Monday, January 6, 2020

I Went to Galaxy's Edge!

I know I normally do a year in review for my first post of the new year, but most of this year isn't one I really want to relive (putting my dog down, several members of our extended family being diagnosed with cancer, etc.), so I'm going to talk about our Disney trip instead. I'm not going to give you a park by park complete rundown like I did two years ago, since I figure you don't really care that I rode Soarin' 8 times, or that my sister and I rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 3 times in a row. Instead, I'm going to focus on the new/new to me experiences. Namely Galaxy's Edge and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Disney is awesome.

Note: my youngest sister isn't in any of the pictures because she had finals the week we went, and so had to stay home, but she got her own trip during fall break, so I don't feel sorry for her.

Christmas party first, because Galaxy's Edge is the BIG DEAL, and I'm saving it for last.

This was the first time we'd ever been to the Christmas party, so we weren't entirely sure what to expect. If we were to do it again, we'd have a better strategy, I'm sure, but I definitely enjoyed it and I'm glad we did it.

They give you complimentary cookies and hot chocolate and cider that's really just apple juice and eggnog which I passed on. The cookies were tasty and the hot chocolate was good and I had way more sugar than I normally do and I didn't feel so great afterwards, but who cares, it's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!

They do some special ride overlays, most of which were brand new this year. They do Jingle Cruise even outside of the party during Christmas, so that wasn't new, but I still like it, and it's really something when all the people in line are singing "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" together. The attractions with special Christmas party overlays, all new to this year, were Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Space Mountain, and Mad Tea Party. We never do Mad Tea Party because spinning, so I don't have anything to say about that. Christmas lights and music were great at Tomorrowland Speedway. I love walking around Tomorrowland listening to Mannheim Steamroller. I did ride Space Mountain for the first time in almost ten years, since it had Christmas lights and music, but nope, still don't like it. Yes, with the flickering Christmas-colored lights, you can somewhat see the track, but it still kinda made me feel sick. Sorry, Space Mountain lovers. My favorite Christmas overlay, though, was the Laugh Floor. It's all the same animation as the regular show, so often the lips don't match, but I don't even care. Lots of Christmas-oriented jokes, a fun holiday twist on an attraction I already love. Favorite quote: "He sees you when you're sleeping, he sees you when you're awake...Roz is Santa!" XD In general, wait times are down during the party, but while it's nice to walk right on Pirates of the Caribbean (I love that ride), if I went again, I would just do the non-themed attractions before the party actually starts. There's just so much else to do.

The parade was fabulous. (No, I'm not just saying that because it's the only parade Kristoff is actually in...) There are a lot more characters, it's all Christmas themed, and, well, I like Festival of Fantasy, (the normal afternoon parade) but this one is just better. I loved it. When you've been as many times as we have, though, you can tell when they've repurposed floats from old parades.

They had a Christmas show in front of the castle, which was nice, and special Christmas fireworks and projection. This was the first year they didn't do Wishes during the party, which is kind of sad because I still miss Wishes, but the fireworks were pretty special. And I'm glad that no matter what they do to change the fireworks show, they always manage to work in Tinker Bell somewhere.

We also did some characters, and this is what, in hindsight, I wish we'd made more time for. But since we didn't know what to expect, it is what it is. They have A LOT more characters around than normal, and most definitely characters you can't generally meet otherwise. I.e. the princes are around. On a normal day, you'd be able to meet Aladdin and Jasmine together, and sometimes in some locations Beast will be with Belle. But the other princesses never have princes with them. And they do during the Christmas party. My mom and I got to meet Rapunzel and Flynn, and Tiana and Naveen. Now, I can't stand Naveen in the movie because he's a jerk, but the Naveen we met was pretty awesome and funny. It also helped that the little girl just ahead of us was hilarious. Apparently, if he eats cookies, he'll get a stomach ache, and if he drinks water, his teeth will fall out. XD

So all in all, I really enjoyed the Christmas party, and I'd recommend going at least once.

