This is my family and I after our first of many Smuggling Runs!
Here’s the attached Instagram- “So I’m here! @starwarsgalaxysedge is an immersive, one of a kind themed experience that’s a love letter to #starwarsfans young & old! My speed walking training paid off as we dusted the majority of the crowd at rope drop and had nearly zero wait time (go straight down Main Street to Walt Disney statue, then sharp left to Frontierland, hug the water, always going left until you see #blackspireoutpost) the wait for #milleniumfalconsmugglersrun when we left was well over and hour. It would STILL be worth it! #starsend 👍🏿you nailed it #Disneyland”
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run delivered!
Being a Star Wars Geek, I also appreciate the small details.
Coca-Cola and Disney designed Galactic Bottles for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that stay true to the Star Wars aesthetic with a rounded look, resealable caps and brand names printed on scuffed, rusted labels in Aurebesh, the written galactic standard font used throughout the film trilogies.
There are charming wooden dolls of stormtroopers, something reminiscent of what a child might make, like Jyn Erso’s little trooper, reasonably priced at $20. And patches & pins galore!
I purchased a bunch to customize a TIE Echelon Pilots Jacket and there are very accurate cosplay items for Star Wars Celebration attendees or hardcore fans! You can buy anything from a 20 credit imperial Ident card to a 6,000 credit, full set of First Order Stormtrooper Armor!
But my (and Disney’s) primary concern is this.-
Where is the disconnect if you’ve got 100 + minute waits at the Matterhorn, a ride as old as Disneyland Park itself, and half that at “Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run” opening season?
Question: What are franchises and fandoms fueled on?
Something intangible, yet more powerful than coaxium (I speak Fanboy)
Nostalgia is the foundation of why we love Disney and Star Wars.
People still line up, because we’ve been lining up since we were children. Fond, indelible memories of family vacations, with perhaps lost loved ones.
Your decedents (See Decedents 3 now on Disney. I have a 10 yr old girl & 12 year old boy they both love it. See, I told you I’m rooting for them.) children will do the same. Don’t forget where this stuff comes from.
Galaxy’s Edge just opened, and I’m sure the imaginaneers and the suits are combing thorough the data to glean everything they can to improve the experience, and by correlation, improve profits.
But coming from a place of love, and wanting them to be as successful as possible in this new endeavor, I’m humbly offering this constructive criticism.
“Not enough life on this rock to fill a space cruiser.”
The entire world felt, as crowded as it was, strangely underpopulated and STAR WARS “ish”, but somehow not as satisfying as I thought it would be.
My wife, who is a fan of the original trilogy, made a brilliant observation.
“When you first arrive, you should be hearing John Willams score, you should be seeing Obi Wans dwelling on Tatooine, there should be Sandpeople & Jawas running around, Stormtrooper patrols questioning people at random.
I wanted Mos Eisley and got what exactly?
Who is this for?
check the link below for a clip of me ordering the “T-16 Skyhopper” (great service, bad drink)
With all the First Order symbolism (red spheres no one really recognized) and only the hint of First Order Occupation, we saw a few patrols and a show featuring Kylo Ren chewing out a commander in front of an imposing TIE ECHELON fighter/Transport.
This has the effect of leaving original trilogy fans out in the cold.
Now, I get that Disney is currently retconning a lot of the Star Wars mythology to fit within their new cannon. However, the folks who are immersed in the nostalgia, and the ones old enough and with enough disposable income to afford $200 lightsabers, aren’t the younglings weened on “The Clone Wars” Animated series, nor “The Force Awakens” Arc.
Here’s an example of what my wife and I were looking for.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. Located in Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is a live stage show that brings beloved moments from Star Wars to life.All Ages
Lavish production encompassing the ENTIRE Star Wars saga, all three trilogies. Plus, the excellent “March of the First Order”, an impressively chilling display of an occupation army taking over.
Entertainment Hollywood Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Captain Phasma lead a Platoon sized (50 troopers) detachment of First Order stormtroopers up Hollywood Boulevard. A garrison town should be garrisoned. Right? Here’s the link from the Disneyworld website https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/enough /hollywood-studios/march-of-the-first-order/
“March of the First Order will hold its final performance on July 6, 2019. The First Order will be redeploying their troops to patrol Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when the new land opens on August 29, 2019.”
Understandably, Disneyland is not Disneyworld. But, at Disneyland Paris they managed to organize a “March of the First Order”. Why not replicate that at your flagship venue during the opening of a billion dollar expansion?
