Disney World Galaxy's Edge Opening Trip Report Part 2

Welcome to our trip report covering the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! The primary purpose of trip reports is to supplement our existing content (in this case, heavily) to let you know how our strategies are actually working at a given time! This post covers a morning at Epcot, some hurricane updates, and a new hotel!

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About This Trip Report

This trip report covers a five-night visit to Walt Disney World for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and the start of Extra Extra Magic Hours. As we’ve written elsewhere, the period from August 29 through November 2 is going to be a complicated one at Walt Disney World, as three parks will have daily Extra Extra Magic Hours.

Breakfast at Everything Pop

I began my morning somewhat untraditionally (for me)—with breakfast. I don’t often get breakfast, but I like to try and maintain some connection with readers who do, so I thought I’d try and get up a little early.

Disney’s Pop Century Resort (click for review) recently updated their menu to include a Chipotle Seitan Scramble as a vegetarian breakfast item. I assume they could still make me a cheese or veggie omelet if I requested, but I thought I’d check this out.

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Neither of us particularly loved the scramble. It was overly seasoned and sort of tasted like it was just drenched in hot Italian dressing.

Having left my room sometime around 7:20AM, I took only a few minutes to eat (I know, one day I’ll have children and endure a lengthy meal with them), and I headed to the buses at about 7:45AM. One quickly pulled up, and I was en route to Epcot at 7:50AM.

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The new Disney buses, identifiable (I think) by their colorful new wraps, are equipped with USB ports for charging and will soon have wifi capabilities. I used the USB charger for one trip and got about a 10% to 15% charge while using my phone, which is pretty good.

About This Visit To Epcot

There are two big things to remember about this visit to Epcot. First, it took place the day before Food & Wine Festival began. Food & Wine is Epcot’s most popular festival, and it can bring huge crowds, mostly after 11AM. For more on Food & Wine, visit Disney Tourist Blog.

While Food & Wine will make park touring a little more challenging than in this post, those crowds mostly cause challenges after 11AM (when World Showcase opens and when you’ll mostly be done with rides) and on weekends (which hopefully you can avoid). So while you might not have quite as perfect a morning as I did, the basic strategy at Epcot remains the same.

Second, significant construction at Epcot has already begun, and much more will begin September 8. You can read about some of the upcoming changes to Epcot in our D23 2019 Parks News Roundup.

If you need more help planning your visit to Epcot, you should read the following posts (links open in new tabs):

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Rope Drop at Epcot

I knew construction was ongoing at Epcot, but I was still taken aback by how much and by the fact that it already impacted rope drop. You can see a wall right up front in the below photos.

When I arrived to the gates at 8:11AM, only two lines had formed because only two sets of tapstiles had been uncovered. Eventually, the Cast Members separated us into the appropriate four lines for that number of tapstiles.

The 8:25AM crowds look bad, but it’s sort of an illusion. With so few lines operating, of course they get long. At 8:28AM they began letting guests into the park. (Click the arrows through the below gallery.)

Despite having a slow line (I’m not making this up, it just always happens to me), I arrived to a very mild crowd at the rope. Note that rope drop used to be in front of Spaceship Earth. Now it is farther into the park, on the Test Track side.

The Jammitors played a short set, and at 8:54AM the rope was dropped. Sitting on my preferred Frozen Ever After FastPass+, I headed straight to Test Track, which I boarded at 9:08AM.

Morning at Epcot

As much time as Soarin’ takes, it’s still the best option right after Test Track. I headed across Future World, getting on Soarin’ at 9:33AM after a 13-minute wait.

Living With the Land, which remains one of my favorite rides at Epcot, was recently updated with new video scenes (replacing old ones). I was happy to see this change, not so much because the videos are great (though they are), but because it’s refreshing to see Disney giving this attraction some attention.

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Ending that ride at 10:02AM, I saw the The Seas With Nemo and Friends had a 15-minute wait. I also knew that was—as some might say—malarky. I headed over there and almost walked right on, waiting one minute after the four minute walk through the queue.

I almost forgot about Turtle Talk with Crush, but I saw some people heading in and I caught a 10:18AM showing. Kids are the highlight of this show, and this time Crush fielded a curious question: “How do you open it?”

With Crush unable to discern the meaning of the question, and with the child paralyzed with nerves and admitting to confusion as well, we all just moved on…

Last up in my tour of Future World was Journey Into Imagination with Figment. Another posted 15-minute wait turned out to be a walk-on. I finished that ride around 10:50AM.

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Typically this is when I’d go use my first FastPass+ (for Frozen Ever After). I’d scheduled this one a tad too late though (overcorrecting for a previous visit where I had to delay visiting Figment), and I still had about 40 minutes. Seeing Spaceship Earth’s 10-minute wait, I gladly fit that one in.

From there, I visited Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros. This is always a good one to pair with Frozen Ever After as they’re neighbors, but you also could push it later in the day if you want to space things out. It rarely gets significant waits.

After walking on Gran Fiesta Tour, I headed to Frozen Ever After, using my FastPass+ and exiting that ride at 11:56AM. Not a bad morning:

  • 8:11AM Arrive

  • 9AM Park Opens

  • 9:08AM Test Track

  • 9:33AM Soarin’

  • 9:44AM Living With The Land

  • 10:08AM The Seas With Nemo and Friends

  • 10:18AM Turtle Talk With Crush

  • 10:38AM Journey Into Imagination With Figment

  • 11:05AM Spaceship Earth

  • 11:33AM Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros

  • 11:50AM Frozen Ever After (FastPass+)

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Afternoon at Epcot

The only ride I had left was Mission: SPACE, which I grabbed a 2PM FastPass+ for.

