Review - Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Is the Best Theme Park Attraction in the Galaxy

The Force is strong with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

In the 14-acre new addition to the Disneyland Resort, the largest and most technologically advanced single-themed land expansion in Disney theme park history, guests can for the first time live a Star Wars story of their own making in an immersive, living land where the imagination and innovation of Disney and the storytelling and special effects prowess of Lucasfilm meet to triumphantly transport guests to a galaxy far, far away.

There adventurers reach the Outer Rim, a remote region of the galaxy on the edge of Wild Space. Landing on overlooked outpost planet Batuu — once a busy crossroads left behind by the rise of hyperspace travel — guests step into sprawling Black Spire Outpost, a bustling port populated by smugglers, bounty hunters, and rogue traders looking to avoid the inescapable First Order as they travel between the frontier and uncharted space.

“We intend to make this land part of Star Wars storytelling now and well into the future. By design, Black Spire Outpost is a place for adventures to begin – a stepping-off point,” said Scott Trowbridge, Star Wars Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge redefines what a Disney experience can be. It invites exploration and discovery, where we can become characters in the Star Wars galaxy. More and more, our guests want to lean into these stories; not just be a spectator. We’re giving them the opportunity to do just that in this land, with a new level of detail and immersion. This is an opportunity to play and engage with your friends and family in a shared experience that will forge lifelong memories.”

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(Photo: Disneyland Resort)

Much like the Force — the guiding, ever-present energy field that binds the Star Wars galaxy together — Galaxy’s Edge is connected by a strong sense of story.

Whether you’re piloting the well-worn fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy in Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, learning the ways of the near-extinct Jedi when covertly constructing a lightsaber within Savi’s Workshop, or evading evil First Order forces as a freedom fighter loyal to the Resistance, Galaxy’s Edge boasts a choose-your-own-adventure style experience and an unprecedented level of engagement in a theme park.

Guests are welcome to be passive observers — taking in the distinct sights, smells, and sounds of a lived-in corner of the Star Wars galaxy — but a deeper level of engagement is encouraged, first by hands-on encounters interspersed throughout the interactive land and through the Play Disney Parks app.

The free app supplements your experience by acting as a four-in-one tool that unlocks hidden magic across the land. While within Galaxy’s Edge, the app interface transforms into a themed Datapad, which can be used to interact with droids, translate alien language Aurebesh, and hack panels that can tip the war for the galaxy in the favor of the villainous First Order or the heroic Resistance. Whichever your allegiance, the choice is yours.

Such flourishes compel your involvement, and a comprehensive dedication to theme ensures your customized Star Wars experience is as authentic as possible. And it's one that is entirely unique: no two are ever the same. Never before has there been a theme park experience so immaculately detailed and immersive, and the land’s unprecedented emphasis on interactive story guarantees unlimited entertainment wherever you go — even when stood in line.

The endeavor undertaken by Disney Imagineers, creators admitted at a media preview Thursday, allowed the professional dreamers to push boundaries and outdo themselves by blending story and culture to produce an authentic, believable, and livable Star Wars experience. With the five-year, billion dollar project now fully realized, they've succeeded.

Even when describing the new land as the most technologically advanced offering in the history of the Walt Disney-founded theme park, Imagineers were sure to stress Galaxy's Edge is about story — your story.

"It is the core of Imagineering that the innovation of pushing the next tool, the next technique, the next way that we want to do something, is always at the core of the way we do things. The way we view technology though is technology is in support of story, and it's not the story," said Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Director Cory Rouse.

"This land is the most technologically advanced land that we have ever produced at Disneyland, but always in service of story."

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(Photo: Disneyland Resort)

The crown jewel of Galaxy's Edge is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, a candidate for the absolute must-see attraction at the Disneyland Resort and one of two attractions anchoring the land. (The other, Rise of the Resistance, promises to be a technological marvel and will open at a later date.)

The interactive E-Ticket attraction, which allows crews of six to pilot and control the iconic Corellian freighter once owned and operated by space pirates Han Solo and Chewbacca, is a high-thrill attraction that alone makes any trip worthwhile. The ride's climax — which includes an enviable moment where a pilot seated on the right activates a lever to make an intense jump to hyperspace during a heart-pounding mission that is comparable to Star Tours but with you in control — is the ultimate wish fulfillment for any Star Wars fan who has ever dreamed of rocketing across the stars, transforming a fantasy into reality.

Smugglers Run hosts the land's centerpiece, a 100-foot long, faithfully recreated Millennium Falcon permanently anchored in the seedy outpost, marking the first-ever full scale recreation of Star Wars' most iconic and beloved ship.

Disney Imagineers describe the real-life Millennium Falcon as the quintessential Falcon, one which will serve as the model for future films and other mediums — further cementing Galaxy's Edge as an essential part of Star Wars lore. What's more, it's the first of that canon you can now step into and live.

Though guests don't get to board the ship docked outside — the breathtaking landmark is purely for show, and no trip will be complete without a picture taken in front of it — Disney Imagineers have devotedly recreated its innards, transforming what would otherwise be a simple guest holding area into one of the most awe-inspiring and magical experiences in the entire park.

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It's more than a movie set come to life. It's there, stood in the belly of the Millennium Falcon, that it hits you: you really are in Star Wars. You're home.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens May 31 at the Disneyland Resort. The land will no longer require reservations after June 23, 2019.