With the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Len Testa – the Grand Poohbah of all things TouringPlans – made it clear: all hands on deck. Guy Selga – well known as the unhealthiest man in America – ate carrots and pretzel sticks to review the Empire Strikes Back MRE kit. Angela Dahlgren gave a first look at the Droid Depot, including a backpack you can buy to store your droid in. Julia Mascardo was assigned The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and brought back some amazing pictures. Making sure absolutely everything was covered, Erin Foster even looked at Galaxy Edge garbage cans.
By now, all of you have read 1,000 articles on Galaxy’s Edge. You’ve seen all the videos. Every inch of the land’s elaborately themed 14 acres has been covered. There’s no new ground to cover, right?
Enter, David and Derek.
For those uninitiated, David and Derek are a nod to the classic “Goofus and Galiant” formula. David is David Davies, a longtime TouringPlans analyst and IT strategist whose hobbies include solitaire, HTML coding, and nitpicking. Derek is Your Humble Author. Together the two cover all the important Do’s and Don’ts of the theme park world, but specialize in hot topics such as Guest Etiquette and Dog Friendly Hotels.
# 6 – The Millennium Falcon
When Disney announced that one of the signature attractions in Galaxy’s Edge would be based around The Millennium Falcon, fans rejoiced. The Falcon may be the most well known ship in the galaxy. The concept art was jaw dropping. We were getting almost daily aerials by blogging icon @bioreconstruct that showed the Falcon being put together and everything looked too good to be true.
Turns out, it was.
In early May, Disney CEO Bob Iger posted some pictures of him, Steven Spielberg, and others in front of the Falcon. Fans immediately picked up on something not mentioned in Iger’s tweets: there was now a fence in front of the Falcon. Social media, always a bastion of self restraint, reacted as one would expect (with maybe a tweet or two from me helping to stoke the fire). To be fair though, any of us who have been to the Disney parks get it. In Field of Dreams, the statement was “If you build it, they will come.” For American theme parks it is more like, “If you build it, they will destroy it.” One can just look at the incredible queue for Flight of Passage in Pandora: the World of Avatar to see this played out. Everything that guests can touch gets defaced. Everything. The last thing we need is people trying to climb the Millennium Falcon or scratch their name on it, because you know they would.
Reviews of the attraction “inside” the Millennium Falcon are now available and, well, let’s just say Aladdin‘s Rotten Tomatoes score is feeling a lot better about itself. TouringPlans’ own Len Testa and Guy Selga rode Smuggler’s Run and debated whether or not it was better than Star Tours. Interestingly enough, last year Len and Jim Hill did an episode of the Disney Dish on Smugglers Run, and one of the things they were hearing at the time was that controlling the ship wasn’t intuitive for many of the guests. It’s important to remember that we are still in the opening week of the attraction, and Disney is just now getting feedback from a large amount of guests, so it will be interesting to see what – if any – changes are made to Smugglers Run in the future.
# 5 – Merchandise
Regular readers of the SATURDAY SIX should know by now that I’m obsessed with theme park merchandise. If there was anything I like more than theme park stuff, it’s Star Wars. I’ve been a Star Wars fan my whole life. Back in Ye Old Days, before DVDs and streaming and YouTube, young Derek watched Star Wars: A New Hope so much on HBO that my mom said if I watched it one more time she was cancelling HBO. I called her bluff. Turns out it wasn’t a bluff.
When the special edition of A New Hope came out in 1997, I could spot every single second of new footage or added CGI. Growing up, the greatest gift I ever received was Han Solo’s blaster. Every birthday and Christmas was begging for action figures and vehicles. Now that I have my own money I have the Force FX lightsabers, Star Wars Virtual Reality headsets, and every Star Wars/Disney character mashup item made. How much do I like Star Wars? I like Star Wars so much that I tried to build a Metal Earth Landspeeder and almost killed myself.
Knowing Galaxy’s Edge is bringing with it a ton of new merchandise is what I’m personally most looking forward to in the land. Oga’s Cantina has a beer flight that is sold with cups made from Rancor teeth. Gotta get that. An action figure set that has DJ Rex in it? On the list. Here’s to being excited about Star Wars merchandise again, because unfortunately it’s been too long for me (not counting the Mickey Mouse lightsaber I got at the Animal Kingdom, of course).
Speaking of lightsabers, one fo the more interesting elements of Galaxy’s Edge seems to be Savi’s Workshop.
# 4 – Learning the Language
When Disney opened Pandora: The World of Avatar, one of the things they wanted to do was get guests completely immersed in the world like Universal does with the Wizarding World. This included a language with phrases from the Na’vi, residents of Pandora. The problem is, nobody wants to speak Na’vi. On the other hand, brands such as Star Trek and Star Wars have had much more success in getting fans to accept their languages. You can buy a Klingon dictionary, and Disney has been using the Star Wars “Aurebesh” language for years on name tags in the parks. Galaxy’s Edge is taking this to the next level, with a lot of signage in Aurebesh and encouraging guests to use “popular phrases on Batuu.”
These phrases include: Bright Suns = Good Morning, Rising Moons = Good Evening, and Til the Spire = Farewell. It’s too early to tell whether or not Aurebesh or the Batuu phrases catch on with guests, but with Disney making it easier to learn by incorporating it in the Play Disney Parks App, the chances look good.
