Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is now several months into operation at the Disneyland Resort and will soon be open at the Walt Disney World Resort. Since opening on the West Coast, there has been a lot of observation, analysis, and speculation on how successful it has been for the Disneyland Resort. The opinions have varied and spanned the range of thought and emotion.
A year ago I wrote about how Disneyland is all about the experience. Yesterday, I observed first hand just how true this really is… particularly in regards to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. My sister and brother in law visited Disneyland and were able to go to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the first time. They arrived in the morning and I met up with the in the late afternoon.
When I arrived, the two were getting on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Seeing that it had an 80-minute wait, I asked them to tell me when they hopped in line and then I headed into the park from home as they got in line. When I arrived in the land, they were just about to see the Millennium Falcon from above for the first time. My phone blew up as they sent pictures of the queue and then the Falcon. The pictures continued as they moved closer to boarding the attraction. As they boarded the Falcon things got quiet and I took photos of the land and stormtroopers until they were off.
Finally, off the attraction, I met them at the exit. I expected them to enjoy it. They did. A lot! What I didn’t expect was to discover that they had spent their entire day at Disneyland in the land. They enjoyed the shops, the stormtroopers, Kylo Ren, Rey, Docking Bay 7, seeing droids being built, having blue milk, and learning about how the lightsaber building experience works. Both enjoy Star Wars but are not superfans by any stretch of the imagination. They were ecstatic over their visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. As we walked out of the land at around 4:00 in the afternoon, they told me they were intending to come back in the evening (which they did end up doing).
As I listened to their excitement I couldn’t help but think, this is what it is all about. They went into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and got to be a part of the Star Wars story. Star Wars came alive for them as they wandered around Batuu. Interestingly enough, they didn’t know the timeline for the land. They didn’t know the backstory for the land. They didn’t even know that because of where the land is in the Star Wars canon’s timeline that Darth Vader or Boba Fett wouldn’t be appearing. The great thing was, they didn’t care. They just loved the experience. They loved the storytelling. They loved going aboard the Millenium Falcon. They loved seeing Star Wars come to life.
Their excitement was infectious and it was hard not to be excited for and with them. As I thought about it later in the evening I realized that there is way too much time and energy spent armchair Imagineering and overthinking crowd size and storytelling effectiveness. Walking through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with new people or seeing first-timers tweets/Instagram posts really showcases how incredible this new land at the Disneyland Resort (and soon to be Walt Disney World Resort) really is.
It is easy to compare and contrast this new land to other new experiences at other theme parks. Sometimes it is harder to just slow down and enjoy this new and incredible addition to the Disney Parks. A good friend of mine always says “simple is hard.” So often we as guests have focused on what Disney is or isn’t doing that we forget to sit back and just enjoy what is in front of us. It for sure hasn’t been the busiest summer at the Disneyland Resort and I have treasured every second of it! Soon it will be busy again and I will have a summer of memories about the opening months of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when I could walk around, take photos, and experience this land with ease and to my heart’s content. I will also treasure the experience of the first time I was able to visit and see the Millennium Falcon right in front of me! On top of that, I’ll be incredibly thankful for getting to re-experience that first time visit through the eyes of my sister and brother in law and so many others that get to see Star Wars come to life for the first time!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is meant to create the world of Batuu and the Black Spire Outpost. It is supposed to be a living breathing community. Just like all places, it will have its highs and lows as time goes by. There will be hits and misses. However, there will also be all of the magic to be experienced as guests visit and get to be a part of the Galaxy far, far away. For that, I’m thankful. Aren’t you?