Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the 14-acre expansion rumored to have cost $1 billion in a theme park not far away, opens May 31 at Disneyland.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is it?
Disneyland’s new “Star Wars”-inspired land is designed to resemble a remote settlement named Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, one filled with the type of riffraff our intergalactic heroes would come upon — space outlaws, smugglers and rebels battling, or hiding from, the evil Empire. Contrasting with the romanticized vision of Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., one “Star Wars” novel describes Black Spire Outpost as a place for “rogues and opportunists, con artists, thieves.”
In real life, there will be plenty of tourists and die-hard “Star Wars” fans to contend with.
It’s the Anaheim park’s biggest single-land expansion since Walt Disney opened the global landmark in 1955 and one that has been anticipated since the Walt Disney Co. announced a $4-billion deal in 2012 to acquire Lucasfilm, the production company that created the galaxy-building franchise. (Think Star Tours, but on a much larger scale.)
The ambitious 14-acre expansion is located in the park’s northwest corner and replaces several attractions in Disneyland’s Frontierland, including a petting zoo. At Disneyland, there will be three entry points: two near the borders of Frontierland and Fantasyland and one connecting to Critter Country.
But visitors — known as travelers or off-worlders — who want to be there on or near opening day must have already secured a reservation to gain entry into the land.
The grand opening kicks off the seasonal theme-park rush and will showcase Disney’s franchise-integration prowess, as well as its crowd-control skills. That’s partly why certain tiers of annual pass-holders will be blocked out when it launches and during much of the summer. (Some are getting their last visits in during the coming weeks, meaning larger crowds during the Memorial Day holiday.)
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. is also scheduled to open its own version of the land Aug. 29.
When can you see it?
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t officially open until May 31, but employee and press previews have begun.
The ceremony will be livestreamed at 8:20 p.m. Pacific on the Disney Parks blog, Facebook and Twitter pages and by following #DisneyParksLive.
What is there to do there?
Locally, the land will eventually feature two rides, four eateries, one space-themed cantina and five retail shops. It helps to explore Black Spire Outpost with the Play Disney mobile app, which is vital for non-native speakers who want to decode the “Star Wars” language of Aurebesh, seen prominently throughout the land.
Only one ride — the game-like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — will be operational on opening day. The second Galaxy’s Edge attraction — the ambitious, multi-vehicle Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — is promised for later in the year.
The Millennium Falcon ride puts parkgoers who are 38 inches or taller inside the spacecraft made famous by Han Solo (or Rey, depending on which “Star Wars” film you saw first), working as a pilot, engineer or gunner. Expect the simulator ride to play as a more interactive but similarly intense version of Star Tours, one in which groups of six will have to work together to complete a mission. Disney promises those who return with a roughed-up Falcon will potentially face consequences throughout the land.
Rise of the Resistance, a showcase attraction of the land, will feature multiple full-scale ships and vehicles and extensive animatronics. The experience, representing a Resistance mission gone bad, will move guests among multiple locations, where they will ride vehicles and encounter characters from the current trilogy, including a holographic representation of Daisy Ridley’s Rey.
The surrounding village, Black Spire Outpost, features marketplaces inspired by Moroccan and Turkish bazaars. Visitors can build their own lightsabers at Savi’s Workshop or customize a droid at Droid Depot. Come armed with a credit card, as the build-your-own lightsaber costs $200 and droids will run you $99 and up.
Meanwhile, foodies can try new concoctions at Oga’s Cantina or grab a meal at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Ronto Roasters, where a giant engine from a podracer is made to appear as if it’s a grill, will serve spicy sausages and turkey jerky.
How do you get in (Hint: If you don’t already have a reservation, and don’t want to spring for a Disneyland hotel room, don’t bother)
Valid theme-park admission is required to get into Disneyland. Basic adult ticket prices start at $129 and children’s tickets (ages 3-9) begin at $122, and they vary depending on the day. But that’s not all...
Beginning May 31:
Between May 31 and June 23, guests wanting to visit Galaxy’s Edge must have a reservation and are allowed four hours inside the land. Each reservation can be used for a party of up to six people, and each adult in the group must show government-issued identification to get in.
