With all my normal conventions cancelled I haven’t had a lot to write about in 2020 so I decided to do something about that and took a quick trip for some stress relief. This led me to some theme parks including one in a Galaxy Far, Far, Away.
On my trip I did spend time in different areas of the Disney and Universal parks. I could spend a lot of time going over everything I did including all the rides and experiences within Disney Hollywood Studios however I’ve decided to focus on my experience at the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu or more commonly referred to as Galaxy’s Edge (GE) within the Disney Hollywood Studios theme park. While GE has been open for a year or so I sadly could not get it together to get over there before now and with the recent pandemic my original trip from March was delayed until now. Nevertheless I wanted to share my overall experience within GE for anyone who has not been. I’ve given a taste of everything the area has to offer but did pay more attention to some areas of the park than others.
One of the things that initially delayed my trip to GE was the fact that both GE rides were not open. Once Rise of the Resistance opened I had planned to go to Disney in March, though COVID had other plans and I unfortunately had to delay my plans. In GE there are two 4D rides – Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Rise of the Resistance.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
For this ride visitors merely get on line and wait in the queue to eventually fly the Millennium Falcon on a smuggling Mission on behalf of Hondo Ohnaka who has secured the ship from Chewie. For the ride you get to choose one of three jobs pilot, gunner, or engineer. Each has a unique role though really you want to be the pilot if for no other reason than to pull the lever as you jump into hyperspace. Your mission is to maneuver the Falcon as you steal some coaxium for the resistance. Avoid hitting objects as the pilot, blast enemy ships as the gunner, or take care of issues on the Falcon as the engineer during your mission. How well you bring back the ship tells you how well you succeeded in your mission.
Though I think the combo of heat and mask made me a bit queasy on the 4D rides this was exactly what you would expect when flying the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. I even found the controls were responsive to slight variations and wasn’t just a push or pull scenario. Obviously if you are going to GE you will want to make time to pilot the Falcon.
Rise of the Resistance
The other ride in GE is the crème de la crème of rides at the park and one of the most exclusive rides you can get. The only way to ride this ride (at the time of my visit) was to be inside the park by 10AM or 2PM when the Disney mobile app updated and you were allowed to try to join a virtual queue. At 9:59 AM (or 1:59 PM) it felt as though the entire park came to a standstill with people refreshing the app and then within 20 seconds all spots are filled for the day and people go about their business. If you at all care about getting on this ride this process can make or break your experience. Additionally you can only ride the ride once per day.
Right after I left Disney it was announced there was going to be a change in the 10AM policy where that time was going to be changed to 7AM and you don’t have to have be scanned into the park but merely just need a reservation for Hollywood Studios for that day. The 2PM policy has not changed and still need to be inside the park to try during that time. That said before making any plans do check up with the Disney website for the most current policy on joining the queue.
So of the two days I went to Hollywood studios I made it a point to be in the park by 10AM and ready to fight for a spot. I’m also happy to report that I in fact got a spot on both days. On Tuesday I got boarding group 48 good enough for a 315 minute virtual wait, which actually worked to my benefit as I didn’t want to go to the GE area too early that day while on Thursday I think I knocked it out of the park with boarding group 6 number, which meant I was ready to ride the ride early in the morning.
Once they call your boarding group you typically have about an hour to get to the ride to scan in, just in case you are eating or in a line for a different ride. Also if say you have an overlapping Oga’s reservation, like I did, with your Rise of the Resistance boarding group the staff at both Oga’s and Rise are accommodating of this and you won’t lose either spot. Personally I recommend going to Oga’s first in this situation but rest assured you will be OK in either case.
As to the ride itself it’s a fairly long experience with multiple ride systems. You first start at a resistance base where a recorded message from Rey explains you are on a secret mission.
However once you board your transport you are quickly intercepted and captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. After being escorted off the ship you are taken through the corridors of the destroyer to interrogation rooms. However before being interrogated the resistance comes to the rescue to help you escape the Star Destroyer all while encountering General Hux and Kylo Ren. Escape and give the resistance a chance to ignite the spark, that will light the fire that will burn The First Order down.
