Disneyland Galaxy's Edge Boarding Pass Trip Report Part 2

Welcome to our Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Boarding Pass Trip Report! The purpose of our trip reports is to give an update on how our strategies are working at the parks. This post covers our early impressions of the start of the “boarding pass” phase of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

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About This Trip Report

This trip report covers a late June 2019 visit to Disneyland Resort. The primary purpose of this visit was to experience the start of the “boarding pass” phase of Disneyland’s new land—Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

Earlier in the month, we visited for the May 31 opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Through June 23, though, the land was accessible only to guests lucky enough to have reservations. Now, the land is opening to everyone, and we’re here to experience it again.

This trip report is intended to supplement our existing Disneyland content (which is almost all linked to at the bottom of this post) with a focus on visits occurring in Summer 2019. Here is what this report will look like in full (links will go up as posts go up and open in new tabs):

This is a little different than previous trip reports, which were day-by-day, because of the length of the trip.

With summer hitting its stride, we expect the Disneyland content to be useful into the holiday season, understanding that Disney will be working to increase crowds.

Update: With Rise of the Resistance now scheduled to open January 17, 2020, we expect that to be the next big surge in crowds.

The Disney California Adventure content should also remain helpful until the holiday season, with the next significant change at the park occurring on September 17 with the start of Oogie Boogie Bash.

Entering Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is accessible, subject to capacity, to anyone who visits Disneyland. There are four ways enter Galaxy’s Edge in the near future:

  1. By walking in, without a boarding pass, when crowd levels don’t require the boarding pass system

  2. Via a boarding pass that you grab using the Disneyland app or via in-park kiosks (when crowds are sufficiently high)

  3. With a Oga’s Cantina reservation

  4. With a Savi’s Workshop reservation

Our Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Touring Strategy covers the details of the boarding pass system.

On the first day of the new system, I got to use three of the four of these. Immediately upon starting the day, I knew I wanted to spend most of my time inside Galaxy’s Edge. My plan was to visit Galaxy’s Edge at rope drop, exit around 2PM or 3PM (I needed to swap FuelRods and see the rest of the park), and re-enter on a 4PM reservation for Oga’s Cantina.

Step 1 was to arrive early. Step 2 was to secure the Oga’s Cantina reservation.

Arrival at Disneyland

I arrived at Disneyland at 5:26AM. There were about 50 people there, with most lines only having one or two people in them. Upon entry I was given a handout that explained the entry procedures for the land.

By 6:41AM the lines were getting a bit longer, but nothing significant. It was pretty clear at this point that crowds would not be overwhelming, at least not in the morning.

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If you showed me the above picture and asked me what time it was taken at, I’d probably guess 7:15AM on a busy day with an 8AM open or 7:30AM on a regular day. So to only be here at 6:41AM on one of the most heavily anticipated days in Disneyland history was a bit surprising.

Oga’s Cantina Reservation

I hopped onto the Oga’s Cantina reservation page at about 6:45AM and triggered the perpetually-reloading Millennium Falcon screen. I later read that this “virtual queue” begins at 6:30AM (prior to then the page just redirects somewhere else).

Just after 7AM the page took me to the reservation page, and I was able to make a 4:10PM Cantina reservation. While reports were mixed on this day, It looks like reservations for Oga’s and Savi’s weren’t really gone until a few hours into the day.

We still recommend making a reservation at 7AM if you can (because why not?), but if you miss 7AM you definitely should hop online and see if you can still make one.

Remember, for Oga’s you’ll need to put a credit card on file and you’re subject to a $10 per person charge if you don’t show. You can’t cancel or modify the reservation.

Rope Drop Into Galaxy’s Edge

The park gates opened at about 7AM, and I couldn’t get pictures because my phone was occupied securing my Cantina reservation.

We were held outside the Frontierland entrance, and at about 7:27AM began moving toward Galaxy’s Edge. Rope drop in California is such a calm affair compared to Florida.

