We’re headed back to Galaxy’s Edge at 9:33am, or just over a half hour after Extra Extra Magic Hours concluded at 9am.
I’ve been on every ride in the Park already, and added a stop at Muppet Vision 3D.
Just to show my support.
Theoretically, there is a “boarding group” process should Galaxy’s Edge fill to capacity. Via the My Disney Experience app, you tell them that you want to go to Galaxy’s Edge, and then, depending on when you put in for it, you’ll be assigned a boarding group on a first-come, first-served basis. As people leave Galaxy’s Edge and space becomes available, new boarding groups will be admitted. The app should send you a notification when it’s your turn. I will go into a little more detail about this should the process ever be used again. In both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the boarding group process was used over the course of just a couple of hours on just the first day of operation. It’s never been used since. Also, having a reservation for Oga’s Cantina, the Droid Depot, or Savi’s Workshop will grant you immediate access to the Land as early as one hour before the reservation time.
It’s 9:34am on Sunday, September 1st, 2019. It’s the first day of Extra Extra Magic Hours over a holiday weekend, but it’s important to keep in mind that there was a hurricane threatening the state at the time. Fortunately, it left Orlando completely unscathed. The airport closed at 2am on Tuesday and all of the area theme parks closed early as well, but the weather ended up being above average – sunny and clear for the most part. We’ll hope for similar luck in the future and hopefully your neck of the woods wasn’t impacted too much. I think the worst thing that happened to anyone here was needing to find some place other than Starbucks to pick up a coffee. It’s rough out there.
Inside Galaxy’s Edge, Disney will sell you one of these 13.5-ounce bottles of Coca-Cola products for an even six dollars.
You may have caught all the controversy a week or two ago when the TSA, in their infinite wisdom, officially banned these things in all baggage. They later recanted, perhaps after actually taking a look at the thing.
I felt kind of dumb for buying one. They’re $1.50 more than a regular 20-ounce bottle and arrive with 6.5 fewer ounces. But as far as souvenirs go, it’s over $200 less expensive than a lightsaber from Savi’s workshop, after tax. So you almost can’t afford not to buy one.
You’ll find a number of characters around Black Spire Outpost. Disney has been on the receiving end of some amount of criticism over promises that weren’t realized. At one point, a number of droids and other characters were supposed to roam around. There are no roaming droids. More interaction was also promised with various characters able to comment on your performance on Smugglers Run, among other things. That’s not really a thing, either. I don’t find this to be particularly surprising. I would guess that building a theme park land isn’t all that different from trying to put together a menu for Thanksgiving. The first draft probably has too many things on it, and as you go over the cost, feasibility, and time, you’re going to pare down. Of course, if you tell the in-laws that there’s going to be both jellied and whole-berried cranberry sauce and you only deliver on a can of Ocean Spray, you may be in for some disappointment. Uncle Phil may never stop tweeting at you about it. He might even start a podcast devoted to how his day was irreparably harmed. Disney has long been in the business of under-promising and over-delivering, but the company is probably moving away from that. Whatever they said has not seemed to work with attendance down at Disneyland summer-over-summer.
disneyland: oh, u know, low attendance for galaxy’s edge was probably due to the weather. the average high was like 78 which is pretty high for us for june and it rained that one afternoon
disney world: florida ain’t closing for no hurricane. STORM THE SPIRE. WE RIDE. WE DIE
— josh (@easywdw) August 28, 2019
We can blame a lackluster opening on the hurricane here, of course.
But Kylo Ren appears outside his ship alongside an officer of the First Order and some Stormtroopers. Amusingly, the line for Smugglers Run still stretches all the way back here and further back around the Land. So if crowds actually are lower because of the hurricane, future dates will be even worse.
There’s the end of the line with a 120-minute wait. If the ride moves through about 1,500 people per hour, then that means 3,000 people are in line. You’d think Disney would have built a queue that could hold at least two hours worth of people, considering the popularity of rides like Flight of Passage and the fact that the average wait there still exceeds two and a half hours.
It looked like Kylo was about to give a press conference.
Now he’d like to speak to your manager.
An officer is interrogating a child.
40 minutes after the park closes and the characters are still out entertaining guests pic.twitter.com/WsS8zGCiOa
— josh (@easywdw) September 3, 2019
All of that is a lot of fun. Rey and Chewbacca must have passed by me five or six times over the course of an hour. You’ll see a lot of them. All of the pictures of the characters above were captured over the course of just about 15 minutes.
