- The second iteration of Disney's expansive and immersive new theme park land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, opened on Thursday in Orlando, Florida.
- The 14-acre expansion to the Hollywood Studios park has a similar layout to the one that opened in Anaheim, California in May, save for a few small details.
"Bright suns, traveler."
As you wander through the winding streets of Batuu, a remote outpost on the edge of the galaxy, you'll be greeted with this popular saying. The Batuuans, the inhabitants of this planet, are eager to meet new travelers and, of course, eager to entice them to spend some credits, the money of the realm, in their shops.
The second iteration of Disney's expansive and immersive new theme park land, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, opened on Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The 14-acre expansion to the Hollywood Studios park has a similar layout to the one that opened in Anaheim, California in May, save for a few small details.
Whether you plan on visiting Batuu in California or Florida, you're going to need a plan to make the most of your trip to a galaxy far, far away.
Even before you enter the park, if you want to experience Oga's Cantina or Savi's Workshop, you'll want to make reservations online. Those two experiences are extremely popular with guests and, therefore, do not often accept walk-ins. Reservations can be made through the app or website for each park and a deposit will be required.
For Oga's, a fee of $10 per person must be placed when you book your reservation. However, Disney will only charge you if you do not check in for your time slot. Parkgoers will have 45 minutes in the cantina and at least one person in the group must be over age 14.
At Savi's Workshop, where fans build custom lightsabers, the deposit is $199.99, or the full cost of the experience. Like Oga's, the deposit at Savi's will be forfeited if you do not show up.
"Reservations are nontransferable and may not be sold or bartered," the company posted on its website. So, be prepared to show your reservation confirmation, a photo ID and the credit card you used to book the experience. Disney wants to prevent people from making reservations and then reselling them to other guests.
There are three suns that light up the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, or so the locals will tell you if you complain that it's a little too hot. So, lather up with sunscreen and drink lots of water during your visit.
There are several ways to enter Batuu at both parks, but regardless of which you choose, your experience will be similar. The park was designed so that visitors wouldn't be able to see everything at first glance.
While some areas of Disney parks like Main Street or the Hollywood section at California Adventure have an open layout where you can see all the shops, shows and rides laid out in one space, Batuu is quite different.
"The whole village is laid out so you can never see the whole place at one time," Scott Trowbridge, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, said during a panel at Disney's D23 Expo last week. "It's intended to symbolize your role as a curious traveler and intended to invite moments of surprise and unexpected details."
The design is meant to promote exploration and build a cinematic narrative, Trowbridge said. There's a wide establishing shot when you first enter this area of the park where you can see all the spires and ships on top of the buildings. Then, as you weave through the park, you get close ups of Kylo Ren's transport ship and, of course, the iconic Millennium Falcon.
This is a popular area for selfies and photos. Near the base of the Falcon, Disney cast members are available to take photos. However, if you'd just like to snap a quick picture on your phone, there are plenty of spots to do so. Head up towards Docking Bay 7, near the railing of the lookout, and you'll get a wider shot of the Falcon and of the spires above.
Be on the lookout in this area for stormtroopers and their boss, Kylo Ren. The troopers like to survey the area looking for resistance members and will often stop guests to interrogate them. Also, it's a great time to nab a photo or video.
You may want to get in line for the Millennium Falcon ride early if you're one of the first guests to adventure into Batuu. In California, the wait to ride fluctuated between 35 and 55 minutes, however during the opening in Florida, the wait time was significantly higher. Of course, that was opening day. So, the ride times will likely change over time.
Smuggler's Run takes visitors on a mission to retrieve supplies for Hondo Ohnaka, an opportunist pirate who sometimes works with the resistance. Guests will work together to pilot Han Solo's ship — yes, you get to flick switches and everything — to determine if they return to port unscathed or with a few dents in the hull.
There are six seats in the cockpit — two pilots, two gunners and two engineers. Each position has a different job during the mission from shooting down enemy ships to hitting the jump to lightspeed.
For those that don't mind being split from their friends and family or are traveling solo, the single riders line is one way to get onto the Falcon quickly. However, during the dozen or so trips I took through this line, I was never placed as a pilot. You'll likely be assigned the gunner or engineer position. So, if you are intent on getting your hands on the steering wheel, you'll want to wait in the regular line.
Another great spot for a photo op is in the waiting room for the ride. Once you are assigned your position in the cockpit, the cast members will lead you to the interior of the Falcon. You'll recognize the space as where Luke practiced using a lightsaber against a training droid.
