Starting Friday, Disneyland guests will get to visit the world of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo — but they’ll have to pay out-of-this world prices to get the full experience.
The $1 billion attraction, called “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” is one of the largest expansion in the history of Disney
theme parks. It spans 14 acres and will feature two rides and more than a dozen shops and restaurants.
If you don’t have a Galaxy’s Edge reservation? There’s no reason to come to Disneyland on Friday.
A second iteration of Galaxy’s Edge will also open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida in late August. Both versions of Galaxy’s Edge are opening earlier than Disney originally planned — a move the company said was made in order to meet guest demand.
But fans should be aware of one key detail: Not all of the planned attractions at the California version open Friday. One of the two rides is not yet open, but is expected to be up and running in late 2019. In other words, Disney can start charging “Star Wars” fans entry to the theme park now even though they won’t be able to get the full “Galaxy’s Edge” experience right away.
“We have said previously that we are pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology with these signature attractions and will not open an attraction until it exceeds our expectations,” Disney spokeswoman Melissa Britt said.
Here’s what you should expect if you hope to travel to a galaxy far, far away:
Getting into ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ requires at least $129 — and an advanced reservation
Guests who want to visit Galaxy’s Edge can’t buy separate admission specifically for that part of the park — the only way to get in is to buy a regular ticket to Disneyland. A single-day ticket on May 31 starts at $129. From June 1 through September, one-day admission to Disneyland the base price goes up to $149 per person ages 10 and older.
‘Reservations at Disneyland Resort hotels for the opening of the new Star Wars attractions cost upwards of $400 per night.’
But having a theme park ticket alone won’t be enough to get into Galaxy’s Edge for the first few weeks after it opens. Until June 24, visitors are required to have a special, no-cost reservation for Galaxy’s Edge.
There were originally two ways to get a reservation: For guests who weren’t planning on staying at a Disneyland hotel, they could sign up online. These spots were claimed quickly though and are no longer available.
Otherwise, people staying at Disneyland Resort hotels are guaranteed a Galaxy’s Edge reservation. As of Thursday, rooms were still available at all three Disneyland Resort hotels. But scoring a reservation will be costly.
At Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, room rates start at $412 per night on average, excluding tax and other fees. The other two hotels are even more expensive: Disneyland Hotel rooms start at $561 per night on average, while rooms at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa start at $729 per night, on average.
Lower your expectations — one of the two new rides isn’t open yet
When they enter Galaxy’s Edge, visitors will be on a planet called Batuu, a location featured in “Star Wars” comic books and television series that Disney described as “on the frontier of Wild Space — the uncharted region beyond all known star systems.” Specifically, guests will be traipsing around the Black Spire Outpost, a port on Batuu.
Here are some of the sites that will be open to the public starting Friday:
• Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: This ride recreates the experience of flying the famous spacecraft piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca in the film franchise. Each ride vehicle will seat six people, and the ride is designed to be interactive so guests will use controls to either pilot the ship, use blasters to defend the craft or keep the ship running smoothly as flight engineers. (Guests must be 38 inches or taller to ride.)
• Oga’s Cantina: This bar will serve cocktails and beers in souvenir glasses. It also features musical entertainment courtesy of Rex, a droid that appeared in the park’s existing Star Tours ride based on the Star Wars franchise.
Once again, however, be prepared to pay top dollar. A “Yub Nub” — made of Malibu Pineapple Rum, Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, Citrus Juices and Passion Fruit in a souvenir mug costs $42 — according to the Disney Food Blog.
• Savi’s Workshop: Visitors to this store can construct and purchase — for $200 — their own lightsabers — the famous weapons used by Jedi fighters like Luke Skywalker and Yoda.
• Droid Depot: At this store, guests can create their own droid in the vein of the R2-D2 of BB-8 characters from the films.
• The Milk Stand: This eatery will serve the plant-based Blue and Green Milk frozen beverages, which were shown on-screen in “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
But one thing that will be missing from Galaxy’s Edge when it opens is the attraction’s second ride, “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance,” which won’t open until the end of 2019.
New music composed by John Williams, who created the film franchise’s famous soundtrack, will play throughout the park.
