We recently returned from attending the previews of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge this past weekend and are excited to share our experiences with all of you! I took over 350 photos of the new land so I have decided to split up this review into multiple entries.
We will start today with our arrival and first impressions of Batuu, as well as take a ride (or three) on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. We will follow up this with posts on the rest of Black Spire outpost and all it’s shops/dining options, as well as the Resistance Forest which is the future home of the land’s headline attraction. Rise of the Resistance will open December 5, 2019 and is anticipated to be a game changer in the world of theme park attractions!
My first impressions of the land as a whole are overwhelmingly positive. Batuu has caught a lot of flack among fans online, and frankly I don’t get all the complaints at all. The land is breathtaking to look at, has painstaking attention to detail, is filled with great roaming character interactions and is full of great shops / dining options. It also will feature two headliner attractions, the first of which we will dig into thoroughly in this post.
Since I had a 9 am – 1 pm time slot, I treated my arrival much like I would a normal rope drop. I arrived at the park just over an 1 hour prior to my start time and was immediately able to enter Hollywood Studios and make the walk back to the check in area on Grand Avenue.
Even arriving before 8 am, there is still already a big crowd checked in and waiting. During normal (non preview) operating days, you will most likely be held on Hollywood Blvd and then escorted from there to the land by a cast member. I would expect similar crowds to what we see here below, which won’t be as bad as it looks.
Since we had an Oga’s Cantina reservation, we had to check in a second time off to the side here before jumping back into the normal holding line.
At about 10 after 8, the line started to move. It turned out to be a false start however as we were just being moved further up in order to make room for more guests checking in at the back of the line.
We did another false start about 5 minutes later which managed to fool the majority of the crowd again.
The crowd behind me is pretty huge at this point, and this is with a fairly low amount of people being allowed admission into the land. For a regular rope drop, I would expect this to line to stretch much further back. I say this to stress the importance of arriving at least an hour prior to rope drop, or even the Extra Extra Magic Hours which will be offered the first few months of operation. I know arriving at the park at 5 am isn’t all that attractive a proposition, but it will allow you to tour at an incredibly efficient pace!
By 8:20, we are being led back towards Smuggler’s Run. This is pretty similar to rope drops over at Animal Kingdom where you can usually enter the Flight of Passage queue a whole half hour prior to opening and be done with the ride before the park is even officially open.
The Millennium Falcon is located all the way in the rear of the land so you get a pretty good idea of the layout as you are escorted back there.
The line was held up for just a couple minutes once it reached the ride.
We were greeted by some Storm Troopers while we waited. Overall, there was an impressive number of Storm Troopers patrolling all throughout the land at the same time.
At 8:30 on the dot, they started letting guests enter the queue.
The first time seeing the Falcon is nothing short of awe inspiring. I actually got rather emotional at the sight of it. In another case of Disney Twitter making a big deal over nothing, the much maligned fence around it doesn’t really impact things at all.
The posted wait by the time we got up to the ride entrance was 40 minutes. My guess it that it would have been less than half of that from as far up as I was, but we decided to utilized a Test Track rope drop strategy instead.
Smuggler’s Run offers a single rider line. If you get on this single rider line first thing, you will arrive at the load area before any of those on the regular ride due to the longer queue and pre-show areas. Because of this, you will be paired with other single riders in order to fill the ride capacity. So if you enter the single rider line with your group first thing, you will still most certainly be paired with them in the same ride vehicle.
The single rider queue is pretty bland as it takes a direct route right up into the loading area. Essentially, you are sacrificing a really neat queue for a shorter wait time.
There is plenty to see however once you arrive in the Chess Room. This is such an amazingly detailed space, and one incredibly iconic to the original trilogy!
Every now and then, something may break and red light / alarm will go off. Cast members will encourage guests to go press a button on the wall somewhere to fix the problem. It’s a neat touch.
The chess area is going to be in high demand for photos. You unfortunately only get a couple minutes in this room as the ride system does an efficient job of moving guests through quickly.
Everyone wants to take a photo here and there just isn’t enough time for everyone to do so.
Since we were in the very first group to arrive thanks to single rider, I was at least able to get some shots of the area clear of people with relative ease.
The level of detail in here is just insane. It only gets cooler once you head through the doors and are staring into the cockpit of the iconic spacecraft!
You are assigned a role just before entering the Chess Room via color coded cards. You are then lined up by role once your color is called. The front 2 seats are pilots, the middle 2 gunners, and 2 engineers fill in the back row.
For my first ride, I was assigned the gunner position. This turned out to be the least fun role as you do not have any ability to aim your weapon. You pretty much just have to hope your pilots fly you in the correct position to hit things.