Post Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm and Star Wars, there is a new danger of over-saturation. What originally built this fandom was anticipation for the next chapter of the story. Every few years, you got a new Star Wars Movie with the appropriate build-up. The blitz of new merch, then the cooldown as collectors horse traded between films.
What drives value for collectibles? Or franchises for that matter?
The same thing, ironically, that drives the price (and risk) smuggling contraband
You can’t convince me to pay top dollar if I can get this thing anywhere.
They are betting the bottom doesn’t fall out of the franchise. But ironically, Disney holds the shovel.
Lackluster earnings of “Solo” and fan reaction to some of Kathleen Kennedy’s comments and Rian Johnson forced off social media for “The Last Jedi”, should sober Disney executives. Even “Star Wars” isn’t a license to print money. Which is part of the reason they are giving the franchise a rest, at least feature film wise.
In my humble opinion, as a long time Star Wars fan, Galaxy’s Edge needs more balance between promoting new, Star Wars post-Disney acquisition properties and serving the original trilogy fans, if they wish to recapture that nostalgic lighting in a bottle.
Disney is in the nostalgia business after all.
Another big issue is the second marquee ride “Rise of the Resistance” is currently not opened, so it’s fair to say, not a whole lot to do interactively, if you aren’t plunking down hundreds of credits for Build-A-Droids or fancy Lightsabers.
Another noticeable omission, you’d think there’d be more alien species in a frontier outpost on the fringes of the galaxy. I’m hoping they make this a richer experience for non diehards or Disney families new to the franchise.
“How you get so big eating food of this kind?”
Disney does themed worlds like no other company. They invented it after all. Themed fast-casual and quick-service restaurants Disney can do well, which is why Galaxy’s Edge’s menu offerings were so puzzling to me.
Here’s a favorite Disney expansion of mine that is quite similar to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for comparison.
Like Galaxy’s Edge, Pandora – The World of AVATAR, is a key part of the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The expansion features awe-inspiring floating mountains, a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants as well as an amazing attraction called AVATAR Flight of Passage.
This e-ticket attraction allows guests to experience what it’s like to fly with banshees. Pandora, did a good job of replicating the experience of being on Pandora, it’s cornerstone being the excellent marquee ride AVATAR – Flight of Passage, still the high water mark for interactive entertainment as far as I’m concerned.
Like Galaxy’s Edge, Pandora also features film artifacts, the Mitsubishi MK-6 Amplified Mobility Platform (or “AMP” suit) mech, and Satu’li Canteen is Pandora – World of Avatar’s counter service restaurant. The Satu’li Canteen: debuted Mobile Order, an option to order and pay for meals on-the-go with the My Disney Experience app.
Unlike the fun, exotic yet tasty food at Pandora and Satu’li‘s Canteen, The menus at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo and Oga’s Cantina leave much to be desired.
Food can be exotic looking, or not, for esthetics sake, but bottom line, A restaurant serving the public needs to offer tasty food & drinks. Particularly at Disney prices.
The drinks at Oga’s Cantina are, I’ll quote my wife, “awful bridesmaids cocktails”. The snacks at Cargo Bay 7? I wish got “spaced”. You can just make chicken nuggets and always call them “Rancor Nuggets”, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The food at Galaxy’s Edge was simply not up to par. Certainly not as appealing as was World of Pandora’s. Which is of note, gastronomically, Disney has rarely let me down.
Example, I had a magnificent meal within Disneyland Resort at Blue Bayou, the Cajun-American themed restaurant housed as part of Pirates of the Caribbean.
This is a very fun, themed restaurant. It is dark with twinkle lights, on a street/river side facade. You can watch the boats from the Pirates of the Caribbean go by and the food is rich and authentic.
I had the BEST arroz con frijoles I’ve had my entire trip to Los Angeles at Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante, a New Mexican Frontierland-themed restaurant across from Big Thunder Rail Road.
I know for a fact Disney Resorts can come up with themed meals that are also very tasty. So what happened with the Galaxy’s End menu?
My wife, (really Disney, you need her as a consultant) made the observation that Disney should open a sit down, table service restaurant within Galaxy’s Edge.
Understandably, you want to maintain a family atmosphere while absorbing the Star Wars experience, which is why it’s reservations only and a two drink limit at Oga’s.
Ok, so why not make Oga’s Cantina a “waiting room” where you can have a couple of drinks and a 45 minute wait is already baked in, then move on to a themed restaurant along the lines of a “Canto Bight” high rollers suite?
