You Know You Want to Go to Disney's Star Wars Land. We Asked Experts How to Make the Most of the Experience
Disney or Star Wars: It's hard to say which universe has more obsessive fans. And it's hard to underestimate how pumped people have been for the 2019 opening of Disney's new Star Wars area, Galaxy's Edge.
Galaxy's Edge opened this past May in California's Disneyland with only one true ride, "Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run," and Disney reported that by mid-July one million riders had already taken the voyage. Hollywood Studios in Florida's Walt Disney World is opening its own Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area on August 29, and both theme parks will be launching a second ride, "Rise of the Resistance," in late 2019 or early 2020.
Excitement over Disney's new Star Wars attractions will surely be strong in the months ahead, and now that Disney and Star Wars enthusiasts have had some time to geek out while exploring every intricate detail of Galaxy's Edge, we asked some Disney Jedi Masters for their best recommendations on how to save time and money and get the most out of the experience.
Here are their top tips for visiting Galaxy's Edge. While most of the advice focuses on Disneyland, many suggestions will also apply to Walt Disney World when its new Star Wars Land opens in August. No matter where you're going or when, may the force be with you!
Star Wars Land Reservations
As of June 24, you don't need reservations to get into Galaxys' Edge at Disneyland. (No reservations will be necessary to get into Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World either, when it opens.) You do, however, need to pay for Disney admission like usual, and before arriving at the park you should make reservations for the popular Star Wars experiences that most interest your group.
In particular, you need reservations to hang out at the area's lone watering hole with adult beverages, Oga's Cantina, which features a DJ droid and a huge menu of colorful otherworldly food and drinks (with and without alcohol). Oga's was basically designed as a grungy, bullet-hole-ridden sibling of the famous Mos Eisley Cantina from the original 1977 movie Star Wars: A New Hope (you're bound to hear jokes about whether Han shot first), and it's quickly become one of the hottest attractions in all of Disneyland.
"The bar is not big enough for all the people who want to go in, so there are crowd-management measures in place," explains Jason Cochran, author of the Frommer's Easy Guide to Disney World, Universal, and Orlando.
When Galaxy's Edge first opened, Oga's Cantina reservations could be made only for the day of your visit. Cochran's advice: "Do not delay. Make your reservation" asap.
By late July, though, Disneyland expanded the options and now allows Oga's Cantina reservations to be made up to 14 days in advance, and "additional same-day reservations will be made available each day at 7" in the morning, Disney says.
To make reservations for Oga's Cantina, you must make a $10 deposit for each person in your party. Link your credit card to the Disney app before making reservations, in order to save time. Initially, deposits were nonrefundable, but now it's possible to get a refund if you cancel at least one day prior to the reservation. There is a two-drink maximum at Oga's Cantina, and guests can stay only no longer than 45 minutes.
Two other popular Galaxy's Edge experiences generally require reservations: Savi's Workshop, where you build your own lightsaber, and Droid Depot, where you custom design and build a droid. These make-your-own souvenirs are unique and memorable but certainly not cheap: They cost $199 and $99.99, respectively, plus tax. (Bear in mind, before Galaxy's Edge opened Disneyland offered a build-you-own lightsaber for about $30.)
These experiences used to be available only for same-day reservations, with no refunds possible, but they too are now available up to 14 days in advance, with refunds possible if you cancel at least one day in advance. Additional online same-day reservations open at 7 a.m. daily, and you must pay in full in advance, with no refunds or allowed.
These Are the Droids You're Looking for
If you aren't made of money and are trying to decide between the build-you-own lightsaber or droid, A.J. Wolfe of the Disney Food Blog recommends the droid. "This seemed, on first glance, like a throwaway experience: plastic droid, way overpriced, who needs it," Wolfe tells Money.com. But building a droid wound up being one of his favorite Galaxy's Edge experience. The droids, which are similar in shape and design to resemble R2-D2 rather than C-3PO, are "adorable, fun, and worth the money and time to build," he said.
The droid experience is also half the price of the lightsaber, and it's generally easier to find a reasonable reservation time available. (Sometimes, reservations aren't even necessary, so a walk-in is not out of the question.) While you have to pay for the builder in both of these experiences, one extra person can tag along to watch, take photos and video, and give unsolicited design advice for free.
Of course, kids throughout Disneyland will be waving around their freshly custom-built lightsabers and your child may —check that, WILL — be jealous. If your kid is begging for one but you can't stomach spending another $200, swing by one of the many gift shops and you can buy a basic lightsaber for $30. Or just buy one for $9 from Walmart or Amazon and bring it on the trip.