The second ride, Rise of the Resistance, is due to open in December in Florida and in January in California.
Although media guests were not taken through the whole ride, the walkthrough provided was jaw dropping. As the group stepped out of the transport ship after being captured by the First Order, there was an audible gasp. More than 30 stormtroopers were waiting in a massive hanger, all at attention.
Even without functioning animatronics or swelling music, the scene was awe-inspiring. Photography inside the space was prohibited, with media asked to bag their phones and video equipment before entering the space. Disney is keen to keep most of the surprises and secrets of this ride under wraps until fans can experience it themselves.
In the marketplace, Star Wars fans can pick up a number of collectibles, costume items and snacks. From T-shirts and pins to toys and statuettes there are thousands of new pieces of Star Wars-themed merchandise to choose from and it's all exclusive to these parks.
The Transportation Security Administration recently revised its ban on the thermal detonator-shaped Coke bottles and these items can now be brought in a carry-on or placed in checked baggage. Lightsabers and droids are also cleared for airport travel.
Additionally, certain costume items, like robes, are not permitted in the park. The no-costume policy has been a long-standing rule at Disney parks. Employees at Disneyland and Disney World often dress in costume, either at retail locations or for meet-and-greets with fans, and the company doesn't want guests to be confused for employees.
The last thing the company wants is for someone to have a bad experience with a non-Disney employee and blame it on the park staff. It's also for safety. Disney doesn't want a young child to mistake a guest for a vetted staff member.
Cast members in California told CNBC that items like Sabaac cards, Lothcat dolls and First Order flags were sold out and it wasn't clear when the items would be back on shelves at the Black Spire Outpost. Kyber crysals and certain droid parts were also among items that were hard to find in the park. A bartender at Oga's said the cantina has been sold out of its Rancor Teeth beer flights since the second week after opening and it hadn't been restocked since.
Bob Chapek, chairman of parks, experiences and products at Disney, said that Orlando's Galaxy's Edge is fully stocked and ready for guests to arrive.
If you've scored a reservation at the popular Savi's Workshop to make your own lightsaber, you'll be able to choose from four different hilt styles and four different colored kyber crystals — blue, green, violet and red. However, yellow and white crystals can be purchased at Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities.
The Droid Depot doesn't have the same reservation system, but can get busy. Here you can choose between building an R unit droid and a BB unit droid. You pick the parts off the conveyor belt and piece them together with the help of some expert engineers.
The Droid Depot is also where fans will find R2-D2. He's stationed near the registers and often beeps and boops around the shop to meet guests.
It's usually a good idea to visit park restaurants outside of traditional eating hours. You can skip the lunchtime rush at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo and satiate yourself with Kat Saka's Kettle popcorn and a glass of blue or green milk from the Milk Stand.
When you ask cast members and guests which colored milk is better, you'll get a variety of answers. However, it seems that people are either in favor of one or the other, never both. You'll have to take a sip to determine which one is more suited to your palate. I'm personally a big fan of the green milk.
At Docking Bay 7, guests can sample the Braised Shaak Roast (beef with pasta) or the Felucian Garden Spread (vegan meatballs with hummus).
Ronto Roasters is home to the famed Ronto Wrap. It's a grilled sausage and roasted pork wrap with a spicy slaw. Make sure you have a drink if you decide to bite into this one, it's got a kick. You can wash it down with a glass of Phattro from the Docking Bay. It's a play on a half lemonade, half iced tea drink and features a dash of pear juice.
Arguably, the most magical time on Batuu is when the suns go down. The purple-pink sky casts a colorful shadow on the spires and the whole outpost is transformed.
Warm yellow lights glow along the edges of the streets and in the marketplace. The air begins to cool and you can really hear all of the sounds the Imagineering team has integrated into the space.
The sound engineers created nearly 3,000 unique musical notes and sounds for Batuu, from gurgling pots of blue milk to a screaming TIE Fighter doing a flyby over the planet.
As you wander the planet, keep an ear out. You may hear a Wookie, some alien species in the grass or the exotic, pulsing club music coming from the cantina. All of these noises were carefully curated for Batuu.
Then, once the land is dark, guests are treated to a fireworks show.
The fireworks break right over the spires near the Millennium Falcon. Throughout the show, you can hear the buzz of ships and the Falcon will spit out engine exhaust.
As you exit the park, you'll hear the traditional Batuuan good-bye, "Til the Spires."