TPV went to Disney World. Galaxy’s Edge truly is in a galaxy far far away…

So I just got back from a week long trip to Disney World with the family for Spring Break, and what a great time we had. It was the first trip we’ve done since the pandemic, and it felt like life has finally returned to some level of normalcy. The parks were full of people and for the most part the Florida weather played nice for our visit. So how was Galaxy’s Edge as an experience?

In one word: Amazing.

If you know me, you know that Star Trek is my one true love. However Star Wars is my first love. So much of these two properties elicit similar feelings about their characters, the lore and the universes they inhabit. As a Gen X’er, my love of Star Wars is part of my DNA. The imprint of that code on myself can be directly attributed to my mother taking my sister and I to see the original film when it came out in 1977 to an old drive-in theater in Lubbock Texas. Who knew a simple act of going to the movies would leave such a lasting mark all these decades later? But marked I am, like millions worldwide.

Our time at Galaxy’s Edge was broken into two distinct visits during our week: Monday was our Hollywood Studio’s day, which included GE, along with the Toy Story area, Tower of Terror, The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and various other areas of the park. The old Star Tours 3D ride was also in the HS park and is still a very popular attraction (I rode it on my first and only previous trip to Disney in ’91).

Making our way past it and through a few more shops and eateries, you pass through a large tunnel that spits you out into Galaxy’s Edge. You are instantly transported to a completely immersive experience from the moment you cross through that tunnel. At no point while inside GE could I see any other areas of the park. It’s designed specifically so that guests feel fully surrounded by the world of Star Wars, specifically the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu in the Outer Rim.

As you first walk into GE (from the east entry point), you are greeted by the Rise of the Resistance ride. By far the biggest and most sought-after ride arguably in all of Disney right now. Making your way past Rise, you head towards the heart of the area, which includes Ronto Roasters, Savi’s Lightsaber workshop, Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, the Droid Depot, and Docking Bay 7. Nestled in the far south portion of GE is the 1 to 1 Millennium Falcon (that includes the Smuggler’s Run ride) and Oga’s Cantina. Moving west from there, you have the First Order area, along with the infamous Milk Stand and FO merch shop.

That day we had booked the Rise of the Resistance and Smuggler’s Run rides for after our scheduled dinner reservation, so when we first entered Hollywood studios, we checked some other areas of the park out of GE, made our initial way into the GE, spent some time and then came back to it later in the afternoon.

Also, my wife had a reservation to build a droid at the Droid depot towards the end of the night, so Smuggler’s Run was our first ride. It was a blast – it was perfectly built for our family of 6, as we had two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers. It was a great ride in the fact that you were actively doing things during the ride, instead of being a passive participant in the ride. It is essentially a big video game-style ride. Our family thoroughly enjoyed it and gave the experience high marks.

After completing Smuggler’s Run, we made our way to dinner. Once that was over, it was back to Galaxy’s Edge for the highlight of the day, Rise of the Resistance. To say this ride is massive is an understatement. We all agreed after our trip was over that it was the top or near the top of everyone’s list in terms of rides we had done for the week.

I decided not to video this ride as I wanted to be fully present for it, however, my wife managed a few videos before the ride actually began.

The entire ride from beginning to end lasted over 12 minutes. I can’t stress enough how fully immersive this ride is. A must-do for any Star Wars fan.

Speaking of immersive, Galaxy’s Edge also has great characters that pop over a day on Batuu. While Disney has lifted some of the masking and distancing policies from earlier, one thing that they are still keeping in place currently is the distancing of cast characters from park goers. Before the pandemic, these characters would freely move about park goers throughout the crowds. While we were there, they would only come to parts of Galaxy’s Edge where they were separated from attendees. That being the case, it was still great to see them and the Stormtroopers specifically were a riot. Their “act” as it were was straight out of a comedy bit.

Did I mention the Blue Milk was on par with the Butterbeer from Hogwarts at Universal Studios? (You can get it with or without Bacardi Rum.)

