Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is finally open at Disneyland! I have personally spent more than a dozen hours in Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu tasting the food and drink, riding on the Millennium Falcon, and seeing droids and lightsabers built. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is visually arresting and just a ton of fun. But you probably already knew it would be.
What you really need to know is when and how to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland to experience the most fun for yourself with the fewest lines and crowds. What I pride myself on doing at Trips With Tykes is giving you practical, actionable tips to make your own Disneyland vacation better. So I have made it my mission to find all the little loopholes, watch out for the choke points, and report back with all the best touring tips to help you make the most of your visit to the edge of the galaxy. No one wants to waste time in a long line or spend money on food or merchandise that doesn’t live up to the hype.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is fully open at Disneyland and reservations to enter the land are no longer required, as of June 24, 2019. Since that time, I’ve been monitoring wait times closely on the Disneyland app and talking to fellow Disneyland experts visiting the land to continue to revise my touring strategy recommendations. I’m headed back to Batuu myself in late July with both of my kids (solo!) to test out even more, so come back for more updates as things continue to evolve.
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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Basics
If you don’t obsess over every piece of Disney news like I do, let’s start with some Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge basics. What is it?
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, sometimes called just Star Wars Land, is a brand new 14 acre land that opened in Disneyland park on May 31, 2019. A nearly identical equivalent will also open in Walt Disney World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29, 2019.
Location. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set on the planet Batuu in a settlement called Black Spire Outpost. You won’t remember this planet from any of the movies, because it’s an entirely new destination where guests can create their own Star Wars stories. The land is completely immersive. If you want to see more of the visuals for yourself, check out my Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge video tour and first look photos post.
Rides. Right now, only one of two rides is open. That attraction, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, allows guests to step aboard the Millennium Falcon and pilot it on a mission for a smuggler named Hondo Ohnaka. Disneyland will open a second attraction – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – on January 17, 2020).
(Before June 23. Until June 23, 2019, guests needed a reservation to be able to enter the land at all. Reservation times operated as 4 hour overlapping windows: 8am-12pm, 11am-3pm, 2pm-6pm, 5pm-9pm, and 8pm-12am. The reservation period has now ended.)
After June 23. Starting June 24, Disneyland opened Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to all guests of Disneyland park. Because there was a concern about excessive demand, Disneyland implemented a virtual queue to control the numbers of people who enter the land at one time. This means Disney allows guests in to the land until it reaches a certain capacity.
Additional guests who wish to enter place their names in a virtual queue via the Disneyland app on their smartphones (or at one of several kiosks around the park). They are assigned to a boarding group. Guests then receive a push notification on their phones when their boarding group is eligible to enter the land and have up to 2 hours to do so. Display boards around the parks also indicate which boarding groups are being admitted. Guests during this period can stay in the land as long as they wish, but can’t leave and re-enter.
To the surprise of everyone, the only day that the virtual queue has been used thus far was on June 24 – the first day the land was open to all. It’s possible that it may be used again as crowds increase. For now (while crowds remain low this summer during annual passholder blockouts), it seems safe to say it will be mostly smooth sailing for entry into the land with no queue needed.
Touring Tips for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland
So if you are planning a visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge how can you best navigate the land while getting the most done and dodging the crowds? As you might imagine, the best touring strategies for Galaxy’s Edge have been highly volatile. Disney has been making changes regularly, which has affected crowd movements and lines, all of which will almost certainly change yet again. For the moment, here are all my best touring tips (and I promise to update if things change again!):
1. Download the Disneyland app.
The regular Disneyland app is a helpful tool anywhere in Disneyland, but it was especially helpful in a new land where I was still getting my bearings. I found myself referring to the map often – something I rarely do in Disneyland! Black Spire Outpost has quite a number of winding paths and levels. It’s easy to get turned around your first time in the land, even if you’ve studied the map in advance of a visit.
The Disneyland app is also especially helpful to make your time in the land more efficient. I used it to check on wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. I found that wait times can fluctuate quite a bit as guests navigate this new land. While the wait time fluctuations have not been as dramatic now that the land is open to all as they were during the reservations period, guest demand does seem to ebb and flow in unexpected ways.
