Disney on Thursday announced its official opening dates for this new Star Wars immersive theme park experience. Stretching across 14 acres, this expansion to the current parks in Florida and California will include a cantina serving alcoholic drinks, multiple shops and food stops, and two rides.
But only one ride -- the Millennium Falcon fight simulator attraction -- will be open at launch. The second, more ambitious headline attraction called Rise of the Resistance will be opening later in 2019 in phase two, but no specific date has been announced yet for that launch.
If you want to be the very first to experience Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland, you'll need to make a reservation. Between May 31 and June 23, a Disneyland park ticket alone won't get you in -- guests will need to make a reservation to access the Star Wars section of the park. It won't cost extra but there will be limited availability, and guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels during those dates will get a reservation to access Galaxy's Edge. In a blog post, Disney says more details on how to make a reservation will be announced later.
Disney says no reservations will be required for the Disney World version opening in August, but capacity will be limited.
Reservations for attractions are not typical for Disney, but this is not a typical theme park experience. The actors, shops, food and rides are all designed to create the illusion you really are on another planet in this fantasy universe, set in a time betweenand the upcoming . Order drinks in the cantina and you may tangle with a bounty hunter. Adopt a Loth-cat in the marketplace. Make choices that benefit the light or dark side. Seek out a craftsman to help you build your own lightsaber. Help rescue rebel fighters as you dodge blaster fire and fly the .
Disney has been slowly releasing details of the land as we approach opening day, giving limited previews of experiences to a handful of reporters. We have a better idea of the vast menu selection and theming of each store in the marketplace, along with more ride details. There will also be an app that unlocks even more of the storyline throughout the park.
Visitors can expect new creatures, smells and plenty of high-tech effects that will bring the fantasy universe to life. Disney is also building a luxury Star Wars hotel in Florida for guests to roleplay in costume, adding even more layers of story possibilities.
Where is it and when can I go?
The land is being built inside two of Disney's parks: Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Disney's Hollywood Studios near Orlando, Florida. Each version will be similar in design.
The one at Disneyland will open first to the public on May 31. The land in Florida at Hollywood Studios will open on Aug. 29. The opening date of the Star Wars hotel in Florida has not been set.
Oga's Cantina: Drink with bounty hunters
Visitors to the local watering hole can order beer, wine and themed cocktails. Disney says menu items will be made with "exotic ingredients that use otherworldly methods, served in unique vessels." When it opens, it will be the first time alcohol will be served to the general public at the Disneyland theme park.
The bar is owned by an alien named Oga Garra, who is described as running the establishment with a strict code of conduct to keep any unruly patrons in check. Disney storytellers say this is a popular stopping point for those seeking to avoid the authorities, so it's sure to be colorful.
The cantina may serve some shady galactic travelers, but it's also family-friendly with items for kids and a selection of nonalcoholic drinks. The menu will include Blue Bantha, a glass of blue milk (which Luke Skywalker drank in A New Hope) topped with a cookie decorated with a bantha horn. There will be some light bar snacks, but this hangout is really just for refreshments.
As for entertainment, fans of the Disney's Star Tours ride may recognize the DJ. The droid R-3X, formerly known as Captain Rex of the original star-speeder simulator ride, has a new gig mixing beats at the cantina. Maybe he'll be a better DJ than he is a pilot? Nerdist reports that he'll be playing about a three-hour long show, and will be voiced by Paul Reubens (you know him as Pee-wee Herman), just like droid from the original ride.
Where's the grub? Grab a bite outside the cantina
The main stop for food will be a quick service restaurant at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, run by the former chef at Maz Kanata's castle, Chef Strono "Cookie" Tuggs. After the First Order wrecked the castle, he now runs this traveling kitchen with a menu full of fun names: braised Shaak roast (beef pot roast), Endorian tip-yip (chicken), Ithorian garden loaf (vegan meatloaf), Kaadu ribs (smoked country sticky pork ribs), and Burra fish (well… fish).
Over at Ronto Roasters, exotic meats are turned over a roaring fire -- cooked by a recycled podracing engine -- as a former smelter droid watches over the food. On the menu is a roasted pork wrap served in a pita, and sweet or spicy turkey jerky.
A milk stand will offer farm-fresh blue or green milk, direct from Bubo Wamba Family Farms. It's described as being a frozen drink with the texture being like a smoothie or milkshake. Blue tastes like berry, green will have a tropical flavor. And as it turns out, the "milk" is actually nondairy.
And if you just need a little snack, Kat Saka's Kettle is a market stall that will have an Outpost Mix of sweet and salty popcorn with a hint of spice that turns the snack red and purple.
What's the story behind Galaxy's Edge?
Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm teamed up to create a whole new planet and backstory for the themed land. At Galaxy's Edge, guests are on the planet Batuu in an area called the Black Spire Outpost. It's a crossroads for travelers, adventurers and smugglers in the Outer Rim region of space.
The story of the land is set between the movies of The Last Jedi and Episode 9, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Disney describes it as a haven for the galaxy's most colorful and notorious characters, and a place to avoid the expanding reach of the First Order -- the evil faction headed by Snoke and Kylo Ren from the latest films.
The unique spires of the land are the petrified remains of ancient trees. The most notable is called the Black Spire, a landmark for travelers to use as a meeting point.
Is Batuu in any other Star Wars stories?
The planet was invented for the theme parks, but it's now being woven into other Star Wars stories as canon. The novel Thrawn: Alliances makes reference to Batuu. And the Black Spire also got a brief mention in the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story, when the droid L3-37 tells Lando Calrissian he couldn't find the Black Spire without her.
