Going In-Depth Into Galaxy’s Edge: Episode I – The Overview
To say that I am a fan of Star Wars would be an understatement. I’ve seen all the movies countless times, watched all of the live-action and animated TV series, played all of the canon video games, and even read some of the books, including the Galaxy’s Edge-specific Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson. I can even read Aurebesh, the in-universe written language of Star Wars (hey, don’t judge, we all picked up a pandemic hobby, right? Right?) Needless to say, this is a franchise that means a lot to me, and as a theme park fan, when I heard that Disney was developing a land around the franchise, I was incredibly excited. I watched the announcements, press conferences, and kept an eye on the construction photos of the land. However, as soon as the land actually opened, I made the choice to avoid any pictures and videos of Galaxy’s Edge, and the rides in particular.
I was all set to visit the Disneyland park right after Rise of the Resistance debuted, and even had my tickets purchased… for late March of 2020. Any guesses what happened there? Needless to say, my intense spoiler cleanse was about to get a lot more difficult. However, just about 600 days after my original scheduled date, I was going to be in Orlando for the IAAPA Expo 2021, and with an extra day to spare, I knew exactly what I was going to do. This is part one (Episode I if you will) of my deep dive into Galaxy’s Edge, with this week covering the land as a whole, including shops, restaurants, character interactions, scenery and more.
Much like the Star Wars films, this story will be told out of order, since the first thing I did in my day was ride Rise of the Resistance, but we’ll save that for last. However, since Rise is located at the edge of the land, I hadn’t seen any of the area apart from the waiting area. So, after exiting the ride, we began walking towards the marketplace area of the planet Batuu. From the moment we entered the land, even before riding Rise, I knew that this was the most impressive theme park land I had ever set foot in, but as we walked through the marketplace, that opinion was cemented even further. The incredible attention to detail cannot be praised enough, every square inch of Galaxy’s Edge was thought out and executed to perfection. It is a completely transportive experience, and feels lived-in everywhere you look. While lands like Pandora: The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom and Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando feel like you’ve left the park, walking into Galaxy’s Edge feels like you’ve left the planet.
The sightlines are impeccable, you cannot see anything out of land while you are inside of it, and due to the clever theming, the land appears to span for miles as you look out over the treetops and spires of Batuu. Every time that there would be a sound of a ship roaring overhead, I would actually look up expecting a TIE fighter or X-Wing, thanks to the spectacular sound design of the land. I have heard people complain about there being no music in the land, only where thematically appropriate like in the cantina or shops, but I personally love it. Walking through the docking area or marketplace and hearing the sounds of native Batuuan creatures, droids chirping, and First Order announcements is incredibly immersive, and fits the goal of the land perfectly, you feel like you’re a part of the universe.
In the market area, there are many smaller shops, with wide open entrances, but the smaller feel of an actual street market. Here you can visit the Creature Stall and pick up a Star Wars pet, like the adorable Porgs and Loth-cats, or something a little more feisty like a Wampa or a Rathtar. They even have controllable Kowakian Monkey-Lizards that perch on your shoulder.
This area is also home to the Toydarian Toymaker, where you can get toys and plushes that feel like they were actually made by a vendor on Batuu, with the uneven seams and hand-made appearance.
That’s something really unique about Galaxy’s Edge, you won’t find any merchandise with Star Wars or Disney branding, only things that would actually be found in the in-canon universe. There are a few larger shops in the land, one being Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, where the hardcore Star Wars fans like me will have a hard time walking out empty handed. There are items with wide appeal sold here, like the legacy lightsaber hilts, featuring actual metal replicas of your favorite hero and villain sabers.
The shop also has some hyper-specific merch like Jedi and Sith Holocrons, chance dice, Imperial rank badges, and Twi’lek Kalikori. If any of these words are foreign to you, feel free to ask a cast member working in the shop, they are all in character. This is consistent throughout the land, and makes for some of the most fun cast member interactions on property. Dok-Ondar’s is also highly themed inside, and you could spend an hour in there just looking around at all the prop replicas from the movies that hang about the room.
There is also a dedicated First Order shop in the First Order area if you’re feeling dedicated to the cause, and a Resistance cargo area available at the exit to Rise of the Resistance. In the market, you can find other small shops with clothing and home items inspired by Black Spire Outpost as well.
Something that I like about Galaxy’s Edge is that while there is a plethora of things to geek out about for superfans, Batuu is not an established location in the movies or shows, so someone with absolutely no knowledge of Star Wars will walk into the land and feel just as immersed. So while visiting somewhere like Tatooine or the Death Star in a theme park land would be cool, with Galaxy’s Edge, everyone is on an equal playing field, and there is plenty to discover for new and dedicated fans alike.
Another detail I loved about the land were the life-sized ships that were docked around the area. There is a Resistance T-70 X-Wing, a First Order TIE Echelon, a landspeeder, an A-Wing (my personal favorite Star Wars ship), and a new ship called a Sienar-Chall Utilipede Transport parked on the roof of Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Speaking of which, let’s get into the food at Galaxy’s Edge.