Going anywhere now can feel very daunting. I will say I felt Disney did a superb job of line queueing, enforcing face masks, and offering hand sanitizer pre- and post-ride.
At Black Spire there are four food and beverage stations; the Milk Stand, Ronto Roasters, Docking Bay 7, and the ultraexclusive Oga’s Cantina.
The Milk Stand is more of a small cart where you can try some blue or green milk in either nonalcoholic or alcoholic varieties. The semifrozen, plant-based juices, are derived from coconut and rice milks. The blue milk had a sweet but somewhat tame taste. If you need to have one go for it but I don’t think you would miss out if you passed on it either.
If you want just a quick bite then head to Ronto Roasters. The menu was a bit slim, not sure if that was due to COVID, but there were only two food choices along a selection of beverages. The main item I had was a Ronto wrap which is roasted pork and grilled pork sausage in a peppercorn sauce with slaw in a pita wrap. It was a bit pricey but tasted good and kept me going for a few hours. They also have a snack sampler and in the mornings offer a breakfast style wrap as well as a healthier oats breakfast option. There are also a few galaxy themed beverage options here are well
Docking Bay 7
For a heartier meal Docking Bay 7 is your choice; it’s a sit down style meal and a bit pricier but you get a fuller meal for your money. I only ate there once and I had the Smoked Kadu Pork Ribs with the blueberry corn muffin and cabbage slaw. The portion was sizeable and filled me up and the class of food was a noticeable step up from the Ronto wrap and was a step up in quality. It is a sit down restaurant so those still cautious about eating indoors should take note but they also have an outdoor seating area.
Other than the Rise of the Resistance ride Oga’s Cantina is going to be one of the more exclusive places you can get into when visiting Black Spire Outpost.
Before heading to GE you do want to watch the Disney website as they open up reservations for Oga’s Cantina. Reservations book up quick and once gone are hard to come by and while there is a virtual queue you can sign up for in the mornings it’s best to already have the reservation ahead of time. I personally did not have any reservations when I initially booked but leading up to my trip I was watching the reservation site like a hawk and was able to snag two bookings. If you see a booking open up grab it immediately, do not hesitate, you can after all cancel later.
Oga’s is an experience. It’s a bar with an assortment of tasty nonalcoholic or alcoholic beverages from around the galaxy. There are a few snacks but nothing hearty for a real meal. During my visits you were limited to two drinks and a 45 minute time limit, because of capacity restrictions due to COVID you are stationed at one area of the cantina and asked not to move around for the safety of everyone.
The alcoholic drinks are pricey so for each of my visits I did limit myself to one drink per visit.
On my first visit in the morning I was put on the left side of the room where a animatronic DJ was spinning cantina tunes to the enjoyment of all guests. You may not get a choice when visiting because of how limited the space is but because of this in my opinion it is the better side of the bar. For this visit I was advised to have the Bloody Rancor (not yet re-added on the menu) a spicy Bloody Mary drink made with vodka, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, and spicy Bloody Mary mix all of which hit the right spot for an early morning alcoholic beverage, though sadly my drink did not come with the Rancor Bone.
For my second visit I was seated at the bar on the right side of the room; there is a bit less going on this side so it’s more the experience of just being in the cantina. For this visit I had one of Oga’s signature drinks – the Fuzzy Tauntaun a very sweet drink made from Cîroc Peach Vodka, Bols Peach Schnapps, Simply Orange with Tangerine, Pure Cane Sugar, and “Buzz Button Tingling” Foam. The foam really does create this tingling sensation on your lips and though it is from a galaxy far, far, away it is still safe for human consumption, though maybe not if you get queasy on rides and intend to smuggle some coaxium right after drinking one. This was a really good afternoon drink and went down very smooth.
Both drinks I had were of completely different styles so I won’t make any comparisons but will just say I didn’t feel I went wrong with either choice.
