On Saturday, August 17, a moment that had been building up for years after waiting with the patience of a Jedi Master arrived - I got to visit Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (thanks to my passholder preview)! After having an incredible six and a half hours (yes, I know the time slots they gave were only four hours, but no one checked and we had so much fun that time flew by), I've finally found myself in an emotionally capable place to whip up the 9 things I think you ought to know before visiting Batuu, specifically in Hollywood Studios (though these things will likely apply in Disneyland, as the lands are near mirror images of each other).
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1. It's immersive - like, really immersive!
There are also some local phrases you'll hear. It may be handy to be familiar with them such as:
There's more that you'll hear, but these are the phrases I heard most. Also don't forget that if you ask, "What movie is that from?" that there are no movies on Batuu because this is their reality! It may be better to ask something like, "Where do the legends say this is from?"
2. Smuggler's Run is meant to be ridden multiple times.
The story for the ride is really fun and something that kids and adults can both enjoy, especially if you've seen The Clone Wars and/or Star Wars: Rebels (the animated series) and thus know Hondo Ohnaka. Hondo, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a space pirate who is ultimately out for himself (mainly, his wallet) but does have a good heart at the end of the day. He's acquired the Falcon and is recruiting you to help him smuggle some coaxium (not sure what coaxium is? They cover this in Solo: A Star Wars Story!). You'll get a cut of the profits, but it depends on how good of a condition your ship is in and if you can get one or two shipments.
After going through the queue of the workshop where they run some tests, you get some beautiful views of the top of the Falcon from above, and then you get to board the famous Corellian freighter after meeting Hondo himself. The Hondo animatronic is beyond realistic and absolutely mind blowing; I didn't bring my DSLR, so my zoomed in iPhone pic doesn't do him justice!
You walk through the hallways and are given a card for one of three positions: pilot, gunner, or engineer (two of each per ride). You then get to hang out by the Dejarik board and take a seat (and photo!) while you wait for your boarding group to be called. Your boarding group is the color of your card stating your position. Then, behold the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. I'm not going to lie, you guys - I got really teary eyed. The first time I rode it, I got to pilot with my dad (my fiance was a gunner for us) and I was the one to launch the ship into take off and also to pull the lever for us to make the jump to lightspeed, and that's when teary eyed switched to full streaming tears. The surrealness and immersion of it all was a lot, and I loved every second.
Anthony said that being a gunner was just okay - it was the more boring of the three positions - so we went on again to see what luck we'd have for positions that time. We both ended up engineering, and it was a ton of fun. You don't see a ton of action since you have a lot of buttons to push - especially if your pilots crash a lot - but you get a nice theater view of the cockpit when you do have a second to sit back and enjoy it.
Worth noting: this ride is not necessarily friendly for those who are prone to motion sickness. If you do not fare well on Star Tours, I would think twice before boarding - it is very similar, but you don't wear 3D glasses.
3. And yes, if you're a bad pilot, they will call you out.
4. The Batuu residents (aka cast members) all have their own stories, so they're worth talking to.
Each of them has taken so much time and care into crafting their characters that it is definitely worth chatting with them on your travels! They will tell you when the Resistance and First Order arrived, and they may have even picked a side that they sympathize with. If you really want the full experience, definitely take a few moments to have some conversations - you'll learn the local lore and find yourself even more immersed.
5. You'll see some fan-favorites roaming the area, but it is not your typical photo op.
6. Some of the food offerings are better than others, so pack a snack if you're picky.
While my fiance enjoyed the ribs at Docking Bay 7 and I've heard good things about some of the other options, I was not a huge fan of the yobshrimp salad (kid's menu version pictured below; the noodles reminded me of cellophane noodles) and there weren't very many snack options. The Ronto Wrap seems to be a fan favorite, but is the same price as a regular meal (and they're all pretty pricey), and the only real snack available at the park that isn't a cupcake is sweet-and-spicy popcorn. Oh, and I've heard many people say how excited they are to have dinner at Oga's Cantina - don't get too thrilled because they really only serve drinks. If you're a picky eater or follow a strict diet, then definitely bring your own snacks if you don't plan on leaving Galaxy's Edge. Otherwise, I'd recommend other quick service places outside of Batuu within Hollywood Studios. From now on, I'll be bringing a Built Bar with me! If you want to plan ahead with the Galaxy's Edge menus, you can check out my dining guide for Galaxy's Edge (featuring some highlights of healthier options) here.
