I love Disneyland more for the atmosphere than for the rides. (A lot of theme park rides make me sort of sick.)
I’m a big “Star Wars” fan, but I’m not obsessive. (I liked “The Rise of Skywalker,” despite its flaws. But I didn’t spend any time arguing about it on social media.)
With those disclaimers, I’ve got to tell you that the new Disneyland attraction “Rise of the Resistance” is ... freaking incredible.
Disneyland is, of course, the place to head on vacation to meet Mickey Mouse, ride the Matterhorn, Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad, and take in the parades, fireworks and Fantasmic. But it’s also the place to go if you’ve always wanted to be Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa. (Or Darth Vader.)
Lots of Utahns make the trek (pilgrimage?) to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., every year — including for the spring break season that’s around the corner — so here’s what “Star Wars” fans can look forward to.
I want to call it “Star Wars” Land, but the real name is “Star Wars”: Galaxy’s Edge. And for fans, it’s really cool.
The 14-acre attraction is set on the never-before-seen planet of Batuu. Once you’re inside, you feel like you’ve left Disneyland behind. You’re not getting peeks of Frontierland or Mickey’s Toon Town.
Instead, you’re wandering down the streets of a village (Black Spire Outpost) that could be in one of the “Star Wars” installments. And that’s before you look up and see the astonishing sight of the 110-foot-long Millennium Falcon, an X-wing fighter or an Imperial shuttle.
It feels permanent. Real. Just wandering around is part of the adventure, and you just might run into a familiar, fuzzy face — like Chewbacca. And as you explore, you can:
• Get a drink at Oga’s Cantina — alcoholic beverages include Fuzzy Tauntaun, Dagobah Slug Slinger and Jedi Mind Trick, as well as beer; non-alcoholic drinks include Jabba Juice and Hyperdrive. (You’ll want to make reservations, and you can only stay 45 minutes. The drinks aren’t cheap — you’re paying for the atmosphere.)
• Get something to eat at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo (smoked kaadu ribs, fried Endorian tip-yip, braised shaak roast, Batuu-bon, etc). There’s also fast food from a galaxy far, far away at stands, and blue or green milk at — you guessed it! — the Milk Stand. Again, it’s not cheap — you actually are still at Disneyland.
• Build your own droid at the Droid Depot. It’s not hard — think Build-a-Bear — and it’s expensive ($99.99), but you end up with a remote-control droid to call your own.
• Build your own lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop. It’s a bit more complicated (but not much) and twice as expensive ($199.99), but you end up with a cool, albeit fictional, weapon.
• Check out the “Star Wars” souvenirs and apparel at Black Spire Outfitters, the Creature Stall, Dok-Onder’s Den of Antiquities, First Order Cargo, Resistance Supply and the Toydarian Toymaker. Even if you’re not buying, it’s fun to look.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
The first ride to open at Galaxy’s Edge is fine. It’s remarkable to see the exterior of the ship, and to be inside a real, seemingly working model for the ride.
BTW, no, the interior is not actually inside the ship you saw on your way in. But make sure to pay attention to all the stuff that's designed to keep you occupied while you stand in line. The droids, particularly, are pretty great.
And the ride itself is fine. You enter six at a time and are assigned a role — two pilots, two gunners and two engineers. The pilots have the most fun; they have a joystick to maneuver the ship. (No matter how bad you are at it, the Falcon will survive.) The rest of you get to push buttons and at least pretend that what you’re doing is affecting what’s happening.
The adventure itself is pretty predictable. You’re part of a crew that’s trying to retrieve a valuable commodity for the Resistance; you fly the ship and battle bad guys. It’s not hugely different, in concept, from “Star Tours” — although it’s much more advanced in look and feel.
If you’re an obsessive “Star Wars” fan, odds are you’re going to love this. If you’re a more casual fan, you’ll think it’s just … fine.
(Not surprisingly, lines for the ride are long. According to Disney, parkgoers will be able to use Fastpass for the Millennium Falcon beginning Feb. 19.)
Rise of the Resistance
Lots of attractions advertise themselves as immersing you in a different world. In this case, it’s true. Nothing else comes close.
It’s more of an experience than a ride. It runs 15 to 20 minutes after you reach the front of the line. (The Millennium Falcon and Star Tours rides each run about 4½ minutes.)
The story is pretty standard. Set after “The Last Jedi” and before “The Rise of Skywalker,” you’re cast in the role of a Resistance recruit. On orders from Rey, you board a transport in Batuu. (There also are appearances by Finn, Poe, BB-8, General Hux and Kylo Ren.)
En route to a top-secret base, your transport is tractor-beamed inside a First Order Star Destroyer, and you and your group must effect an escape as the First Order fleet is attacked by Resistance forces.
But that doesn’t begin to describe how real “R of the R” feels. When the transport takes off, it’s hard to tell it isn’t genuinely in motion. The view out the transport’s windows is stunning. (Make sure you look out the rear port to see the Star Destroyer that’s grabbing you.)
When you board the First Order ship, the scale is unbelievable. You stand on the deck of a bay open to space (but for the force field), facing a squad of stormtroopers. It’s so enormous you might not even notice the life-size TIE fighter to your right.
And then, after you climb in a small transport vehicle and start racing around the ship, you maneuver around the legs of a massive pair of AT-AT walkers that tower above you.
Depending on what color you’re assigned, the ride is somewhat different. And rather exciting. And it’s amazing how much there is to see.
The most negative thing I can tell you about “R of the R” is that it’s so stupendous that the rest of “Star Wars” Land sort of pales in comparison. Well, that and the fact that as of this writing, they’re still working out the kinks and the ride seems somewhat prone to breaking down.
And the difficulty parkgoers have getting on the attraction. You have to be in the park when it opens; you have to have the Disneyland App on your phone; and you have to join the “virtual queue” and be assigned a boarding group sometime during that day. Not everyone will get in one of those groups and, depending on how well the ride is running, not all the groups may actually get on the ride.
It’s not new, and it’s not in Galaxy’s Edge. It’s pretty much the same ride that debuted 33 years ago in Tomorrowland — a ride that was updated in 2011, when it became “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.”
Passengers climb on board a transport with C-3PO and R2-D2, but things go wrong and you end up racing through various dangers as the ship rolls and jerks and tosses you about. (There’s a reason for the seat belts.)
The original version of the ride was sort of a sequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy; “The Adventure Continues” features elements from all the “Star Wars” films. (The three main trilogies, at least.) Riders experience four of 18 different segments each time through, so — depending on how many times you want to stand in line — you may never experience exactly the same ride twice.
The most recent update came in December, with the addition of scenes drawn from “The Rise of Skywalker” — the Death Star seen crashed on the moon Kef Bir. Which is definitely cool.
The biggest drawback is that you have to wear those annoying 3D glasses. And for those of us who wear prescription glasses, that’s a giant pain.
What was groundbreaking in 1987 is definitely not in 2020, in part because it has been imitated so often in other rides. But at this point, nostalgia has become part of the charm of “Star Tours.”