DISCLOSURE: This review is based on my own opinion and perspective. I paid for my own hotel accommodations and park tickets. Disney did not grant me any special access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in order to conduct this review.

Jaw-dropping. Overwhelming. The biggest land Disney has ever built.

Of all the descriptions Disney executives have used to hype Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, once I saw it for myself, all I could manage was silent, wide-eyed wonder.

This was the Star Wars universe as I’ve always envisioned it. All I could do was look around in awe at its size and scope — much like I did the first time I walked into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando.

Black Spire Outpost is meant to be a galactic trading port that has seen better days, now attracting seedy types like smugglers and bounty hunters. It closely evokes the dangerous space western feel of Mos Eisely from the original 1977 film. Building foundations and ceilings look cracked. Blaster marks have scorched the walls.

The marketplace at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (Orlando Rising

This is not the bright, shiny, clean universe of the prequel trilogy. This is most certainly “wretched hive of scum and villainy”-type Star Wars.

Those rough edges are present everywhere, from the pod-racing engine acting as the “grill” for Ronto’s Roasters to the loose wires and cables hanging above the marketplace. And there are plenty of easter eggs for diehard fans to find, like the IG unit stowed away in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.

It’s not just buildings that evoke this feeling. As you wander around Black Spire Outpost, you’ll inevitably be harassed by stormtroopers and Kylo Ren as they question everyone about rumors the Resistance is nearby. More troopers will peer down from the rooftops.

Disney Imagineering delivered on their promises: Galaxy’s Edge is truly the new standard in immersive theme park design.

From the Milk Stand to Oga’s Cantina

Even some aspects of Galaxy’s Edge which other reviewers and bloggers panned clicked for me. I tried both the Blue Milk and Green Milk from the land’s Milk Stand. Blue Milk was by far my favorite of the two; a smoothie-like coconut and rice milk flavored with dragonfruit, pineapple, lime and watermelon, it came off as sweet, but not overpowering, and a refreshing treat for a hot California day.

Green Milk, however, carries a floral taste thanks to its orange blossom flavoring (along with Mandarin orange, passion fruit and grapefruit) that is simply too unusual for most palettes. I would certainly Blue Milk drink again, even if it’s not as good as Butterbeer at Universal.

The crowning achievement of the land also has one of its lowest capacities: Oga’s Cantina.

Oga’s Cantina (Orlando Rising)

This truly iconic Star Wars setting will draw long lines and waits when it opens in Central Florida, but the experience cannot be missed. From the authentic decor to the excellent drink selection to DJ Rex (yes, the former host of Star Tours, complete with dance moves and shouts of “Turbulence!”), I would have stayed in a booth all day if Disney wasn’t pushing guests out to keep lines moving.

As for the menu, I’d recommend the Fuzzy Tauntaun, a concoction with peach vodka and schnapps topped with foam that temporarily numbs your lips and tongue.

A few minor quibbles

None of this excuses the disappointing Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which I reviewed separately, but I can honestly only pick out minor criticisms for the land as a whole.

One is the lack of kinetics. While you’ll hear plenty of activity to evoke the feel of a galactic outpost — like ships taking off and landing — you won’t actually see any of it. That’s perfectly understandable, but the energy of Black Spire Outpost would be that much livelier if it had a PeopleMover-like attraction whizzing around.

An X-Wing parked in the Resistance forest (Orlando Rising)

Movement or activity of any kind would be welcome on the Resistance Forest side of Galaxy’s Edge. Since Disney opted to open the land without Rise of the Resistance, there will be little reason for guests to linger here. The Rey and Chewbacca characters walking around are a fantastic touch, with interactions feeling much more spontaneous and natural than your typical Disney meet-and-greet photo session, but once you’ve seen them and quickly browsed the sparse Resistance merchandise kiosks (why not a full store, Disney?), you’ll realize the action is largely confined to Black Spire Outpost.

The Boy Who Lived

The Disney blogosphere hype machine has been stuck in hyperdrive for years over Galaxy’s Edge. The very announcement of these lands in Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios led Disney media personalities like Pete Werner of The DIS Unplugged to prematurely declare that “the competition between Disney and Universal in Orlando is over.”

