At long last, we’ve had the opportunity to visit Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Here are our favourite things at the immersive Star Wars attraction.
It’s been almost 4 years since Galaxy’s Edge opened at Disneyland—not just a Star Wars-themed corner of the storied theme park, but a bridge between the real world and the galaxy far, far away, backed by several pieces of in-universe fiction establishing its setting. It’s also been about 27 years since I first saw Star Wars and George Lucas’ creations moved rent-free into my brain, so I’ve been pining to visit “the planet” of Batuu since the first pictures from the location surfaced, living vicariously through media tie-ins.
However, last week I had the good fortune to check out the park for myself at long last, while visiting Los Angeles for the Star Wars Jedi: Survivor preview. It was a beautiful day to get sensory overload, drinking in the sights and immersing myself in a taste of daily life inside one of my favourite franchises.
Whether you’ve also been dreaming of visiting the park for yourself, or if you’ve already been, here are the features of Galaxy’s Edge that I deemed strongest in the Force:
Extras at Tomorrowland
The first things on this list aren’t directly within the boundaries of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, but they’re still worth checking out at some point during your day. Star Tours, the classic ride that predated Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, still sits apart from the rest of the Star Wars attractions, virtually next-door in Tomorrowland. It’s been updated since I last rode it at Disney World pre-acquisition and features about 21 different randomized elements spanning different points of the Skywalker Saga.
And of course, what would a classic theme park ride be without a gift shop attached to a ride? The Star Trader shop features a broader selection of merchandise, including some of the more in-universe items found in Galaxy’s Edge but also more generic items you might find in toy stores or the Disney Store (at least, if it still existed here in Canada). It’s a great spot to find things like action figures, statues, and day-to-day clothing, as well as a few other Disney and Marvel items.
The Food: No Mere Quarter Portions
Eating at a theme park always feels like a necessary evil, something you have to grin and bear both in terms of quality and price. Days are long and exhausting, and at some point you’ll need to cave and pay too much to cram down some fast food, or something sugary. However I was pleasantly surprised to find the cuisine at Galaxy’s Edge was both imaginatively conceived and actually good.
Of the three venues within the boundaries of Batuu, I tried both of the fast-service style joints, Ronto Roasters and Docking Bay 7. The former’s signature dish, the Ronto Wrap—a wrap with sausage, pork, and a slaw—made for a great lunch, the right amount of sustenance without sitting too heavy for a long day in the sun. Later, Docking Bay 7’s “Endorian Fried Chicken Tip-Yip”, apparently an Ewok-styled dish, struck a similar balance between quantity and quality.
The beverages might be the real culinary star of Galaxy’s Edge, though. The Cold Brew Black Caf—Star Wars for cold brew coffee with sweet cream cheese and cocoa puffs—was refreshing (even if the cocoa puff topping made it strange to actually consume), and the Tatooine Sunset was a nice little mix suitable for any time of day.
The Blue Milk, though, was the biggest highlight of the overall menu, far more delicious than it would have seemed in Luke Skywalker’s kitchen back on Tatooine. I’m tempted to pick up Galaxy’s Edge: The Official Black Spire Cookbook and try at least some of the drinks at home.
There are two signature rides at Galaxy’s Edge: Rise of the Resistance, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run. Both push the definition of theme park rides with interactive, immersive elements right from the moment you get through the gates.
Rise of the Resistance puts riders into the action of the Sequel Trilogy, including recording performances from movie actors (including Oscar Isaac, Domnhal Gleeson, and John Boyega), and both cast members and animatronic elements give instructions in-character. Getting to the point where you boarding the actual car is half of the experience, and then riders are whisked through a daring escape from a First Order ship.
Smugglers’ Run incorporates many similar elements, where riders are “recruited” to borrow the Millennium Falcon for a daring heist. The pre-ride segment features an impressive animatronic of the animated character Hondo Ohnaka, and sorts passengers into “flight groups.” Passengers are then assigned self-explanatory roles: pilots, gunners, and engineers. After checking out the Falcon’s lounge, you’re shuttled into the hunk of junk’s cockpit for a truly interactive segment.
I was the engineer for my flight, tasked with repairing the ship when my (inexperienced) pilots went off-course and firing a harpoon to seize our intended cargo. Flipping the toggles and smashing buttons on the Falcon’s displays like Harrison Ford himself was top-tier fantasy fulfillment alone, but the game-like element made the ride truly special (especially since we ended up with a pretty decent score).
Galaxy’s Edge would benefit from another ride option, and there were reports of Rise of the Resistance breaking down throughout the day, but what’s here now represents a real elevation of theme park rides in general. Eat your heart out, “It’s a Small World,” there’s a new experience in town.
The Souvenir Experiences
The last hallmark of the traditional theme park experience is the souvenirs, and as you might imagine from the brand that redefined toy licensing, the Star Wars park had plenty of unique offerings. As Galaxy’s Edge is presented as though it’s a literal in-universe place, its merchandise leans away from traditional options like those at Star Traders—T-shirts and packaged action figures are less frequent, but you can get authentic Jedi robes and First Order uniforms, or plushes that look like actual creatures.
Like the rides, there are two immersive experiences that stand out. First is the Droid Workshop, where participants get to build their own astromech droid, a customized Bluetooth-enabled toy robot to take home. A conveyer belt carts part options by, and once you have the required pieces, you snap them together at a workstation and activate your new companion.
Depending on what you want in a souvenir, Savi’s Workshop could offer the cooler experience and product at Galaxy’s Edge, however. Under the guise of buying “scrap metal” (read: lightsaber pieces) from the junk trader, participants in groups assemble a customized lightsaber and activate it in a theatrical pseudo-ritual.
Both options could use more options to choose from in order to be considered truly “customized,” but for a hefty price you can get something truly more special than just another toy off a souvenir rack.
The common thread running through Galaxy’s Edge is immersion. From the backstory behind the setting, to the interactive elements of its signature souvenirs and rides, this corner of Disneyland truly felt like stepping into the Star Wars galaxy—or as close as one can get, aside from being in an actual TV show or movie.
For instance, I was browsing the “other” lightsabers sold at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, the high-quality replicas of characters’ lightsabers (from Luke Skywalker’s blue and green models, to the Mandalorian Darksaber, to Cal Kestis’ damaged hilt), and the cast member behind the counter struck up a conversation in-character to tell me about the products. Just by leaning into the mythology a little, she managed to be both informative and entertaining, and we had a genuinely fun conversation about the differences between Count Dooku’s hilts.
By and large, the scenery does a lot of the heavy lifting—the park looks like a bazaar you might see in the latest Disney+ show, dotted by film-quality recreations of vehicles and window dressings. An animatronic droid outside Ronto Roasters pretends to be roasting the restaurant’s meat over a podracer engine, while loudspeakers nearby broadcast in-universe radio. (This backfires in one regard; unless you can read Aurebesh, signage can be hard to decipher, or even see in the first place.)
Even for those who aren’t Star Wars fans, Galaxy’s Edge offers a demonstrable increase in theme park quality by fully embracing its theme in as many ways as possible. The Wizarding World made some strides in this department, but Disneyland has truly embraced the concept in a lot of groundbreaking yet intuitive ways.
Galaxy’s Edge was totally worth the wait, and I can’t wait to return to Batuu again someday with my younglings. As they say there, “’til the Spire!”