Anaheim, Calif. • Black Spire Outpost has been a hangout for smugglers and other galactic scoundrels for centuries. It’s on the Outer Rim world of Batuu, accessible only by little-known hyperspace routes.
The heroic Resistance is hiding out on this backwater planet, still reeling from its big loss at the end of “The Last Jedi.” Now the autocratic First Order has arrived to snuff out the remaining Resistance leaders.
That’s about where you come in.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened Friday, a 14-acre park that is Disneyland’s largest expansion and an unrivaled, immersive “Star Wars” experience.
The Millennium Falcon looms overhead, the open-minded Oga’s Cantina welcomes droids (and is the first spot at Disneyland to serve alcohol) and treasures from every iteration of “Star Wars” are scattered throughout Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.
While Stormtroopers comb the streets for fugitives, Resistance survivors desperately seek allies — and park guests choose which side of the action to join.
My advice, after a media preview this week: Don’t skip the fun of playing along.
As a Resistance member, I learned the code phrase of the day was “let the Wookiee win.” Mutter the passwords to a rebel cast member and get a “piece” of a map; collect all nine of the trading cards and discover instructions for a special mission. (If the password isn’t enough and you’re suspected of being a spy, try the secret handshake.)
Almost all the signs in the park are written in Aurebesh, a “Star Wars” alphabet, and a Play Disney Parks app transforms your phone into a data pad that translates it. It also lets you play games with other visitors and uncover Easter eggs. A bolt of cloth in a marketplace gift shop has been reserved for Lando Calrissian, the translator informs you — makes sense, when you consider how many capes that charismatic rogue has.
So while this world is new to anybody who hasn’t been living on the rougher edges of “Star Wars” society, characters like Calrissian, Han Solo and the bounty hunter Greedo have been popping in here for years.
This really helps the park work. The landscape of Black Spire Outpost is new while being also feeling incredibly familiar. More highlights:
On Smuggler’s Run
While a second ride will open later this year, the only ride currently available in Galaxy’s Edge invites you to fly the Millennium Falcon. What’s cooler than that?
Smuggler’s Run has its own rich backstory, set soon after the Resistance suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Crait. To make a supply run, Chewbacca has turned to an old “associate” — Hondo Ohnaka, a reformed charlatan and a welcome sight for fans of the animated series “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” Chewie agrees to loan the Falcon to Hondo, and we get the job as his crew.
The cockpit sits six people: a pilot, copilot, two gunners and two engineers. After a hyperspace jump to the planet Corellia, where the Falcon was built, the crew flies into a First Order facility to steal a shipment of coaxium.
It’s up to the pilots to get the ship in position for the raid. The gunners take care of the onslaught of TIE fighters while the engineers scramble to keep the ship from falling apart — all while Hondo is on the comlink barking orders.
It’s a ball. The cockpit lurches about, buttons and displays flash instructions, and based on your skill, the results of your mission can vary wildly.
On my first run I was a gunner, but our pilot kept crashing into objects, so forget about aiming the laser cannons. We escaped with a case of the precious coaxium, but ended up owing so much money to Hondo for ship repairs the trip almost wasn’t worth it.
After a few more runs, I was getting the hang of flying the ship, and my last mission was quite lucrative for all involved.
The second ride, The Rise of the Resistance, is under construction and expected to open in a few months. Disney calls it the most ambitious attraction undertaken at its theme parks. Early photos show visitors in a fierce battle between Resistance and First Order forces, including encounters with massive AT-AT walkers and a final confrontation with Kylo Ren.
A world of details
The outpost feels like an ancient city, with the new bolted onto or plastered over the old as technology has advanced or as cultures have shifted.
In the First Order parts of the park, the sound is genuinely ominous. There’s a constant deep thrum from the engines of a nearby ship that makes everything feel a little eerie. Mix that with the impatient orders snapped out by officious Stormtroopers, and it’s easy to see why people are attracted to the Resistance.
