What DVC Members Need to Know about Star Wars Land
The Walt Disney Company recently revealed the information that Disney fans have anxiously anticipated for years now. During the annual shareholders meeting, they confirmed the opening date of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. And it’s coming sooner than you think! Here’s what DVC members need to know about Star Wars Land.
Star Wars Land Opening Dates
The first thing that you should understand is that Disneyland’s version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open before the one at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Part of the explanation is that Walt Disney World is constructing additional infrastructure to support Star Wars Land.
Park officials want the Disney Skyliner operational to reduce some of the pressure on the bus and boat systems. They’d prefer for Disney’s Riviera Resort and the 15-story expansion tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort to open by that point, too. At Disneyland, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open on its own, and the lack of additional construction requirements expedites its timeline.
Keeping this in mind, the starter date for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is May 31st. Yes, that’s slightly earlier than Disney had indicated. Most analysts had expected a June or July debut. The May 31st date does come with a caveat, though.
For the first time ever, Disney will require reservations to enter a specific themed land. From May 31st through June 23rd, anyone seeking admittance to Star Wars Land must book a reservation. Disney has yet to announce the reservation process. All that they’ve confirmed thus far is that the reservations are free.
Disney clearly wants to control the crowd traffic at Galaxy’s Edge, a commendable goal. For guests visiting during those dates, you’ll need to pay careful attention to Disney news sites. They’ll let you know when you can book your reservations.
The one bit of good news for Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members is that official Disney resort stays include free reservations. If you’ve booked a room at Disney’s Grand Californian Resort & Spa on any of those dates, you’ll get admission to Star Wars Land as part of the package. The same is true of Disneyland Hotel and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. It’s not a deal for DVC members per se, just guests staying onsite at Disneyland.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the opening date is August 29th, well ahead of projections. Disney had tenuously listed the debut of Star Wars Land at Walt Disney World as “fall.” They’ve managed to beat their own internal estimates handily.
The other important note here is that you will not need a reservation to enter Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. Disney converted the area around Muppet Vision 3D into a new themed land, Grand Avenue. Park planners will apparently employ Grand Avenue as a feeder section for Star Wars Land. Disney hasn’t officially confirmed this yet, but it’s the prevailing belief about how they will control park traffic.
In case you wondered, you do need regular park admission for Star Wars Land. Disney also announced that Hollywood Studios will have Extra Magic Hours (EMH) for Galaxy’s Edge, just like all the other themed lands at Walt Disney World.
For those not familiar with EMH, it allows Guests staying onsite at official Disney resorts (i.e. DVC members using membership points for hotel stays) to enjoy an extra hour at a theme park and in this case Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This will happen at a time when the park is closed to everyone else. So, Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios becomes one of the most important aspects of your Star Wars Land visit.
TL: DR – As long as you visit Disneyland on May 31st or afterward, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be open. From May 31st through June 23rd, you’ll need to book a free reservation to earn admission to this particular themed land. As long as you visit Walt Disney World on August 29th or later this year, Star Wars Land will be open.
The Design of Star Wars Land
The most critical details released in recent days involve the layout of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. For a long time, we’ve known two pertinent details. The planet is named Batuu, a place at the far side of the Outer Rim. It’s the last place travelers may visit before they enter Wild Space, the place beyond the edge of the galaxy.
What we’d known for a while is that the center of civilization on Batuu is Black Spire Outpost. It’s a trading spot for people who live on the outskirts of the law. What Disney just revealed to a series of journalists is that the situation is more tenuous than previously described.
Members of The Resistance have holed up on Batuu. The forest area here functions as a safe haven where the rebels are well-hidden. Alas, The First Order recently got word about the presence of Resistance members on Batuu. So, they’ve set up shop on the other side of town.
Yes, Batuu is a planet that’s accidentally in balance. On one side, the good guys live in secrecy while attempting to acquire needed supplies to arm The Resistance. On the other side, The First Order is building infrastructure on a secluded planet while they investigate reports of suspicious activity on the planet.
As fate would have it, Black Spire Outpost is the place where everyone on Batuu needs to go. It’s the middle portion of the town, the hub of activity on the planet. The First Order will spend time here picking up clues about the location of the rebels. The Resistance will hang out here while they try to fund their illicit operations.
When you visit Galaxy’s Edge, you’re doing more than living out your Star Wars dreams. You’re stepping onto a battleground rife with espionage. Disney will play up this tense climate by adding missions and quests. Certain parts of Black Spire Outpost have hackable lockboxes. Why does this matter?
In the early days, Disney announced that guests would pick a side between The First Order and The Resistance. When you see these hackable spots, you can either unlock them as a member of The Resistance or better secure them for The First Order. Your Play Disney Parks app will allow you to do so. It’s an added level of immersion that has never existed at a theme park before. The design of Star Wars Land isn’t merely physical. Your smartphone will enhance the depth of the experience!