I took this standing at the First Order area, facing back east towards the Falcon. It’s probably my favorite picture I took (family notwithstanding of course).

The end of our day at Galaxy’s Edge included building your very own droid. You can build one of two different types of droids currently, an R2 of BB unit. My wife decided to go with the R2 unit build. You can see from the video that it’s a pretty cool experience. She was very happy with the outcome, to say the least.

We knew at the beginning of the week that we would be returning to GE on Friday as that was when we have booked my Savi’s Lightsaber workshop build for that evening. After spending the majority of the day at Animal Kingdom, with a short stop at Epoct for some great eats, we made our way back to Galaxy’s Edge.

I had seen a video from the Ordinary Adventures channel on building lightsabers at Savi’s, so I already had a good idea of what to expect. We had some time before my 8:45 scheduled build, so we grabbed some food at Docking Bay 7, did some final shopping, and then made our way back to Savi’s.

Let me say upfront, building the lightsaber was THE highlight in a week filled with highlights. The experience is very theatrical, and we had a great actor for our build. I will say it’s not cheap to build a saber at Savi’s, but if you’re able, it’s totally worth it.

When you check in, you are given a QR code to scan with your phone. This then gives you a one-page pdf where you decided between the 4 main types of sabers you can build.

Once you have made your choice, you are checked into a waiting area with other builders, awaiting your time to enter Savi’s. If I recall correctly, there are 12 stations where builders can craft their new lightsaber. There are cast members that first allow you to pick which kyber Crystal will be used for your saber. On my night, there was blue, green, purple, and red. I went with blue.

After picking your kyber, the cast members at Savi’s place a tray of parts in front of you with your selected parts from check-in. You can see from the graphic above that each category has two choices. This is what my final saber build ended up looking like.

Let me say here, these sabers are really heavy duty. My wife and I were both very impressed at not only the feel of them, but the overall materials used. These are no toy lightsabers. It feels like a real movie prop that is also fully functional. With the kyber crystal, the mechanical switch lights on and off your saber, just as it does in the films, complete with sounds to match.

Let me take a moment and talk about cynicism and the current state of the Star Wars franchise. I’ve made no secret of my issues with the Skywalker trilogy. I feel like overall it had more misses than hits. So far Disney+ has been making great live-action TV content with The Mandalorian and Boba Fett (to a lesser extent). Obi-Wan is right around the corner, and we’ll see how the next show in the line-up of Star Wars small screen handles its characters and storytelling. I’m hopeful it will be great. This doesn’t even touch on the great animated offerings out there, specifically Clone Wars, or the comics and novels.

As I get older, it would be easy for me to take an “it was better back in my day” stance with Star Wars. But honestly, I think cynicism and a cynical view is the easy path. It’s easier to be grumpy about the current state of Star Wars, or any fandom for that matter. Legitimate issues aside, I work to have a hopeful and fun outlook on the Star Wars franchise. At the end of the day, it’s escapist fantasy at its best.

All this to say, when I entered Galaxy’s Edge for the first time, all of those modern-day thoughts about Star Wars fell away, and I was left with an overwhelming feeling of being that young kid watching Star Wars for the first time. That feeling was something I was very happy to know was still inside of me. It’s great to know things of the past can still reside deep down and that the real world still allows us room to escape and imagine with no constraints.

On a side note, some of the photos in this article were done with the Disney Memory Maker package. You pay a fee, and you have access to official Disney photographers in all the parks, who will take photos of you and anyone with you. Some of them will have zoom or CGI effects added to them. We ultimately wanted to ensure we had some photos to look back on for this trip.

So if you ever have the chance to visit Galaxy’s Edge at either Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in Anaheim, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a place where you can capture some of that magic of your youth and it will help remind you why you’ve been a fan all this time.

PS…Now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, I’ll be waiting patiently to see a Alien and/or Predator park area in the future. 🙂

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