© Disney Parks Blog
Clickbait sites are reveling in the fact that Disneyland Resort’s newest immersive land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is making the Disneyland Resort *gasp!* empty. Is that because the land is a complete and utter failure? HECK no!
What those sites miss are the factors that play into having an empty park. Disneyland Resort’s main clientele are local Passholders who buy way too much merch (guilty). All passes except for the top two, have been blocked out for the summer. Pair that with delayed trips due to fears of overcrowding from the new land, and you’ve got yourself an empty park.
So, no, Galaxy’s Edge is not a failure. It’s the complete opposite. With the new tech, complex theming, and a cast of characters who welcome you to their planet, Galaxy’s Edge is arguably the best land Imagineering has developed.
I am by no means what people would call a “Star Wars” fan. Sure, I’ve been to midnight premieres while wearing an oversized Darth Maul shirt (thanks, mom) and even have viewed the films in every possible order. However, if you ask me about trivia related to the films, or who does what on which planet, you’re going to be receiving a blank stare. I’ve just never really had a strong interest in the franchise.
Galaxy’s Edge is nothing short of spectacular. While the land may lack its star attraction, Rise of the Resistance, there are immersive activities for anyone of any age or level of knowledge of Star Wars.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Galaxy’s Edge was created with the intention of encouraging guests to create their own Star Wars narrative. From interactions with free-roaming characters and general technological advances, guests are able to experience a land as Walt would have intended.
When building Disneyland, Walt developed lands based on popular film genres so that guests could imagine themselves in their favorite films -- or create new stories altogether. We see this idea infused into all aspects of the park experience. Attraction posters line tunnel walls, not unlike film previews or coming attraction posters at the movies. Iconic names, like those of Mary Blair, the Sherman Brothers, and Harper Goff, decorate storefronts and line Main Street, passing like credits on a screen.
At the end of the previews and credits, new worlds open up before you at the hub for you to choose your own film adventure. Imagine yourself in a Western, as Snow White in her scary adventures, or as an astronaut on a space mission. Whatever path you choose, there’s a place for you. You may even decide to explore a new leading role as a visitor on a planet in a Galaxy, far, far away...
A Starring Role
One of the things I love about Disneyland is that, even as an adult, the park allows you to play. Some days I want to pretend I’m going down the world’s most famous rivers surrounded by dangerous animals. Other days, I just want to act like I’m the one who put the cartoons on in Mickey’s living room and react to people as though they’re entering my house. (What, you don’t do the same?)
I often hear comments about how there’s not enough to do in the land, how the location and story are difficult to understand, and how the food keeps poisoning people. I can’t speak to the food, but if you’re saying there’s not enough to do, you’re not using the Data Pad.
The Data Pad is a feature of the Disneyland Parks App that completes the Star Wars experience. Through this feature, you can scan crates, complete missions, repair droids, and tap into radio transmissions. Ultimately, you create your own narrative.
As soon as I tapped into the Data Pad, I stepped foot into a starring role in my own Star Wars Franchise. I was quickly sent on missions to hack into First Order control panels and assist Vi with securing supplies for the resistance. As a proud Lieutenant turned Droid Mechanic for the Resistance (the benefits were better), I was able to manipulate my interactions with walkaround characters and cause things to happen around me. If you see steam streaming from a speeder or hear garbled transmissions from a radio tower, it’s likely someone using the data pad who is causing that to happen and change the environment based on the narrative they’re trying to create.
I had a blast enlisting residents of Batuu to help me find my husband and figure out if he was part of the First Order or not. Travelers to Batuu have the option of being part of the Resistance, a Scoundrel, or a First Order spy. You can imagine my relief when he was revealed to be a scoundrel. I’ll take it. And nothing can compare to seeing Chewbacca smuggle young Padawans past the First Order, while Stormtroopers attempt to stave off visitors from opening weapons crates. You also gain credits from accomplishing missions and flying the Millennium Falcon, which gamifies the land. Not sure if anyone knows what the credits actually do, but it’s fun trying to get every item and build credits through missions.
Experiencing Galaxy’s Edge is like living in a mission-based video game or an action film where you are the star. As a kid who grew up in theater (and with super competitive brothers) nothing in a Disney park has ever been as satisfying. Do bring a battery backup though, because you’ll need it!
The Future of the Black Spire Outpost
Only time will tell how well the Data Pad and immersive experience will evolve. One of the great things about the Data Pad is that it saves your experience, so when you transport back to Batuu and the Black Spire Outpost, it will be like you never left. It will be interesting to see what happens when you collect all the items or complete all the missions, but honestly, you’d have to be a (currently blocked-out) local to do it all quickly.
Here’s to more missions with Vi and spying on the First Order, because I’m already counting down the days until my next assignment from the Resistance.