Face to face with the Falcon - my visit to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edgeby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
It's been nearly two years since I stood on the floor of the 2017 D23 Expo as the curtain fell and Disney's Imagineers unveiled the massive scale model for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge; two years since I first imagined myself as one of the tiny people in that model, wondering what it would be like to walk into the land. I took hundreds of photos from every angle, trying to imagine myself surrounded by all things Star Wars. What would it look like, sound like, feel like?
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to find out, and the reality of the Black Spire Outpost is better than I even imagined.
Our trip to Batuu came without advance notice, and there was barely enough time to register surprise before we were whisked through a gate and around a corner to come face to face with the Millennium Falcon. One member of our little party teared up; for me, it was a racing heartbeat and goosebumps. In this world of computer graphics, green screens and digital art, it was hard to believe there was an actual life-sized spaceship right there in front of us.
Perhaps it was the perfect blue sky, or the utter lack of anyone else around, but it was as if we'd stepped into the concept art. Only we definitely were not alone. You can't necessarily see them, but your ears will tell you that spaceships are taking off and landing all around you. You can hear them fly overhead. Walk around a bit, and you can hear the residents of the Black Spire Outpost talk amongst themselves, hear droids beep and whir as they go about their day.
With all too little time in the land, too much to take in and absolutely no recording permitted, I can share only my impressions of the new area.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge feels larger than I expected, and the walkways are much wider than almost anywhere else in the park. There are areas that are certainly intended for use as extended queues for the two main attractions, but also some nice quiet paths to wander and explore.
We turned another corner and walked into Ronto Roasters. Again, this looks exactly like the concept art, down to the droid-operated grill (Coke Zero fans, rejoice—I spied the familiar label on one of the soda fountains).
From there it was into the marketplace, a souk-like collection of small stalls and shops. You won't find a giant Star Wars Emporium in the Black Spire Outpost, and in fact may need to do a bit of exploring to find the goods you're looking for. Store signs are understated, and as likely to be written in Aurebesh as in English. Better bring your decoder card, or use the Play Disney Parks app as a translation device.
Several of the shops we passed were already stocked with merchandise, though we weren't able to stop and browse. I spotted some Black Spire Outpost souvenirs, a full rebel flight suit with matching helmet, a collection of fabric patches, and the obligatory pin selection. Earlier in the day we had the opportunity to take a closer look at some of the special merchandise collections, including those from the Droid Depot, high-end Lightsabers from Savi's Workshop, the handcrafted-style offerings of the Toydarian Toymaker, and the pets of the Creature Stall.
We did not get a chance to peek into Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities, but even so I think it's safe to say that whether you're with the Resistance or a friend of the First Order, your wallet is not safe on Batuu.
Speaking of the two rival factions, each has carved out an edge of the Black Spire Outpost, with the marketplace between. The citizens of the outpost—the Disney cast members—have crafted their own character, back story and unique costume. It's the ultimate live-action role-playing environment, and park visitors are encouraged to actively participate.
Our guides took us through the Resistance side of the land and then back to the marketplace, and we tried to soak in all of the details, from the full-sized X-Wing to the tiny droid tracks left in the pavement. With a final look at the Millennium Falcon, it was back out the gates to wait until the end of the month.
My little taste of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge left me even more excited for the grand opening, when the concept art comes to life and Star Wars fans can finally live the dream in person.