There are a few other things to note while you are at Oga’s; for younglings accompanying you there are a few nonalcoholic drink options including a Blue Milk option served with a cookie. I’m told that the Blue Milk is a bit different from the ones served outside, whereas those are served semi frozen Oga just serves theirs chilled. Additionally if you are looking to take something home with you from Oga’s there are a few souvenirs you can get. The Cliff Dweller, a nonalcoholic beverage, comes with a Porg tiki mug, the Yub Nub rum drink comes in a really cool Endor tiki mug featuring scenes from the Battle of Endor, and finally for those who prefer beer the Rancor Beer Flight Souvenir Board with Four Teeth gives you a sampling of all their beers. Each of these are pricey but my server let me know that you could get the souvenir of your choice if you paid for it and if you ordered a drink the price of that drink would be subtracted from the total of the mug.
Even though it is a limited time experience having a drink at Oga’s is still something I would highly recommend if you can snag a reservation. Hopefully when we get past the current pandemic and everything is safer you’ll be able move around the bar and mingle with other travelers, but for now stay safe and healthy, keep to your personal party, take in the experience and a good beverage or two, and be sure to grab a few coasters (they are cool and there are a few unique designs.)
Due to COVID there are no cast members hanging about in public areas and therefore no interactions with them for the safety of everyone. However in the First Order area of GE there is a full scale model of a Tie Echelon from which Kylo Ren emerges and interacts with the crowd. In another area of GE that is a bit more neutral there are times when Rey and Chewbacca are interacting with the crowd while other times Stormtroopers can be seen looking for resistance scum. Again interactions are somewhat limited but it is still nice to see some cast interactions with visitors.
Within GE there are numerous shops, however to keep the theme of the park all the merchandise is generally not labelled with GE but rather sticks in the theme of the area. You can find a bunch of shirts, pins, cups, and other Star Wars themed products with the Galaxy Edge title in other shops outside of the GE area.
On the First Order side is a small shop with, you guessed it, merchandise centered around everything First Order. It’s a smaller shop which includes Stormtrooper helmets, costumes, and other First Order themed merchandise.
On the more Resistance side is Merchant Row, an area that has four small shops each with unique items. The Creature Stall has stuffed creatures and critters found throughout the universe. Toydarian Toymakers has unique carved figures and puzzles as well as a spot where you can pick up your own copy of Sabacc, the galaxy’s oldest and most popular card game that I definitely picked up for myself. Next up is Black Spire Outfitters where you can pick up quality made Jedi or Sith robes, tunics, and belts and other galaxy inspired outfits. Rounding out the area is Jewels of Bith which had a nice array of pins and other smaller priced knick knacks.
In the middle of the Batuu is where three of the best and priciest shops reside; Droid Depot, Savi’s Workshop Handbuilt Lightsabers, and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. I personally didn’t build a droid in the Droid Depot but that experience allows you to create your own personalized remote control droid which once built will interact in the GE area. There are also extra pieces you can buy in the Droid Depot including to add to your personal droid including personality chips.
Dok-Ondar’s though is truly the best shop in the area, this is where you will find everything from artifacts, busts, holocrons, kyber crystals, and legacy lightsabers from some of the most famous Jedi and Sith in the galaxy. The items here are more on the collectible side so expect to spend some serious money if you plan on buying anything there.
Then there is Savi’s Workshop Handbuilt Lightsabers. Since I have written a fairly long article already and I wrote an equally long section just on this experience I will only state here that this experience, which does require a reservation or a sign up through the virtual queue, is where visitors can customize their very own lightsaber from among four distinct themes. At $212 (after tax) this is not a cheap experience but is so worth it in so many ways. I’ve posted my dedicated article HERE and I hope you take a look at it.
One final tip; if you are going to be in the area invest in a Spira (Gift Card.) It’s a nice heavy metal card and is easily one of the coolest small souvenirs you can get in the park. The Spira itself costs $5 and requires you to put $100 on the card to activate but you can use the money anywhere within the Disney Park including food, souvenirs, and even on a on a droid from the Droid Depot or the Savi Lightsabers and if you are spending time in GE you will easily spend $100.