Disney World Galaxy's Edge Opening Trip Report Part 3

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 the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!

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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.

About This Day at Galaxy’s Edge

We’d been to Galaxy’s Edge in California multiple times, and we were lucky enough to experience a passholder preview of the land a few weeks back, so we were really just there for the experience. It should also suffice to say that this day, as the very first day the land was open, is not at all representative of what you’d expect from future days at the park.

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Wake Up and Arrival At Hollywood Studios

Waking up at 3AM, I checked twitter (#GalaxysEdge) and saw that people had started to arrive, that the parking lot had opened, and that buses would start running soon.

We left The Walt Disney World Dolphin at about 3:19AM, arriving at Hollywood Studios via the walking path at 3:38AM.

The crowds we pretty heavy, but overall I’m not disappointed by where we wound up. (Click the arrows through the below gallery with some early morning shots.)

I’ve now been at four Galaxy’s Edge “openings”—the first set of reservations in California, the opening to everyone in California, the first passholder previews in Florida, and today’s opening to everyone in Florida.

All four were handled pretty well by Disney, and all four had great energy, but this one was the most fun. I saw some complaints online, but based on crowd sizes and how many people descended upon Walt Disney World so early, I think this one was also handled very well operationally.

Just after 4AM, they began letting people into the park. Based on crowd sizes, this seemed like a good time. Curiously, the tapstiles weren’t working—a problem I also saw at a 6AM opening later in the week. The iPads work just about as well to get people through quickly, though.

We were held in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, between the two stores. I don’t know when the rope drop path changed, but it wasn’t in use a few days later (for reasons that will become apparent).

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At 4:20AM here’s the crowd. It’s sort of silly to be showing crowd photos at this time, though. It’s not as if an arrival at 4:20AM would put you at the back of that group—you’d be behind plenty of other people outside the gates.

The “crowd” is a constantly pouring in of people from walkways, buses, and the parking lot. I’d guess that from 4AM to about 7AM Disney was admitting the maximum number of people through the gates as the gates can handle.

Rope Drop to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

At 4:30AM, the walk toward Galaxy’s Edge began. We took a path past the restaurants by Echo Lake. What’s strange is there are so many different forks along this route, that people were running and passing others in tighter groups constantly.

I’m not upset about this—I love rope drop and I know the challenges and risks of choosing the wrong path. But imagine the first person who was waiting at the gate at 2AM only to get passed by some 4:30AM’er who went on the other side of the planter.

By the time I returned to rope drop a few days later, the path had changed (more on that in a later post). Next, we were held at the gate to Galaxy’s Edge at Grand Avenue. (Click the arrows through the below gallery with some rope drop shots.)

Everyone’s expectation was that this gate would be used for entry and the Toy Story Land gate for exit for the first few days / weeks / months of the land. In reality this split lasted hours.

I’d guess the plan was to let us into the land by 5AM, and they were prepared early. At 4:47AM we began the walk to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

I’m sure you could have rope dropped Oga’s, and maybe even Savi’s, during this time, but we went with the crowds to Smugglers Run. The wait ballooned to 150 minutes to start the day.

At 5:28AM we were on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. At 5:33AM we were off, and my criteria for a successful rope drop—being off ride 1 by the scheduled opening of the park—was met.

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We took a few minutes to appreciate the crowds. It’s clear that after all the talk of the “failure” of Disneyland’s low crowds, Disney wanted sizable crowds for day one.

The land was clearly kept over what you might call its “ideal capacity” for day one. Knowing we’d need to exit at some point to get Starbucks anyways, we decided to head to Slinky Dog Dash, planning to join a boarding group to re-enter later in the day.

Boarding Passes at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

At the very end of a five-minute wait for Slinky Dog Dash, the Boarding Pass system for Galaxy’s Edge became activated. The system was only used for a few hours on day one, but it will almost definitely make a return for the opening of Rise of the Resistance (December 5) and maybe during the holidays as well.

Prominent in the My Disney Experience app is the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — Status and Access feature. Tap through to “Find Out More” and you’ll see the land status. “Open” means you can walk right in. “Closed” means the land is closed to new guests right now. “Access By Boarding Group Only” means you need to be in a boarding group to enter.

Here are some screenshots of the process, discussion continues below:

The groups “Now Boarding” are also listed. And “Estimate Land Wait” tells you when you can expect to visit if you join a boarding group now.

To join a boarding group, simply tap “Join Boarding Group.” You’ll select the members of your party (like when booking FastPass+) and you’re assigned the next available group.

Once your group is “called” you’ll get a notification. You can also always check which groups are boarding in the app or on the boards throughout the park. You have two hours to enter once your group is called.

Returning to Galaxy’s Edge

Besides riding a few rides, the only interesting thing to happen outside of Galaxy’s Edge was the temporary addition of this Starbucks iced coffee / cold brew stand.

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I’m not sure Disney has even done anything that I so approved of as adding this stand just to sell iced coffee. It’s 90 degrees out and iced coffee is extremely straightforward—this just makes sense. Sadly, it only existed for one day.

Also I love Echo Lake:

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With our boarding group called at 6:54AM, we re-entered the land at about 8:30AM.

You can see in the photos that, as I said earlier, crowds remained high, with lines for just about everything.

I don’t have a problem with this. While the land was still pretty packed by the afternoon, I think most guests who wanted to visit should have had little problem experiencing the land.

It wasn’t ideal—the wait for Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities was 80 minutes at one point—but that’s also just a risk you’d need to accept planning to visit a place on day one.

As we’d already experienced most of what the land offers, we had no intention of waiting in these lines. Having had an excellent experience opening a new land surrounded by hardcore fans, we decided to move on to where our hearts lie…

An Afternoon at Animal Kingdom and Dinner At Sanaa, Next Up in Part 4!

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

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