Disneyland Galaxy's Edge Touring Strategy

This post will be home to our touring strategy for Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. Even though the land has had a successful opening (in terms of smooth operations and acceptable crowd levels), we’re keeping this separate post until Rise of the Resistance (the second ride) is open (Jan. 17) and the two rides are added to FASTPASS (unknown date).

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Why have a separate post?

Originally this section focused more on the high expected crowds and how you wouldn’t be able to just time your entry into Galaxy’s Edge however you wanted. That hasn’t panned out, as crowd levels for the debut have been quite low.

Through June 23, guests needed a reservation to enter the land. Beginning June 24, Disneyland started using a “boarding pass” or virtual queue system where you sign up and return to visit the land at a later time. We don’t know when Disneyland will stop using the boarding pass system, but it’s rarely been in use.

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That said, there are at least two major changes coming to Galaxy’s Edge. First, Rise of the Resistance, the groundbreaking feature ride of the land, will be opening on January 17, 2020. Second, at some point (no one knows when) Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will be added to the FASTPASS system.

Moreover, we still think it’s likely that as Disneyland crowds build back up—because of AP restrictions lifted, new ticket options, new marketing—the boarding pass system will become a feature of the land, and it makes sense to leave this content here.

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Finally, there’s no way to tell you how much time you need in Galaxy’s Edge. Between the ride(s), dining, and shopping, you’re looking at a few hours. Then add in the Play Disney app, if you’re into that, and you can easily will another few hours. Take some time to mingle with characters, that’s another few hours…and so on. It’s up to you.

Disclaimer and Some Research Tips

Disney has shown an ability and willingness to change things quickly at Galaxy’s Edge. So while our advice is current through publication, you should definitely supplement with your own research before you arrive. Our suggested platform is twitter.

Go on twitter, and search for things like: #GalaxysEdge or #StarWarsGalaxysEdge. When you see results, scroll through the timelines of users who have recently visited. Consider replying to their tweets if you have questions.

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Finally, if you’re looking for other content on Galaxy’s Edge, we have the following posts:

Disneyland Galaxy’s Edge Beginning June 24

The section covers visiting Galaxy’s Edge beginning June 24.

How To Use Galaxy’s Edge Boarding Pass System

The boarding pass system to enter Galaxy’s Edge is incredibly simple. To show how it works, we’re going to put a slideshow of images up here and then just go through the process below (use the arrows to scroll).

Check The Land Status. The Disneyland app prominently features Galaxy’s Edge information. Currently, it’s featured right in the middle of the home screen (click “Find Out More”). You don’t always need a boarding pass to enter Galaxy’s Edge. If the land status is “Open” you can just walk right into the land.

On opening day, you didn’t need a boarding pass until a bit into the morning, and you didn’t need one after about 5:30PM. On day two, you didn’t need one at all. If it is “Closed” then you’re there outside the land’s operating hours (maybe during Magic Morning).

Use the App or Select FASTPASS Stations to Join a Boarding Group. Guests wishing to visit Galaxy’s Edge will use the Disneyland App or stations at FASTPASS kiosks (Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain or near the Matterhorn Bobsleds) to join a “Boarding Group.” Boarding groups are numbered 1-99 and admitted sequentially.

When you join a group, you’ll see an estimate of when you can return, like “Early Afternoon.” After that, you’ll have a largely unhelpful status bar that indicates how close your group is to boarding. The app and signage around the park will indicate the group currently being admitted.

You have two hours from your group’s admission to enter the land. When your turn to enter finally arrives, you’ll get a push notification on the app. The app will generate a digital ticket that you can use to enter the land.

You have two hours from when your group starts entering the land to go to the land. Unfortunately, the app will not tell you where in your two hour window you are—you just have to remember when you got the push notification. If you missed the notification, you’re out of luck, but could maybe ask a Cast Member.

Reservations Required for Oga’s Cantina

You can make reservations for Oga’s up to 60 days in advance online. A fee of $10 per person will be charged to your card for no-shows (you can cancel up to one day in advance). Space is limited to 45 minutes per party. If you have a reservation, you don’t need to join a boarding group to enter Galaxy’s Edge. You can enter Galaxy’s Edge 1 hour prior to your reservation and check in for your reservation 15 minutes early.

Reservations Required for Savi’s Workshop

You can make reservations for Savi’s up to 60 days in advance online. As of this update, you can cancel up to one day in advance, and there is a $199.99 no-show fee if you miss your reservation. If you have a reservation, you don’t need to join a boarding group to enter Galaxy’s Edge. You can enter Galaxy’s Edge 1 hour prior to your reservation and check in for your reservation 15 minutes early.