Oga’s Cantina is the name of the lounge.
I’ll do a formal review once I’ve had an opportunity to try everything, but the experience is a lot of fun. Reservations are often required, though walk-ups are typically accommodated during the first couple hours of operation and during the last hour before the Park closes. People were being seated at 9:59pm with the Park officially closing at 10pm when I was there earlier this week. You can search availability online here. It’s a hot ticket at the moment, but availability should open as people inevitably cancel.
Drink prices are extremely high, particularly considering just about everything is pre-mixed. This “T-16 Skyhopper – Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Bols Melon Liqueur, Kiwi, and Half and Half” is $16 and is mostly Half and Half and juice. Beers will set you back $13.25 to $14.25 each with the two wines coming in at $13 and $16. Non-alcoholic drinks are $6-$13. But you may not be able to put a price on spending some time with DJ-R3X in some air-conditioning. There are “rules” involved here, which doesn’t “feel” particularly welcoming. On the way in, they’ll warn you that there’s a two-item limit per person and you’ll need to be in and out in under 45 minutes. With tax and tip, one beer will set you back $17.75.
I picked up the beer flight, which is served in these rancor teeth.
Like at Trader Sam’s, your souvenir cup will be delivered to you at the end of the meal – clean, new, and in-box for easier transportation. These little four-ounce cups are ceramic and seemed to be well-made.
Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is my favorite of the stores.
Not only is the merchandise interesting, but even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, there’s a ton of stuff to look at. During the day, you may need to wait a couple of minutes in line to go in.
The Marketplace is on the left side of Galaxy’s Edge as you walk in. The quickest and/or most direct way to Smugglers Run is probably through there.
The Marketplace is lined with a variety of stalls and kiosks offering all kinds of merchandise. Kat Saka’s Kettle, serving the sweet and savory Outpost Popcorn Mix, is ahead on the left, followed by Ronto Roasters, also on the left. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo, the Land’s principal quick service, is also ahead on the left after those the two previously-mentioned outlets.
This is 10:02am on Sunday, September 1st, 2019. The large size of the crowd is a big reason why we enjoyed such short waits everywhere else early in the morning. Even given heavier crowds, it likely means that Galaxy’s Edge will just be that much busier. Moving forward, you’d have to think that at least 90% of the people heading into the Studios for rope drop are headed for Star Wars. And many of them will spend 90 or more minutes back here, whether it’s in line for Smugglers Run or doing other things. Other attractions will continue to see short waits.
Galaxy’s Edge certainly “feels” crowded in parts.
But it’s not particularly difficult to move around, closer to the entrance.
That will likely change with Rise of the Resistance opening December 5th. In my dreams, we’ll be able to get FastPass+ for it and then rope drop Smugglers Run easily, not unlike the Flight of Passage/Na’vi River Journey situation at Animal Kingdom. We’ll then be able to enjoy all of the Park’s other rides before returning to Galaxy’s Edge sometime in the afternoon. Adding FastPass+ to Smugglers Run should “help” reduce the length of the standby line there, as 70%+ of the people who ride will do so either in single rider or with FP+. Currently, if you’re the 1,500th person in line for Smugglers Run, you’re looking at waiting just about an hour. Once 70% of the ride’s capacity goes to FP+, the wait for the 1,500th person in standby would nearly triple. Because of the longer standby waits, fewer people will get in line. With FastPass+, only about 350 people would need to be in line for the standby wait to increase to 90 minutes. The arrival of FastPass+ will have a tremendous effect on both wait times and how we go about our day in Galaxy’s Edge. FP+ readers are installed already at both rides.
You can exit Galaxy’s Edge on Grand Avenue in the same way that you (most likely) came in. The other exit is the one into Toy Story Land. Crowds haven’t been big enough to ascertain how much more crowded Toy Story Land will become with the new crowd patterns. The exit into Toy Story Land isn’t all that obvious, which may cause more people to continue walking to the Grand Avenue escape.
But if you don’t want to exit through Toy Story Land, then you certainly don’t have to. I like to take a break by watching Muppet Vision 3D intermittently throughout the day.
