I have briefly mentioned how I'm not going to Disney this year simply because I waited too long to make a reservation. A few weeks ago, I could have scored a room at the Art Of Animation Resort (Little Mermaid wing, of course) for between $130 and $160 a night. It's not the greatest accomodations, especially at that price. But for a quickie dickie weekend or something like that, it's perfectly fine, especially if you know how to score the discount rate.
And then, Disney surprised everyone by announcing an open date for Star Wars Land, a.k.a. Galaxy's Edge, in Orlando. They did this because they were underbooked, realized why, and decided to motivate people to reserve rooms. The net result is that, for November and December, two of the slowest periods for Disney outside the actual holidays in those months, the rooms are now $220 to $260 a night.
Star Wars Land is now open in California. The thing to keep in mind is the two parks, California and Florida, ARE GOING TO BE IDENTICAL. No kidding -- there is a gap in the landscape towards the front in Orlando where there is nothing behind the fence, but it is there to keep the land exactly identical to Cali. Disney's idea was so that the parks don't compete against each other -- people can go to whichever is closest to them and get the same experience. So what we see in Anaheim is what we will get in Orlando.
And it doesn't look like it will be worth it.
And now, a tip of the hat to Fractal_Coffee on the coder channel. Obviously, there's a lot of Star Wars nuts there. And he and some buddies were able to score their way in. They split up to get the lay of the land and reconvened to assemble what we need to know. Many Bothans died to bring us this information....
Let's deal with the first part, how exactly you get in. Star Wars Land is not like other Disney park areas where you can just wander in and out. It requires a separate ticket to get in. Passes are reserved for people staying at the resorts, but there are some passes available to the general public. But you better reserve them in advance -- my understanding is that they are used up for the next ten months at least.
So, you get your ticket and you get to the gate for Star Wars Land. Once there, you get a colored wrist band. The band corresponds with when you have to leave -- you only get four hours at a crack in there. Which means if you don't use your FastPass and the Millenium Falcon ride is three hours to wait for, well, that's your lot, now piss off. So you need to know exactly what you are doing and where you are going once you get inside.
Because God knows wandering around Disney isn't exhausting enough as it is.
Next up? Cosplay! Anyone who's been to Harry Potter World (which this is clearly intended to compete against) knows that Universal encourages people to cosplay there. If anyone ever goes to Harry Potter World, you better be wearing at least a robe. There were only a handful of people there dressed normally, and everyone looked at them like they were freaks (the irony is absolutely delicious). So what about Star Wars Land?
Disney's rules are simple -- no one over the age of 14 is allowed to cosplay in there. I'm guessing it's so that people don't confuse the regular attendees with the actual park employees (you know how stupid people can act, you don't want them ruining your reputation). But the upshot is, unless you're a kid, no dressing like Rey or Luke or anything like that. (Actually, I suspect another reason, which I will get to anon. But for now, we're rolling with this.) . I don't know about other cosplays -- I would love to go there in my Star-Lord jacket, put on some headphones, and bop my way through the land like the opening of the first Guardians Of The Galaxy, but I'm not sure if that's okay.
One of the rides is not open right now, the Rise Of The Resistance ride. Apparently, they are having some problems with the trackless ride and they don't want to have the same problem the Gringott's ride had when it opened at Universal. So the only ride is Smuggler's Run, the Millenium Falcon ride. You sit in the cockpit of the Falcon and get to shoot at other spaceships while chasing a train stealing coaxium in the scene from Solo -- A Star Wars Story. How well you do affects what you see on the way out, as far as battle damage to the Falcon.
You can also build a droid for $100 with sensors that react to you and any First Order or Kylo Rens roaming around the park, and building your own light saber for $200. For $7,000, you can get a full set of actually sized to you Storm Trooper armor, and for $25,000, you can get a life-size R2D2, complete with aluminum body, sensor to interact with you, remote control, and so on. Clearly, this is not for cheapskates like me.
So, what did his little group think of Star Wars Land?
They all thought it sucked.
Keep in mind, they are Star Wars fans, not general people who love all things Disney. But their reports indicate that Star Wars Land is very underwhelming.
Let's start with the setting itself. It apparently feels really small and cramped in there. Other than the Falcon and the X-wing fighter replica, there is not a lot of Star Wars in Star Wars Land. It is a planet called Batuu, which didn't exist until the Star Tours ride (no kidding, that is the first time it is ever mentioned). It is only referred to in a couple of Star Wars books. In other words, this isn't Tattooine or Hoth or even Endor. It a place that even most Star Wars fans have never heard of.
This ties in with my suspected reason about blocking certain cosplays -- the reports indicate there is a lot of emphasis on the Disney Star Wars movies and attempts to avoid the original trilogy and the prequels as much as possible. So you don't want people dressed as Darth Vader roaming around there. Even the Millenium Falcon is the Disney version (you can tell by the rectangular radar dish instead of the circular ones from the original trilogy and there is a Porg nest inside there somewhere, although it does seem to break down like the Disco Yeti). No matter how much you love Star Wars, the iconic movies that formed your fanboyism are pretty much swept under the run here.
The food blows dicks. There is a "blue milk" that is supposed to be the signature drink like butterbeer is for Harry Potter world. It's a mixture of soy and rice milk with some coloring (although there does seem to be a difference between the blue and the green), basically a vegan smoothie. It won't spoil in the heat, but it apparently tastes like ass. The food is intended to look alien, so more emphasis is placed on appearance than taste. The wrap, the basic on-the-go food, was terrible. You don't even get a Creature Cantina to go to. Get out of the park and go someplace with real food.
Smuggler's Run isn't a lot of fun. It's basically a video game. Yeah, you get to walk through the Millenium Falcon, but it's still a shooting gallery reminiscent of Stitch's Alien Adventure. There were some graphics glitches, and some of the positions, such as the gunner and the engineer, have a very poor view of the screen and makes targeting accurately a real struggle. Oh, and you might want to bring disinfecting wipes and wipe everything down before you start playing with it.
Some of them got light sabers. They didn't get droids because there wasn't enough time. Remember how I said you get four hours in the park and then you gone? Here's how they broke down their time for the light sabers --
1) Wait to pay for your light saber (40 minutes)
2) Wait to line up (30 minutes, 1 hour 10 minutes total so far)
3) Line up to wait (35 minutes, 1 hour 45 minutes total so far)
4) Waiting pen to build saber (25 minutes, 2 hours 10 minutes so far)
5) Get inside and actually build the saber (20 minutes, 2 hours 30 minutes total)
Two and a half hours. For a light saber that those who cosplay said you could get better quality cheaper from sabersmiths (you can also choose from EU colors from sabersmiths, Disney gives you the standard red, blue, green, and purple only). And, of course, you can buy Jedi robes and shit at the shops.
So if you love just being immerse in the Disney environments, you'll enjoy it. But if you are either a Star Wars fan or if you are, like me, immune to the Disney immersion spell, you are going to get bored really quick.
Meanwhile, Universal just opened Hagrid's Motorbike Ride, a roller coaster that has a ride time of over three minutes. There's a reason that ride has a 10 hour wait time, folks.