Visiting Galaxy's Edge at Hollywood Studios

Our First Time in Galaxy’s Edge (Disney Trip 2021)

Posted February 4, 2022 by Amber in Around the World / 0 Comments

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Good morning everyone!

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on here, but I am a huge Star Wars fan. I grew up on the franchise (yes, original trilogy and prequels too). One of my fondest memories as a child is going to a 2am showing of Attack of the Clones when I was in middle school with my father and a ground of people from church. My parents even pulled out of school during regional testing to go to this local premiere. It was a big deal.

Needless to say, ever since Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disneyland and Walt Disney World resort, I’ve been very impatiently dying to go.

I really tried to temper my expectations, grounding myself with the knowledge that this land is based more on the last three movies in the saga than the original material. “It’s not going to be like walking into the movies you grew up with!” I told myself in vain. “The lines are going to be really long and you’re just going to get frustrated – you hate queueing.” While this is quite true and was our experience, it also failed to properly extinguish my excitement.

My friends, I must tell you – I adore Galaxy’s Edge.

One of Disney’s greatest strengths at the parks is the way they are able to completely immerse the guests. You forget you’re in Florida – you’re in Andy’s back yard. In Hollywood Boulevard. On Batuu. The level of immersion depends on the budget, but Hollywood Studios in Florida does it so well. And such is the truth for Galaxy’s Edge. It’s easy to see why Disney thought they could charge such exorbitant prices for an immersive themed hotel included the land. I don’t condone that decision or the depths of corporate greed it underlines, but nevertheless, they’ve done a very good job with the land.

There are two entrances into Batuu in Florida – through Toy Story Land or past Echo Lake and beyond Star Tours. I was extremely skeptical at first – Toy Story land is still the most crowded space in the park and it’s highly themed with a lot of colorful landscaping and architecture. I don’t think you could get a whole lot further from Batuu’s theming than Toy Story Land, unless maybe Disney created a land around Marie from Aristocats. The transition is surprisingly subtle, fading in on the walkway between lands. It’s as though you’ve started to explore the rocky outcropping beyond the confines of Andy’s backyard and slowly, you fade into this remote outpost.

Disney has worked hard to make sure nothing breaks the illusion. It’s such a small thing, but I’m so impressed that the snack carts are even so themed. There’s a definite Coca-Cola feel to them, but the language is completely different and even the soda bottles are designed to look more futuristic and space-like. It’s enough that guests know this is where the beverages are, but without breaking the theming.

Even the text on the buildings requires a second look.

I admit, I spent so much time ogling the general atmosphere of the place that I took far fewer photos than I intended. Fortunately, I’m heading back in (ahhh!) a week, so this time I’ll do a little less gawking and a little more ogling. I will say – Galaxy’s Edge is somehow more immersive at night – at least it was for me!

There are a few elements in Galaxy’s Edge unique to that part of the park – the rides, the food, and the experiences. Because the food will get its own post, I’m going to focus on the rides and the experiences. We were lucky enough to be able to try everything, and it was super fun.

The Experiences

My friends, I began writing a “quick” description of Savi’s Workshop, but it promptly grew into a post of its own. If you would like a more in-depth view of the experience, please come back next week and I’ll walk you through the whole thing. It was simply too delightful to relegate to a single side thought on a general post.

The main two experiences we have here are Savi’s Workshop – lightsaber building – and Droid Depot – droid building.

Savi’s Workshop

In short, the lightsaber experience at Savi’s workshop is delightful. If you’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I have, it’s something extra special because it’s not only a very cool, immersive experience – it’s the revival of a childhood dream. Disney did a wonderful job o bringing this experience to life. I think the imagineers knew they had a get this right – generations of fans would be participating in this experience. Savi’s Workshop needed to enchant all of them, and I think it did that. It’s one of the more expensive upgrades, but very much worth it in my eyes if you’re a fan.

