our first trip to Galaxy’s Edge. Hollywood Studios was due to open at 6:00am, however, knowing just how big and loyal of a fan-base Star Wars has, we aimed to be at the park very early to ensure we were able to make it inside before the land and/or park hit capacity!
We left our resort around 2:45am and quickly found ourselves waiting in a line of other cars waiting to enter the Hollywood Studios parking lot. About 20 minutes later, the parking lot was opened and we were directed to a space not far from the park entrance. We swiftly made our way through the security bag-check around 3:30am and joined the line of other excited guests waiting at the turnstiles. Everything moved very quickly and efficiently, and we were very impressed by the polite and enthusiastic Cast Members who were working with the crowd!
The energy and happiness from the eager fans around us were palpable, and around 4:00am the Cast Members began letting visitors’ stream through the entryway and onto Hollywood Boulevard.
The crowd was held there for a little while, as park-goers cheered, high-fived, and conversed animatedly about what they were most excited to see. Cast Members moved into place, and it wasn’t long before the eager crowd was guided around the corner to the left, past Star Tours and Muppet Vision 3D.
Just before 5:00am, we reached the tunnel that would transport us all to Batuu!
Walking through the tunnel to Batuu was an exhilarating experience that would give any Star Wars fan goosebumps!
The landscape and surroundings change so drastically; you quickly realize you are no longer strolling the streets of Hollywood! The skies were still dark; however, the spires of the outpost shone in the distance, and Chewbacca was standing by welcoming all of the new visitors to Galaxy’s Edge.
More than anything, we were really excited for a chance to ride the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” – the Millennium Falcon! We hightailed it over to where the queue had begun!
Though the sun had yet to rise, umbrellas had been installed along the queue-line to help provide shade and coverage in case of direct sunlight or the possibility of rain. Not only that, but cleverly placed fans helped to blow the humidity away from those waiting for their chance to check out the ride.
Thankfully the queue moved quickly, and as the line twisted and turned through the paths of Batuu, we had a chance to see some of the finer details the planet has to offer. From observations, the Stormtroopers patrolling the area around the Millennium Falcon were the only ones not in good spirits!
Before we knew it, we had made our way inside, and Hondo Ohnaka was giving us instructions on our mission! We were then handed small cards explaining our roles for our Smugglers Run mission.
Guests are divided into flight groups of 6, and each guest has a role to play within the mission. Your performance in your role has a direct influence on the outcome of your mission, so be you’re ready for action!
Walking into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon was an incredibly cool experience! What we have seen on the silver screen for so many years has all of a sudden become real, completely blurring the lines between fantasy and reality! It was amazing to see the dreams of those on the mission with me come to life as we punched it into hyperspace! The interactive elements of the attraction are top-notch, and thankfully, even with me as an untrained pilot, our mission was at least semi-successful (and I didn’t crash the ship!)
After a fantastic first mission on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, we decided to explore Batuu a little more. Dawn had broken, and the Cast Members who call Black Spire Outpost home were happily wishing “bright suns” to their visitors.
Chewie and Rey were also visiting Batuu, and many guests were enjoying the chance to encounter characters who brought the adventure to new heights!
The marketplace was quite busy with fellow visitors to the new planet, but it was great fun to explore all of the wares for sale in the various shops open for business. The Creature Stall and Toydarian Toymakers were probably my favorites!
There were line ups to check out the high demand shops such as Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, Savi’s Workshop (where you make handbuilt lightsabers), and the Droid Depot. However, by later in the morning, many of the smaller shops including Black Spire Outfitters (an apparel shop where you can purchase fashions similar those that the film characters wear), First Order Cargo, and the Resistance Supply didn’t require a wait to check out their merchandise.
There are also many places to grab a bite to each and a beverage in the bustling marketplace! Oga’s Cantina, Ronto Roasters, the Milk Stand, and Kat Saka’s Kettle all offer unique menus full of tasty, cosmos-inspired dishes and drinks to try! Blue and green milk, Tip-yip (crispy chicken), specialty popcorn, wraps, and cocktails such as the Fuzzy Tauntaun and Jedi Mind Trick are just a few of the offerings that guests can check out.
Advance reservations are highly suggested for the Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop, as well as Oga’s Cantina, though they will take walk-ups if availability allows.
Visitors to Batuu who are planning to build their own lightsaber or droid should also keep in mind that a credit card must be used to make your advance reservation and you will then be charged in full once you arrive at the workshop. Builders can also have a single guest accompany them as they make their creations; however, the guest may not build an item unless they also provide payment.
Though we didn’t have the opportunity to visit them on opening day, we did have the chance to visit both Oga’s Cantina and the Droid Depot a few days later, and both experiences were spectacular!
One of the things I loved most about exploring Galaxy’s Edge on the morning of the opening was just how committed the Cast Members are to their roles. They don’t just work for Disney; they have full Batuu-based backstories!
Not only do they stay in character, they truly can’t wait to interact with guests and share the stories and lingo that they have developed! So much of the enjoyment we saw was due to the efficiency, kindness, and dedication that the Cast Members have. We saw a multitude of stories, smiles, high fives and handshakes exchanged between guests and Cast Members, and their willingness to go above and beyond made for an out-of-this-world experience.
I’m very excited to see how the world of Galaxy’s Edge will continue to grow in the Disney parks. The land’s second ride, Star War: Rise of the Resistance opens on December 5th, 2019 at Hollywood Studios, and is described as being unlike any attraction we’ve seen at Walt Disney World before! Once Rise of the Resistance opens, this will be another opportunity for guests to embark on a secret mission against the First Order, with favorite characters such as Rey, BB-8, Finn, and Poe Dameron joining in on the action.
Overall, having the chance to visit Galaxy’s Edge on its opening day was an incredible adventure, and was unlike any other Disney park experience I’ve had in the past. I was awe-struck by the level of detail and engagement that has been poured into the new land’s atmosphere and environment, and you could easily spend hours just exploring all of the nooks and crannies within the land. I highly recommend visiting Batuu if you get the chance!
May the force be with you!