It’s a long walk to the Hungry Bear entrance into Galaxy’s Edge. Last I checked, they were still directing guests there in the morning, which was a bit laughable given the low crowds, but hey we can all use the exercise.

I arrived at the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run queue at 7:39AM near the front of the group. I was on the ride at 7:54AM and out of the building at 7:59AM. At this point, I easily could have gone into the rest of the park and roughly followed our Disneyland One Day Itinerary.

Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Crowds

This is as good a place as any to divert and talk about the crowds at Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge. By 9AM on day one, the wait time for Smugglers Run was posted at 180 minutes. It dropped from there (it never actually was that high) and eventually settled at 45 minutes for most of the day.

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Disney later announced that the average guest waited 45 to 60 minutes to ride Smugglers Run. While this was during a day that used the boarding pass system, later days that didn’t use the system saw similar waits, with 90 minutes being a typical peak.

There’s no doubting crowds have been low at Disneyland since May 31 and continuing through June 24. The Galaxy’s Edge boarding pass system has barely been used and ride waits have been low. Suffice to say—many of us were incredibly wrong.

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There are basically three theories about why crowds have been so low:

  1. Disney aggressively blocked out annual passholders, who are the bread and butter of Disneyland crowds

  2. Tourists were scared away by the Galaxy’s Edge hype machine and didn’t want to mess around with the crowds

  3. Galaxy’s Edge is a flop

All three of these come with the added note that with Rise of the Resistance opening later some people were always going to delay their visit.

First of all, I need to say that we have little evidence supporting (3). Even if you think the land is bad (it’s fine) or that it doesn’t belong in Disneyland (it doesn’t), the idea that Galaxy’s Edge is the problem doesn’t really explain why crowds have been low in the rest of the park.

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Yes, if the park had average crowds with the added capacity of the land, we’d expect some reduction in waits across the board. But it’s clear there’s been a real drop, this isn’t just crowds spreading out.

So even if the land generated no new demand, theory (3) fails to explain why the rest of the resort is suffering, too. Frankly, while I agree with many of the complaints about the land, I think people need to realize that the world might not revolve around their tastes. (Many other theories, like “summer heat” also fail to explain why crowds don’t compare to previous years.)

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While (1) is a popular theory (and was our go-to theory), the esteemed Tom Bricker disagrees and puts the weight more on (2), pointing to reduced bookings are Anaheim hotels broadly. Generally I trust Tom more than myself, and either way I think we’d agree there’s a combination of factors at work and these both play a role.

I wrote a Twitter thread that included my quick thoughts on this subject. Disney has already pulled the first of their “levers,” announcing an annual passholder ticket deal where passholders can bring a friend for $99 per park hopper ticket. Blocked out APs can also purchase their own $99 park hopper ticket.

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They’ve also announced the return of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Curiously, this return is timed for August 2 to September 30. And the big new Galaxy’s Edge ride, Rise of the Resistance, will open January 17, 2020.

How to Spend Time Inside Galaxy’s Edge

Now, let’s talk about how I spent some of my time in Galaxy’s Edge on this trip.

Play Disney Galaxy’s Edge Datapad

I spent a lot of time in Galaxy’s Edge on the Play Disney app’s “Datapad” game. A full guide to this offering would be a post on its own, so I’m just going to quickly cover it here. There’s no need to break up this entire section with screenshots from the app, so they’ll all be in a gallery in the middle of the section.

As part of the “immersive” design of Galaxy’s Edge, the Play Disney app has a “Datapad” game that can be played within the land. While on your Datapad, you are a character who builds your allegiance to the Resistance, to the First Order, or as a Scoundrel (or all three).

You also use the four tools—hack, scan, tune, and translate—the interact with the land.

Hack allows you to solve a puzzle on your phone to elicit a response from elements around the land. Droids make noise, spaceships start up (yea, those noises the TIE Echelon keeps making? people are doing that), antennas break down, and so on. Scan allows you to scan QR codes on crates throughout the land to “collect” items.

