Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is finally open at Disneyland! I’ve just emerged from 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 I pride myself on doing at Trips With Tykes is giving you practical, actionable tips to make your own Disneyland vacation better. So I made it my mission during my time visiting on actual opening day 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.
I spent the last two days exploring this immersive land — first at the media preview on May 30 and then as a regular guest on opening day May 31. Thanks to an on-property hotel reservation that entitled me to one reservation in the land as well as a little luck in the public lottery, I had two 4 hour long reservations on opening day to really test out the tips I’ve set out below (one from 11am-3pm and another from 8pm-midnight). The advice I’m offering here is from the experience of a regular paying guest.
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If you want to experience the Galaxy’s Edge fun for yourself, I’m giving away a 3 night Southern California theme park vacation in partnership with Get Away Today and several other bloggers who were in Batuu for the media preview and opening day. The giveaway is open now through June 17, 2019 and includes a $100 gift card as well as 2 adult and 2 child 1-day tickets to up to 2 Southern California attractions. Click below to go enter to win!
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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 just 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 – later this year (date still TBD).
On or Before June 23. From now until June 23, 2019, guests need a reservation to be able to enter the land at all. The publicly available reservations are long gone, but you can still obtain one by booking a stay at one of the Disneyland on-property hotels. Reservation times operate as 4 hour overlapping windows: 8am-12pm, 11am-3pm, 2pm-6pm, 5pm-9pm, and 8pm-12am.
After June 23. Starting June 24, Disneyland will implement a virtual queue via the Disneyland website and app to allow guests to enter the land. This means Disney will allow guests in to the land until it reaches a certain capacity. Additional guests who wish to enter will have to enter a virtual queue and wait to be notified when to enter the land as space becomes available. Guests during this period can stay in the land as long as they wish, but can’t leave and re-enter.
Understanding the differences before/on vs. after June 23 at Disneyland is incredibly important for devising a strategy to best tour the land.
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? Here are all my best touring tips.
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 wildly as guest navigate this new land, especially during this reservations-required period.
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. But here’s how you can make this happen.
During the reservation period. While guests are limited to 4 hour reservation windows, the queue will fluctuate wildly depending on the hour and whether one or two reservation groups are in the land. I saw wait times top out at 90 minutes, but also some times where the wait was well under 30.
The line immediately gets very long minutes after a new wave of guests enter the land. If you are in the very front of your group entering the land, you can make a mad dash and ride right away. But that requires queuing up for the land as soon as possible. And that can only be done by being some of the first guests to pick up your reservation wristbands at Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland (up to 2 hours in advance). Then, you must go immediately to the entrance to wait. I think that’s overkill.
If you can’t be one of the first to enter the land, I’d instead recommend the following. Wait to ride until about 1.5-2 hours into your reservation window when demand slows. If you see anything under a 45 minute posted wait (and certainly anything under 30), consider jumping in line. Then be sure to ride a second time just at the 3 hour mark of your reservation window. The key is to be ahead of the next group entering the land for your last hour when the two groups overlap and demand will surge again.
(This Crazy Adventure Called Life has some excellent touring advice for how to make the most of your 4 hour reservation in Galaxy’s Edge. Check out her post!)
After the reservation period. After the reservation period ends starting June 24, guests will need to use a new strategy. Obviously, guests can stay in the land all day then. Many superfans will want to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run again and again if they can. I expect wait times to fluctuate much less than they do now with reservations and be a steady 1-2 hour wait, much like other popular Disney thrill rides.
Obviously, we don’t yet fully know how this period will operate but I’ll plan to update this post when more is revealed. But for this time period, being the early bird is likely going to be all the more important to ride at least once with less wait.
And at some point later, Disney will certainly implement Fastpass/MaxPass like any other ride, making a touring strategy more familiar to most who know how to maximize that option in Disney parks.
3. Stay in an on-property hotel.
As much as I love so many walking distance off-property hotels, this entire summer is one of the best times to splurge on an on-property hotel at Disneyland. Here’s why that’s the case – both before and after the reservation period.
Before the reservation period. If you want to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for yourself between now and June 23, there’s only one way to do it. Public reservations are gone, but you can still get a reservation with a stay in a on-property Disneyland hotel.
Just be aware that the actual reservation time you will receive is subject to availability. I did hear multiple cast members indicate that they were willing to swap out reservation times if time was available. Each hotel has a Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge reservation desk so you can even try to arrange swaps once you arrive on-site for your vacation if you get a time that doesn’t work with your overall Disneyland touring schedule.
After the reservation period. So is a Disney on-property hotel stay important after the June 23 reservation period is over? It is, for a different reason. Once the reservation period ends, the land will be wide open in the morning to enter. Once it reaches capacity, the virtual queue kicks in. We have no way of knowing yet just how long guests will stay in the land and just how many people will be able to get in via the virtual queue.
