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Star Wars Galaxy's Edge: Everything you need to know about Disney's newest theme park – CNET

You can live inside your own Star Wars story starting this Friday at Disneyland when the new Galaxy's Edge park opens to the public. But CNET's Vanessa Hand Orellana got a sneak piece this week during Media Day. Her TL;DR review: Galaxy's Edge will make every fan's dream come true. We've added in some of her impressions below, but be sure to check out her full Star Wars land review for more in-depth opinions.

Through 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. Unfortunately, direct reservations are now sold out, but guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels during June can still potentially get a reservation to access Galaxy's Edge. But starting June 24, there's no reservation needed, just a regular park ticket.

Stretching across 14 acres, this expansion to the current parks in Florida (opening at the end of August) and California will include a cantina serving alcoholic drinks, multiple shops and food stops, and two rides. 

Whether you have your reservations or not, at 8.30 p.m. PT tonight you can watch the live dedication ceremony right here from Disney Parks ahead of Friday's public opening.

Now that we're just a few days from the official opening, Disney has been releasing more info on its social media channels with sneak peeks at guides, food and more. Plus, the Disney Play app has been updated with a look at the park layout and more in preparation for the interactive games that guests will play inside Galaxy's Edge.

Inside the Disney Play app, you'll be able to interact with various pieces within Star Wars land, including droids and rides.

Disney Parks/composite by CNET

This month Disney cast member previews began. While no phones were allowed inside the newest land, photos of merch and food and other items people left the park with can be found across social media (on Instagram especially).

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This time last week, I was taking my first steps in Galaxy’s Edge. Since one of our first stops was Oga’s Cantina, I thought I’d give a few Oga’s Cantina tips for impending visitors. ? . Stop reading here if you want to be surprised. . . . . . . . : . . . . . • Flip the coasters over, because each side is different! • The menu only lists specialty drinks, but you can order soda or water as well. • The DJ droid providing the music is DJ-R3X (“Rex”), and he’s voiced by Paul Reubens (from Peewee Herman). You may recognize DJ Rex from his stint as the pilot on Star Tours. ?? • Stare at the creatures in the tanks. They look still but are actually breathing. • Blue and green milk are both vegan. They’re expensive but do come with a big fancy cookie. My party ordered one for the group to share sips of, and that seemed like a good approach for the first time. • You can’t order muggle mixed drinks, like Gin & Tonic etc. Only Oga’s drinks. • The fizz drinks are fizzy because there’s dry ice! • Bartenders are in character and may ask you about what your business on the planet is. Come up with your backstory in advance if you want to avoid being caught off guard. • The writing on the menus is really small, unfortunately. I hope this is changed later, but in the meantime, just be prepared or ask a bartender about the options. • It is loud. I wore my noise cancelling headphones. But it wasn’t a “drunk people being belligerent” kind of place at all. It’s nicely controlled. • The theming is just as awesome as you’d expect!

A post shared by ? Chrysanthe Tan ?? (they/she) (@chrysanthetan) on

But only one ride at Disneyland -- the Millennium Falcon flight 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.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge: Everything you need to know about Disney's newest theme park     - CNET

Now playing: Watch this: Star Wars land: What to expect in Galaxy's Edge

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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 between The Last Jedi and the upcoming Episode 9.

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 Millennium Falcon.

Which, according to our colleague is *without comparison*.

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 theme 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'll bring the fantasy universe to life. Disney is also building a luxury Star Wars hotel in Florida for guests to role-play 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, on May 31. The land in Florida at Hollywood Studios will open Aug. 29. The opening date of the Star Wars hotel in Florida has not been set.

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'll 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's 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 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 the droid from the original ride.

The transport shuttle docked on top of this hanger is a fast-casual restaurant. The chef moves from site to site, sort of like an intergalactic food truck.

Disney

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.

Even the Coke products will be in a different language. (Don't worry, they're still pretty recognizable.)

Disney

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 of 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'll 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's model of the new land, set in a village called the Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu.

Disney

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.

Concept art for Rise of the Resistance, where guests have to escape a battle with First Order Stormtroopers

Disney

What about the rides?

There'll be two 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.

Disney guests will traverse the corridors of a Star Destroyer on the ride Rise of the Resistance and face off with Kylo Ren.

Disney

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.

Concept art for the Millennium Falcon ride. You get to pilot Han Solo's famous ship -- and your performance not only affects the outcome, but also your interactions outside the ride.

Disney

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.

Guests walk inside the Falcon on their way to experience the ride. (And of course everyone will want a photo right here.)

Disney

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

The Play Disney Parks app will 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 Toy Story Land 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 by reactivating 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.

Space pirate Hondo Ohnaka, from Star War Rebels, is one of the most advanced audio-animatronics Disney has ever built.

Disney Imagineering

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 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 have a theme as part of the Black Spire Outpost marketplace. Don't count on finding items marked with big Disney branding.

The main marketplace is run by a Toydarian, a species you may recall from The Phantom Menace. Several pieces of merchandise have been unveiled, including unique toys, droids and clothing.

At Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities, guests will find Holocrons, ancient repositories of wisdom.

Disney

Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities buys and sells rare items from across the galaxy, spanning all eras. If you want a custom, hand-built lightsaber, try to find a spot at Savi's Workshop. Building a lightsaber is a 20-minute experience that can accommodate 14 people at a 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.

Concept art for the Star Wars hotel. Guests are aboard a starship with windows looking out to space.

Disney

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.

Disney may also be working on technology to create the illusion of blaster fire traveling through the air, and holograms that float by bouncing images off reflective surfaces. 

For now, we'll have to use our imaginations.

Originally published July 6, 2018.
Update, May 29, 2019: Adds Galaxy's Edge first impressions.

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