Quick note on Toy Story Land, since that was new since my previous trip. It's okay. The theming is very well done, it's just the best ride there is still Toy Story Mania, which I've loved since I first went on it, so it doesn't feel like a whole lot of new exciting stuff to me. But the area is very well done and Toy Story Mania is just as fabulous as ever. (Maybe it's just that I had a lot of motion sickness issues during this trip due to a mild cold, so it was harder to enjoy some things...some people really like Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers...but also, compared to Galaxy's Edge and Avatar Flight of Passage, well, it's not their most amazing work.)

Okay, so now Galaxy's Edge. AKA the most immersive thing Disney has ever done. Also, I'VE BEEN TO A STAR WARS PLANET! Yes, it's one invented solely for the park, but it's SOOOO well designed. It really feels like you're in a galaxy far, far away. Well, if you ignore the other tourists in modern clothes, that is. So much attention to detail. Everything just looks like Star Wars. I wasn't super duper impressed with the shops in Galaxy's Edge itself, I still prefer Tatooine Traders, but they were well designed to add to the immersive experience. There are astromech droids and land speeders around, the font on everything, including cast members' name tags, is designed to look like Aurebesh (I had to Google what it was called, so I feel like I have to turn in my nerd card), but still be readable, even the bathrooms are incredibly well themed. And it's just awesome to see stormtroopers walking around harassing people ("What are you doing with that datapad?"), Kylo Ren getting onto people, Rey running around hiding from the First Order...It's just so cool!

And when you walk up to the Millennium Falcon for the first time. There is nothing like it. Nothing like going inside the Falcon for the first time. Nothing like stepping inside the cockpit. Nothing like piloting the Millennium Falcon, even though it's really more like crashing it and you feel seriously motion sick the whole time. (Pro tip: if you're a Star Wars fan who's prone to motion sickness, take some Dramamine or something and ride the Falcon anyway. It's absolutely worth it. And the times when I'd taken something for motion sickness, and also was a gunner instead of a pilot—don't know if that was a factor—I did much better.) The whole experience is just mind blowing. And if you can get on it multiple times on your trip, do it. Not just because who doesn't want to fly in the Falcon as many times as possible? but because the more times you ride it, the better you understand your mission. My sister wanted me to mention...there's a lot of screaming on this ride. Not because it's a scary ride where people freak out. Because everyone's yelling at the pilots. As you continually crash into things. It was awesome.

The food is certainly interesting. We ate dinner there our first day at Hollywood Studios. It all just looks so...different. They did a good job making it look like it doesn't belong in our world, even though what I ate was just ribs, vegetable mashed potatoes, and a blueberry muffin. The ribs were spicy, and I'm not a huge fan of spicy, but it was still really good. And the immersiveness continues in the restaurant, with cast members directing you to the hydration station and giving you a cargo slip with your order. They really went all out. And blue milk, which I absolutely had to have, was also interesting. At the first sip, I wasn't sure, since I didn't know exactly what kind of flavor to expect, but I ended up really liking it. It's basically a non-dairy blue smoothie. Pretty tasty if you like smoothies, and if you don't, well, blue milk is still a Star Wars classic.

And then there's Rise of the Resistance. When we planned this trip, we had no idea it would coincide with the opening of Rise of the Resistance. But I'm glad it did. Even though we had to get to the park 3 hours before park opening on day 2 of the ride and it took us 5 tries to ride it twice. 

First off, getting to the park 3 hours before it opened was an extremely good thing. Thank you to our travel agent friend Kristi McKoy for the advice! Ordinarily, they don't let you into the park that early. But because it was only the second day Rise of the Resistance was open, they were not only letting people in, they were already running rides. It was unofficially open. They currently use a boarding pass system for the ride, just as they did when the Millennium Falcon opened. Google isn't telling me how long they'll be doing boarding passes, though it is telling me that later in December, they stopped releasing boarding passes prior to the official park opening. I actually really like the boarding pass system. Basically, once you get in the park, you sign up for a boarding pass via the Disney Parks app, and when it gets to your group, you go get in line. Early on, once you checked into the attraction, you could get a second boarding pass if they were available, but they stopped allowing that after our trip. It probably made latecomers to the park mad that people were getting extra passes, and therefore they were gone faster—sometimes before the park officially opened—but honestly, if you're not always getting to the parks before opening time, you're sabotaging your vacation. And the great thing about getting there so early was that there was little to no wait on other popular attractions like the rides in Toy Story Land, and even Millennium Falcon was a much shorter wait than what we did earlier in the week.