The main food item that is featured in Galaxy’s Edge is the Ronto Wrap from Ronto Roasters. This outdoor quick service location features an enormous podracer engine that has been converted into a grill, where an animatronic droid turns the handle to roast the meat (the display meat, anyways). In-universe, Rontos are the large dinosaur-like creatures that wander around Mos Eisley on Tatooine, first seen in the 1997 special edition of the original film. Out of universe though, a Ronto wrap is a grilled sausage wrapped in crunchy slaw and sliced roasted pork and a cucumber-peppercorn sauce, all contained inside a warm grilled pita. There is also a breakfast version that includes cheddar cheese and scrambled eggs, which may be the go-to choice for early morning rope droppers. I tried the regular version though, and it was delicious.
On the page, it may seem like there are a lot of ingredients clashing, but when you actually have the wrap in hand, it isn’t at all overwhelming. The wrap costs $12.99, which seems like a lot for a pita sandwich, but you definitely get your money’s worth, and may not even finish the filling snack (although I definitely did). The ingredients combine to create a juicy, sweet flavor that is perfect for on-the-go snacking as you walk around Black Spire Outpost. Personally, I enjoyed mine while staring at the absolutely stunning life-sized Millennium Falcon.
While I was mainly focused on taking in every single thing the land had to offer, there were a few moments during the day I stopped to marvel at the land, and my first time seeing the Millennium Falcon was one of them. I won’t lie, there was definitely a swell of emotion as I stood there and realized that I had finally made it to Galaxy’s Edge, and staring at the most famous ship in the galaxy made it real. Here’s a tip, most people will want their photo right in front of the Falcon, and while I definitely recommend that, there is an elevated platform right behind Ronto Roasters that has a fantastic side profile of the ship that’s perfect for photo ops, and was fairly sparse when I visited.
The other restaurant I visited at Galaxy’s Edge was Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the sit down quick service location featuring more substantial lunch and dinner options. I went with the Fried Chicken Tip Yip Youngling Meal, which is the kid’s meal version. The famous Tip Yip is a square-shaped fried chicken dish, with a side of broccoli and some phenomenal mac and cheese. The kid’s meal is a smaller portion than the regular sized dish, but I found it perfectly filling, and it also includes a drink which is a great value for $9.99. The meal typically comes with the smaller sized drink, but I asked if I could have the full-sized Dasani water since it has the special Galaxy’s Edge branding, and the cast member happily obliged.
The ambiance at Docking Bay 7 may be my favorite in any Disney restaurant. I genuinely felt like a pilot who had stopped into the restaurant while waiting for a ship to be refueled. The sounds and theming in the dining area are incredibly realistic, even down to the seats, which are cargo barrels, and booths that are carved directly into the walls. I would recommend mobile ordering in advance, and even though it isn’t required, it made the experience a lot smoother, and saved us some time waiting in line at the counter.
The other well-known food items in Galaxy’s Edge are the blue and green milks sold at the Bubo Wamba Family Farms Milk Stand. These seem to be particularly divisive drinks, and going in I would have expected to dislike them, since the plant-based blend of coconut and rice milk would not be something I would typically order. However, no self-respecting Star Wars fanatic can turn down the opportunity to try some blue milk, and I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I was not expecting the drink to be almost slush-like, with ice chips giving the milk texture, and giving the fruity flavors even more pop within the beverage. I will say, by the time I got to the bottom and no more ice remained, the straight-up milk consistency was not as enjoyable, but the rest really was delicious. I particularly liked that at the stand they gave me my total in “credits” rather than “dollars”, further expanding the immersion.
The costumed character interactions are slowly returning to the land, and I had a great interaction with a Stormtrooper and Kylo Ren, who was not a fan of my Resistance affiliated outfit.
We also got to see Rey and Chewbacca on the scaffolding above the landspeeder maintenance area, where they make regular appearances. I am excited to visit the land again once walk-around characters are fully back, since I know that is a very special part of the land.
Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks
- If you can, enter the land from the Muppets plaza side as opposed to the Toy Story Land side, it’s a more immersive entrance.
- Make reservations for Oga’s cantina, and any special experiences like lightsaber and droid building well ahead of time, we couldn’t even get into Oga’s.
- Download the Play Disney Parks app for an Aurebesh translator and various things to scan and do during long waits or downtime in the land.
- Create a budget for yourself beforehand, look up prices before you go and know which shops have the items you want.
- Have fun with your outfit if you want, create your own Batuu inspired clothes if you can.
- You only get one first visit, so take it all in.
- If you’re able, make your big purchases later in the day, since Disney no longer holds your merchandise for you, so you’ll have to walk around with it.
That’s it for part one of my in-depth Galaxy’s Edge review, make sure to keep an eye out for parts two through four of this series covering droid building, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and of course, Rise of the Resistance.
If you have any favorite experiences from Galaxy’s Edge or any other thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until next time, may the force be with you. Or, as they say on Batuu, ‘til the spire!