Tune allows you to hack into radio frequencies in the land and reveal transcripts between characters in the land. Translate allows you to put in any words you see throughout the land in the local language and have them translated into English. It’s a character-based translation system, so if you get a few letters wrong you’ll be fine.

Finally, you can take jobs that require you to use the above tools to complete the job, earn credits, and increase your allegiance. You’ll also earn achievements for pretty much everything you do in the land. (The below gallery is a look at some of the game. Use the arrows to scroll.)

All of these have their perks. Hack is the most interactive as you’ll actually make things happen. Scan is a fun treasure hunt to go on. Tune reveals the most about the backstory of the land. Translate is time consuming but has a few clever moments.

I spent many hours over several days on the Datapad. I enjoyed myself. But that doesn’t mean I think it’s a great addition to the land.

My chief complaint is just how much of my time my face spent in my screen. In building an immersive land, theme parks have choices about what real world elements to bring and which to leave behind.

Crime—for example—gets left behind. You won’t get mugged in Galaxy’s Edge. Wear and tear on buildings comes into the land. Market-style shopping comes, but bartering is (usually and so far) left behind.

The Datapad is a conscious decision to bring “screen time” into the land, and I think that’s a mistake. If I want to spend time on my screen, I can do that at home or even just when in line for a ride.

Just as I don’t think Disney’s competitive advantage is its ability to acquire and incorporate intellectual property into the parks, I don’t think smartphone games are a good place to focus. Technology can be used to enhance interactivity without screens. The wands in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are a perfect example of this.

Look—of course Datapad is optional. But Disney spends resources building it and encouraging you to use it. It’s only fair to evaluate it as a part of the land like I would any attraction.

It’s notable that the two most surprisingly popular aspects of the land in its early days are Savi’s Workshop and Oga’s Cantina, both of which are immersive experiences that don’t rely on screen time.

Oga’s Cantina

I was allowed to check in for my Oga’s Cantina reservation 15 minutes in advance. I checked in at about 4PM for my 4:10PM reservation.

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Outside I was given a laminated card just to signify that I was legitimately in the line. Apparently they had trouble with people sneaking into the line. When I got to the front at 4:22PM, I was taken inside and to a spot at the bar (I was a party of one). I was given a green card with my entry time on it (to enforce the 45 minute time limit in the bar), and with a “1” indicating my party size. I don’t know what “BL” is.

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You’re allowed two drinks per person over your 45 minute window, and the bartenders mark your green card to indicate how many drinks you’ve had. I left at 5:12PM after 50 minutes in the bar consuming two low-ABV beers.

While I fail to understand the hype surrounding Oga’s Cantina, it’s still a good use of 45 minutes. DJ R-3X is a real treat, and it’s worth taking a few minutes to walk around the bar and look at the smaller elements.

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With the reservation system now in place for the bar, it might be one of the better places to get a drink at Disneyland resort. Sure, you’re limited to 45 minutes, but you also can count on getting in within about 20 minutes of checking in.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

I rode Smugglers Run a few times this trip, either as an engineer or a gunner (I was a pilot a few times on my first visit).

Generally when I rode single rider the wait was cut in half, with a 60 minute standby wait being usually met by 30 minutes in single rider. Keep in mind the single rider queue splits in two, so if you see a long line going up one set of stairs, use the other set.

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While pilots probably have the best experience, I still don’t think it’s as overwhelming as some people make it out to be. I feel more generally distracted by a pilot throughout the experience, while being an engineer or gunner requires short bursts of having to turn away and mash some buttons.

The ride isn’t an E-Ticket attraction. I prefer Star Tours, and in Walt Disney World it probably won’t even crack my top ten. That’s fine, though, as Rise of the Resistance is expected to be the actual E-Ticket in the land.

Characters in Galaxy’s Edge

Galaxy’s Edge has a few characters in the land. These include:

  • Rey

  • Chewbacca

  • Kylo Ren

  • First Order Guy (I don’t know his actual rank)

  • Stormtroopers

  • Vi Moradi

If you’re looking for Rey and Chewbacca, you’ll find them on the Resistance side of the land (by Resistance Supply). Stormtroopers can be found in the rest of the land, except the Marketplace.