What about the rides?
, revealed to be Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
In Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you'll find yourself in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Guests step aboard a Resistance troop transport ship, but you're soon captured by a Star Destroyer. Now comes the great escape. The ride vehicle holds eight guests and is designed to look like a small transport vehicle used by the First Order.
The trackless vehicle moves in different ways, taking guests past a 100-foot space window, with rows of stormtroopers getting orders from First Order officers.
At one point in the ride, guests leave the vehicle to walk into a detention cell, awaiting a visit from Kylo Ren. And movie heroes Rey, Poe and Finn will appear throughout the ride.
Disney is building two giant AT-AT walkers for this attraction. Disney's Imagineers described it as the most epic attraction ever designed.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run is essentially a Millennium Falcon flight simulator. Riders will be flying Han Solo's famous ship, flipping switches and shooting blasters -- controlling it all themselves. Disney is working with Nvidia to develop new technology that can render graphics for the ride in real time.
Your performance on the Millennium Falcon will affect the ending. It's essentially a giant video game. In this six-person cockpit, take your seat as a driver, gunner or engineer. Your performance matters -- better hit those buttons and levers at the right time. Perform with skill and you'll get rewarded. Bring the ship in banged up and you could be put on the list of a bounty hunter named Harko -- and it may mean trouble if you show your face at the local cantina. Actions on the ride can follow you as you walk through the land.
Unlock secrets of Batuu with an app
Thewill be incorporated throughout the land, giving guests the ability to unlock more story about the land around them. The app, which first launched for the opening of in Florida, will interact with physical objects. Help the Resistance by "hacking" the First Order's surveillance boxes embedded in the walls around the town. Or maybe you want to be working for the First Order and reactivate the sensors other guests have tampered with.
As EW details, a translation feature in the app will help you understand characters that speak in their native alien language, or scan the foreign text carved into walls and stone.
The app will have plenty to keep you busy while you're waiting in those long lines. Maybe you'll tune into a secret broadcast transmitted by the Resistance, First Order or an underworld gang.
Guests will also have the option to take a "job" and sign up to help the light or dark side -- or maybe go rogue and play both sides, interacting with characters around the village.
Will there be famous Star Wars characters?
Although this is a whole new storyline to the franchise, some popular characters do make appearances at Batuu. Disney confirmed guests will see Chewbacca, BB-8 and Nein Nunb, a rebel alliance pilot from Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
One of the star audio-animatronic robots will be Hondo Ohnaka, a pirate from Star Wars: Rebels. You'll find him in the Smuggler's Run attraction. It's one of the most advanced animatronic characters Disney built, and Popular Mechanics got the story behind its creation.
Hidden references will be found all around. Visit the dingy bathroom water fountains and you just may spot a dianoga in the pipes (that eyeball creature from the Death Star garbage compactor in A New Hope), according to the Orlando Sentinel.
What alien creatures will we meet?
In the park you'll find a creature stall where different beasts from the Star Wars franchise will come to life, some never seen before outside of literature. One of the creatures is the Loth-cat from the Star Wars Rebels animated series. Disney's creative team has said there will also be creatures you can adopt to take home.
Want a souvenir? This isn't a typical gift shop
All the shops are themed to being part of the Black Spire marketplace. Don't count on finding items marked with big Disney branding.
Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities buys and sells rare items from across the galaxy, spanning all eras. If you want a custom, handbuilt lightsaber, try to find a spot at Savi's Workshop. Building a lightsaber is a 20-minute experience that can accommodate 14 people at time, and includes a lesson on the ways of the Jedi.
Over at The Droid Depot, guests can construct their own astromech droids, but it's not just a trinket to take home. The droids can interact with other robots and characters in the land.
A makeshift stall overseen by the Resistance will sell uniforms, pins, badges, hats, tools and other training supplies. But there's also a spaceport hangar bay run by the First Order, where officers have brought in crates of gear, uniforms and other supplies to win the hearts and minds of visitors to the Black Spire Outpost.
Every store has a story to tell. Black Spire Outfitters is where you go for clothing. The Creature Stall is where you can adopt a critter to take home. And The Jewels of Bith is a place to find accessories and other treasures.
How can I stay in the Star Wars hotel?
Details are limited regarding the hotel, which Disney describes as a luxury resort. (In other words, better start saving up your galactic credits now.) Disney Parks Experiences and Consumer Products Chairman Bob Chapek said the resort will feel like a luxury starship, with high-end dining and space-view cabins.
The resort is being built right next door to the Star Wars area in Florida, on the south side of Disney's Hollywood Studios. It'll be seamlessly connected to Galaxy's Edge, so guests can just spend their whole stay in this fantasy universe.
Disney calls this resort a "multiday adventure." Insiders speculate that this may work like a cruise, with guests checking in on the same day to get everyone in sync with the same story line. But we've yet to learn exactly what activities guests can expect, how many rooms the hotel will have, what it'll cost, or when it'll open.
Can we use lightsabers? Will there be holograms? What effects can we expect?
Disney hasn't revealed the secrets to any special effects we may see, but perhaps some clues can be found in recent patent applications.
What will space windows in a hotel look like? Maybe it will use layered, transparent displays, as described in this patent application.
For now, we'll have to use our imaginations until it opens this summer.
Originally published on July 6, 2018.
Update, 3:37 p.m. March 7, 2019: Adds details on opening in phases. This is the latest of multiple updates as new information emerges.