The last time I visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge it was covered in mud. That’s what happens at construction sites: rain falls, the unpaved walkways turn thick and viscous, and boots start earning their keep. Galaxy’s Edge was a work in progress when I toured it in February, but its power and potential were undeniable. Even unfinished, it looked and felt unmistakably like Star Wars, so much so that it didn’t feel like I was still in Disneyland.
I’ve now toured the Galaxy’s Edge that visitors will see when the land officially opens on May 31. This isn’t a full review—look for that later this week—but a quick note to share my immediate reaction. Spoiler: That reaction is, uh, pretty good! Galaxy’s Edge is fantastic, and sets a high water mark for immersive theme park design.
As a fan of theme parks, Galaxy’s Edge is a beautiful, immersive piece of design that effectively transports me to a place that feels familiar but alien. As a fan of Star Wars, there’s not much more I could ask for—Batuu and Black Spire Outpost might be new locales created just for the park, but it’s all positively dripping with Star Wars atmosphere, like I’m visiting a film set or somehow walking through some of Ralph McQuarrie’s concept art. Like the best theme parks, the entire space is one giant attraction, a Star Wars play set made real, with a number of smaller, beautifully designed attractions within. Disney Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, the creative lead on Galaxy’s Edge, calls the entire land an E-ticket itself, using Disney’s in-house designation for the largest and most significant type of attraction (think Space Mountain, or Tower of Terror, or the Haunted Mansion), and that’s an entirely accurate statement. Anybody who loves Star Wars will feel at home in Galaxy’s Edge, and fans of theme parks and Disney in particular will be impressed by what Trowbridge and his team have built.
Again, I’ll have more a detailed and thoughtful report on my time in Galaxy’s Edge soon, but for now here’s a quick rundown of what I experienced today. Our media group entered from a backstage area, walking into Galaxy’s Edge right where the life-size Millennium Falcon sits. You can’t see the Falcon from outside the park—it sneaks up on you in all its glory—but it is absolutely the Galaxy’s Edge equivalent of Disneyland’s castle or Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. It’s the massive, breathtaking centerpiece of the land that is destined to be one of the most photographed theme park structures ever built. After taking a dozen or so of those photographs myself, I decided to just slowly enjoy my time in Galaxy’s Edge before my scheduled interviews, soaking up the architecture and atmosphere while also checking out the Datapad part of the Play Disney Parks App. I listened in to a few transmissions and translated some of the Aurebesh found around the land. I visited Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, a cluttered store where a huge Ithorian Audio-Animatronic (think the hammerhead alien from the first Star Wars movie) grunted and moved his head back and forth while customers looked at Holocrons and metal busts of beloved Star Wars characters. In the Droid Depot random robot parts whirred above, waiting for customers to experience what it’s like to build their own loyal robot servants.
Elsewhere I walked through the Black Spire Outpost Marketplace. In the Creature Stall interactive loth-cats, porgs and rathtars were for sale, while an animatronic loth-cat slept, purring, in a cage. Resistance and First Order clothes, authentic to the movies, were on sale, as well as wooden and stuffed toys that looked hand-made. At one end of the marketplace sat Ronto Roasters, a walk-up restaurant that specializes in jerkey and delicious wraps.
From there I walked back to the Falcon, entering the Space Port that it’s parked in front of for a video interview that will be up at Paste soon. I returned to the cargo hold of the Falcon that I visited back in February, the iconic chess-room first seen over 40 years ago in A New Hope. Suddenly lights started to flash and alarms buzzed—one of the Disney reps on board had triggered a random occurrence that I had to fix. In the corner of the room was a control panel with buttons that were flashing and pulsing. Pushing the biggest, brightest button fixed the problem and made everything return to normal. I was in a pretty much perfect recreation of a spaceship I’ve known and loved my entire life, and got to experience the kind of mechanical failure that this biggest hunk of junk in the galaxy seemed to keep having on the big screen.
That’s the kind of detail that makes Galaxy’s Edge more than just a beautifully designed space. It injects a bit of life and excitement into something that’s already incredibly exciting as it is. It reminded me of the face of James Mason that mysteriously appears in the mirror aboard the Nautilus at Disneyland Paris’s 20000 Leagues Under the Sea walkthrough exhibit—it’s a detail that isn’t necessary and isn’t expected, but elevates the entire experience.
I’m headed back to Galaxy’s Edge right after I file this, and will be able to ride the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride and visit Oga’s Cantina for the first time. Look for thoughts on those two attractions, along with a full review, later this week.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He shares stories and photos from his Disney journeys on Instagram at @disney_lowdown. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.