Walking into the cavernous hallway, the sounds and music of Toy Story Land faded into smooth, operatic sounds. The atmosphere felt as if we had been transported to another world. We hit the corner to see a marketplace, much like you’d see on Disney +’s ‘The Mandalorian’. We had made it to Galaxy’s Edge. Disney Worlds’ newest land that was parked between Muppet Studios and Toy Story Land. The look and feel of it was magical.
Immediately upon entering, we were surprised to see a trio of droids at the Droid Depot that were operational. They moved and made noises while kids and grownups alike took pictures. We turned around and saw vehicles parked. One was a Land Cruiser!! I was beyond ecstatic.
My kids had only my shown feigned interest until this point. Now their interest was piqued. We took a few pictures and moved onto the main walkway. We were now immersed in the Star Wars galaxy. My youngest daughter screamed for joy, which made me swing around. Chewbacca and Rey were passing us. My youngest had never seen Chewbacca before and, to my delight, she wasn’t the slightest bit scared.
After reveling in delight that my family seemed to be enjoying themselves, we turned the corner to see massive structures that would make up the shopping and cantina area. Several of the shops caught my eyes all at once. As I was pretty much starving, Ronto Roasters would be my first stop.
I ordered three Ronto Wraps. The taste was out of this world and was, much to my enjoyment, pleasing to my taste buds. The look, feel, and taste of the food was enough to make you feel a part of a Star Wars feature. Upon finishing our tasty dishes, we turned the corner to see the Millennium Falcon!!
If I were a betting man, I would bet that my kids saw me visibly shed a tear. I would also bet that, immediately after said tear was shed, I would’ve said “It’s beautiful.” I stood there for a few minutes and took pictures. I was in heaven. I had never seen such an amazing piece of film history in such detail. Time became a blur.
Before I knew it, I had taken dozens of pictures from several angles, and with several filters. I hadn’t even made it through the whole area yet. I did a 180 and saw another clearing. This clearing took me to a full scale replica of a First Order TIE Echelon. It was massive! The way it was sitting there made me feel like I was about to be captured by the First Order at any moment.
Right next to that was another shop that had a dozen or so First Order movie props. Again, I took so many pictures. They had a lot of merchandise that I wanted but, I was mostly interested in the full set of First Order Storm Trooper armor. At almost $7k, it may be a while before I can justify it. So, I decided to do what any sane person would do at that moment. I checked the Disney World app to see what rides we could get on at Galaxy’s Edge.
The first thing that came up was Rise of the Resistance. I had heard about the virtual queue and decided I needed to try it. I checked in and was group 186. They were on group 144 and it was only 1700, so I thought I had a shot. In the meantime, I would continue checking out what other rides were open and see what the wait times were. Well, well, well…if it isn’t my old friend the Millennium Falcon.
Smuggler’s Run had a wait time of 30 minutes. 30 minutes! I thought that was great! That means we could enjoy that ride and still have enough time to make Rise of the Resistance. Without further hesitation, me and my two oldest kids ran to get in line. The scenery was amazing. Disney really outdid themselves with creating the look and feel of an operation that only a scruffy- looking nerf herder could be in cahoots with.
The look of the “garage” was out of this world. Parts of ships were everywhere. An engine was hanging from the ceiling, being tested to make sure it was “good-to-go”. The caverns that made the garage gave the whole operation a shadier feel. It was surreal, to say the least. We made our way through the hangar and into the cockpit of our ship. I was a gunner and my two kids were pilots.
We took our seats and were whisked away on an adventure! Hondo Ohnaka was in charge of our run as we headed towards Corellia for our haul. The ride was bumpy, fast, exhilarating, breathtaking, and so much more than I could describe. It was so much fun! The experience alone was enough to get my kids riled up for any and everything Star Wars. So it was a good thing we had Rise of the Resistance to look forward to…or so I thought.
We continued to walk around Galaxy’s Edge, waiting for the virtual queue to call our number. Two hours passed and the virtual queue closed at 164. We weren’t going to make it after all. My kids were upset, I was upset…it was a stigma on our trip. So, what do you do when you vacation to Disney World and don’t get on a ride that you wanted to go on? You go back the next day, even earlier, and make it happen.
The morning was a blur, but me and the two bug kids made it to Hollywood Studios at 5. We waited in line and were let in the park at 0630. At 0700, when the virtual queue opened up, we logged in and got Boarding Group 19. 19!! We were going to be able to join the Resistance! We were beyond stoked. But, we still had time. What to do…what to do?
We logged into the Disney app and saw there was 15 minute wait for Star Tours. We jumped on that immediately. None of us had ever been on Star Tours before, so we didn’t know what to expect. Why not keep the momentum going? We ran towards the back of the park, where signs were being put out that the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance were closed for the day. It was 0710 and the queue was closed FOR.THE.DAY! I couldn’t think on that for too long as we had finally made it to the entrance of Star Tours, which was guarded by a giant AT-AT. This was already shaping up to be an awesome ride.
As we made our way into the ride, we were told by the ride attendant that this was the first showing of a new Star Tours. I already didn’t know what to expect but, now, other people didn’t know either. We sat in our seats. C3PO greeted us and, as we made our way out, Kylo Ren tried to stop our transport. The whole shuttle shook.