Touring Galaxy’s Edge During the Boarding Pass Phase

Most of our website is predicated on the goal of getting you onto as many rides as possible. Galaxy’s Edge only currently has one ride—Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

But if you’re still reading then you’re obviously dedicated to this land, so we want to give you more than just tips for getting on the ride. We’re going to do these mostly in FAQ style. (If you want more information that explains what the different stores offer or where to find characters, visit our Guide to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge).

How can I get into the land? There are four ways. By making (1) an Oga’s reservation ($10 no-show penalty) or (2) a Savi’s reservation ($199.99 penalty), you guarantee access to the land without using the boarding pass system. Or you can (3) use the boarding pass system. If crowds are low, the land is simply “open” and you can (4) just walk right in.

Am I ever kicked out of the land? Only when the park closes. You can stay in the land all day if you want.

Can I Rope Drop Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run? Yes. Although boarding passes are needed to enter the land when it reaches capacity, it seems unlikely this will ever be timed right at rope drop. You should be able to head straight to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run if you want (keep reading).

Should I Rope Drop Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run? Eh…maybe, but probably not. Galaxy’s Edge is far from where you ideally want to be in your morning (Fantasyland). If you’re among the first 200 or so people, it might be worth it to start at Smugglers Run.

But if you’re not among the earliest arrivals, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is better later in the day. Because the land is under some capacity controls, the wait should always be somewhat constrained. Moreover, the time about 30 minutes after opening is when it will probable be longest because almost everyone inside the land is queuing for the ride at that point. As the day goes on, the crowds in the land are more spread out.

When should I try to come to Galaxy’s Edge? We recommend entering around noon. This gives you the morning to get through rope drop and prioritize anything else you need to ride. You’ll skip the part of the day with the longest waits in the rest of the park.

How Long of a Wait Should I Plan for Smugglers Run? Plan to wait between 45 minutes and 90 minutes.

Is there any ideal order to visit things? No. The only wait time you have to mind is on Smugglers Run, but it doesn’t really follow any specific patter other than peaking around 9AM with the morning run, flattening through the day, and dropping at night. Other than that, Docking Bay 7 will be most crowded around meal times, but you can usually plan to mobile order with little difficulty.

Can You Visit Multiple Times In One Day? Yes. I haven’t checked yet whether you can get multiple boarding passes (because the system has been so limited in use), but you definitely can enter separately at rope drop (or any time the land is “open”, on a boarding pass, or on a reservation).

How Long Do I Need In Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Well, we already said 45 to 90 minutes for Smugglers Run. Add in 15 minutes if you’d like to follow Chewbacca and Rey around a bit (they aren’t on a schedule). 15 minutes for Kylo Ren and the Stormtroopers.

Shopping is probably about 45 minutes. If you’re eating in Galaxy’s Edge, we recommend using Mobile Order. That should keep your meal time around 30 minutes.

Oga’s Cantina will take you about an hour, as will Savi’s Workshop. Remember, you need reservations for both of these. We’ll assume you do one. Add in a leisurely lap around the land to “take it in,” and thats another 20 minutes.

Here’s how this (roughly) breaks down with running totals:

  • 75 minutes for Smugglers Run (75 min.)

  • 30 minutes for characters (105 min.)

  • 45 minutes shopping (150 min.)

  • 30 minutes for a meal (180 min.)

  • 60 minutes for Oga’s or Savi’s (240 min.)

  • 20 minutes to take in the land (260 min.)

Without much deliberate effort, this schedule winds up with four hours of activities, roughly the amount of time Disney allocated for the original reservation period, and another 20 minutes to close out your visit.

Finally, with the Play Disney App, you could easily fill two to four hours in the land. This is the app that allows you to go around “hacking” items, doing “jobs” for digital characters, and earning credits.

[ENDED] Galaxy’s Edge Reservations Periods and Overlap

The former version of this post covered the Galaxy’s Edge reservation period through June 23. We’re leaving it up until we have time to review it and make sure we’re comfortable deleted it all.

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The Galaxy’s Edge reservation windows are:

  • 8AM to 12PM

  • 11AM to 3PM

  • 2PM to 6PM

  • 5PM to 9PM

  • 8PM to Midnight

The first group has one hour at the end that overlaps with the second group. The second, third, and fourth groups have two overlap hours (one at the beginning and one at the end), the last group has one hour at the beginning that overlaps. These “overlap” times are obviously when the crowds are highest.

