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Star Wars Galaxy's Edge up close: Inside Disney's latest theme park – CNET

Disney wants to make all your Star Wars dreams come true at the new Galaxy's Edge park inside Disneyland. From riding shotgun in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, having your drink at Oga's Cantina, or getting interrogated by a Stormtrooper on your way to the bathroom.

Most Star Wars fans have only dreamed of what it would be like to travel to that galaxy far, far away, and on Wednesday, my dream became a reality. Or as close to that reality as this fan will get in her lifetime at least, unless light speed comes sooner than expected.

In space terms, I was basically on the maiden voyage to Batuu at Galaxy's Edge, a fantasy planet you won't recognize from any of the main films, tucked away in the outer rim between that far off galaxy and Disneyland.

My journey began at one of the secret back entrances of the Disneyland theme park, a place I had only visited once as a little girl. We walked up to a giant rock formation with a metal gate at the mouth of a cave reminiscent of the Resistance compound at the end of The Last Jedi. I half expected our guide to open the gates with a swing of his arms, or at least press a giant red button. Instead we just wrapped around the side of the gate where there was a side opening.

Not quite the space landing I had pictured when I would embark on my imaginary Star Wars adventures as a kid, but pretty darn baller nonetheless. Especially because waiting for us on the other side of those gates was the Millennium Falcon!

A true-to-life replica of Han Solo's Millenium Falcon is what Star Wars dreams are made of.

Disney

Wednesday was media day at Galaxy's Edge, which meant we were among the first commoners to see this new land up close. The rest of the world would have to wait two more days until the official grand opening May 31, that is if you were lucky enough to get a reservation. On Wednesday night though, you can watch the opening ceremony of the newest park live.

For the first month, Disney required guests to make a special reservation to visit the new part of the theme park and reservations sold out within the first few days of going on sale. After June 23, it will be open to everyone with a regular admission ticket to Disneyland. 

In all my years of watching Star Wars films, not even the 3D Imax versions could've prepared me for what it felt to walk into this place. Otherworldly would be cliche, but pretty accurate. Everything from the marketplace storefronts to the multiple starships looked like they belonged somewhere in the Star Wars universe, or at least some movie set version of it.

Except you wont find Batuu in any movie (it looks most like Jakku onscreen) because it's unique to Disney and combines elements of a bunch of different planets, including Tatooine and Jedha.

But back to the Falcon. After a brief moment of paralysis I walked toward it half expecting it to become smaller as I drew nearer, like somehow my eyes were deceiving me about the true scale of this thing. But it only became bigger. This thing truly is life-size and spans roughly the length of a basketball court measuring in at about 100 feet.

We entered the ship via the back entrance, so I didn't really get the full tourist experience, but I was blown away by the winding hallways, dim lights and access doors as we made our way in. We walked to the lounge with the legendary Dejarik (holochess) table -- sadly no Harrison Ford to greet us, but I was able to wander around the room pressing buttons and pulling cables. It's all part of the experience.

And then just when I thought I'd reached the pinnacle of Star Wars fandom, we made our way inside the cockpit! That's where the assignment began. Six of us were assigned three different roles: pilot, gunner and flight engineer. Not sure why you'd want to be anything but the pilot, but either way it's not up to you to choose. On Wednesday I was a pilot and I got to ride shotgun at the front with my colleague Gabriel Sama from CNET en español. (You can read about his experiences here!)

We buckled up. I was instructed to man the controls to rise up and down, all of which I saw on a screen in front of me. I got to pull the lever to thrust into light speed. I've always wanted to do that and it was just as satisfying as I had imagined.

In many ways the ride is like a tour on steroids. You go on what felt like a 3-minute journey through space, you run into rocks and asteroids, you're taken in by the First Order and attacked by fighters. The experience is a bit more intimate and interactive, but it does still feel like a ride. The controls responded regardless of whether I pressed them or not and even though the graphics were great, it still looked like a screen in front of me, and not a window into space.

It was going to be hard to compete with the Millennium *bleeping* Falcon, but I kept an open mind when we walked past a giant X-Wing fighter which happened to be parked next to a smaller A-Wing. We'd clearly entered Resistance territory at this point.

Next up: the Droid Depot where I was about to build my very own R2. I walked into what looks like a massive toolshed with a conveyor belt of droid parts parading in front of and above me. I was asked to pick and choose the pieces that would make up my new buddy.

Guests cab build their own personal droids at Batuu at Galaxy's Edge.

Joshua Sudock

Keep in mind I only had about 10 minutes to experience this, so I wasn't really going to be putting together a droid from scratch as most tourists would. It ended up being an adorable R2 replica, about the size of a teddy bear that you can take with you and drive via remote control. (Sadly I was not able to take my little droid home, but I can see kids having a lot of fun with this.) 

Along the way to our next destination I spotted some Stormtroopers off in the distance. Some of the characters at Galaxy's Edge will be easy to recognize, but all the cast members are in costumes and seem to be characters of their own. 

And then for the main course: the food and the drinks. For that we were taken to Docking Bay 7, a high-end diner for these parts of the galaxy with a wide selection of drinks and grub. I got to try a Mediterranean-style dish and a chocolate soufflé ball shaped like a BB-8. They both tasted great, but I think I was expecting more of a foreign flavor to these dishes.

So what does blue milk actually taste like? I got to taste that too: sugary, fruity and nothing like the creamy lukewarm milk I was expecting. You can also get green milk. And a lot of these drinks come with a kick. This is the first of Disneyland's parks (at least for the general public) that serves alcoholic beverages to guests. Cheers to that!

And that was just the sample platter. We were shown a bunch of other dishes you can get at different spots in Galaxy's Edge, but you can read all of that here.

But the tour wouldn't be complete without getting into some trouble. For our final stop we made our way to a TIE Echelon spaceship, presumably belonging to Kylo Ren himself.

Kylo Ren makes an appearance at Galaxy's Edge.

Disney

After spending most of the day at Galaxy's Edge, it felt like I had more to see and that was probably because it's the largest "land" in Disneyland history. You could easily spend a day just discovering all the hidden treasures, and likely waiting in line, for some of the experiences.

And I didn't even get to witness all of it. They're still building out Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, a roller-coaster-style ride that will put you in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance complete with a Kylo Ren encounter. This one is set to open before the end of the year.

Disney World in Orlando is also set to get its own Galaxy's Edge on Aug. 29 complete with its own Star Wars-themed hotel. We got a sneak peek of it last year, and expect it to be a larger, more sprawling version of what we experienced at Disneyland.

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