When I was first welcomed into Black Spire Outpost by what I can only assume were local shopkeeps, I misunderstood their greeting.
I thought they were referring to us — the huddled masses taking our first steps into what’s commonly referred to as Star Wars Land — as bright sons. I wondered what they would say to female guests.
Of course, I realized the folly of my ways when they said it to my friend Ana. After that, I stopped saying hello to the cast members and began wishing others bright suns as well.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You come in an “off-worlder” — someone who’s from a different planet — and are left to figure out how to make it on Batuu and in Black Spire Outpost.
That’s why I didn’t write a spoiler filled account of my visit last week. Discovering it all on your own is part of the magic of Galaxy’s Edge, but with Disney’s media embargo lifted, it couldn’t hurt if I offered my own account, could it?
Don’t answer that.
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It’s a bit of a walk from Frontierland into Galaxy’s Edge, and for good reason. The Wild West desert-scape gives way to someplace vaguely resembling the Australian outback but not, with unfamiliar creatures chittering from the bushes and the screams of starships flying overhead.
By the time you’re in the thick of Black Spire Outpost, all remnants of Disneyland have disappeared except for the tallest peak of Big Thunder Mountain, which matches the outpost’s skyline.
In other parts of Disneyland, say Mickey’s Toontown, the buildings in the town are set dressing. When you walk up to a doorway in Black Spire Outpost, it’s likely to slide open, revealing a store or restaurant with stories to tell about its proprietor, the goods you can get there and where they came from, and who’s welcome there — Resistance, First Order, anyone with New Republic credits to spend, etc.
Until you try it, there’s no way to adequately describe how good it feels to walk up to a door and have it slide open for you. The Imagineers who crafted Galaxy’s Edge clearly didn’t want you to feel like you’re on a set or soundstage — you’re in a real spaceport that will reveal itself to you if you explore.
I got chills when I entered the particular landing bay holding the Millennium Falcon. Absolute chills.
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I’m not too proud to say that I made a few mistakes while helping pilot the Millennium Falcon. The ride — dubbed Smuggler’s Run — puts together teams of six to fly the legendary ship for space pirate Hondo Ohnaka of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” animated series fame.
Everyone has a job — each crew is made up of two pilots who respectively control left/right and up/down movement, two gunners who shoot down attacking ships, and two engineers who must push buttons to repair the ship when it gets damaged.
I was responsible for left/right movement, but on my first flight, more than once I found myself simply watching the adventure unveiling before me instead of making the most precise moves. We didn’t crash too much and still came away with a handsome payout of credits — which is how the ride scores you.
The scores, we’re told, will matter in the world, though I’m not sure that system is in place for Galaxy’s Edge’s soft opening that started today and runs through June 23. Costumed characters in Black Spire Outpost will eventually know of your exploits and laud your for your success or laugh at your failures.
The idea of being known in Black Spire Outpost, of having your cumulative experiences there build toward your persona there, is thrilling, to say the least. You can be someone there, someone who is a part of that world and not just a tourist on vacation or over-privileged annual passholder.
I mean, I’ll still be the latter, but I don’t just have to be that in Black Spire Outpost.
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For the first time, I drank alcohol in Disneyland.
I’ve never been to Club 33, the only place it had been allowed in the park, so I jumped at the chance to drink at Oga’s Cantina. It bore enough resemblance to Mos Eisley Cantina to evoke nostalgia for “A New Hope” but was distinctly its own place.
For instance, there’s no live music. It’s DJ R3X — who started in Disneyland as the plucky first-time pilot for the original Star Tours — spinning tunes. The bar is also filled with oddities behind the counter, including several live-looking creatures.
I had the Yub Nub, the Ewok-inspired drink that had pineapple rum, spiced rum, citrus juices, and passion fruit (seeds included). It was a delightful basically-tiki drink, and I expect that goes for the rest of the menu there.