Disneyland implemented the reservation system to avoid the gridlock and social media backlash that marred the openings of other blockbuster attractions, such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016 and Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure Park in 2012. It also ensures Galaxy’s Edge isn’t flooded with Disneyland’s large base of annual pass-holders.
Park visitors who book rooms at any of the three Disneyland Resort hotels automatically get a four-hour reservation to visit the land. Those guests may check in at Galaxy’s Edge two hours prior to their reservation start time.
Parkgoers who didn’t go the hotel-room route were allowed to make reservations online May 2. But those reservations for the initial May 31-June 23 opening period were filled within two hours.
Visitors will be given a special wristband that displays their reservation window. When their time slot expires, access to key attractions and merchandise locations will be cut off. Additionally, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters, likely Stormtroopers, will be checking those wristbands and asking them to leave if need be.
Beginning June 24:
After June 23, the theme park will launch a virtual queuing system, similar to the FastPass system used to schedule appointments to ride the most popular attractions.
By visiting the Disneyland app or a kiosk in the park, visitors can sign up to be part of a boarding group to enter the Star Wars land. Each group will have a two-hour window in which to enter the land but no time limit once visitors enter. Disneyland workers will gauge how crowded the land is before deciding when to accept more groups.
Beginning June 24, a separate reservation for the land will no longer be required.
What about Star Tours?
Disneyland has long featured a “Star Wars” attraction in Tomorrowland, clear across the park. And though its fate — and that of its neighboring Star Wars Launch Bay — is rumored to be in question, the venerable 1987 flight simulator is here to stay for the foreseeable future and will still be fully operational when Galaxy’s Edge opens.
Additionally, Space Mountain currently has a “Star Wars”-themed makeover in Hyperspace Mountain, which, albeit temporary, will be sticking around for a bit.
So visitors can still get their fix while they wait for their reservations — or find some other classic Disney fare to indulge in to pass the time.
What are the new rules about visiting?
In its continued effort to deal with large crowds and protect its brand, the park will be implementing some new rules and tightening older ones.
In hopes of easing the crush of fans when the site opens, Disneyland engineers and landscapers have been working to widen walkways and improve queuing systems to accommodate more visitors. The effort was called Project Stardust and also involved the colorful restoration of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the crown jewel of the park’s Main Street, U.S.A. and gateway to Fantasyland.
Here are a few rules to be aware of:
No (more) smoking: Disneyland managers announced in March that the efforts to ease congestion included removing several smoking areas from the resort and banning extra-wide strollers.
Parking: The resort will soon open a new parking structure, Pixar Pals. Until then, the Mickey & Friends structure and the Toy Story lot will be the two primary guest-parking areas. Parking vouchers still cost $25.
No costumes: The Disneyland Resort already has a costume policy, which will remain in effect when Galaxy’s Edge opens. Guests 14 and older are not allowed to wear costumes, but Disney-inspired attire — a.k.a. Disney bounding — is permitted and encouraged.
Bathroom passes: Inside Galaxy’s Edge, parkgoers waiting in line for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will have to obtain restroom passes if they need to leave their place in line. According to the resort’s website, guests in line will still have “the ability to purchase snacks, utilize a continued process to visit the restroom, enjoy cast interactions, and also engage with an in-queue game while using the Play Disney Parks mobile app to make wait times fun, interactive and enjoyable.”
No standby lines: Between May 31 and June 23, there will be no standby line to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Only parkgoers with reservations will be able to access the land during that time.
No FastPass or MaxPass: Line-jumping amenities such as Disney FastPass and Disney MaxPass are unavailable for attractions in the new land.
What’s this about a new class of annual passes?
Disneyland Resort is introducing an annual pass that lets visitors in on slow days but requires reservations for weekends and other popular times. It’s no surprise that it’s launching just as Galaxy’s Edge is set to open.
The so-called Flex Pass went on sale May 21 for $599 and can be used with no restrictions on most Mondays through Thursdays — when demand is usually low.
But on most weekends and during the high-demand summer months, Flex Pass holders must log onto a Disneyland website or use the resort’s smartphone app to book a reservation as late as the morning of the visit to Disneyland, California Adventure or both. The pass can’t be used at all during two weeks surrounding Christmas.
Times staff writers Hugo Martin and Todd Martens contributed to this report.