Since first being announced in 2015, there has been a slow but steady trickle of details regarding the upcoming Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land that will open this fall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In an unprecedented move, Disney is building two nearly identical lands, one in Orlando and one at Disneyland in California. The California land opens May 31 with the Florida version welcoming guests a few months later on Aug. 29.
At 14 acres, this new land will be one of the largest Disney has ever built. Larger than both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley combined, Galaxy’s Edge will be a true theme park within a theme park, with both a village area, the Black Spire Outpost and a forested area known unofficially as the Resistance Forest.
When the land first opens, crowd flow will be a significant concern. It’s believed guests will enter through the entrance closest to the village (from Grand Avenue at Hollywood Studios) and exit through the forest entrance (into Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios). Once crowd levels subside, guests may be able to enter and exit through all entrances. Similar crowd-flow techniques are used at Universal’s Hogsmeade during its busier times.
Once inside the land, guests will be able to explore the Black Spire Outpost, a town on the planet Batuu, that was previously a popular stopover for travelers but thanks to faster hyperspace ships, the town has fallen on harder times. Think of it as the Valdosta, Georgia of Star Wars.
The rock spires are supposed to be the remnants of giant, ancient petrified trees.
Set during the time of the sequel trilogy (Episodes VII-IX) guests will encounter both characters from the First Order and the Resistance.
Drawing inspiration from the alleyways of Morocco, Jerusalem and Istanbul, the Black Spire Outpost village is filled with small alleys and hidden corners.
Shops of various sizes, similar to those found in Diagon Alley, dot the village. Like Universal’s Wizarding World, within the land there won’t be the typical T-shirts and other branded merchandise – those items will be found in expanded gift shops around the rest of the park.
A Creature Stall will sell Furby-like robotic and puppet-based “pets.” Disney had tested a similar concept with the rookery in Animal Kingdom’s Avatar-themed Pandora land, but the Creature Stall will take the idea to a new level with interactive robotic animals in a highly themed store.
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities has higher-end gifts, including many that are very limited edition and found exclusively within the shop.
Two specialty shops will offer unique experiences and custom-made merchandise. Savi’s Workshop will allow guests to custom design their very own lightsaber (with a plastic blade). Pre-built ones and those similar to the ones that various characters use will also be sold in the land. In the Droid Depot, guests can purchase pre-made droids or custom build their own. Droids that guests make will be able to interact with the land, alerting their owners to nearby threats or other droids.
While Star Wars-branded clothing will be sold outside of the land, guests can purchase some clothing and other small items at the Black Spire Outfitters. A toy store and merchandise carts will also be found within the land.
The famed “blue milk” of Star Wars gets its own stand where both the blue and green varieties will be served. The non-dairy, frozen drink will likely be one of the most sought-after items in the entire land. Ever since Universal’s smash success with Butterbeer, Disney has tried to make its own must-have specialty drink, but attempts with a Beauty and the Beast drink and an Avatar-themed drink both fell short of the long lines seen in the Wizarding World.
Oga’s Cantina will serve booze-filled drinks and light bites, even in the Disneyland version where the park has remained mostly dry since opening in 1955. In the corner of the cantina, Captain Rex, the former droid pilot from Star Tours, will serve as a DJ. Rex will even be getting his own smart speaker toy.
With Oga’s looking rather small and with the menu focused on adults, most guests will dine within Galaxy’s Edge at the Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, a food hall of sorts themed to a shipping bay. Ronto Roasters will have grilled meats cooked on what looks to be a former pod racer engine.
The stars of Galaxy’s Edge though won’t be the food nor the merchandise.
Tthe land’s two attractions are thought to be the most technologically advanced rides ever built. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will use some of the fastest processors ever used in a theme-park setting to create hyper real graphics on the interactive simulator.
The Millennium Falcon will be hidden from view when guests first enter the park, revealing itself as guests make their way further into the village. The queue for the ride will provide plenty of views of the ship, from both ground level and above.
Before boarding the cockpit, guests will be able to relax in the corridors of the ship, providing plenty of opportunities for those much-needed selfies. A Hondo Ohnaka animatronic that will be seen in the queue is being billed as one of the most advanced animatronics Disney has ever built.
Disney has confirmed that the second ride, Rise of the Resistance, will open at a later date but before the end of the year. Billing it as a “Phase Two” has some speculating that certain merchandise or dining may open at that later date. A jazz club-like venue that was included in early concept art looks to be canceled, though this could be included with the Phase Two or in an upcoming phase.
The Rise of the Resistance will be a family-friendly thrill ride with multiple pre-shows, massive sets, larger rides and a drop tower-like final scene.
With an estimated $1 billion price tag (each), Galaxy’s Edge is likely the most expensive single theme-park expansion ever conceived, and that’s before considering the hotel planned for the Hollywood Studios. Details regarding that hotel have yet to be shared, but it’s expected to not open for a few more years.
When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge does open at Hollywood Studios, it is believed it will make the struggling park a must-see for every visitor to Orlando, causing massive lines for months to come. Disney has been widening pathways and expanding gift shops preparing both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland for the record crowds.
With the lack of a reservation system and with no FastPass availability at first, lines at Hollywood Studios may even surpass those of Disneyland despite opening months later. One way Disney may attempt to help control the crowds is via ticket prices, which recently increased, with another possible increase likely ahead of the August opening.
A third, smaller Star Wars area that will feature at least one of the two rides is also in the works for the Walt Disney Studios park in Paris.