galaxy's edge batuu falcon wide
Disney, geek life

Let’s go to Batuu: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland is OPEN!

galaxy's edge batuu falcon wide

The wait is OVER. Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, aka Black Spire Outpost in Batuu, is OPEN! I got to go with a few friends on Monday, so I’m going to tell you all about it– which I know other blogs have done, but I feel like some of you might enjoy a first hand account of this. So here we go.

(Note to Jared*: STOP. DO NOT PROCEED. THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.)

*who has asked to not hear or see anything about it to maintain the surprise when he gets to go. This also applies to anyone who wants to go experience it without seeing anything beforehand. 

Are we good? Good.

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A photo-op at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland, where we checked in for our reservation.

Galaxy’s Edge is a fully immersive, brand new world at Disneyland (and, soon to be, at Walt Disney World in Orlando), set in a place called Batuu, on the outer rim of a galaxy far, far away. Batuu itself is not from any of the films, tv shows, or books, but is instead a fully created-for-the-parks space, in order to give it a distinct feel. The entire cast is in character, and everything about it feels like you’re stepping into a village somewhere in the Star Wars universe. What helps is that they’ve gone to such a deep level that you won’t even find “Star Wars” branded merch inside the area– because, after all, the characters IN Star Wars don’t know what “Star Wars” is! (Don’t worry, you can still get ALL the Star Wars branded merch over in Tomorrowland!)

There are three entrances to the new “land”– one in Critter Country, behind the Hungry Bear restaurant (no longer a dead end!), and two in Frontierland. For the reservation slots through June 23, guests are asked to enter via Critter Country. Though they ask you not to queue up before your time slot, people of course do. It starts to get pressed around twenty minutes before the official entry time.

(Important to note– if you’ve got a reservation, the first and last hour are the most crowded because that’s when you overlap with the previous and next group of people. If you are reading this after June 23, 2019….this is irrelevant haha.)

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A Resistance ship sitting at the edge of the outpost.

Entering through Critter Country, you walk a long-ish (for Disneyland) path through the trees, and the immersion begins immediately from the lampposts to the animal tracks in the sidewalk. The walk opens up and you find yourself at a small resistance outpost, complete with a ship (that looks a lot like Poe’s) and kiosks selling handy things like Resistance MREs and other bits.

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First look at the edge of Black Spire, over the crowd.

From there, you go around a corner and the main settlement of Black Spire Outpost comes into view. From that direction, we were facing the marketplace to the left, and the path leading around to the cantina line to the right (I’ll get back to that).

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Chatting with Chewie.

This area is where we also bumped into Rey and Chewbacca, who were hanging about and, I think, avoiding Kylo Ren….

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The First Order has taken over this side of the village.

…because when you walked around the marketplace and past the droid factory, suddenly you’re in the middle of a First Order encampment. (This is where the other two entrances into the land are, as well– and for the reservation previews, are the best exits to avoid the incoming crowds.)

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Kylo Ren’s ship.

Kylo’s ship is parked there (complete with PhotoPass photographers!) and he and the Troopers come out every so often to check the crowd for members of the Resistance.

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If you can slip past Kylo and continue your loop, you’ll pass Oga’s Cantina on you right, the path back toward the lightsaber making area on the left, and the high-end collectibles shop.

galaxy's edge batuu falcon

Eventually another wide section opens up and there you are, face to face with the Millennium Falcon in all of her glory.

This large plaza is excellent for taking photos (and there are more PhotoPass people here!) but is also the entrance to Smuggler’s Run, the new RIDE. This ride puts you in the cockpit of the Falcon as a crew of 6– 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers– with the task of recovering some, um, cargo.

galaxy's edge batuu inside smuggler's run
Walking behind the Falcon while in line for Smuggler’s Run.

ABOUT THE SMUGGLER’S RUN RIDE: Because I am a person who doesn’t like certain kinds of rides and wants to know EXACTLY what I’m getting into, here’s the important stuff! First, this is a flight-simulator ride, kind of akin to Star Tours or perhaps Flight of Passage, but WITHOUT the 3D glasses, though the view port IS rendered in 3D so you may still have the effect. This ride DOES move around a lot and, if you are prone to motion sickness, could bring on a bout of icky feelings. There are SHARP and SUDDEN movements, but NO DROPS. (That’s an important thing to know for yours truly.) Finally, if you are prone to issues with any of these types of things, I’d recommend NOT being the Pilot– Pilots have the most screen-heavy roles. But if you sit toward the back as an engineer, you can concentrate on pushing buttons and not have to look at the screen.