Probably the coolest shop in Galaxy's Edge is Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities, whose walls are decorated with Star Wars artifacts like a full-sized stuffed Wampa and the taxidermy heads of arena beasts from Attack of the Clones. These adornments are there to add to the feeling that you're truly in a galaxy far, far away, and they aren't for sale. If you're a truly diabolical (or just plain cheap) parent, you can tell your kid that the entire place is a museum where they can look but not buy anything.
What to Eat and Drink in Galaxy's Edge
"Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things," may be one of Yoda's most famous quotes, but even Jedis have to eat. Because food and drink inside Disney parks is super expensive, it's important to not succumb to your every craving.
One simple way to save money and sample as much of Disneyland's faux exotic foods as possible is buying things to split. "The delicious wraps from Ronto Roasters offer large portions that are easy to share," said Tony S., one of the few dads that's a member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel.
The Disney Food Blog's A.J. Wolfe is also a fan of these wraps, because they're tasty and efficient: "They’re hand-helds wrapped in pita bread, you can eat them on the go and not miss a beat as you explore the land."
The Galaxy Edge Milk Stand is another hot spot for grabbing refreshments on the go. It sells blue and green milk for $7.99 each, and "my family and I found that sharing just a few cups worked great," Tony S. said.
The blue milk inside Disneyland is actually lactose-free, with a base of coconut and rice milk. "The flavor is slightly sweet with notes of tropical fruits that are hard to identify," the Daily Meal wrote in a review. "There are touches of dragon fruit, pineapple, lime and watermelon that are absolutely not what you’d expect."
In terms of adult beverages, Oga's Cantina has a long list of drinks that'll make you feel like you're on another planet, with names like Bloody Rancor, Jabba Juice, Jedi Mind Trick, and Fuzzy Tauntaun. "The menu errs on the side of bachelorette party, for sure," meaning the drinks are very sweet, colorful, and a bit over-the-top, the Disney Food Blog's A.J. Wolfe says.
You're basically paying for the atmosphere inside Oga's, where specialty alcoholic concoctions at Oga's Cantina cost about $15, while beers are $12 and up and non-alcoholic juices are about $7. You can also get an espresso or cappuccino for $4 to $5, but if that's all you want why didn't you just go to Starbucks?
How to Avoid Crowds and Long Lines at Disneyland
It's no surprise that Galaxy's Edge has proved to be a magnet for crowds at Disneyland. But one upside to the new area's popularity is the rest of Disneyland is way less crowded than it used to be — because everybody's hitting the Star Wars attractions and sticking around there for hours.
What's more, Disneyland in general seems to be attracting smaller crowds this summer because the company changed its annual pass rules and many local passholders now aren't allowed into the parks during peak summer times. As a result, Disneyland wait times are down compared to last summer for nearly all attractions other than those in Galaxy's Edge, Orange County Register reported.
The Disney-obsessed site TouringPlans.com says that while Disneyland has instituted a virtual queue system that will close off Disneyland Galaxy's Edge if it gets too crowded, the park has only had to turn guests away once so far during the summer of 2019.
What this all means is that the crowds at Galaxy's Edge may not be as enormous as you'd expect. Also, even if you're visiting Disneyland mostly to experience the Star Wars attractions, it's well worth it to hit other areas of the park. You should be able to hit some rides and grab a meal relatively quickly, without having to elbow through the crowds like you used to.
Experts say it's probably best to make the most of Galaxy's Edge as early in the day as possible, and after you've had your fill of Star Wars or the crowds are simply too much to handle you can leisurely take in some other areas of Disneyland.
Another approach advises guests to visit Galaxy's Edge much later in the day, around dinnertime or after. A graph at TouringPlans.com shows that the average wait time for the "Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run" ride spikes from 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. daily, when it peaks at about 100 minutes, before slowly dropping throughout the rest of the day. Average wait times for the ride have generally been 50 minutes or less starting at 6 p.m., though you can check with the Disney app for current wait times on the day you're visiting.
Disney FastPass is not available for Smuggler's Run, so you have no choice but to wait in line for your chance to ride. For the shortest wait possible, take note that the singles line moves very quickly. There are six seats on each "Smuggler's Run" ride, and people from the singles line join up with groups that don't fill every spot.
"Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run": What to See and Where to Sit
The good thing about the long wait to ride "Smuggler's Run" is that there's plenty to look at. The queue is one big winding walk through a Star Wars-universe transportation center, and it's flooded with "Easter eggs" referencing characters and scenes from the movies. People are snapping smartphone photos left and right.
Riders get different jobs — pilots, gunners, engineers — and while staffers assign these positions randomly, you can switch before your mission begins. "The pilot on the right gets to pull the lever to send the ship into hyperspace, so that's the coolest yet most demanding spot," says Jason Cochran of Frommers.com. "Give the whiner the right-hand pilot's seat if you're in an appeasing mood — or take that spot for yourself."