Afternoons in Diet Epcot (Epcot when there is no festival) are, simply, bliss. With most of the rides behind you, you’re left just to take in streetmosphere, meet characters, snack, shop, and catch a few indoor shows.

Generally we recommend taking multiple laps around the World Showcase. Review the Times Guide for showtimes and to see when characters are greeting. You should be able to move from item to item, bypassing a few scheduling conflicts that you then catch on a later lap.

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I didn’t spend the full afternoon (more on that below), but here’s how I started…

I walked right out into the 12PM showing of Mariachi Cobre. While they presented the story of Coco, there was no Coco puppet, which was a bit of a bummer.

At about 12:15PM, I headed over to greet Mulan. I’m trying to do more character greetings at the behest of my readers. Epcot isn’t ideal for it, though, because it’s heavily princesses and I’m still working up the courage to wait ten minutes in line to meet a Princess. Anyways, I waited only 8 minutes to meet Mulan. (Click the arrows through the below gallery of my afternoon.)

I aimed for the 12:40PM performance by Sergio in the Italy Pavilion, scoping out some cool merchandise beforehand.

The show started at about 12:43PM. It’s a playful show and definitely worth a few minutes of your time. Sergio juggles and tosses some balls around with the crowd.

After that I headed to the 1:05PM Matsuriza drum show in Japan. I quickly grabbed some sushi from Katsura Grill first. This show is a fun one, but less interactive than some of the other shows in the park.

I was able to follow this up with (most of) the 1:20PM showing of Serveur Amusant, the chair-stacking acrobat team in France.

It made sense at this point to go use my FastPass+ for Mission: SPACE. The ride has a lengthy load process, so it took about 15 minutes to get one after I tapped into the line at 1:48PM. I followed this up with another ride on Spaceship Earth, just because.

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My afternoon began to move very slowly because of the biggest impact to our trip—Hurricane Dorian. At this point, Dorian was just starting to come into the picture as a potential obstacle. It wasn’t actually here yet, but I had to take a few minutes to research my options.

While Disney tends to be very accommodating in these situations regardless, my split reservation made things very simple—if I wanted, I could just book a Sunday flight and cancel my Wilderness Lodge reservation. The only thing at risk would be my deposit (spoiler alert: Disney refunded deposits for hurricane cancellations this week).

After a beer at Rose & Crown Pub (with performance by the Rose & Crown Musician), I had to head out for a bit…

The Walt Disney World Dolphin

With Galaxy’s Edge opening the following day, we knew we wanted to have a night at a hotel that we could walk to Hollywood Studios from. The Walt Disney World Dolphin had the best rates (Swan & Dolphin are almost always less expensive than Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Boardwalk Inn).

I walked over from Epcot and checked in. With my status with Marriott, we were upgraded to a suite. Not unlike our experience at Gran Destino Tower, we sadly had no use for the suite because we were heading out after check-in and then checking out at 3AM the next morning. But here are some photos anyways:

Remember, Swan & Dolphin fall into the group of hotels that aren’t operated by Disney but do get some perks of Disney hotels, including Extra Magic Hours. They are noticeably less “Disney” than actual Disney hotels, though.

If you can put the “Disney” factor out of your mind, and if you’re looking for a more “adult” hotel, the Swan and Dolphin are good options. They’re good hotels with a great location and competitive pricing (for quality and location).

Biergarten

From there it was back to Epcot for dinner at Biergarten. I love the hotels in this area because you can just walk right over to so many restaurants.

Biergarten is probably my favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World. As a vegetarian who couldn’t care less about food anyways, the food is only okay to me. (That’s also about how I feel at most restaurants, which is why I don’t review them.) For actual reviews of Biergarten, we recommend Disney Tourist Blog and easyWDW.

Being a buffet helps, and I’m more than happy to load up on carbs and desserts. I never leave Biergarten hungry. (Click the arrows through the below gallery.)

And the energy at Biergarten is just unbeatable. Grab a liter beer, sit at your shared table, and enjoy hourly (roughly) by Oktoberfest Musikanten.

Shared tables can be an awkward arrangement, but for two pretty anti-social people, we always seem to manage. The nice thing about you all being at Walt Disney World is you’ll always have things to talk about.

Oktoberfest Muikanten is a live German Oompah band that performs for about 20 minutes every hour. If you time it well, you can easily fit two shows into your dinner, which we recommend, but the schedule changes pretty regularly.

With a 6:55PM reservation, we left around 8:30PM to catch IllumiNations at 9PM. As it’s ending September 30, we’re trying to get in as many shows as we can!

It was worth watching IllumiNations even though it meant a lot less sleep for…

The Opening of Galaxy’s Edge! Coming Next In Part 3 of the Trip Report!

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.

Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.

When it comes time to book we’ll help you find discount Disney World tickets. Decide whether you need a dining plan in our Complete Guide to Disney World Dining Plans! And at 180 days out it's time to book those Disney World Advance Dining Reservations!

Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.

Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon! And for some some fun prep, check out our Ranking of Every Ride at Walt Disney World.

Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.