Plus, I saw irate travelers ahead of me wait patiently in line only to be turned away at the door.
That can’t be good for business.
Oga’s Cantina really should carve out room for some walk ups, who wants a velvet rope on vacation in a place you’ve already dropped a bundle on?
Again, Disney Resorts are quite good at Table service restaurants. Example: Be Our Guest in Walt Disney World.
My wife is a huge fan of Be Our Guest!
Be Our Guest Restaurant is a quick service and table service restaurant in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort. The restaurant has the theme and appearance of the Beast’s Castle from Disney’s 1991 animated film Beauty and the Beast. The name of the restaurant is a reference to “Be Our Guest“, one of the classic songs from that film.
A decent, table service restaurant in Galaxy’s Edge after Oga’s addresses legitimate concerns surrounding excessive drinking. A VASTLY improved dining experience. And, if Disney can pull off a “Hall of Presidents” surely we can get some alien diversity in a huge themed dining room.
Now Oga’s Cantina is a film-level recreation of a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” that Mos Esleys Cantina was. But, outside of you and your fellow “travelers” castmembers dressed in Star Wars cosplay, and a charming droid DJ, that’s it.
No aliens, off-duty troopers, miners, rabble-rousers, mouse droids (which are for sale btw) not even the random Astromech serving drinks. Which goes back to my original point about Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge.
Oga’s Cantina is crowded, yet empty.
If we’re all supposedly smugglers, this place should feel more like a smugglers den and less like a Jamba Juice.
Sure I wanted to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and I did (poorly) many times, but I also wanted to interact with and engage in an immersive living experience with the menagerie of creatures I’ve dreamed of meeting as a kid.
And in this regard, Galaxy’s Edge so far, feels like a missed opportunity.
The delineation between cast members and the general public is important. Adults are understandably limited in costuming options at Disney resorts for safety.
But if I can’t dress up. And Disney won’t give me some Wookiees tending bar or a smattering of Mandalorians playing Sabbacc or a Toydarian hawker flapping around trying to haggle over some space chatchki?
What am I doing here?
I can order Star Wars merch from Amazon at a fraction of the cost.
“I am a one with the force, the force is with me”
Disney Resorts are in the hospitality business.
Plan and simple, if your tag line is “The Happiest Place On Earth” your customer service needs to be beyond reproach.
And, for the most part, the cast members do a great job, particularly at Club-Level.
But here’s where they need to rethink a few things.
Charging $199 for missing your lightsaber building appointment?
I get there should be some fee. But charging full price over an activity that at one time cost 1/4 of that price? (Hello bins of plastic parts at the “Path of the Jedi” gift store) Seems a bit excessive.
We all know unforeseen things happen. Particularly traveling with young children. Plus you’re only allowed one “guest” to accompany the saber creator.
So the rest of your party better like blue milk.
Not sure what the cancellation policy is, but if you’ve got limited slots then open more kiosks, don’t punish a family with kids for changing plans.
Not to mention, if you’ve got all these padawans running around swinging new lightsabers, why are there no Jedi instructors?
Again, we’ve all seen quite lavish Jedi themed productions at other Disney Venues. Why not here within an entire Star Wars-themed land?
Seems to me, you could have “hidden” dojos, where one can learn basic lightsaber combat from underground force users, not Jedi, but adepts at saber combat, again, the missing interactivity, giving an authentic live experience that “feels” like Star Wars, without much-added overhead.
A free phone app, designed by Galaxy’s Edge, with a map & list of simple activities one could accomplish as a “Resistance Operative” ducking First Order Patrols or even creating “First Order Sympathizers” to oppose the resistance families?
That could really flesh out the experience as you await your next smuggling run!
Unappetizing food & harsh policies aren’t what I associate with Disney theme parks and doesn’t encourage return customers nor generate great word of mouth. But encouraging families to work together as a “resistance cell”. Continuing to populate the world with aliens and creating spaces where “travelers” can feel a part of the experience will.
The margins are set, Disney just needs to fill in the experience.
Star Wars:Galaxy’s Edge is a lovely, painstaking tribute to the Star Wars franchise Disney cast members obviously love as much as we all do.
I enjoyed Galaxy’s Edge for many of the reasons you’ve already read about, and that’s easy to write about and hear.
However, I’m a Disney Theme Park and Star Wars fan my entire life.
I’ve got skin in this game.
I think the points I make above are VITAL for Disney to not only honor a beloved franchise, but for these resorts to remain profitable within a crowded marketplace.
Images courtesy of the author.