The Disneyland app also allows you to use mobile ordering at a number of the restaurants, which is key to dodging some other lines (more on mobile ordering later).
2. Ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run more than once.
In Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, six guests control the cockpit of the Falcon. There are three different positions – pilot, gunner, and engineer. The ride varies based upon how the six guests operate the vehicle, much like a video game. You are going to want to ride this attraction more than once to experience the different roles as well as to see different scenes play out. I rode it six times during my trip (in every position) and still don’t feel like I fully experienced all the options!
Of course, saying that you should ride more than once is easier said than done when it comes to a popular new attraction. There’s no Fastpass or MaxPass for now, and until Disney turns that feature on, here’s how you can make multiple rides happen.
Watch the app. Other than on June 24 when demand was highest and the July 4 holiday, wait times for the Falcon have usually hovered between 45-90 minutes most of the day. That means if that if you see something less than that (especially 30 minutes or under), get in line immediately!
Rope drop. Guests who want to beat the crowds have always used the strategy of “rope dropping” popular attractions – going to them immediately upon park opening. For now at least, Disney has been letting rope droppers into Star Wars Land up to 30 minutes in advance of actual park opening time. So arrive early to guarantee you are at the front of that crowd and make a beeline! Note this strategy only works if you are right at the front of the crowds, much like with rope dropping Peter Pan’s Flight. Otherwise, waits can be at their worst even just getting in line a minute or two later.
Stay Up Late. Wait times for Smuggler’s Run have consistently dropped in the evening. A lot of guests seem to be hitting the land in the morning since it’s new and then will move on elsewhere. If you can wait until after dark (or even just after dinner), you’ll almost always see shorter queues.
3. Plan Around Early Entry (Extra Magic Hour & Magic Morning)
There is one other wrinkle that Disneyland visitors need to plan around when it comes to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowd strategies: early entry!
Disneyland offers two early entry options – Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning. They operate on the same days and times in Disneyland park – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays one hour before official park opening time. The only difference is that Extra Magic Hour is for on-property hotel guests while Magic Morning is for guests with select park tickets of 3 days or longer.
Officially, Star Wars: Galaxy’s itself isn’t open during Extra Magic Hour/Magic Morning. But unofficially, Disneyland has been allowing Magic Morning and Extra Magic Hour guests to enter the land early on those days, while holding all other guests behind a rope until real park opening (h/t to The Happiest Blog on Earth who scoped this out on her most recent trip in early July). This could change at any time and may operate differently on different days. But this is very important for all guests to plan around when it comes to when to schedule Galaxy’s Edge into your Disneyland day.
If you do have MM/EMH: If you have access to early entry, you have some decisions to make on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. If you want to go to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge early, you are going to have to sacrifice most (if not all) of your early entry hour to do so. There’s simply not time to go elsewhere for most of the hour and then enter the land right before regular park opening time, because many other early entry guests will be there before you.
If you don’t have MM/EMH. And if you don’t have access to either Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hour, you have a different decision to make on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The land will likely already be crowded by those that have early entry before you can get in. I’d recommend not doing Galaxy’s Edge in the morning on those days. Wait until later in the day. Or alternatively, plan your Galaxy’s Edge visit for Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays when you won’t have to wrestle with this moving target.
4. Make Reservations for Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop
Many theme park lands have it – that popular ride, restaurant or experience where the lines are always long. In Galaxy’s Edge, there are two such choke points – Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop. If you don’t know what either is, Oga’s Cantina is an intergalatic tiki bar very similar to the cantina in Mos Eisley in A New Hope. And Savi’s is where you can build your own lightsaber (for $199.99+ tax).
During the reservation period, the lines for both attractions were a bit of a mess. Disney experimented with a couple of different systems to improve the guest experience, truly treating the period as a soft opening to work out the kinks.
Now that the land is fully open to all guests, Disney has finally settled on a reservation system. In my opinion, it is much more equitable and fairly easy to manage. Guests who wish to visit Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop can make a same-day reservation for the experience starting at 7:00 am on the Disneyland website.
Note that times do go quickly, so plan to be on your smartphone and ready to log in and book as you queue to enter the parks. And if you strike out, keep trying in the minutes that follow! Some guests won’t complete their booking and more times will be released. There is a cancellation fee of $10 per person, so have a plan in advance.
