Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (Florida) Annual Passholder Preview Report

We were fortunate to have a trip planned for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party that just overlapped with the start of Disney World annual passholder previews for the new Hollywood Studios land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. In this post, I’m going to discuss a bit about how that preview went.

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About Galaxy’s Edge

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the new Star Wars land opening in Hollywood Studios (at Walt Disney World) on August 29. We attended the first preview for annual passholders on August 17.

Remember—Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (aka Star Wars Land) is already open out west in Disneyland. That land is substantially similar but not identical to the Hollywood Studios land. If you’d like to read more about our visits to that land, we have the following posts (links open in new tabs):

Our Guide to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge includes a broad overview of the land. And we’ll be working on content that covers how to visit Galaxy’s Edge in Florida. It will likely pop up as its own post and among the following posts (again, new tabs):

This post is just a visit report that talks about the passholder preview. You can’t draw too many conclusions from these previews about how the land will operate, but you can get a basic idea of the land as a whole.

Arrival and Check-In

Whenever I’m heading to a big early morning event, I like to check twitter to get a sense of how big a rush I’m in. For this event, for example, I did a searches for “hollywood studios,” “galaxy’s edge,” and “#galaxysedge.” Sort by “Latest,” and I can see if anyone has pictures of the crowds yet.

Along with pretty much every other Disney theme park blogger, I was at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party late last night, and I wound up waking up at about 6:30AM on two hours sleep. I saw on twitter that people were already lining up at 7:15AM for the start of the 9AM previews.

We were slotted with the first guests from 9AM to 1PM. Departing Gran Destino at 7:30AM, I checked for a Minnie Van.

A Minnie Van cost $20 and required an estimated 11 minutes to pick me up. Uber cost $8 and required 3 minutes. Since time was an issue, I went with an Uber (my preferred Disney World transportation option) even though I’m trying to test Minnie Vans more often.

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We wound up through security at Hollywood Studios at 7:55AM. They were snaking a line of guests through a few turnstiles, and once inside the park they were directing preview guests over to the other side of Echo Lake.

The group was eventually moved to the Grand Avenue entrance to Galaxy’s Edge, which has been the only entrance/exit in use so far.

Check-in was easy and required showing our email, checking our IDs, and scanning our Magic Bands. There were no wristbands for the time slots, which makes sense because the land really won’t take an average guest four hours to experience.

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There was a separate check-in for guests with Savi’s and Oga’s reservations to the side. I actually didn’t know those were required for AP previews. I later saw on the Blog Mickey twitter feed that Oga’s was taking standby guests at one point, as were Savi’s and Droid Depot.

“Rope Drop” Into Galaxy’s Edge

We moved slowly until we were eventually let into the land at 8:28AM. We were escorted to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

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It will take a few days (weeks? months?) to really settle on a touring plan for Galaxy’s Edge. I think most of us assume that Oga’s and Savi’s will actually require reservations most times of most days, but like I said, that didn’t wind up being the case today.

But even if Oga’s and Savi’s wind up taking some walk-ups, it probably won’t make sense to just start there. As a result, most everyone is going to be starting with the Falcon. But as I said—you can’t really plan much based on how preview events go.

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While we’ve heard different narratives on the Falcon are coming, we were pretty sure the story on our ride was the exact same as previous rides in Disneyland. Every ride has some differences, but the basic narrative remains the same.

We were fortunate to get on the ride while the Hondo animatronic was still working. Both this animatronic and the DJ R3X animatronic at Oga’s Cantina were down for much of the day.

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After the ride, our credits were promptly deposited into our “Datapad” account on the Play Disney app, which brings us to…

What Happened to the Datapad?

While I ultimately feel like the use of the Play Disney app to supplement the land is a poor decision, I was highly addicted to using my “Datapad” during my time out west. This visit? Not so much.

Part of the “problem” was that my profile carried over from Disneyland, so I had already accomplished many of the tasks in the app.

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But the bigger issue was the functioning of the app itself. When I signed in, I was given a warning about the game essentially being “Beta” for the preview. This surprised me (and my lacking IT understanding), because the app and how it interacts with the land are identical on both coasts.

But the Datapad was filled with glitches in Florida while it worked almost perfectly in California. Most every interaction with the app went wrong, so I used it for about five minutes before just giving up.

