A lot of stuff happened in August. I have a lot of August stuff to report. And I’m going to start with posting about something from the 20th of August, the night I went to Star Wars Land.
(If I went to Disneyland I guess you can figure out that I was in Los Angeles when this happened. Why I was out there I’ll get into later.)
As I was saying, August 20th: I went to Star Wars Land. It was a work night, but Collin did me the enormous kindness and generosity of meeting me at the Mickey and Friends Parking Lot that night after work. We met a bit after 7. Disneyland closed that night at 11. California Adventure was closing at 9 so it was completely off the table. But that wasn’t the point. This was a mission of singular purpose: To get Brigham into Black Spire Outpost. (And, if possible, to also get Brigham a corn dog).
So excited with this special opportunity, I got us matching Ewoks t-shirts so that all of Galaxy’s Edge would know that we meant business. And to be jealous of us. Looking at these photos now I’m just like “Dang, we looked great.” (My grandma had also leant me a good Mickey Mouse sweatshirt but I never got cold enough to need to put it on…but that’s what I’ve got tied around my waist in a few of these photos.)
Although I only had one thing to do while I was there (See Star Wars Land) I felt a real clock ticking feeling in my chest and my gut as we waited to clear security, rode the tram, passed through the gates, and walked across the park over to Critter Country. There’s three entrances to Star Wars Land, and Collin (a multiple times visitor to Battu already) insisted (in the way experts or gentlemen do, not the way jerks do) that we use the western entrance for the best possible effect. That’s also the longest walk. So we waded through medium sized crowds up Main Street, through Adventure Land, along the Rivers of America, past the Haunted Mansion, past Splash Mountain, past the Hungry Bear Restaurant, and to a wide path passing under the Disneyland Railway that I’d never been on before. Because it was new. “Look at the lamp posts” Collin instructed. It was a bit of a walk, but only in the Disney-way, and at first the lamp posts were Critter Country lamp posts. And then they were intermediate lam posts, part our world, part another. And then they were Star Wars lamp posts. Critter rocks have way to other worldly stone pillars, lit for effect for night time. I passed an A-Wing. I passed an X-Wing. I wasn’t in Disneyland anymore (except I was).
What we informally call “Star Wars Land” is really called “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”…STGE, however, exists on the planet of Battu, but when we’re on Battu while at STGE, we’re in Black Spire Outpost. The Outpost is kind of divided into three sections: a resistance base section, “downtown” Black Spire, and the First Order base section. FO base section doesn’t seem so different from downtown, Kylo Ren just has a space ship parked there and he seems unaware that his father’s famed space freighter is parked around the corner. But the Resistance Base section does seem separated from the rest and, in it’s way, remote. Anyway, that’s where we entered, the Resistance side. It’s quiet over here because Star Wars Land’s second attraction, Rise of the Resistance, hasn’t opened yet and won’t open until January. From what I’ve heard and seen, this ride is going to be absolutely amazing. Or better be absolutely amazing. More on that later. But for now, the Resistance side is pretty empty and calm. That is until Chewbacca comes out and starts making friends, of course.
And then by the time you hit “downtown” it becomes clear that there is lots to see in Star Wars Land. And by “see” I mostly mean “buy” because there are stores everywhere, each one for a particular something. Creatures. Weapons. Costumes. Building Droids ($99+). Building lightsabers ($200+). Food. Colored milk that are smoothees. But also there are things to see. A lot of the time you can be like: “Wow, look, it’s one of those.” And here you find the problem I have with Star Wars Land: It is not compatible to my Disneyland style, which is “tries to fit in as many rides as possible”—to me shopping, shows, sitting, even eating, these are all detractors, distractions, tricks to keep you (me) from doing what you’re (I’m) there to do: Ride as many rides as possible.
