BIG NEWS, STAR WARS FANS (big enough to require CAPITAL LETTERS): The official opening dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have been announced for both Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.! According to the Disney Parks Blog, the California version of the land will begin welcoming visitors on May 31, 2019, while the Florida version will throw open its doors (or maybe jump to lightspeed? Is that a better metaphor, in this case?) on Aug. 29, 2019. I kid you not, we’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly four whole years. (The expansion was first announced on Aug. 15, 2015.) OUR MOMENT HAS COME. THE TIME IS NOW. SOMEONE TELL CHEWIE TO GET THE FALCON READY FOR TAKEOFF.
Galaxy’s Edge will drop visitors into the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu — a spaceport Disney describes as “a haven for the galaxy’s most colorful — and notorious — characters.” Designed to be as immersive as possible, you’ll be able to experience stellar storytelling at every level — from the cast members you'll meet to the additional moments of interaction afforded by using the Play Disney Parks app while you’re “on Batuu.” It’s worth noting, though, that the May 31 and Aug. 29 dates comprise just the first phase for the land: On those dates, visitors will be able to shop space-age goodies, eat and drink some particularly hilarious-looking foods and beverages, and ride one major attraction — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
You’ll notice, by the way, that both versions of the Star Wars-themed land are opening ahead of schedule. Originally, the lands were expected to open during the summer of 2019 at Disneyland and in late fall 2019 at Disney World. They do always say it’s better to under-promise and overdeliver, right? I’d say Disney nailed it this time.
Smugglers Run is the big draw for this first phase, of course; it puts visitors right in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon to operate as its pilots, gunners, and flight engineers on a smuggling mission not for Han Solo, but for Hondo Ohnaka, a Weequay space pirate who featured prominently in the animated Star Wars shows The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. The ride is a team effort, with each of the six passengers for each trip working together on a sort of immersive choose-your-own-adventure story. In some ways, it sounds similar in format to Mission: SPACE at Epcot in Disney World, but we won’t know for sure until it finally opens. But the experience isn’t just the ride; the queue and pre-show are immersive as well, leaving you free to explore the Millennium Falcon live and in person.
Here's a look at the Hondo animatronic, which looks to be one of the most advanced Disney Imagineering has ever created:
The Galaxy’s Edge food, however, also looks terribly entertaining. Restaurant options include the fast casual restaurant Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, which — according to the land’s lore, at least — is run by Chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs and will feature dishes like Oven-Roasted Burra Fish and Smoked Kaadu Ribs; Ronto Roasters, a sandwich stand in the Black Spire Outpost market known for its Meiloorun Juice and sausage and pork Ronto Wrap; Oga’s Cantina, where you’ll be able to get boozy cocktails and colorful drinks like the Outer Rim, Bespin Fizz, Yub Nub, and Fuzzy Tauntaun (which I’m assuming is basically a fuzzy navel, but BETTER, because TAUNTAUN); the Milk Stand, which will specialize in the hallowed Blue and Green Milks; and a kettle corn stand called Kat Saka’s Kettle.
When phase two opens later on down the line — we don’t know when yet — another, even more impressive ride will arrive at Galaxy’s Edge. Called Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance, it’s apparently “the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined” and will “put guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance” in such a way as to truly “blur fantasy and reality,” according to the Disney Parks Blog.
Heck. And yes.
Some details you’ll want to be aware of if you plan to visit Galaxy’s Edge soon after its phase one opening at either resort:
At Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., guests with valid theme park admission visiting between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will need to make an additional reservation specifically to visit Galaxy’s Edge. Disney hasn’t released information on how to do that yet, but note on the Disney Parks Blog that it’s forthcoming; also, the reservations will be free, so no, there’s no upcharge to visit Galaxy’s Edge. Also, if you’re staying one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels — the Disneyland Hotel, the Grand Californian, or the Paradise Pier Hotel — you’ll receive a designated reservation during your stay.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando’s Walt Disney World resort, however, no additional reservation will be required to visit Galaxy’s Edge from Aug. 29 onward; you’ll just need to have valid park admission to Hollywood Studios. Note, though, that the crowds will probably be BANANAS. Remember how tough it was to get into Toy Story Land when it opened last year? I would bet real, actual money that it’ll be even worse for Galaxy’s Edge. If you’re staying at one of the Disney World Hotels, though, Galaxy’s Edge will be included in Extra Magic Hours, so plan accordingly.
Disney is sure to announce more details as May and August approach, so keep your ear to the ground; something tells me you’re going to need to really plan for it if you want to visit Galaxy’s Edge in its first year.
May the… ah, you know how it goes, right?