As I was given the “beta” warning by the app, and as Play Disney isn’t necessarily essential to the land, I’m content writing this off as just “preview vs. reality.” But I’ve got my eye on it…

Killing Time In Galaxy’s Edge

Four hours has always been a sufficient amount of time to experience Galaxy’s Edge. That’s not to say you’ll be an expert in the land after four hours, but especially without reservations for Oga’s and Savi’s, you’re likely to be compelled to move on well short of four hours.

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Without either of those reservations—and not knowing standby was an option—we mostly leisured around the land. We explored the shops, which were seemingly identical to their California counterparts.

We were fortunate to get to meet Tom Bricker of Disney Tourist Blog. I think most Disney vacation planning content is a footnote to Tom, and I recommend Disney Tourist Blog first and foremost for planning any Disney trip. (That’s not to say what the rest of us do isn’t valuable—any lawyer will tell you the best gems are usually in the footnotes.)

I bought this water bottle from Resistance Supply. I’d been eying it for a while, and in the Florida heat it’s definitely a good idea to have a water bottle.

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Comparing Galaxy’s Edge On Both Coasts

Really, the best way to get through the remaining commentary is to compare Batuu East (Florida) to Batuu West (California). So let’s do that.

“Hard” Differences Between Batuu East and West

“Hard” differences are those that are physically built into the land. There are several hard differences between Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and Hollywood Studios, and I want to note only a few of them. I’m going to just do this with quick notes and then photos for comparison. Click the arrows to move between the photos below each item.

Batuu West has three entrances, and Batuu East only has two. The pathways of the lands also vary slightly. The X-Wing is also located on opposite sides of the path by Resistance Supply (not pictured).

The two entrances to Batuu East are near Grand Avenue (by Muppet Vision 3D) and at the end of Toy Story Land. Currently only the Grand Avenue entrance (left on the above map) is in use, and it’s reasonable to expect the land will open with a Grand Avenue entrance and Toy Story Land exit.

The coloring in Batuu East is generally bolder and more varied than in Batuu West. I’ve chosen the outside of the Marketplace for an obvious image of this. Less obvious, but I believe still different, is the tone of some of the spires, also pictured.

This First Order flag in Batuu West is missing in Batuu East (this might be a “soft” difference, I guess).

Those are all just differences I immediately noticed. I’m sure there are significantly more.

“Soft” Differences Between Batuu East and West

Soft Differences are those not to the physical structure of the land. Again, there are more differences than these.

I haven’t been to Batuu West in a few months, but when I was last there the “roaming” routes for Rey and Chewbacca were more limited than they were in Batuu East. In particular, in Disney World, Chewbacca was seen in the Marketplace, and I’ve seen Rey over by the Falcon.

You can carry alcohol around Battuu East, and Ronto Roasters serves a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage. In Batuu West, alcohol can only be purchased and consumed inside Oga’s.

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Batuu East has more tables. There were tons of themed tables lining the land. When we met, Tom speculated to me that these could be related to an event and not permanent. [Update: the tables do seem to have been event related.]

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There were also a significant number of not-themed tables in Batuu East. There were umbrellas throughout Batuu East, as well. Both of the below pics are Batuu East.

The umbrellas really serve to highlight that one difference “missing” was any approach to handle Florida’s more punishing weather. In particular, a few people have pointed out that giving the marketplace a complete roof might have been a good option.

It probably isn’t a lack of shelter that’s a problem per se. Rather, it’s that the existing shelter is broken into small spaces. I wouldn’t want to be in the crowded marketplace when a downpour hits, because you’ll wind up having to pack into the tiny stalls with other guests.

What’s Next for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida?

There are a few big dates coming up. First, on August 29, Galaxy’s Edge will open up to all guests. We’ll be there for that—bright and early.

Then, on September 1, Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios will begin daily from 6AM to 9AM through November 2. We’ll also be there for several of those.

Finally, on December 5, Rise of the Resistance will open. This is expected to be one of Disney’s best rides ever and—you guessed it—we’ll be lined up bright and early.

If you’d like to follow along for these trips, I highly encourage you to follow us on instagram (@mousheacking) and pay attention to our story. Our instagram account is (admittedly) nothing special. But the story feature is the place where we provide minute-by-minute updates during our trips.

It can take several days to get a full post on something up, and with things expected to change so quickly at Galaxy’s Edge, we won’t be writing posts of every experience. So the best way to just see what’s going on is through our instagram story.

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