7. There's more to the merchandise than meets the eye
Many of the offerings on Batuu for merchandise are interactive, like the Salacious Crumb Anthony got for himself or the kyber crystals that can be used in the holocrons (which are filled with Jedi or Sith knowledge and messages) and the lightsabers at Savi's. Lots of it is shrouded in lore, whether it be something as simple as Darth Nihilus' logo on a notebook or more intricate like Hera's kalikori (pictured) or Padme's headdress. Even the droids at the Droid Depot can have personality chips added to them so they have some spunk to your liking - oh, and the headbands you get there can talk to each other. Holocrons will talk to each other, too.
8. Savi likes to keep his lightsaber operation on the downlow, but there are plenty of options for sabers once you're in the door (or even if you opt not to build a lightsaber)
The Gatherers don't want Kylo Ren to think the wiser of them, so the operation is pretty lowkey. There are different themes to your lightsaber and its elements, but be warned - these lightsabers are heavy. I got to hold one in my hand and while it would be really cool as a display piece, it's not something I'd want to carry around if I was cosplaying a Jedi. If you're looking for a more lightweight piece, check out the Den of Antiquities; there are some legacy lightsabers there (aka lightsabers from characters) that are much more lightweight and a hair cheaper, too. I think that Savi's Workshop is a super cool experience and, seeing that real deal lightsabers that are battle ready are pretty expensive no matter where you get them, there's some added value with the experience added to it. But the weight is something to consider depending on what you'll be using it for!
9. You get to choose your own story.
Remember how I said the land is incredible interactive and immersive? That continues on mobile! There's an app that Disney has called "Play Parks" which really can help you create your own story in Batuu with the Star Wars Datapad, which is available while you are located in Black Spire Outpost.
There you have it! Overall, I had an absolutely amazing time on Batuu and foresee myself going for many evening walks throughout the park and spending a little more time there than the rest of Hollywood Studios. I am so excited for everyone to experience this for the first time. Even my mom, who isn't super privy to everything Star Wars and didn't ride the Falcon (she gets motion sickness), found herself feeling really immersed in the land and enjoying herself.
What are you most excited for in Galaxy's Edge? Let's discuss in the comments and on social!
Want to run at Walt Disney World without paying runDisney prices?
If you’re looking for an inexpensive yet fun way to stay active on your Disney vacation, then look no further than the resorts! There are plenty of fun runs at the Walt Disney World resorts to choose from… and the good news is that you don’t have to be staying at these specific resorts to participate!
Every fun run is $15 per person (free for kids 3 and under) and includes a cute little medal (nothing as hefty as the runDisney ones, but a cute trinket regardless) and either a free treat or some resort swag. Dates and times are subject to change, so double check with the resort’s cast members to be sure if you’re interested! Some of them offer pre-registration, but you’ll have no problem signing up the day of if you get there 30 minutes early.
Fort Wilderness hosts runs seasonally, so check with the cast members working there to see when and where they’re being hosted, if at all. If you’re there for the Fourth of July and want to run for Dole Whip, check out the PIneapple Dash at the Polynesian Resort! Check with resort cast members for exact times, as it may vary from year to year, but you can expect for it to be around 8:00 a.m., give or take.
The Beignet Dash:
Southernmost Point 3K:
As the name suggests, this Old Key West Resort fun run is a course shy of 2 miles long that starts near the playground closest to Sandcastle Pool. You can enjoy this race every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., with registration happening at 7. To preregister, check with Cast Members in the Community Hall!
All Stars and Icons:
This 1.2 mile fun run happens every other Tuesday at The Reel Spot at All Star Movies. You can register the day of or you can pre-register at All Star Sports’ Surfboard Bay Pool. Registration the day of begins at 7:30 a.m. with the race kicking off at 8.
This Boardwalk Resort course takes you for a 1.4 mile fun run at 8 a.m. every Friday! You can register by Jellyrolls at 7:30 a.m., and the race starts where you register.
The Regatta Run:
Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club hosts this 3K every Thursday at 8:00 a.m., with registration held at 7:30 a.m. the day of. Call the resort if you’re interested in pre-registering. The starting point and registration location is at the marina just outside of the Yacht Club.
Want to run a 3K around Saratoga Springs? You can every Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m., with registration at 7:30. Just head to the Community Hall to sign up and get started!
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Jessica is a huge Disney and Star Wars nerd who channeled that love into motivation to lose 75 lbs.