While I have not been inside Savi’s (cost of admission is too pricey for me), I have spent some time at Oga’s. It’s just a fantastic themed bar once you do get in. I totally loved it in every single way. I’m a huge Trader Sam’s fan, and this has the same whimsical atmosphere, albeit in the outer rim of the galaxy instead of the South Seas. Cocktails are innovative and fun. And since it’s the only place in Disneyland park to serve alcoholic drinks, I don’t expect demand to slow.
So what are the negatives? As I alluded to in my review of Galaxy’s Edge, the cantina isn’t very kid-friendly. Oga’s does allow kids, but honestly, if I was with my children (ages 5 and 10), this would absolutely not be a priority for me. Strollers aren’t allowed, there is very little seating, and it’s very crowded inside. Save the cantina for a date night! And if you just have to do it, be prepared to commit some time and energy to making that happen.
5. Mobile order food early.
I already mentioned the importance of mobile ordering food for saving time in the land. Mobile ordering is available at three food service locations in Galaxy’s Edge — Docking Bay 7, Ronto Roasters, and Milk Stand. There is no mobile ordering at Kat Saka’s Kettle or Oga’s Cantina.
Here’s how you use mobile ordering most effectively.
For now at least, the virtual queue is not needed which makes things fairly easy for mobile ordering. The only thing you needed to do differently than you might elsewhere in the park is to order earlier than usual. Demand is high for the restaurants in Galaxy’s Edge, so check the app before you are hungry. You can scope out just how long it will take to get a food pickup time and plan the rest of your touring strategy accordingly.
If the virtual queue ever makes a comeback, here’s what you need to know for those busier days. When you are eligible to enter the land, Disney will send a notification to your phone. You then have 2 hours in which to enter. As soon as you get this notification, check the app to see what the mobile ordering return times are. If there is a bit of a wait to get a food pickup time, place your order right away. This way, you can have a meal planned with less wait an hour or two later.
6. Purchase MaxPass (Most of the Time).
This tip may seem like weird advice since, of course, Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t offer Fastpass or MaxPass for its one open attraction. But MaxPass includes free Photopass! There are quite a lot of Photopass photographers in Galaxy’s Edge. You are going to want the photos of magnificent backdrops like the Falcon, a First Order TIE fighter, and more.
And, if you plan to spend time elsewhere in the Disney parks the same day, you’ll need MaxPass for another reason – all the rides outside of Galaxy’s Edge! Galaxy’s Edge is so far in the back of Disneyland, making it increasingly harder to send a runner to retrieve Fastpasses from ride kiosks. Maxpass saves your legs.
Additionally, if a virtual queue ever does return, that means you can’t come in and out of the land to grab Fastpasses for other rides outside of the land. That would make MaxPass a necessity.
Of course, if you plan to spend most of your day in Galaxy’s Edge, everyone in your party won’t need MaxPass. In this case, purchase MaxPass for one person in your traveling party just to grab the photos.
7. Strategically use the Single Rider Line and Rider Switch.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a Single Rider line as well as a Rider Switch option for families with kids too small or too scared to ride. To the extent either is applicable to your family, use them to have shorter waits!
The Single Rider line moves pretty quickly – we experienced a 20 minute wait in it when the posted wait time for the attraction was 45 minutes. You won’t be riding with people you know (and working with friends and family is part of the fun), but if you want to ride more, this is how to do it.
Also be aware that Single Riders miss the interactive queue completely – everything but the inside of the Falcon. So don’t use it your first time on the attraction. But after you’ve seen the Falcon from above and the Hondo Ohnaka animatronic a few times in the regular queue, Single Rider option can be a great way to sneak in an extra ride.
I did not visit on my first trip with kids (and indeed saw very few kids in the land at all), so I asked several cast members at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers run how Rider Switch works. It operates just the same as elsewhere in Disneyland except for the fact that the first group must use the standby queue because the ride does not offer Fastpass. A Rider Switch allotment can be added to the tickets of up to three people to ride in a second group. You’ll have one hour to use it. The start time of your one hour window will be timed to coincide with the time your first group is estimated to finish the attraction via the standby line. The second group will enter via the Fastpass line that the attraction has that is otherwise not in use.