Planning Your Day Around Your Galaxy’s Edge Reservation

So far, the crowds at Disneyland Resort have been very small during the reservation period for Galaxy’s Edge. If that continues, there shouldn’t be too much trouble in experiencing much of Disneyland around your Galaxy’s Edge visit. Nonetheless, here are a few tips.

For background, we have a Disneyland One Day Itinerary and a Disney California Adventure One Day Itinerary that don’t include Galaxy’s Edge. You’ll be using these tips to cut some of those itineraries and fit in Galaxy’s Edge.

Consider Pairing Galaxy’s Edge with California Adventure. If you had only two days at Disneyland Resort, you’d probably want to spend one full day at Disneyland outside of Galaxy’s Edge and then split the other day between Galaxy’s Edge and Disney California Adventure. This is particularly good if you have the 8PM to Midnight period for Galaxy’s Edge.

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Morning Reservations Face Hurdles. While 8AM may be the best reservation period for experiencing Galaxy’s Edge, it’s also the time slot likely to give you the biggest challenge in visiting the rest of Disneyland. On a smooth morning at Disneyland, we’ll visit fifteen rides from 8AM to 12PM. There’s no way to make up for missing rope drop, you’ll just have to be a little more vigilant in your Disneyland FASTPASS strategy and maybe wait in some longer lines for rides you missed in the AM.

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Midday Reservations Face Choices. The 11AM, 2PM and 5PM slots have things a little better. They still get the benefit of rope drop and late night short lines. Mostly, they’ll be cutting out entertainment, but they’ll also probably need to carefully plan their FASTPASS times because midday is typically when you’d be using FASTPASS instead of waiting in long lines.

Indiana Jones Adventure is a typical afternoon FASTPASS for us, and we’d need to plan to work it around our Galaxy’s Edge reservation.

Indiana Jones Adventure is a typical afternoon FASTPASS for us, and we’d need to plan to work it around our Galaxy’s Edge reservation.

Evening Reservations Have It Easiest. Basically the 8PM reservation period is just looking at a short day at Disneyland. It isn’t ideal, but if you arrive for rope drop and keep busy, you’ll complete most of our itinerary before you start keeping an eye on the entrance to Galaxy’s Edge around 7:15PM. Just be sure you don’t skip any “must do” rides since you won’t have a chance after you leave Galaxy’s Edge.

Reservation Check In and Not-Queuing

Check-in begins two hours before your reservation period and occurs at the Star Wars Launch Bay (in Tomorrowland). Check-in has been going smoothly by all reports (and our own experience). You bring your entire party, your QR code from the reservation email, and your IDs. You’ll get wristbands indicating your time slot, activate them, and be on your way. The whole process takes a few minutes.

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Most waves seem to be using the Critter Country entrance to the land. The entrance point is right outside Hungry Bear across from Splash Mountain—that’s where guests will not be allowed past without wristbands. We were told waiting in Hungry Bear was not an option and that they would not allow people to merge with the people coming from the entrance point.

Disney is trying very hard not to have people queuing before their reservation period. Unfortunately they have no good way to stop it, and at some point (usually around 30 minutes before the reservation period), they have no choice but to open and allow people to move closer to the land.

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We don’t like obstructions to park traffic flow (which is why we hate parades and nighttime shows), and they do post a genuine safety hazard, so we won’t advise you just stand around. At least keep your feet moving or sit/stand clearly out of the way of any traffic.

In our experience, groups have been taken up to the area near Resistance Supply prior to being let into the land. The 8AM time slot has a different experience, as they’re technically allowed to check in before the park opens. You’ll be directed along the way, and there’s been some variance in the exact process used for this time slot.

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The biggest question for 8AM people is when you need to arrive. We’re suggesting no later than 6:30AM, but we’ve seen some sites that say as late as 7AM is correct. Personally, we’d arrive no later than 6AM, but we’re those people.

Reservation Period Strategy in Galaxy’s Edge

For the purposes of this post, we’re going to break Galaxy’s Edge into five components:

  1. Oga’s Cantina

  2. Savi’s Workshop (lightsaber experience)

  3. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

  4. Droid Depot

  5. Everything Else (other shops, dining, character interactions, etc.)

What should I visit first in Galaxy’s Edge (Star Wars Land)?

The top two priorities on arriving in the land are Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop. Generally, the cantina has been higher demand, so we recommend prioritizing that.

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If you have multiple people in your party, you’ll send one to Oga’s to sign up and another to Savi’s to sign up. Be careful that the estimate return times don’t conflict. You may have to hop a bit back in line at Savi’s if they’re still giving short return times.