On-property guests have one major advantage over regular guests in this system — Extra Magic Hour. Extra Magic Hour is offered in Disneyland park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. While the land itself won’t be open during Extra Magic Hour, on-property guests will be able to enter the park one hour before everyone else on these days. This means they can physically queue to enter Galaxy’s Edge before all other guests three days a week. That’s a major advantage for getting more time in the land when lines aren’t long.
4. Go for three days or more (after June 23).
If a Disney hotel isn’t in the budget but you are planning a trip of 3 or more days after June 23, you’ll have a little hack to enter the land more easily too. Guests with tickets of 3+ or more days are entitled to one Magic Morning entrance into Disneyland park on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Magic Morning users have the same leg up as Extra Magic Hour users to physically queue and enter the land before a virtual queue operates.
(Quick tip: Get Away Today has a current special on 3+ day tickets right now — Adults at Kids prices! So you can save a little bit of money while getting a jump on the crowds. This deal is available for all stays through September 5, 2019.)
5. If off-property, make Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Sundays your Disneyland/Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge day (after June 23).
If you don’t have access to either Magic Morning or Extra Magic Hour after June 23, then you should at least make sure you are on a level playing field with all other guests. On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, there is no early entry available to anyone in Disneyland park.
Pick one of these days to be your Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge day and get in line very early for the parks. Just how early is too soon to tell, but given what I know about Pandora in Walt Disney World and the demand there, I’m probably going to recommend 1.5-2 hours before park opening.
6. Decide whether Oga’s Cantina is a priority for you.
(Editor’s Note 6/3: Yesterday, cast members began implementing a waiting list that notified guests when a space at Oga’s Cantina was available for them via text message. This allows guests to do other things in the land while remaining in a virtual queue at the cantina. If you want to visit, the best plan is to go directly there at the start of your reservation window and get on the list immediately, as it fills very fast.)
Many theme park lands have it – that popular ride, restaurant or experience where the lines are always long. In Galaxy’s Edge, that choke point is Oga’s Cantina. If Oga’s is a priority for you, you’ll likely have to spend well over half of your 2 hour reservation window to do it.
To be sure, 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 is the problem exactly? There is simply not enough space outside for all the guests who want to queue. As a result, Disney cast members shut down the queue the majority of the time and don’t let new guests even get in line. This results in guests mingling in static packs nearby. They wait for the queue to be reopened and make a mad dash to get in it when it does. It’s pretty inefficient. I had to try three times until I successfully got into the queue. After I was in the queue, I then waited an additional 50 minutes to get into the restaurant. Guests have a maximum of 45 minutes (and a 2 drink limit) while in Oga’s. As you can see, it’s a time-consuming process.
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. The wait is just too long. 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.
7. Mobile order food well in advance (and even before you enter the land).
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.
Before the reservation period. A few minutes after I entered Galaxy’s Edge at the start of my 11am-3pm reservation window, I hopped on the app to place a mobile order. I found was facing a pretty long wait to even reserve a pickup window. Guests from the earlier reservation period had snagged all the earlier time slots. So what should I have done instead? Mobile ordering allows you to select from a variety of return times many hours later, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of that option! I could have gone into the app hours before, and ordered something to pickup at peak lunch time if I had thought ahead. For guests with middle-of-the-day reservations, planning ahead is essential.
After the reservation period. After the reservation period is over and Disney is using a virtual queue, you should still do mobile ordering early. 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.
8. Purchase MaxPass (Most of the Time).
This tip may seem like weird advice since, of course, Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t offer Fastpass/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. Once you enter Star Wars Land, you can’t come in and out. That means you can’t physically go and retrieve Fastpasses for other rides. If you want to book Fastpasses for later in the day before they are gone for many rides, you need MaxPass to be able to do it on your phone while you are spending time in Galaxy’s Edge. This is true both before and after June 23.
Of course, if you plan to spend most of your day in Galaxy’s Edge (once there is no time limit to be in the land), 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.
9. 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. I heard of many guests experiencing waits as low as 5 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 obviously was not visiting this 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.
10. 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. We 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.
11. 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 will be rapidly changing in coming weeks and months. I’ve already stressed that when the reservation period ends on June 23 and guests can stay in the land as long as they want, the game changes.
And once Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens (likely some time in the fall or early winter), 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:
- In addition to Oga’s Cantina, the line for Savi’s Workshop where guests can built custom $199 lightsabers is the other choke point for now. I think lines will subside for that 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 has substantially shorter lines. 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. The bottom line is that during the 4 hour reservation periods, however, there just isn’t time for guests to use this feature. Do plan to revisit this once the land no longer has a time limit.
Disclosure: I was honored to attend a pre-opening media event 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!)