Exploring the world of ‘Star Wars’ will be expensive
The custom lightsabers at Savi’s Workshop cost a whopping $200 each before tax. Meanwhile, the custom droids will sell for $99. Parents with little ones eager to wield their own lightsaber in Batuu may want to purchase one at home in advance to save themselves serious money: Lightsabers sell on Amazon
Food and drink can also be expensive in Galaxy’s Edge. A regular cocktail at Oga’s Cantina can cost as much as $17, not including the price of a souvenir mug. Single beers will cost $12 each, or $75 for a flight of beers. On the non-alcoholic side, the Blue and Green Milk drinks each cost $8.
Lunch and dinner entrees at the various quick-service restaurants will cost anywhere from $13 to $20. A bottle of Coca-Cola
in a special spherical bottle will cost $5.
There is one free souvenir guests can score: The cardboard coasters at Oga’s Cantina are single-use and free to take home, said Don Munsil, founder of travel website MouseSavers.com. “Even ask for a fresh one if yours is a little waterlogged,” he said.
Guests only have four hours to visit Galaxy’s Edge, so plan ahead
If you have a Galaxy’s Edge reservation, it’s not a free pass to go into the area whenever you want. Guests are assigned specific, four-hour windows during which they can visit. Each guest with a reservation will receive a wristband that indicates when they are allowed in. Once their allotted time is over, Disney employees dressed as Stormtrooper soldiers from the “Star Wars” films will escort them out. (Guests who leave early into their reservation window won’t be allowed re-entry.)
‘Every minute earlier you arrive represents maybe 40 to 50 fewer people ahead of you …There’s always someone more hardcore than you.’’
Len Testa, president of the travel website TouringPlans.com, has a reservation for the first group allowed to enter Galaxy’s Edge on Friday at 8 a.m. Disneyland has advised these people that they can enter the park as early as 6 a.m.
But there’s a catch: The line to enter the park will start forming even earlier in the day. “I’m guessing that the line for wristbands will start forming no later than 4 a.m., depending on where Disney allows people to queue up,” Testa said.
“Every minute earlier you arrive represents maybe 40 to 50 fewer people ahead of you,” Munsil said. “If there’s one true thing about Disney and getting there early, it’s ‘There’s always someone more hardcore than you.’”
Be prepared to stand in line for several hours
If the openings of previous popular attractions at Disney theme parks are any indication, the entire park will be swamped. When Pandora, a set of attractions inspired by the John Cameron film “Avatar” opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida in 2017, it was not uncommon to see four- or even five-hour waits for the new rides for months, according to travel website EasyWDW. And those crowds also caused longer waits for other attractions at the park.
If you don’t have a Galaxy’s Edge reservation? “There’s no reason to come to Disneyland on Friday,” Testa said.
Guests should expect waits of an hour or longer for the popular attractions outside of Galaxy’s Edge, such as Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, Disney experts told MarketWatch. After June 23, Disneyland may institute a virtual waiting list to enter Galaxy’s Edge depending on demand — entrance would be subject to capacity, and that queue alone won’t guarantee guests will get in.
In anticipation of the new attractions’ popularity, Disney has taken steps to better equip Disneyland to handle massive crowds, a company spokeswoman told MarketWatch. As part of an initiative called Project Stardust, Disney has added new parking and expanded pedestrian walkways throughout Disneyland Resort.
Inside Disneyland, ride queues have been reconfigured to put guests in the shade, and extra seating was added to the Adventureland and Tomorrowland sections of the park. The reservation system for Galaxy’s Edge may also help control crowds in Disneyland — especially within the “Star Wars” area — but that’s far from a sure thing.
“Disneyland used a reservation system and has implied that they are keeping the land below capacity during this ‘soft opening’ period,” said Tom Bricker, owner of DisneyTouristBlog.com.
“That doesn’t mean a ton of locals won’t show up for merchandise sold outside the land,” Bricker added.
After June 23, all bets are off. Even without a splashy opening like Galaxy’s Edge to attract crowds, summer is by far the park’s busiest time, aside from Christmas.
More from MarketWatch