AND right now how many rides is it possible to ride at Star Wars Land? ONE. The Smuggler’s Run Millennium Falcon ride. I had wondered if seeing the sight of a full-scale Millennium Falcon would floor me, if it would be as goosebump-inducing as seeing the great pyramids of Egypt in the distance for the first time? No. For me it wasn’t. I smiled, I looked up. But I did not collapse.
I read somewhere that Smugglers Run has an hourly capacity of 1800. That means that when you read reports that Star Wars Land is an empty failure, it might be because nearly 2000 people at Galaxy’s Edge are in line for, or riding, Smuggler’s Run. Most of the line goes through the hanger or a shipping company. It’s supposed to look in use and kind of messy, with cargo spilled and things just lying around. And you know what? They succeeded. It just looks kind of messy in there. Not as good of a line as Star Tours, at least not most of it! You do meet this alien animatronic who explains your mission…oh what’s his name, some guy from the Clone Wars cartoon, I better look him up…Hondo! Hondo explains the mission and he has an R4 unit with jagged teeth painted on. And then you walk down a passage way to board the Falcon. As you board, a castmember assigns Falcon jobs to each group of 6. I was handed an “Engineer” assignment, but, and this was a real blessing, there was this couple that traded their pilot assignments with us for our Engineer assignments, because they had already been pilots. It’s like they said “We already tried the cool job, we’d like to try a lame one now” and I said “Great! Wow! Thank you!”
From there you spend a little time aboard the Falcon waiting for your time to fly. Both times the waiting time was too short, I would have liked to have looked around in there longer. I do like how the lines are managed on this ride, it’s cool to have a waiting room.
AND it’s cool to be in the Falcon cockpit, although the ride itself…it’s ok. It’s fine. It’s a lot like Star Tours, but with buttons and handles and switches that allegedly affect the outcome of what you’re watching. It’s a giant video game. Hondo yells instructions all the time, that’s the main thing I remember. Being yelled at. But I am so glad I got to pilot on my first ride, and not only pilot, but be the pilot that punches it into hyperspace. But still, this ride is just ok. A strong ok. I didn’t come running off laughing and skipping and wanting to do it again right away. It’s not that kind of ride.
Falcon ridden, Collin and I checked on a few more stores in Galaxy’s Edge and then went and got dinner while Fantasmic was happening. I had a corn dog. He had a chicken fried steak sandwich. And then we headed back into Battu for another Smugglers Run ride while the Disneyland Fireworks were going off.
Ride #2: I was an Engineer. I actually kind of liked hitting all those buttons.
Odd thing: there’s water fountains in the hall right when you get off the ride. Does this ride…make people thirsty?
After our second ride we walked around Black Spire Outpost a little more. This old guy with a long beard asked us “Aren’t you a little tall for Ewoks.” We left the way we first came in, meaning we found ourselves right by Splash Mountain with about 30 minutes left of park-open time. So, we rode. What a great ride.
Haunted Mansion had closed down a few minutes early, bummer, but Pirates was still going at 10:55 so Collin got dragged onto one last ride. And I had an interesting revelation while riding Pirates: Haunted Mansion is better. Pirates starts so good, and then just kind of peters out…you leave a burning city, that’s it. Mansion at least seems to have a conclusion, plus hitchhiking ghosts.
Leaving Disney after being there just kind of 4 hours, it’s a weird feeling for me. I’m a whole day guy! This taste of what it must be like to drop in as an annual passholder, yeah, it’s not the life for me. NO I’m not saying I’m not so glad I went. I’m just saying I’m an all-day Disney guy. All-day once every year or two. That’s my style.
And here’s my final word on Galaxy’s Edge: Unless you have a friend who can get you in for free after work on a week night, or have been planning a family trip to Disneyland for months, Wait. Wait for Rise of the Resistance. I think this second ride may be a gamechanger that makes it seem like the first 8 months of Galaxy’s Edge shouldn’t even count. That’s my prediction, or hope.
Also, it needs benches.
One more thing. That 1am Pasadena Del Taco stop right before getting home? So necessary. Even if it seems to be completely empty inside.