The finished lightsaber is original, customized, and of good quality. I didn’t take too many photos of the lightsaber itself because I was busy building it and being utterly delighted. That said, I know I’ll have more pictures from the February trip because the experience was so cool that Matt (previously disinterested) has been excited about building one since he stepped into the room with me.

I do highly recommend reserving Savi’s workshop in advance. There is a chance you’ll be able to walk up, but as the parks get busier and folks return more and more to vacationing, that opportunity will lessen. And if you’re really interested, it’s not something you want to miss. I also recommend trying to reserve later in the day. Unless you’re planning to return to your room right afterward, you will have to carry the lightsaber around all day and it’s a bit awkward. Mine rode on Slinky Dog Dash with us but had to be checked for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster… it’s just a small hassle you should aim to avoid if you can.

Droid Depot

Savi’s Workshop is not the only special experience in Galaxy’s Edge. There’s also the Droid Depot, where you can build your very own droid. These custom astromechs are made from various different pieces in a couple different styles, and you have the option to upgrade their personality chip to make them a bit more sympathetic to one group or another. Once built and activated, they will interact with other droids and places in Galaxy’s Edge (including the rides!). It’s a fun idea and less expensive than Savi’s Workshop if you want a take-home souvenir. Be warned – Droid Depot is much more chaotic and less immersive than the Workshop – a very different kind of experience.

Both of these items are considered carry ons by most airlines, so plan accordingly if you are flying. We put the droid in the upper bin and the lightsaber between the window and the seat (since we had a window seat). You also have the option to ship these home, you just have to request it in the appropriate store.’

The Rides

First, I will say that the rides in Galaxy’s Edge have absurdly long lines. I very much detest queueing and am more likely to skip a ride than tolerate a two hour queue. But, I have to admit, the rides are pretty cool. The theming is great.

I’ll start with the first, which isn’t even a new ride!

Star Tours

Star Tours is an absolutely delightful experience and has been since its debut. Since it’s quite an older ride now, there’s less demand for it, so you don’t have to wait more than a half hour at its worst. Despite its longevity, I don’t believe the ride has lost any of its delight – it runs well, and there are so many different scenarios that you’ll be kept quite occupied with the unpredictability of the scenes.

Star Tours is a 3D ride, so be prepared to don those 3D glasses. Disney cast members with gloves were handing out these glasses to riders and collecting them to be sanitized at the end, a special consideration for the pandemic which I appreciated. For this trip, we got the car with Threepio as pilot (yay!) and Vader as the villain (yay!) so I was delighted. There are scenes from the prequels, sequels, and original trilogy, so you never know what will happen!

I also deeply appreciate the theming of this ride area inside and out. Star Tours incorporates elements from the original trilogy – outside, you have an impressive AT-AT and a smidge of Ewok forest. Entering this ride building has always felt, to me, like stepping away from the rest of the park. And I’m sure the towering AT-AT in this external area inspired the addition of the ones you see in Rise of the Resistance. Entering the building, too, has a distinct Star Wars feel far before the imagineers started on Galaxy’s Edge. I appreciate it all fully, and I appreciate the foresight the original imagineers had when creating this attraction – I’m sure they never imagined there’s be a whole Star Wars land.

Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run

Before riding this one, I was content to skip it. I know! A Star Wars fan who says “Meh, maybe we don’t do Millennium Falcon?” Inconceivable! But I’d heard nothing particularly positive about the ride – just that it was another screen-based experience (give me animatronics, gosh darn it!) and was nothing to write home about.

And, okay, okay. When you try to put either Smuggler’s Run or Star Tours up against Rise of the Resistance, they’re underwhelming. But the rides weren’t met to be compared. This is a very different experience, but you know what, it’s fun. It’s hands-on and immersive, and you’re in the Millennium Falcon.

Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run reminds me most of Mission: SPACE at EPCOT. It’s a cooperative team effort where six people enter the cabin and each man a station. Performance in your particular station affects the gameplay and your overall score. This is a bit different than Mission: SPACE where you can jus sit there and the ride is the same no matter what you do. You’ll find yourself calling out the other players in the cabin and congratulating them on a job well done, and it was plain, simple fun. We road with a couple of boys and their dads and these sweet, sweet children thanked us profusely after the ride for our excellent engineering. It still makes me smile. And that’s part of what Disney is about – bringing together strangers in the joy of just… being there. We always meet nice people on Disney rides and in queues.

In short, maybe don’t skip this one. The queue is significantly shorter than Rise of the Resistance, and it’s good fun.

Rise of the Resistance

And now we reach the ride everyone is talking about – Disney World, Disneyland, it doesn’t matter. Rise of the Resistance is the golden cherry atop the Star Wars sundae and the centerpiece of Galaxy’s Edge. It has amazing animatronics, immersion, and adventure. It’s awesome.

Yes, the hype is real. It’s a fantastic experience. I’m glad we rode it.

The queue is also insufferably long.

We were fortunate enough to find a time where the queue was only 60 minutes (I think we actually waited 75) but it’s a rare experience to see this ride at less than a two hour wait. That is, of course, unless you purchase the Genie+ ticker for $35/pp and save yourself a spot. But if you’re going to do that, you need to be ready at 7am when the spaces drop because they’ll be gone in a matter of minutes. Obviously, purchasing this upgrade is a personal choice, but it’s not for me. I think it’s unreasonable. So we watched the queues when we were in Galaxy’s Edge and waited.

The two days we were at Hollywood Studios, Rise of the Resistance did not have any downtime that I noticed. I know this ride is notorious for breaking down, but please know that it’s not always broken. And once you get inside the ride, wow, you can see why it breaks down so often. There are so many moving parts. Disney has outdone itself.

The queue is broken in pieces so you’re not waiting forever in the same place. You wait to get into Rey’s room. You wait to get into the First Order Building. You wait to get into the ride itself. It feels a little less frustrating to have it broken up like that, and it definitely feels like you’ve entered another world. Even as you step in and out of buildings! The queue alone is a very cool experience.

Rise of the Resistance has a trackless ride system that adds to the chaotic feel of the ride. There were a couple slight ups and downs that I was completely unprepared for. The immersion is unreal. If you’ve seen clips or photos from Disney influencers, you’ve probably seen most of the ride, but there’s such a difference between seeing it on screen and being inside the ride building. It’s very cool. I still don’t think I’d pay $35 or wait two hours for it, but you better believe I’ll be watching for reasonable wait times and booking it over to Galaxy’s Edge to ride whenever I have the opportunity if I’m in the park.

I mean, just the scale of it all!

I’m impressed. Really and truly impressed. My one not-wait-related complaint is that I wish I had more time in the room with all the Stormtroopers? That scene is AMAZING but we were really rushed through it to keep the queue moving along. Which I get. But I wouldn’t’ve minded a couple minutes just to gawk at the magnitude of it all.

Is Galaxy’s Edge Worth the Hype?

For me? Yes.

I think the imagineers have done an excellent job building a planet that evokes the mood of all nine saga films. Because I’m OLD I think I would have preferred more general theming toward the other six movies, but I’ll also take what I can get. There are definitely moments in Galaxy’s Edge where you can forget that its set in Rey and Kylo Ren’s timeline.

Also? It’s just really cool. In the same way folks get so excited to step into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you get excited to step into Galaxy’s Edge. Any major franchise that captured the hearts and minds of so many people is bound to enchant millions when it’s built into reality. Disney’s done an excellent job of creating an overall accessible land that will delight fans in one way or another. The little details are all there, the theming, the entertainment. I loved it and am looking forward to visiting again.

Make sure to stay tuned next week for an in-depth dive into Savi’s Workshop, and in weeks following to hear about Docking Bay 7 and Oga’s Cantina!

send me your thoughts

Are you a Star Wars fan?

If so, do you agree with my assessment of Galaxy’s Edge? What would you change?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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