I recently took a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida and spent a considerable amount of time in the Star Wars section of their Hollywood Studios park. This part of the park is meant to completely immerse you, with prop shops, ships, and high walls blocking out other lands and attractions. It is themed after a planet in the Star Wars universe called “Batuu,” which is also featured in non-canonized products and collaborations.

Galaxy’s Edge in Florida opened on August 29, 2019, and Star Wars fans have raved about the rides and other attractions since then. But five years after the initial opening, I wanted to see if it still lived up to the initial hype.

The land itself, as it was at its opening, is still entirely immersive. With cast members playing their roles and having no views of any of the other rides and attractions in Hollywood Studios. There are Storm Troopers walking around, and they interact with the guests. Along with other well-known and well-loved characters like Din Djarin, with Grogu in his side-pouch, Kylo Ren, and Ashoka. When the guest walks through the tunnel from the Muppets Courtyard, it genuinely feels like being transported into the Star Wars Universe. The first things you see are prop ships idling off to the side, with fake droids tending to them. And the Belle of the Ball: the famous Rise of the Resistance.

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Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Rise of the Resistance was built to not just be a ride but an experience. And what an experience it is. There is a pre-ride show as you finish the queue. Rey appears in a very realistic-looking hologram that fuzzes and glitches just like how they do in the movies and TV shows. She welcomes you and the other people on the ride as new Resistance recruits. You continue on to board a shuttle, passing Poe Dameron’s iconic black X-Wing as you board.

You’re rocked around for a bit before you’re captured by the First Order. That’s where the Disney magic truly begins when you walk out the same door you came through to find yourself aboard a realistic-looking Star Destroyer. How on earth Disney pulled that off, I don’t understand.

I won’t spoil the rest of the ride, but it’s all very realistic, featuring animatronics of everyone’s favorite characters from the sequel trilogy and gigantic AT-ATs that tower over you. It genuinely feels like the guest is in Star Wars, with First Order cast members playing into their roles and bossing you around. It feels like the characters on the ride are talking right to the guest as you’re spun around trying to sneak off the ship. Hearts genuinely pound when Kylo Ren’s menacing mask is staring directly at them.

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But however much this ride is definitely a must-do in the park, the wait times are still what I consider to be outrageous. Mid-day, the lines can idle at around 70-100 minutes every day. And although there are cool props in the queue lines, there’s not much to keep the guests entertained as they wait in these outrageously long lines for the ride.

There are plenty of other things to keep someone entertained in Hollywood Studios—or in Disney World as a whole instead of waiting in a 120-minute line. Although it’s early in the morning, it really is worth doing rope drop into the park, to be there right when it opens, and wait in a 30-minute line instead. Then, it’s easy to take care of the other attractions in Star Wars land.

Star Wars: Smuggler’s Run

Smuggler’s Run is the other major ride in Galaxy’s Edge. The guest is given a mission by Hondo Ohnaka to take the Millennium Falcon and steal supplies from the First Order. The ride has six spots: two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers. The pilots obviously fly the ship, one focusing on left-right maneuvering and the other controlling up-down. The gunners shoot down TIE fighters, and the engineers are in charge of attaching the cargo to the ship. It’s a bit chaotic, and there’s certainly a learning curve when it comes to piloting, but overall, it’s a fun ride that’s definitely worth doing in the park.

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However, there is a risk of motion sickness with this ride if your pilots are not very skilled. Goodness forbids you to have a child who doesn’t understand the reversed piloting directions. But the gunner and the engineers are pretty simple jobs. The buttons you need to press light up when it’s time, and Hondo’s voice comes through the comms to help direct you. But aside from that, it’s such a fun ride and a favorite among my family (even those who don’t particularly enjoy Star Wars).

Five years later, Galaxy’s Edge is still a must-do attraction for any Star Wars lover when in Disney World. It’s worth waking up early to be one of the first guests of the day on these two rides. The attractions, foods, and experiences are extremely immersive and make guests feel like they’ve stepped onto a whole new planet in a galaxy far, far away.

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