Birds chirp in the Resistance sector, where you overhear spotty rebel transmissions and the familiar sounds of gonk droids from “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, one of the gift shops in Galaxy’s Edge, is one of the best examples of the marrying of the new and familiar. A serious “Star Wars” fan could spend a lot of time hunting in there. Want to see a Jedi youngling helmet from the temple on Coruscant? You’re in luck. The helmet from the bounty hunter disguise Princess Leia Organa used to free Solo from his carbonite prison in Jabba’s palace is casually displayed alongside X-Wing pilot helmets, likely scavenged from the Battle of Yavin.
If you look hard enough, you’ll even find an item from one of the Indiana Jones films. Nobody knows how Dok-Ondar got his hands on all this stuff.
Whether you’re a diehard fan or have only seen a few of the films, there really is an experience for everybody. Younger fans who come to “Star Wars” through the animated series “Rebels” will love finding loth cats throughout the outpost. An important family heirloom that belonged to Hera Syndulla, a key character in that series, can be found in the Den of Antiquities.
There are Jedi and Sith holocrons, an important artifact for Force users, and even puffer pigs from the animated series. If you’re more of a “Rogue One” fan, you can get your hands on a wooden Stormtrooper doll like the one Jyn Erso had as child. If the prequels are more your jam, there are plenty of Republic and Separatist artifacts to be spotted.
Like other places in Disneyland, expect to shell out for souvenirs and food. One example: If you elect to build your own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop, it’s going to set you back $200. I had really looked forward to building one, but the price tag was a deterrent.
I chose to instead drop $110 at Dok-Ondar’s for a high quality replica of the lightsaber that was passed from Anakin Skywalker to Luke Skywalker to Rey. The hilt is solid and heavy and it looks like a legit movie prop. It’s nothing like the lightsabers I bought for my kids at Target.
As cool as it is, the one I brought home didn’t come with a blade. That would have been another $80, so maybe I’ll get one the next time I go.
To see Galaxy’s Edge between now and June 23, you need a reservation in addition to your regular Disneyland ticket. The additional reservation doesn’t cost anything, but demand to see the park is high and this method is one way to try to control crowd sizes.
With a reservation, visitors will have four hours to explore the attraction. When your allotted time is up, the First Order will find you and Stormtroopers will march you out of the outpost.
Time to eat
Every scary part of the galaxy has an even scarier watering hole, and Oga’s Cantina fills this role. The cantina will be immediately familiar to “Star Wars” fans, as it looks a lot like the scum magnet in the film “A New Hope,” where Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi first meet Solo and Chewie.
The most noticeable difference: They allow droids in this establishment. R-3X, who Disneyland fans will remember from his time hosting Star Tours, has found a new gig as the house DJ. Drinks here aren’t cheap; a beer costs $12 and a specialty cocktail in a souvenir glass is $42.
If you don’t want a cocktail or a beer, go to the Milk Stand and try the blue and green milk. A glass of each costs $8. Blue milk has been a curiosity for more than 40 years now — and who can forget watching Luke taking a swig of the green stuff, much to the chagrin of a visibly disturbed Rey in “The Last Jedi.” The consensus seemed to be that guests preferred the green milk, but the consensus is wrong. I liked the blue way more.
Among the other dining options: A Ronto Wrap, named for the creatures native to Tattooine, is a grilled sausage taco, and the Endorian Tip-yip is the “Star Wars” version of fried chicken. Lunch and dinner will cost up to $20 per plate. While the food is tasty, it’s hard to get too excited about tacos when you could be flying the Millennium Falcon.
During a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams were on hand to open the park. Hamill said the last time he was at Disneyland with Lucas, it was for the opening of the Star Tours attraction. At the time, he thought it “inconceivable” that one of his movies would have its own ride at Disneyland. “Look at where we are today,” he said. “We get our own land.”