Also, to fire the gun you just press a recessed button on the wall to the side of you which doesn’t feel much like firing an actual weapon. This is a good position for those who don’t want to have much responsibility as you can literally just hold down the button and watch the screen in front of you.
Depending on how your team performs on the mission, the hallway as you exit may change. If you crash a lot and cause a lot of damage to the ship, flashing red lights will great you as you exit. I guess we did a good job since we were green all the way!
You exit the ride just off to the right of where you entered. In a nice change of pace, you do not exit via a gift shop.
Even with the gunner role being my least favorite, I still enjoyed the ride quite a bit. The team aspect is fun and its just amazing being inside the Falcon’s cockpit. The ride itself is probably more good, rather than great, but the overall experience is heightened by all the pre-ride elements. We will dig more into that in just a bit once we ride via the standard queue, but for now lets ride again via single rider and check out the engineer role.
I was actually assigned gunner again my second go around, but a fellow rider was nice enough to switch with me. The engineer seems to get a bad rap on Dis Twitter but I actually enjoyed it considerably more than the gunner role.
Being seated in the back gives you the best overall view of the action in the cockpit. As your pilots cause damage to the ship, it’s your job to fix there mistakes. This is mostly done by just pushing various buttons as the light up but it still felt satisfying to me. Unlike Mission Space, the buttons you press actually do have an impact on the outcome of the mission and the role made me feel important to the team.
I was a little worried as we boarded for this run as both of our pilots were fairly young children. This is likely to be a common occurrence as family’s of 4 with kids are most likely to have the parents letting the kids “drive”. Fortunately, with all those video games out there these days, these kids weren’t half bad. They actually out performed the adult drivers we had on our initial ride through!
At the end of the ride, each role is shown how well they performed, and you are “paid out” a certain amount of credits based on how many containers of coaxium you captured, minus how much damage you did the ship.
In reality, these credits mean nothing. Its a little confusing since real money is referred to as credits throughout the land as well.
For our final ride though, we are going to ride via the standard standby queue. Not only were we eager to see the queue itself, but you are also pretty much guaranteed not to get the pilot role when riding via single rider.
The queue is nothing short of wonderful. You first circle around the back side of the Falcon outside, before entering the building off to the far right of the ship.
The posted wait was still 40 minutes, however we were inside the building in just a couple. It was only about a 20 minute wait from there to get to the pre-show area.
Much like Flight of Passage over in Pandora, or the Potter rides at Universal, there are tons of fun details and such to keep you entertained while you wait.
Also, since the ride will open without fastpass, you move along at a fairly steady pace.
If you look closely, you can see there has been a hole blown in the bottom of this ship.
As you reach the upper level, you will get some more great views of the Falcon.
This culminates with a simply awesome view of the top side of the ship.
Before entering the pre-show room to meet Hondo, you will be split into 2 different sides.
Hondo is fairly unknown Star Wars character who is most known as being from the Clone Wars animated TV series. I didn’t know much about him going in but he is entertaining here and his animatronic is top notch!
This is an effective pre-show that does a great job of setting up the story line for the ride. Chewbacca will make an appearance via screen too for anyone looking for some old school characters thrown in.
After meeting Hondo, you are ushered to a jetway, not unlike one you would use to board a standard commercial airplane. It is here that you can request the role of pilot if you wish. Cast members were happy to oblige and had no issues filling the other roles with folks just a bit further back in line.
Being a pilot is definitely the most fun assignment. It’s a little weird only controlling half of the ships directions (one pilot controls left / right, the other up / down), but it was still quite engaging.
It was incredibly satisfying pulling the lever to jump to light speed and having the ship respond instantly to your command.
By about half way through our preview time slot, the wait for Smuggler’s Run was down to just 10 minutes. I wouldn’t expect this during regular operating days when it open, however I wouldn’t expect many nightmare wait times either. Between high capacity and no fastpass offered (initially anyway), I would expect waits to hover between 30 and 90 minutes most days. Waits will also likely be much less during the first hour of Extra Extra Magic Hours in September and October.
Overall, if you are looking for the more responsibility during your ride, I’d definitely recommend requesting the pilot role. If you are more interested in just riding along and not having to do too much, the other roles may be more to your liking. For me, no matter which role I was in I still enjoyed the attraction quite a bit. I think the attraction is a solid D Ticket, with all the pre-show elements heightening the overall experience to E-Ticket levels. The fact that this was designed all along to be the secondary attraction of the land makes me have tremendous hopes for Rise of the Resistance when it opens later this year!