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Hanging out on the Millennium Falcon, nbd.

There are fantastic Falcon photo ops both while waiting for your turn and directly after, and it feels like you’re really walking around the ship.

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Walking around, this feels like the Disney answer to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The detailing in the shops is not to be missed. Even if you aren’t buying anything, the shopping experience reaches Wizarding World levels of detail.

galaxy's edge batuu collector's shop

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is easily where you can spend the most money, if you aren’t building a droid or lightsaber.

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Ithorian shopkeeper Dok-Ondar.

There are shopkeepers, creatures in habitats, familiar and not-so-familiar bits from all over the galaxy… Everywhere you look, there’s something else to see.

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Droids lined up outside of the Depot.

In the Droid Depot, feet wheel overhead and the walls are lined with custom upgrades for your creation, including personality chips to change the sounds and behaviors, and more.

galaxy's edge batuu milk

So about the blue and green milk. This is the Galaxy’s Edge equivalent to butterbeer at Wizarding World. I’m thankful before I went that others had recommended mixing the two together because individually the flavors are a bit strong, but once they are stirred and have melted a tiny bit, it was a nice cool drink in the heat of the day. Also– they are VEGAN so my non-dairy self could enjoy the whole cup!

galaxy's edge batuu marketplace
A wide-angle view of the marketplace “roof”

The marketplace feels like its own space entirely, which is very cool, and is lined with stalls selling individual merchandise, including a toy store (with wooden and cloth toys that any youngling or youngling at heart will love), clothing, snacks (you’ll find the popcorn here–I’d describe the flavor as “spicy kettle corn”), and even Jedi robes. There was even an adoptable creature shop that gave my no-buy year a serious challenge.

galaxy's edge batuu cargo bay
There are datapad scan codes on all of these bins of cargo.

Finally, if you have the “Play Disney” app on your phone (aka your “datapad”), you can use it to scan things all over Batuu, solving puzzles and have the shipping labels and more translated, further pulling you into the experience.

galaxy's edge batuu doorway
Hanging out, drinking a coke imported from…somewhere?

(I’m sure you can see what I mean about the Wizarding World similarities, if you’ve been there. But I don’t want to imply that any of this is a copy. Merely that much of what works in terms of immersion at WW is also at play here, because it’s good modern theme park design!)

Before I wrap this up, I can’t leave out Oga’s Cantina. The line for the cantina waitlist was actually our first stop upon arriving at Galaxy’s Edge, and it still took nearly 3 hours for our names to get called. (The line for the waitlist only took about twenty minutes. Then they texted when it was our turn.) You are seated in any available chairs (even in mixed groups) and if you are at a table, there is a 45 minute time limit. There is also a 2 drink/hour limit, and NO you cannot take them out of the cantina. Given that this is the FIRST place in the original Disneyland Park (Club 33 aside) to serve alcohol, I am not surprised at ALL at the level of care and restriction.

galaxy's edge batuu ogas cantina alcove

BUT. If you make it inside, it is VERY worth the effort! We got in about an hour before the end of our time, so we largely missed the press of the next wave of guests. The bar is set up in a horseshoe with the bartenders in the center, and alcoves along the walls. The drinks have a lot of variety, and the Batuu Bits were a nice snack mix of random things that paired well with the cocktails.

NOTE: There are 2 cocktails and 1 beer flight that come in collectible vessels, and you CANNOT order them except as part of the collectible. The “Yub Nub” is a rum drink in an Endor-themed tiki cup. The “Cliff Dweller” is a non-alcoholic mocktail in a PORG-themed tiki cup. The “Rancor Beer Flight” is served in a souvenir board with the four samples in “teeth”, all of which you also keep. I tried the Yub Nub and it was fantastic (but strong– it’s all you’ll need). (You can view the whole menu here.)

galaxy's edge batuu chatting by speeders
Chatting with friends by the speeder docking area.