8. Look for merchandise outside the land.
The merchandise on Batuu is pretty awe-inspiring. I need more Disney merchandise in my house like I need a hole in the head, and even I found myself wanting to buy it all. I greatly enjoyed window shopping in Dok-Ondars Den of Antiquities as well as in all the smaller shops in the market like Creature Stall and Toydarian Toymaker.
But not all the merchandise is in Batuu! You won’t find merchandise that says “Star Wars” on it anywhere (other than shopping bags) because the merchandise is authentic to the planet as if it was a real destination.
Be sure to head elsewhere to see everything that Galaxy’s Edge brought to the parks. I found the most selection in Star Traders, in the second floor shop in Launch Bay, and in World of Disney. Several other shops have more limited selections as well.
9. Watch the Annual Pass blockout calendars closely.
If you’ve been following the news this summer, you’ve probably heard that Disneyland is quite empty. That’s largely because so many annual passholders are blocked out of Disneyland. But that will change – and soon.
Most of them won’t come to Disneyland this summer. Deluxe Annual Passholders are currently blocked out of Disneyland park through August 18, 2019, but they may well flood the parks on August 19, 2019 and the few weeks after. The same goes for August 26, when Southern California Passholders become free to enter on most weekdays, as well as on September 3, 2019 (the day after Labor Day) when SoCal Select Passholders become unblocked. In short, watch the AP calendars closely at the end of summer! It may very well be that weekends will be less crowded than weekdays when many APs are blocked out.
If you have a vacation in late August or September, I’d plan for significantly more crowds in Galaxy’s Edge as this pent up demand is released.
10. Prepare for things to change and evolve quickly.
It’s very important for would-be guests planning to visit Galaxy’s Edge to know that the land has been rapidly changing in the not even two months it has been open. And I anticipate it will continue to do the same in the coming weeks and months. The exact season and even day that you go will result in guests having some some very different experiennces.
And once Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens on January 17, 2020, touring strategies will change in another massive way. I expect there will be many guests who delay taking a Disneyland vacation until that attraction is open, so there will be a new wave of demand.
Other changes are very possible down the road. Most notably, Disney could start implementing Fastpass/MaxPass for either or both of the attractions as well.
Whatever changes are coming, trust that I’ll be covering them as they happen — and updating this post accordingly!
Even More Tips for Your Time in Batuu!
Although this post is full of a ton of tips already, I had a few additional thoughts that didn’t fit anywhere else I wanted to share:
- While I expect demand for Oga’s to remain high (since it’s the only place in Disneyland where you can buy alcohol), I don’t expect Savi’s to be as hard of a reservation to get as time goes by. I think demand will subside for it once more collectors and megafans do this once. It’s not exactly like it’s an attraction you do every time.
- Build-your-own-droid in Droid Depot is popular but the demand is nowhere near that of Oga’s or Savi’s. Since it is an activity that families and kids are more likely to do (vs. the more expensive lightsaber), lines are shortest at night when families go home.
- The Disneyland fireworks are visible in Batuu (although the inhabitants have no idea what the bright lights in the sky are). The best location to watch them is in front of the Millennium Falcon over the tallest spire behind it.
- Disney has invested a ton of attention into the features in the land that operate with its Play Disney Parks app. It has some great potential to make the land more interactive, especially for older kids to use to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts. Guests can use the app to translate foreign writings on signs in the land, to tune into the character transmissions, to hack and to scan features in the land, and to experience an interactive queue at Smugglers Run.
- There are no Fuel Rod dispensing machines in Galaxy’s Edge – for now at least. Using the app drains your phone battery quickly, so grab one before you go into the land to avoid a long walk with a dead phone.
Disclosure: I was honored to attend a pre-opening media event on May 30 thanks to an invitation from Disney. While I had special access that day, I did not accept Disney comps for that event. I paid for my own hotel, park ticket, airfare and other costs, some personally and some reimbursed by another outlet for which I was creating content. I also paid my own way to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on opening day, May 31, when it was first open to the public. (Check my post about truth in travel blogging for more on my mission in this regard!)