PizzeRizzo, and its vast seating section, particularly on the second floor, is also a good opportunity to get away from the people. If you’re bringing your own meal or snacks from home, then it’s the quick service seating area where I would recommend setting up shop. In cooler weather, the upstairs balcony will be a little busier, but there’s still plenty of seating. It’s also accessible from this stairway when PizzaRizzo isn’t open. Currently, what probably isn’t technically a pizzeria operates from 10am to 8:30pm. We’ll see if those hours shorten again. There doesn’t necessarily seem to be a substantial increase in popularity here, but we’ll have to see what things look like next month. So far, our takeaways are all based on about a week of operation, in September, in the face of a hurricane. But we do what we can with the information that we have at present.
Crowds remained low throughout the late morning. At 11:21am, Star Tours is just 15 minutes, which is about half of the past average.
And there certainly isn’t a tide of people coming this way, even though it’s the only walkway into Galaxy’s Edge.
Jedi Training signups, for whatever reason, continue to decline in popularity. There was still plenty of availability for afternoon shows at 11:20am, just four days after Galaxy’s Edge opened. If signing up the kids to participate in the show is a priority, I’d still do so earlier rather than later, but I don’t think signups have filled before 10am in months.
It looks just about like any other pre-Galaxy’s-Edge day. The characters at Hollywood & Vine have new costumes at lunch and dinner as part of the Halloween Dine.
Keystone Clothiers, a store on the left side of Hollywood Boulevard, recently reopened. Not a whole lot has changed, despite the fact that it was closed from March 1st, 2019, through August 29th, 2019.
Everything that you’ll find in here is related to Star Wars:
I wonder how long it will be until it gets switched out for other items.
Overall, the opening of Galaxy’s Edge has been smooth. Outside of the first few hours on the first morning, crowds have been reasonable inside the Land and wait times for Smugglers Run rarely hit triple digits. Part of that may be due to higher staffing, particularly when it’s coupled with crowds that were below expectations, whether that be due to the hurricane or people now having their fill of everything Star Wars. Back when the original trilogy was most of what we had, a lot of us wanted more Star Wars. Now we have more Star Wars than most people have an opportunity to consume. And more is coming with shows on Disney+ and even more movies in the works. The poor box office performance of “Solo” probably should have indicated that Star Wars isn’t necessarily a slam dunk. The movie carries a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so you probably can’t argue that nobody saw it because it was objectively lousy.
It’s still far too early to come to any conclusions about what the Star Wars expansion will mean for Walt Disney World. And even after we see much heavier crowds descend next month, we still won’t have a clear picture until Rise of the Resistance opens. And even then, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway may help push the needle farther in the Studios’ favor. At the moment, we’ve really only added one new ride and a lot more ways to spend money. And it’s the same exact ride as what opened in California. Of course, Pandora is also “only two rides,” and it helped Animal Kingdom tremendously, seemingly pushing the Park’s attendance up more than 20% on its own.
If Galaxy’s Edge, against all odds, isn’t enough to drive significant attendance to the Studios, then potentially adding a new nighttime spectacular may do it. The Star Wars Fireworks could certainly be revamped. It’s rare that you hear anybody talking about that show. That may also help keep people around later into the evening. Fantasmic! is five hundred thousand years old, but it still packs in a full house most nights.
The Disney Skyliner may also help increase attendance. Disney may lock you inside the careening chests of consternation until you agree to order a minimum of one, but a maximum of two, $18 beers at Oga’s Cantina.
Overall, my day went exceedingly well. It remains to be seen how much busier things get moving forward, once we get away from the hurricane and into the busier month of October. Because my visit was three days before the hurricane, over a holiday weekend, and the first of the scheduled Extra Extra Magic Hours at the Studios, my estimation is that my experience is about average.
Remember, this is what it looked like behind me at open.
Either way, our plan of attack doesn’t change. To start your day, you have two good options that come down to whether or not you want to deal with the rope drop ruckus back to Galaxy’s Edge first thing. It’s doable, but not necessarily the most pleasant way to spend an hour as you stand there for 30 minutes and then elbow your way back. The other option is to start the day in Toy Story Land, where very few people will go first thing, and then figure something else out for Smugglers Run. You could do single rider, get in line at the very end of the night, or head over there and get in line at about 8:45am. The majority of those who arrived early should be through and you’ll beat those who are ineligible for Extra Magic Hours. But it’s important that you get to Smugglers Run before regular open as a thousand or more people will join the line at that time.
Extra Extra Magic Hours are a gift and the next two months should see some of the easiest touring days of the year for those who are eligible for the EEMH and able to arrive in time to take advantage of them. Or at a minimum, things would be significantly worse with regular 9am opens and only one or two single-hour Extra Magic Hours a week.
We’ll see how things go in the future.