If you like Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, there’s a high probability you’ll like Oga’s. Much like Sam’s, the line gets very long, and unlike Sam’s, you only get 45 minutes in the bar, which is enough time to hit the two-drink maximum and take in the sights and sounds.
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The lightsaber building experience is worth the $200 — says someone who watched his friend build one.
I’ve no real need for a fancy lightsaber — which is what you’ll get from Savi’s Workshop — but I totally get wanting something that feels real. It’s got heft to it, its body is made of metal and doesn’t feel like a toy, its blade is a solid piece and you don’t sling it out to extend it.
You’re given four choices of lightsaber styles, each offering different options for components with which to put the saber together. One path evokes memories of the weapons wielded by the Jedi from the Old Republic, another is more like the ones we saw in the original trilogy, and the third feels distinctly Sith.
The fourth style is one we haven’t seen in the movies — lightsabers that evoke nature, with tree bark, bones, and teeth.
Savi deals in scrap, which is what you’ll be told you’re buying, albeit with a wink and a nudge. Savi’s storefront is filled with random junk — parts of blasters, blasted-off bits of ships, the odd piece of armor — but you’re hurried into a back room before the First Order can see what you’re doing.
Once everyone is inside, builders take their places at stations that form an oval around the room. Observers who accompany the builders stand behind them.
The gatherers, as the cast members in there are referred to, have scoured the galaxy looking for parts to aid budding Force users in their quests to join the conflict that’s soon to come, as they say. The lights dim, and the gatherers ask if builders wish to create their weapons to be like the Jedi masters you know and love or like the a certain heavy breathing Sith lord, all with music and lighting to accompany each mention.
It’s a spiritual decision the builders have before them, with long legacies on both sides of the Force. Once the builders have made their choices and put their sabers together, including choosing their colored Kyber crystals, the sabers are attached to cylindrical chambers to power them up.
Then, in unison, the builders ignite their sabers, and the chambers glow with the color they had chosen. The chambers open, and the builders raise their sabers to complete the ritual, of course accompanied by some words of wisdom from Master Yoda.
At the end, I wished I had built one for myself. I may yet still. Knowing how the ceremony goes may lessen the effect, but I yearn to feel the Force flow through me as I raise my completed lightsaber.
We’ll see what my wallet allows down the road.
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No one I was with built a droid at the Droid Depot, but that looked to be an immersive experience as well. For $100, like a scrapper, you grab a basket and pick parts off a conveyor belt. Once you’ve got what you need, you head back to a station where an expert helps you put it together.
It’s safe to say there are a lot of retail opportunities in Galaxy’s Edge. The ligthsaber and droid building experiences are only the highlights. Elsewhere, an open-air marketplace offers storefronts at which you can buy alien creatures — yes, including porgs — First Order gear, Resistance gear, and general touristy things like postcard books, presumably for the space traveler who stops by a remote outpost just for kicks, I suppose.
Will Disney be printing its own money with merchandise in Galaxy’s Edge? Yes. Does knowing that prevent you from buying said merchandise? Depends on your level of fandom. It’s easier to be cynical if you didn’t grow up wanting to wield a lightsaber or to have a droid buddy by your side.
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There’s all this and more to do in Galaxy’s Edge. I still need to try most of the food, and the second ride in the land, Rise of the Resistance, is set to open later this year.
It might be selfish of me, but I’m hoping to go a few more times just to take it all in and really appreciate everything the place has to offer, and to experience it with other friends who are varying levels of Disney and Star Wars fans.
As Ana and my time in Black Spire Outpost drew to a close, we had to try the blue and green milks on offer. They’re non-dairy, frozen-blended drinks, and while the blue tasted of citrus, the green was herbaceous, probably a result of fresh mint if I was tasting correctly.
It’s safe to say the green was not for me. And even though that’s how my first time in Galaxy’s Edge came to a close, it was nonetheless an incredible experience that fans are sure to love.