The Rides at Star Wars Land
Thus far, Disney hasn’t confirmed any regular shows or character meetings for Galaxy’s Edge. We don’t even know for sure that they’ll have any. They plan to operate this themed land as a living world full of interactive activities. They will have two rides to satisfy guests, though.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is the attraction that will open with Star Wars Land. Disney officials have proudly pointed to the life-size model of the Millennium Falcon as proof of concept for the entire themed land. It’s a monstrous landmark that stands more than 100 feet in the air.
The ride shares surface similarities with Mission: SPACE. A group of six people will enter the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. They will work together to fly the ship during the ride. One will take on the role of the pilot while others will do all of the other stuff that Han Solo and Chewbacca performed as a team.
The difference from Mission: SPACE is that your actions have consequences. You’re not just pushing a button a couple of times. The way that the Epcot ride works, even when you forget to do your job, the auto-pilot will do it for you. On Smuggler’s Run, you can fail your adventure!
Don’t worry! Imagineers have worked tirelessly to ensure that even a “failed” attempt at flying the Millennium Falcon is satisfactory. They’ve indicated humorous elements afterward akin to when everyone busts on Han Solo for failing upward consistently in the movies.
When you succeed, you’ll earn reputation points on Batuu. Park officials have indicated that you’ll even receive acknowledgment of your achievements from residents of Black Spire Outpost. How that will work is a matter of much conjecture. It speaks to the level of immersion and attention to detail at Galaxy’s Edge. What you do matters even beyond the moment when you depart the attraction.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the more elaborate of the two rides at Galaxy’s Edge. You may want to tamp down your enthusiasm in the short term, though. Disney just confirmed that the themed land will open in phases. During phase one, only Smuggler’s Run is open to the public. Rise of the Resistance will anchor phase two.
That sounds great save for the fact that Disney has provided no timeline about the launch of phase two. At the moment, we have no reason to believe it will occur beyond 2019. Until Disney states otherwise, it’s reasonable to believe that Rise of the Resistance will debut later this year.
Whenever the ride opens, Rise of the Resistance will be worth the wait. Journalists have described the building installation as roughly the size of an airport hangar. Park officials have clearly stated that it’s the most technologically advanced and detailed ride ever. You’ll board a giant vehicle and ride through the massive set, interacting with several recognizable characters from the current Star Wars movie trilogy along the way. It sounds magnificent, and I’m just like you: totally frustrated that it won’t be ready when Star Wars Land opens.
Shopping and Eating on Batuu
The Parks Blog has recently begun a series that you should totally watch. Entitled Building Batuu, it chronicles the many facets of Imagineering involved in bringing Galaxy’s Edge to life. The theming extends beyond the attractions and walking areas. Even the shops and restaurants will function as if you’re a visitor to the planet of Batuu.
When you eat here, you’ll dine on Smoked Kaadu Ribs and chase them down with Green Milk or Blue Milk. The restaurants are all meticulously structured to fit the canon of the Star Wars universe. Oga’s Cantina will mimic the beloved cantina scene from Star Wars: A New Hope. This place has made most of its headlines due to Disneyland first. It will become the first place (other than Club 33) to serve alcohol inside the park.
Disney’s pulled out all the stops for the cantina. RX-24, the adorable but incompetent pilot from the original Star Tours, will act as the DJ here. Live musical performances are a part of the classy portion of this establishment. It’s apparently an interstellar version of dinner and a show.
A Quick Service restaurant named Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo has a rich backstory. The chef, a creature nicknamed Cookie, previously worked on the fateful planet where Rey retrieved Luke and Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber. He’s since relocated to the Outer Rim, and I’m guessing there’s a story there, too. Cookie runs what the Parks Blog describes as an intergalactic food truck. Don’t be surprised if he’s involved in some of the Play Disney Parks quests.
As for the shops, the comment I’ve seen most often about Star Wars Land is that it’s a license to print money for Disney. They appear ready to test that theory. One of the stores is called Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. They could have just as easily named it Den of Antiquitie$$$. You may get sticker shock when you see the prices here for the first time. And it’s not even the place where you’re most likely to empty your wallet.
Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers isn’t your run of the mill lightsaber shop. The conceit here is that you build your own using special (read: expensive) parts. Savi takes pride in constructing the most beautiful lightsabers in the galaxy. He will allow only a few people in his store at any given time to guarantee an intimate experience. And he will charge you like he’s the greatest in his field.
Beyond the showstopper stores, Disney has built a kind of bazaar. It has a series of stalls, each of which features a single kind of item. Oddly, one of them is pets. Let your imagination run wild on that one. Another sells toys while a third features jewelry. Oh, there’s also a standalone store that lets you tinker with and then buy a droid of your very own. Star Wars Land will not be cheap.
Okay, that’s everything we know 12 weeks out on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Expect Disney to continue to leak out new information at a steady pace in the coming days. What’s important is that we’re less than six months away from both versions of Star Wars Land opening to the public! It’s go time, people!