Now, Rise of the Resistance itself. It broke a lot. Constantly. Like I said, 5 tries to ride it twice. But the upside of that is that if you made it past the preshow, they gave you a paper fastpass to get back on Rise of the Resistance (the fastpass line basically put you right into the preshow) and a multi-experience fastpass that could be used on other attractions, including the Millennium Falcon. So we were able to ride the Falcon and Toy Story Mania an extra time for our trouble. Blessing in disguise, though it did get kind of frustrating. When you see the cast member in normal clothes carrying tools through the star destroyer, you know your interrogation is going to be "rescheduled." :P


But once we actually got on the ride...It's a pretty cool ride. My only criticism is that the effects used to make it look like a lightsaber is melting through metal...well, doesn't look very realistic. The lightsaber itself is cool, but you can tell nothing's actually melting. But even the preshow experience is cool. You're in the base on Batuu at Black Spire Outpost, and they've got all kinds of cool things in line, like Finn's bacta suit, and x-wing pilot uniforms, and then you go into a room where you get a hologram transmission from Rey telling you Batuu is no longer safe and you're evacuating. Poe and two other x-wing pilots are going to be protecting your transport, a transport piloted by Nien Nunb. You are then rushed past Poe's x-wing into the waiting transport, which gets caught in a tractor beam and pulled into a star destroyer. Once in the star destroyer, you're really just in another line, but it looks so realistic, the stormtroopers, First Order officers (when they're not scrambling because the ride isn't working), and just all the design is so immersive it almost doesn't even feel like you're just standing in a line at Disney World. You go into a cell, and then the rebels break you out and it's crazy and Kylo and Hux are around and Finn is there and it's just so awesome. Aside from the obviously fake melting metal, they really did an amazing job with this ride. And apparently, it's actually a part of the sequel trilogy timeline of events and sets up for Rise of Skywalker, which is really cool. I love it all so much. And our second ride, it broke down just as we were pulling into the unloading area, so we just barely made it through and it was great. The whole experience is just so surreal.

All in all, Galaxy's Edge was pretty amazing. I know there are a lot of people thinking it doesn't have enough from the movies, but you're going on a smuggling run for Hondo Ohnaka of Clone Wars and Rebels so that Chewie can get parts he needs, and you're joining the Resistance and ESCAPING FROM A STAR DESTROYER WITH THE HELP OF FINN, so I'm pretty satisfied with it. Of course, I would always love there to be more, and I wish custom astromech droids were less than $100, because if they were, I would totally have one, but I loved Galaxy's Edge. I'm now torn between Rise of the Resistance and Jedi Training for my dream Disney job, though I do miss the traditional Jedi robes in the training show. What can I say? I've been a big Star Wars fan since I was 13. On that note, this was my favorite thing overheard at Disney. It was near Jedi Training. "Anakin just can't stop fighting kids, can he?"

Disney is the most magical place on earth. I love it so much. So many things about our trip were great, like Ming-Na Wen (Mulan, and she's totally proud of that role) being our narrator at the Candlelight Processional. Still my favorite thing they do at EPCOT. So if you haven't been to Disney, you need to go. Just do it. But do it right and make sure you have a good strategy because a good Disney trip does take effort. And it's so worth it.

"I only hope that we don't lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a mouse." —Walt Disney

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree about Space Mountain. I don't know why I go on it every ten years just to conclude all over again that I still hate that ride just like I did when I was 11. Maybe I gave it a chance because I had changed my opinion on Splash Mountain (which I think is because they added lap bars and I no longer feel like I'm going to fly out.)

    And..."Take all the scans you like. We are jamming the transmissions, so you will never get them to your resistance friends." The guy who was losing his voice when we walked out to the storm troopers was perfect and a little bit scary. He's probably always wanted to be in a Star Wars movie...totally pulls off the theme.


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