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The Stormtroopers cover the area between First Order Cargo and the Marketplace.

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First Order Guy hangs out near First Order Cargo, usually after the short show in front of the TIE Echelon where he is berated by Kylo Ren for his bad work.

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Kylo Ren comes out for the aforementioned show and then walks with his team of Stormtroopers over to Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop, ending in front of the parked vehicles across from Droid Depot.

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Vi Moradi is harder to place, as she’s a Resistance spy who wanders around the First Order-controlled area. You’ll see her sneaking around.

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Character interactions are a strong point of Galaxy’s Edge. Even if you don’t want to interact with them, it’s worth taking a few minutes to watch them.

The characters all wander freely, but they aren’t always free for pictures. Kylo Ren and the Stormtroopers are particularly likely to just ignore your requests or say no, so you’ll want to count on a friend to take a candid shot (they typically move and pose slowly enough for that).

Droid Depot & Savi’s Workshop

I still haven’t done either of the pricey building experience. Savi’s Workshop uses a reservation system, like Oga’s Cantina. Droid Depot had virtually no line every time I visited.

Shopping and Eating

There’s no need to repeat much about the shopping and dining options at Galaxy’s Edge. I recommend our Guide to Star Wars Land if you’re looking for more about these topics. I will add the Docking Bay 7 no longer uses the cool sporks, as guests were stealing them.

Fireworks in Galaxy’s Edge

The nightly fireworks from Disneyland’s “Disneyland Forever” show are visible from the area around the Millennium Falcon. While this is a truly “magical” experience, I want to highlight a few things.

First, if you watch from here you won’t get to see the show from Main Street. While I think Galaxy’s Edge is a fine viewpoint, the full show (with projections) is best experienced on Main Street. The fireworks in Galaxy’s Edge are the same fireworks from that show.

Second, this has nothing to do with Fantasmic! You can watch this and Fantasmic!, though you might have to walk quickly between the two depending on the exact schedule.

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I mention these two items because I overheard a number of cringeworthy conversations between Cast Members and guests inside Galaxy’s Edge.

As part of staying in character as Batuu locals, Cast Members often speak in riddles. They don’t say “Disneyland Forever” they say “celebration in the sky.” If you ask about Fantasmic!, they give some complicated response about having “heard of such a thing off-world…” Anyways, I wanted to make sure readers understood exactly what they’re getting here.

Conclusions

With the surprisingly low crowds, the opening of Galaxy’s Edge was an uneventful affair. As it stands, though, we’re a long way from knowing what the land really has to offer or how it will fit into Disneyland planning.

Remember, we still have the highly anticipated Rise of the Resistance ride to open later in 2019. Then we have both rides eventually being added to FASTPASS.

Finally—the crowds will return. Disneyland and Star Wars didn’t just go out of style the last week of May. While we’re hoping everyone who visits this summer has as relaxing a time as we had, these comfortable crowds won’t last forever.

All Your Other Disneyland Planning Questions Answered

Don't be overwhelmed by Disneyland 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 Disneyland Planning Guide. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars.

When it comes to hotels, we’ve got reviews of all three Disney hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. As for tickets, check out where to find discount Disneyland tickets.

Know what to ride with our: Disneyland Rides Guide and Disney California Adventure Rides Guide. And just as important, know how to get on the best rides without the wait with our Disneyland and Disney California Adventure FASTPASS and MaxPass Strategy! For the complete guides to a day at the park, we have a One Day Disneyland Itinerary and a One Day Disney California Adventure Itinerary.

We always recommend arriving at the parks early. If you can get access to Extra Magic Hour at Disney California Adventure or Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at Disneyland, you’ll have the most time in the parks. Even without those bonus hours, you’ll need to know Rope Drop Strategy at Disneyland and Rope Drop Strategy at Disney California Adventure.

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.