Inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — What it’s like to build your own custom lightsaber


Don’t ask about lightsabers at Savi’s Workshop: The mysterious proprietor of the Black Spire Outpost establishment is not an arms dealer; he’s in the scrap metal business.

Playing along with this backstory to help protect Savi’s secret is part of the experience of procuring a hand-built lightsaber at Disneyland’s newest land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens to the public on Friday. And depending on how willing you are to step into that narrative, it will be these details that will make the attraction special.

At Savi’s Workshop, you’ve got to pony up $200 for a custom lightsaber — and the chance to feel like you’re the hero in your own “Star Wars” story.


It helps that “Star Wars” fans already hold lightsabers in high regard. The weapon of choice of for Force-wielding heroes such as Rey, Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as their foes Kylo Ren and Darth Vader, lightsabers have been a part of “Star Wars” lore since the very beginning.

Your story starts as soon as you approach the counter outside the workshop where the workers who greet you with a cheery “Bright suns!” will shut down any lightsaber talk.

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“We don’t want any trouble from the First Order,” a cast member (Disneyland speak for park staff) reminds you.

Instead, they will help you understand that what you’re interested in is scheduling an appointment to check out some “salvaged scrap metal” (wink). They even have some sample product in drawers near the counter to help you decide the specific kind of metal you will be interested in purchasing.


These bits of scrap metal, of course, are the salvaged pieces that will be used to build a customized lightsaber.

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Perusing the drawers will reveal the four available lightsaber themes to choose from: Peace and Justice (think Republic-era Jedi), Power and Control (forged by the Sith), Elemental Nature (because the Force is an energy in all living things) and Protection and Defense (mysterious ancient lightsaber pieces).

You’ll need to have picked a theme when setting up your appointment with the worker at the till, who will then give you a pin to signify your selection (questioning if it’s wise to leave a paper trail might get you a laugh, but you’ll still have to sign your credit card receipt).

The theatrics continue as you and your group of Builders (14 per appointment) and guests are invited into the gated area outside the workshop’s entrance. Here, a couple of Gatherers (keepers of knowledge about the Force who work for Savi) unveil a cart of pieces for a hands-on tutorial on how to build a lightsaber.

Everyone is encouraged to practice assembling a lightsaber to get a feel for all the pieces they will potentially use when building their own once inside the workshop. But if any roaming Stormtroopers approach searching for Resistance spies and sympathizers, the Gatherers are quick to hide everything away.

The Gatherers might even call on you to help make sure the Stormtroopers don’t catch on to the shop’s true purpose by having you stand in a way that blocks their view of the cart and it’s up to you to not look suspicious.

Your “Star Wars” story ramps up once you make it into the workshop.

After walking through a small room full of various salvaged knickknacks, you and your fellow Builders are guided to take a spot around a large oval worktable in a bigger room.

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Here, one of the Gatherers will explain who they really are and why they have been salvaging old lightsaber pieces. They will name legendary heroes of the past who wielded the Force for good. They’ll also mention those who were seduced by the dark side of the Force. They will bring up the newest hero out there now, who is using the Force to fight against the First Order. They will confess their hope that someone in the room might become a hero whose story they will tell in the future.

It’s this part of the experience that resonates with internalized “Star Wars” feelings. The idea that anyone, like an orphaned scavenger on a desert planet, has the potential to be a hero. And for a brief moment, so long as you’re willing to play along, you feel like you can be that hero too.

The rest of the experience involves choosing your own kyber crystal (a Force-attuned crystal that helps power a lightsaber) and actually assembling your lightsaber from a tray of parts (remember to wear your pin where it’s visible to the Gatherers).

Without spoiling any surprises, making the lightsaber will involve selecting two of four grips, one of two emitters, one of two pommel caps, one of two sets for the igniter, and putting them all together. For many “Star Wars” fans, just building the custom lightsaber will on its own be very exciting.

But for others, it will be the details and storytelling at Savi’s Workshop that make its lightsaber experience the most memorable.

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A lightsaber from Savi’s Workshop
(Tracy Brown / Los Angeles Times)

Twitter: @tracycbrown