Disneyland Galaxy's Edge Boarding Pass Trip Report Part 3

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 the latest on Disneyland park outside 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.

What’s New at Disneyland

Since our last trip report…not much at all is new at Disneyland park. Well, the resort is always changing menus and merchandise, but that happens so frequently its not worth us covering it. Most of these updates aren’t directly related to this trip, but they’re important to know for summer 2019 visits.

Crowds Remain Low. As discussed in part 2 of this trip report, crowds across Disneyland resort remain low. You can read more about the phenomenon in that post, but basically there’s no good way to know how long crowds will be below average.

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Main Street Cinema Changes and Unchanges. There was a brief time between our visits when the Main Street Cinema was selling miscellaneous merchandise. This was ostensibly done in an attempt to bring people into the attraction. Fan outrage ensued, and the merchandise stands were removed.

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Main Street Electric Parade Returning. The Main Street Electric Parade will return August 2. Presumably, Disneyland will be parade-less for the two weeks between July 17 and August 2.

Haunted Mansion Display. The Disney Gallery has a new Haunted Mansion display. I unfortunately left the day before it opened.

My Time In Disneyland

With crowds staying low, it remains pretty easy to accomplish our One Day Disneyland Itinerary. If you want to add in a visit to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, you should have little difficulty fitting that in as well.

Of course, as covered in our Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Touring Strategy, if you want to fully experience Galaxy’s Edge we still recommend something like three to four hours. But that will include many non-ride activities (e.g. Oga’s Cantina, character spotting, shopping).

I’m going to use my day before Galaxy’s Edge opened as the anchor of this post, so all the times are from that day (photos and some diversions may not be from that day). This was a low-crowd day, but until crowds at Disneyland pick up its the most representative day of what you can expect at the park (and once crowds pick up, that itinerary post is more representative).

Rope Drop at Disneyland

I arrived at 7:27AM to mild lines. These are annoying if the gates stay closed until 8AM, but happily they opened at 7:40AM. This allows you to make up some ground while waiting in the castle hub. In fact, I was easily (no pushing, no shoving, probably even no “excuse me”) able to make it to the front of the thin crowd.

I grabbed a FASTPASS for for Fantasmic! and one for Hyperspace Mountain (8:35AM). At 8AM, it was time to ride! As always, my Disneyland rope drop strategy focused on Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, and Alice in Wonderland. I rode those at 8:06AM, 8:16AM, and 8:25AM.

I considered sticking around Fantasyland, which is typically what I advise, but I tried something different and headed to Tomorrowland. I was on Astro Orbitor at 8:35AM and Autopia at 8:50AM. Then I used my Hyperspace Mountain FASTPASS at 9AM.

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From there I targeted two mid-priority rides in Fantasyland—riding Storybook Land Canal Boats at 9:21AM and Casey Jr. Circus Train at 9:36AM. I’d grabbed a FASTPASS for Matterhorn Bobsleds after using my Hyperspace Mountain one, and I used that at 9:45AM.

Heading Out West at 10AM

I peg 10AM (on 8AM open days) as the perfect time to head to the west side of the park. That side always starts slower and you want to head there just as the waits pop up. 10AM tends to be perfect. I was on Jungle Cruise at 10:07AM and Pirates of the Caribbean at 10:21AM—both with minimal wait.

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From there I used my third FASTPASS for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at 10:52AM. I always pass on Indiana Jones Adventure early in the morning because I find the FASTPASS queue to move too slowly (that is, it merges with the standby queue too early).

Typically I’d head to lunch now, but I was feeling ambitious and grabbed back-to-back FASTPASS reservations for Buzz Lightyear and Star Tours, riding at 11:08AM and 11:28AM.

I rode the Omnibus (Main Street Vehicles) at 11:45AM to wrap up my morning. The view of the Main Street Philharmonic in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle was perfect.

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Lunch and Afternoon Planning

Diverting for a second…typically I’m a quick service lunch kind of guy, but one day on this trip I ate at Carnation Cafe. I’d never been to the Main Street staple before, and I loved it. It’s nice to have a spot that takes reservation and has table service but with low prices and no pretension. It’s a quick service style meal with table service amenities (and a delicious lemonade). Unfortunately I didn’t love the veggie burger.

Back to the day at hand—stopping for coffee and lunch at Jolly Holiday Bakery, I took the time to plan my afternoon. Most days (not today, honestly) the afternoon lines are too long to be worth waiting in and your FASTPASS times will be far enough out that you’ll be filling space.

With less time spent on big-name rides in the afternoon, you’ll want to focus on entertainment and attractions with earlier closing times. On hot days, this is always a good chance to visit inside attractions to “beat the heat.”

Some of the items I was looking forward to included: Dapper Dans, Straw Hatters, Sailing Ship Columbia (closing 4PM), Explorer Canoes (closing 5PM), Tom Sawyer Island (closing 5PM), Mickey’s Soundsational Parade (3:30PM and 6PM), Flag Retreat (4:30PM), Mickey and the Magical Map (last showing 5:20PM), and The Laughing Stock Co.

Right off the bat, I knew I’d be targeting the 6PM parade. There was too much ending between 4PM and 6PM for me to watch the 3:30PM parade.