# 3 – Food and Drink
The Wizarding World changed the game in several ways when it came to the theme park Universe. With butterbeer alone it showed that the food and drink component in a theme park land can be as important as rides and gift shops when it comes to the bottom line. It is now almost unthinkable for a new land, or even just a ride, not to have some sort of exclusive, drink, snack, or unique dining experience attached. From the incredible make-your-own bowls at Satu’il Canteen in Pandora, to the Cozy Cones in Cars Land, to the shockingly good options at Woody’s Lunchbox in Toy Story Land, the days of just hamburgers and chicken strips being good enough are long gone.
Galaxy’s Edge is bringing some exciting options to the table. Just as butterbeer is an iconic drink in the Harry Potter world, there’s not a Star Wars fan around who hasn’t always wanted to drink blue milk. Batuu will not only serve blue milk (which is dairy-free and vegan friendly, something butterbeer is not) but also have green milk available. Yes, the same green milk that was involved in one of the strangest Star Wars moments ever (and keep in mind, this is the same Star Wars that had Bea Arthur singing a song with the Mos Eisley cantina band). Oga’s Cantina offers the Blue Bantha, which is a drink with an cookie on top? It’s like they read my dream journal.
The land will also offer some unique take on foods we’ve seen many times before, such as the colorful popcorn options at Kat Saka’s Kettle, but one thing we’re going to have to try are the Ronto Wraps at Ronto Roasters. We recently saw the Ronto Wraps subtly advertised in the Galaxy’s Edge comic book, and we need to try one for ourselves!
VIDEO: TouringPlans and the Unofficial Guide’s own Seth Kubersky review Green Milk on Batuu.
PHOTOS: All the drinks at Oga’s Canteen, including the must-get beer flight served in Rancor teeth!
# 2 – Droid Depot
Droids are the connective tissue for the entire Star Wars franchise. The human characters may come and go, but R2-D2 and C-3PO are involved in almost everything. Besides having comedic appeal, they appeal to men and women, young and old, and people in different cultures across the globe. The Droid Depot in Galaxy’s Edge lets guests build their own droid in a way they never could before. The Droid Factory at Walt Disney World has let people build droids for a while now, but they were action figure size. Droid Depot has much larger options and presents the experience in a super fun way as you grab parts as they pass you by, similar to conveyor belt sushi!
The price for building your own droid is $99.99, but don’t forget you’re paying for the experience as well. One of the bigger takeaways from non-theme park sites was that the Droid Depot was also offering a custom built droid option for $25,000.
# 1 – Rise of the Resistance
Earlier this year when Disney announced that Galaxy’s Edge would be opening up in May for Disneyland and at the end of August for Walt Disney World, many jaws hit the floor including my own. For those of us in Florida, we had been told that we wouldn’t be entering Batuu until “Late Fall,” which generally means “sometime in the middle of December.” All of a sudden we were told AUGUST and it was a dream come true. Then came the bad news. While Galaxy’s Edge would be opening, it would be without the land’s signature attraction Rise of the Resistance. Everything we have been hearing about Rise of the Resistance makes it sound like it is going to be the greatest theme park attraction ever made. Similar to how The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man turned the theme park world on its head 20 years ago, Rise of the Resistance seems to be the type of attraction that will be talked about in reverence like Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Tower of Terror.
While we don’t have a date yet for when Rise of the Resistance will open, we have plenty of stuff to enjoy until that day comes.
Honorable Mention – Background Material
One of the best parts about the Pandora: the World of Avatar and Universal’s Diagon Alley, is that they can be enjoyed by people who know nothing about the source material. However, if you do know the source material, the richness of each land is incredible and filled with Easter eggs to discover.
So there you have it: Six Reasons David and Derek look at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Tip of the cap to superstar artist Shelby Denham. Shelby is one of the most talented artists I know and whose stunning work was used in last year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. She has an online store with some fantastic prints, and is often available for commissions. Sometimes this demon-with-a-heart-of-gold is even ready at a moment’s notice to draw the Millennium Falcon because an untalented goof tried a dozen times and it always seem some sort of phallic object straight out of The Ambiguously Gay Duo cartoon. We’re going to keep that untalented goof’s name a secret to protect his reputation and ego.
We need to send a shout out to FreePik.com. This is a site which has graphics available to anyone, including weirdoes who have a last minute idea to “use a photo of Bob Iger in a hot tub tweeting that Star Wars Land is open.” FreePik offers vectors, stock photos, PSD, and icons. I literally have no idea what three of those things are, but am really glad FreePik.com offers them.
If we had virtual roses right now, they would be thrown at the feet of Parkscope Joe AKA Joseph Matt. I’ve been blessed to know a lot of smart and helpful people in my life, and Joe is one of my favorite ones. Always ready to help a hand, Joe is great at brainstorming ideas and being able to deliver what I would consider “impossible ideas.” I’m proud and honored to have Joe as a friend, and I hope he knows how much I appreciate and admire him.
Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, señor Saratoga Springs @KrisMeetsWorld, Lime Garage defender @SuperWeenieHtJr, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Mr. ‘Ohana Tim Grassey, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.