If you have one person, we recommend prioritizing Oga’s if you’re hoping to do both. That said, while we decided against doing Savi’s, we understand it to be a very moving experience for some. If that’s your “can’t miss,” don’t risk missing it, head there first.

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Droid Depot can usually be done at any point between 1 and 3 hours into your reservation (avoiding the overlap periods) and should take 20 to 45 minutes.

We recommend riding Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run between 2 and 3 hours into your window. You want to avoid the overlap periods, as that’s when the wait will be its highest. Definitely don’t wait until 3 hours in when the next wave arrives.

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Everything else you’ll just want to fit in between these other things. Keep in mind that while we group shopping, character interacting, eating, using the Play Disney app, and taking in the land as “everything else,” you really could have a fantastic time in the land just doing those things.

Oga’s Cantina

Here’s how Oga’s Cantina signup was working through June 5. Upon entering the land, you’d be told to follow a person with a stick/flag if you were interested in visiting Oga’s.

That person would lead a line to form, and Cast Members would take the name, group size, and phone number of the person signing up. Only one person from your group needs to sign up and the Cast Members prefer only one person wait in line.

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You’ll get a text message estimating your return time, and then you’ll get a second message telling you to return.

When you return, you’ll check in with the Cast Member holding a tablet, and they’ll give you a laminated card signifying that you’ve checked in. Then you’ll wait in line for about 15-20 minutes before being let into the cantina.

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There’s a two-drink limit and a 45-minute time limit. If you’re at a table, it sounds like the 45-minute time limit is being enforced. From the bar, we didn’t see any enforcement, but as more people come in you should at least feel the social pressure to begin making your way out.

If you’re near the front when you arrive, you’ll wait about 15 minutes to sign up. Then another 20 when you come back. Let’s say you do 25 minutes in the cantina. That’s an hour of your time.

Reservation Period - Visiting Savi’s Workshop

Savi’s Workshop changed procedures a few times in the early days, but seems to have settled on what makes the most sense. You line up to pay, get a fixed return time when you pay—not like Oga’s where you get an estimated time to wait until a text arrives—come back, and build.

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The downside of the Savi’s system is that people are reporting their waits after returning can be around an hour. This isn’t shocking because it’s still a big improvement over the old system where guests just had to stand around—sometimes their entire reservation period—until their group was finally called.

All of this (plus the $200 price tag and the fact that we were just planning to give the lightsaber away anyways) is why we opted against Savi’s. Is it something I’d like to try in the future? Sure. But with four hours in the land, I didn’t want to spend two of them there.

Reservation Period - Riding Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Smugglers Run is the easiest to strategize. Avoid the overlap with the other reservation periods, and you’ll probably be fine.

If you don’t need to experience the queue, you can use single rider, which is usually about 25% the wait. You’ll still get the waiting room with the game board, if that’s the pic you’re looking for, but you’ll miss Hondo and some other cool things in the queue.

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The ideal time to ride has been about 2 to 3 hours into your window. During that hour, waits can drop as low as five or ten minutes.

Multiple rides have been allowed so far, but they are actively marking wristbands in case they need to disallow them. Typically about 90 minutes before your window ends, guests looking to repeat ride will be turned away.

Reservation Period - Visiting Droid Depot

So far we haven’t seen or heard of any real delays at Droid Depot. Most people are reporting it takes around 20 to 45 minutes of your time.

Like Smugglers Run, you’ll want to avoid Droid Depot during the first and last hours of your window due to the overlap with the other windows.

Reservation Period - Visiting Everything Else

The Market, which is where you’ll find the smaller shops will see ebbing and flowing crowds. There’s no right or wrong time to visit them, though shopping is generally something you can do during the overlap periods.

Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities is the only store besides Droid Depot that we’ve seen reach capacity. Especially during the overlap hours, they’ll use a one out / one in system.

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Docking Bay 7 has mobile order, but the immediate window isn’t always available. We had no trouble walking up and ordering three meals at Docking Bay 7. It was as efficient as any quick service operation.

Resistance characters generally appear near Resistance Supply. First Order characters cover the area between First Order Cargo and Droid Depot / Savi’s Workshop.

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Kat Saka’s Kettle and the Milk Stand can get long lines. We weren’t able to get the popcorn from Kat Saka’s because we just couldn’t catch it with a short line.

Photopass opportunities can be found at the Millennium Falcon, the TIE Echelon (outside First Order Cargo), and the Resistance vehicles (next to Resistance Supply). The Falcon has the longest line, but it moves quickly enough.

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All Your Other Disneyland Planning Questions Answered

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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.