The look on my kids’ face when we shook was nothing short of sheer amazement. We got free and then General Lando Calrisian himself appeared on the screen! He gave us coordinates and we jumped to light speed and ended up in the middle of a battle with no less than 50 Star Destroyers!
Things got crazy, quick. C3P0 was able to safely get us out of there and into the belly of a downed Star Destroyer. We were then met by a gang of tentacles. In pure C3P0 fashion, he bungled his way out of the tentacles and got us back to the space port, where the ships’ Captain was waiting for us. Fan.Friggin.Tastic!! It was different from Smuggler’s Run in that we could just enjoy ourselves without having to engage and become part of the ride, while also still being a part of the ride. We loved it!
Now we were on our way to the main event! It was 0745 and our number was being hailed in the virtual queue! We ran back to Galaxy’s Edge and were greeted by the Cast Members. “Bright suns” is how we were greeted and it made the experience even better. We walked up to the entrance and were allowed through. The line itself was a barren wasteland.
The railing had no one to hold it. The walkways looked as if no one had stepped foot on them before. It was an eerie feeling to be in such a highly demanded attraction and for everyone to be looking from the cordoned off area and for no one else to be in line. That being said, we got to take a lot of pictures at our own pace and it was nice to not have to worry about anyone bumping into me, or having someone breathing down my neck.
Taking our time to go through and take some pretty neat pictures, we finally made it to the next Cast Member which directed us to the room where we would be greeted by an awesome “hologram” of Rey, who then proceeded to inform us that the First Order were on their way and that the Resistance had transport for us. The whole briefing was maybe four minutes long and consisted of Rey, Lt. Bek, long-time fan-favorite Nien Nunb, and Poe Dameron.
We were then rushed to the transport shuttle in order to evade capture by the First Order. The shuttle was amazing. I felt as if I were truly transported to the Star Wars universe. The excitement in the air as we were about to depart was palpable. And then…
Beautiful. The takeoff from the ground, while looking out the windows, was breathtaking. You could see Black Spire Outpost for a few seconds before you are whisked through the clouds and into space. The feeling of the thrusters coming to life and speeding you through the atmosphere was quite exhilarating. Once we made it off-planet, we were able to survey our surroundings.
You can see the whole planet. My thought was ” This must be how astronauts see Earth.” I was still processing the beauty when we were met by the First Order. Most notably, General Hux. We had been captured, and he was going to interrogate us.
Once the tractor beam had fully loaded us into the bay of the Star Destroyer, we were boarded by First Order Cast Members and told to vacate the shuttle and to get ready for processing. The hangar bay had a full squad of Storm Troopers. The hangar bay had it’s force field on, so we could still see TIE fighters flying by outside. Upon turning to my right, I saw a full scale replica of one, parked near the entrance to our processing line. All I could do was yipe in glee as I realized I was surrounded by fellow Star Wars nerds.
We made it through the line to the interrogation room. The doors closed behind us as a Cast Member told us we will be interrogated shortly. Above us, General Hux was in a viewing room telling us that we will give him the information he wants. Kylo Ren then came in and, using the Force, drained the power from the room (making it dark) and reiterated what General Hux said. When the two made their leave, a noise filled the room. On the wall, an orange light was seen in the metal. Someone was coming through.
It was the Resistance! We were being broken out! The Resistance Cast Members ushered us to our carts and we were following orders from Finn via transmission. His plan was to have us go down a chute and head to the escape pods. We were on our way when a probe droid blocked our exit, forcing us to go through the AT-AT hangar.
While in the hangar, we encounter a few Troopers that realize we are escaping. They begin shooting at us and, in true Trooper fashion, they miss…wildly. We then caught up with Finn and he directed us to go down to the escape pods. The droid that was driving us, however, had different plans. We headed up, seemingly further into the Star Destroyer.
We ended up on the same floor as General Hux and Kylo Ren. Kylo sensed us almost immediately, as he spun around to meet our gaze. As we rushed off, trying to evade his capture, he was one step behind us at every turn. He was in pursuit, and we were losing ground. When it looked as though we had finally evaded his capture, he was waiting for us. Using the Force, he spun us around and brought us too him. Right then, an X-Wing came out of nowhere and blew the hallway windows open. Debris covered Kylo and gave us a window to escape.
We raced through the canon room, at intervals since they were actively shooting. We turned a corner and hit a dead end. Just then, the opening behind us closed. No one knew what was happening. We looked out the window in front of us and saw pods dropping from the Star Destroyer. It took a moment for us all to realize where we were and what was about to happen. Before we even had time to finish that thought, we dropped. Almost everyone screamed. My daughter screamed while my son held on for dear life. We were in an escape pod heading back into the atmosphere. Black Spire Outpost came into view, fast. We were going to crash.
When we hit the ground, we were driving out of what seemed to be a downed Star Destroyer. Lt. Bek welcomed us back from his own escape pod as we made the last turn to get off the ride. I had just rode the most immersive ride I have ever been on, and I couldn’t have been happier in that moment. Me and five other individuals had just evaded interrogation from Kylo Ren and lived to tell the tale! It legitimately felt as if I had gone through that experience. I think that’s exactly what I shall call it. My Star Wars experience. That was on December 24th, and I have yet to stop talking about it. So, if you are a Star Wars fan and want to live out your fantasy of becoming part of the universe, take a couple of days to explore Galaxy’s Edge. The experience will last a lifetime.