Early Afternoon

I watched the Dapper Dans with the Main Street Philharmonic at 12:45PM. Then I headed over to the 1PM performance by Laughing Stock Co. In case you’re unfamiliar, this is a fun show inside The Golden Horseshoe, which is a quick service restaurant in Frontierland. You don’t have to eat there to watch the show.

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The big challenge of this afternoon is trying to time to Sailing Ship Columbia. That ship alternates pickups with the Mark Twain Riverboat (which allows the boats in total to run twice as frequently, to be clear), but you don’t want to waste time just waiting on it. Unable to time it right, I continued onto Explorer Canoes.

I was on Explorer Canoes around 1:30PM and then over to use my Splash Mountain FASTPASS (grabbed at 12:44PM) at 1:46PM (Sailing Ship Columbia was, again, not timed well). Splash is a good afternoon FASTPASS because you’re catching the wet ride at the peak of afternoon sun and heat (I always get soaked on the California version of the ride).

Finally, I saw Sailing Ship Columbia unloading just as I rounded the corner from Splash Mountain, and I boarded at 2:19PM. Love that ride.

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Late Afternoon

With some big items out of the way, I took a snack break. I’m starting a new afternoon tradition of having a root beer float and watching some entertainment mid-afternoon. In this case, I couldn’t track down the Straw Hatters until I finished my float, so the tradition is a work in progress.

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At 3:17PM I grabbed a FASTPASS for Haunted Mansion as part of my plan to finish off that area of the park. I rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at 3:23PM and then visited Tom Sawyer Island for 15 minutes (not a ton of time) from 3:30PM to 3:45PM.

Haunted Mansion broke down, which worked out because I was able to take the Disneyland Railroad to Main Street for the 4:30PM Flag Retreat (with a short visit to the cinema beforehand).

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The Flag Retreat at Disneyland is much longer than the one at Magic Kingdom—about 20 minutes vs. 5 minutes—but I still think it’s worth watching.

From there it was time to visit two other attractions that close early—Gadget’s Go Coaster and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. My original plan was to put these on either side of the 5:20 showing of Mickey and the Magical Map, but with a FASTPASS for Roger Rabbit I was able to squeeze them in at 4:56PM and 5:15PM, arriving for the show only three minutes late.

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I’ll add here that Gadget’s had some ridiculous wait posted—like 20 or 30 minutes. While the ride doesn’t have huge capacity, it’s also only 1 minute long. If the line isn’t into the land, it probably isn’t 20 minutes. It wound up actually being under ten minutes.

Mickey and the Magical Map remains a must-watch at Disneyland. I try to avoid waiting until the last showing of things (shows do get cancelled on rare occasions), but some days it just works out that way.

With a short gap before the parade, I was able to ride Snow White’s Scary Adventures at 5:54PM and the King Arthur Carrousel at 6PM. I watched the parade from the Tomorrowland side, where you get a great view of the sun.

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Evening at Disneyland

After the parade, the next big item on the schedule was Fantasmic! at 9PM. While I prefer the later parade to visit closing attractions, I prefer the earlier Fantasmic! to give me more late-night hours for short waits.

After about a 20 minute wait I was on Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at 6:50PM. I have such a love-hate relationship with that ride. I love being away from the chaos of the park for 15 minutes. I hate being trapped inside a tube with screaming children and their light-up wands for 15 minutes.

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I checked off two more Fantasyland rides—Mad Tea Party at 7:16PM and Pinocchio’s Daring Journey at 7:22PM before heading to use a FASTPASS for Indiana Jones Adventure, riding at 7:48PM (I didn’t note when I grabbed that FASTPASS). I followed that up by using a FASTPASS acquired at 7:26PM for Haunted Mansion at 8:01PM.

This left me just enough time for a quick dinner at French Market before the 9PM Fantasmic! I didn’t make it to my reserved area for Fantasmic!, which is fine because I don’t really care about views either way (though I did feel bad about grabbing the earlier FASTPASS).

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After Fantasmic! I just walked over to Main Street and watched the 9:30PM showing of Disneyland Forever. As mentioned in Part 2 of this trip report, you can view the Disneyland Forever fireworks from inside Galaxy’s Edge. While I do think that’s a cool option, particularly if you’ll have multiple nights, I think the Main Street viewing is a superior experience.

Late Night at Disneyland

From there, the night is just about tying up loose ends. In this case, some very important loose ends. I started with “it’s a small world” at 9:50PM (no, I don’t love that one) and followed it up with some heavy hitters—Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (10:14PM), Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough (10:20PM), Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room (10:35PM), Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (10:59PM).

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I’d tried to visit Tarzan Treehouse at 10:30PM but forgot that it’s closed during Fantasmic!, so I came back at 11:22PM. I finished up the day with a ride on the monorail at 11:42PM.

Conclusions

This was one of, if not the most complete days I’ve ever had at Disneyland. The low crowds work wonders on planning, but this was still a very busy day.

Sacrifices would have been necessary at some point in order to visit Galaxy’s Edge (again, it technically didn’t open until the next day but crowd levels didn’t change between those days, so it’s a fine example), but I also could have easily tacked on a ride (like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run) at the end.

Even so, until crowds pick up at Disneyland, we’re going to be in a situation where proper planning allows you to experience almost everything the park has to offer.

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.