There you have it, my very long walk-through of my 4 hours at Galaxy’s Edge. If you are a Star Wars fan, this is a thing you are going to LOVE. It’s everything I wanted and now I just want to go hang out there all the time. But…y’know…after the crowds calm down. Ha.

Have you been to Batuu? Are you planning to go this year?? 

Disney, Travel

SoCal, January 2016

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Before I had a chance to write about last January’s trip to Southern California, I made another trip out there! Last Tuesday I flew back to Chicago with sand on my toes and tan lines on my shoulders, after a glorious week on the west coast.

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It was what I used to consider “chilly” out most of the time, with highs in the mid-70s (23-24 C) and sunny… so I went to the beach! The locals thought I was ridiculous, but compared to the -5 degrees it had been just days before in Chicago, 75 felt amazing. We went to Coronado and hung out in front of the Del (Hotel del Coronado) on the golden shore for an entire day. I can’t even describe what it was like to not only not be wearing two layers of fleece, but to be in a bathing suit!

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We stopped by one of our favorite local taco places, and even though they’d redecorated, they still had really good food. I got fish tacos at another place, and just generally ate a lot of stuff in tortillas.

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Not only did I get to have amazing fish tacos and other local favorite foods, I got to spend a day at Disneyland with my dear friend, sans children! We’ve never been able to go together and do rides (or avoid princess meet and greets), so it was really a blast. And yes, it was actually chilly that day. Hence the sweaters.

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The first stop? Star Wars Launch Bay, which is where the old “Home of Tomorrow” exhibit used to be. And I got to hug Chewie! Whoo!

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Here’s a thing I’d never done before: we stood in the exact middle of Disneyland! It’s marked with a simple metal tack, right at the back of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and no-one else knew why we were standing there, taking photos of a spot on the ground. Ha.

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I even rode the carousel and took my customary carouselfie. Don’t judge. You think it’s cute. Notice how the horse and I have the same expression. That’s the trick: to find a horse with a really good facial expression. One day I’ll have enough of these to make a full gallery. You’re welcome, world.

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Anyway, I was stoked to get to see the castle decorated for the park’s 60th anniversary and all of the Diamond Celebration stuff, including the new parade called Paint the Night! (Click here if you want to watch the full parade. It’s less than 14 minutes and beautiful.) I also finally got the Disneyland “You Are Here” Starbucks cup! It was sold out every time I tried to get it before we moved away from California, but now it lives happily in my cabinet (along with the Diamond Celebration one..).

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I really can’t get enough beach time. Ever.

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I’ve barely skimmed the surface of what was an amazing week, but really what made it so great was spending time with some people I love. Sunshine and warm weather and beaches didn’t hurt. I’m thinking this end-of-January thing might be becoming tradition, and I’m not in the least bit sad about it.

Travel

The 2015 Travelogue

No, that title isn’t a typo. I realized today that in the last year I’ve probably flown more than in the previous three years combined, and that I’ve already got plane tickets (or plans to acquire them) lined up for a good chunk of this year, too. I also realized I’ve been woefully neglectful in recording my adventures. So here’s the plan: this year we’re going on adventures together, but before I take off again in a couple of weeks I’m going to try and catch up on some of the ones I had last year. It’ll take some piecing together for me (and going through photos I’m extremely behind on editing) but hopefully I’ll be caught up again before summer.

Here’s a small preview of The 2015 Travelogue!

January: Southern California

Selfie with Mickey

April: Texas wildflowers

Texas longhorn sitting in bluebonnets

May: Madison, Wisconsin

Capitol Building, Madison, Wisconsin

July: London and surrounding English environs

Tower Bridge, London, England

September: Minnesota

Minnesota Renaissance Festival 2015

September-October: New England autumn things

New Hampshire scarecrow

October: Springfield, IL

Route 66, Springfield, Illinois

December: North Carolina wedding

Bridesmaids

Plus bonus National Parking content!

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, national parking

So there’s a small look at the places I’ve gone in the last year. Some of them I was able to drive to, some of them needed plane tickets. Most of these snaps are from my phone, but I’ve got some fun stuff that I’m pulling off of my camera, too. Maybe I can get at least a post or two about each place I’ve been, but with other journeys approaching, there may be a lot of overlap. I’ll do my best to keep it straight. Until next time!