Let me be clear about this: Galaxy’s Edge is spectacular, but it won’t suddenly kill off Universal and its remarkable success with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  

The experiences that are available in Batuu have such close analogues to what Universal offers in the Wizarding World that Disney inevitably comes off as the follower, not the leader, in the contest of immersive theme park lands. The Savi’s Workshop lightsaber experience and the Droid Depot are clearly a response to the wand experience at Ollivanders. Blue and Green Milk are Disney’s attempts at replicating the cash-printing machine that is Butterbeer. The marketplace section can even be compared to the whole of Diagon Alley, which set the standard for making shopping feel equal to any theme park attraction. 

Disney certainly improved on certain aspects, enhancing the feeling of immersion with animatronics like Dok-Ondar or the real stormtroopers peering down from above the shops at guests. But the evolution from the Wizarding World to Galaxy’s Edge feels more like upgrading to the next model of iPhone than, say, replacing a horse-drawn carriage with a car.

It’s a step forward, not a leap. Perhaps Rise of the Resistance, dubbed the largest ride Disney has ever built with a vehicle, will change my mind when it opens later this year in both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Grade: A 

REVIEW: Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run falls short of expectations
‘Pray for the cast members’: Mickey ride delay creates headaches for Galaxy’s Edge
Disney: ‘MuppetVision 3D will continue’ despite mural being removed

6 Responses

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi

    Harry Potter is so 2010 and not that relevant. Next…

  2. JM

    For me, it’s a Harry Potter killer. But that’s because I’m not that in to HP in the first place. It’s not my thing.

  3. Bellecutie1984

    People dont really get it why the boy who lived is special. Galaxy edge is great but harry potter is unique and well loved. They really got it “hp” right.. the rides and most specially their signature drink which disneys galaxy edge fails to deliver. Smugglers run is boring and the blue milk doesnt taste good.

    • JM

      I disagree. I get why it’s special. It’s just not my thing. I respect that they got it right. It is easily the most extensive theming in the park ever. It is incredibly well-done, down to the last detail.

      But I was never that into HP. It wasn’t my thing. So yeah. I vote for Star Wars anyday. Plus, park attractions aside, Star Wars has a longer and more storied history in film. When we discuss Star Wars, we are discussing the movies in terms of generations. My parents saw the original series, my lifetime was the prequel series, and my kids have the sequel series and spinoffs. HP is not there yet. Instead, HP is a long series of movies spanning mostly two decades. It’s still largely 1 generation that is now branching.

      HP would have more in terms of sheer size in one step while Star Wars has had since the late 70’s to establish and expand. Both are great, plenty to choose from. But HP was not my thing. I can respect its footprint, but it does not appeal to me. For me. Galaxy’s Edge, with all its flaws, is still the better of the two.

  4. Price

    How I would improve Galaxy’s Edge:

    – Open Rise of the Resistance
    Yes I already know ROTR will open later this year in WDW and next year in DL but its still counts as to what I would improve with Galaxy’s Edge.

    – Move The Jedi Training Academy to the ‘Resistance base’ area.
    It’ll give the kids something to do.

    – Add more missions to Smugglers Run.

    – Let The guests get more than one or two containers of coaxiem on Smuggler’s Run.
    I heard somewhere on the internet that you can get three but I’m guessing thats not at all true at this point.

    -Add more interactive elements in the land.
    Not just ones that can be triggered by doing something on your phone, but a more ‘hands on’ approach.

    -Add a third attraction somewhere in the land.
    wasn’t there going to be one where you we’re riding on the back of some kind of creature?

    – ADD ROAMING ALIENS AND DROIDS! Seriously. This my biggest complaint with Galaxy’s Edge! aside from Chewie Why are there no alien characters roaming around? Or droids? most of the characters we currently see walking around the land are Humans (Vi Moradi, Rey, Kylo Ren, The Stormtroopers, An Imperial officer, and CMs)

    Hopefully we’ll see these changes soon rather than allowing this land to just exist unchanged for all eternity. Because right now Galaxy’s Edge is nothing but an overpriced shopping with almost nothing else to do.