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In a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars fans are going to find a different Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland

SF Gate logo SF Gate 5/4/2021 Julie Tremaine

On May the Fourth, thousands of Star Wars fans will fill Disneyland to celebrate the unofficial holiday that’s a play on the franchise’s iconic line, “may the force be with you.” They’ll be there to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the land that opened just under two years ago in Disneyland Park, that creates the feeling of being on the distant planet Batuu. 

But with California’s restrictions on theme parks and Disneyland’s phased reopening, which has some attractions returning at a later time, Galaxy’s Edge is a completely different experience compared to what it was like before the pandemic closure. 

Rides have changed. Restaurants are closed. Some of the iconic Star Wars experiences aren’t currently available, and those that are have been modified.

The old Galaxy’s Edge, it seems, is now a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — at least while the state’s theme park guidance is still in place. 

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has two rides: Rise of the Resistance, a 18-minute attraction that blends holograms with an action ride, and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, a simulator that creates the feeling of flying Han Solo’s ship. Those who have experienced the rides before will return to the park to find them much different than they once were. 

Because of the length restrictions on indoor entertainment — per the guidance, indoor rides can only be 15 minutes long — Rise of the Resistance has had to be substantially shortened, cutting a pre-show with a hologram of Rey that introduces a major plot point and reducing moments where guests linger inside the walkthrough part of the attraction. 

The Millennium Falcon ride has also lost its pre-boarding show with audio-animatronics, and guests are no longer allowed to explore the inside of the iconic ship. One major upside, though, is that the ride now only allows one group into the simulator at a time, so chances of getting the coveted pilot’s position are much better.

Besides changes to the rides, Galaxy’s Edge now has lines for the limited-capacity shopping areas, and less dining than usual. The land’s beloved Ronto wraps are still available, but intergalactic bar Oga’s Cantina and the Docking Bay 7 restaurant are closed. Droid Depot and Savi’s, where you can build custom droids and lightsabers respectively, are open by reservation.

With everything that’s happened over the past year, it’s easy to forget that Rise of the Resistance was only open for four months before Disneyland closed last March for more than a year. It’s still by far the most in-demand ride in the Anaheim parks or at Walt Disney World in Orlando. It’s also the only ride controlled by a virtual queue system, where guests use the Disneyland app to secure a “boarding pass” with a return time for later in the day. Before the park closure, passes for the day were generally scooped up in seconds. For Disneyland’s reopening, the company has added a second boarding group distribution time. 

But more than just rides, anything Star Wars sees the highest demand at Disneyland. Reservations for a special May the Fourth shopping event at the new Star Wars Trading Post store in Downtown Disney, which will debut new, exclusive Star Wars merchandise, filled up almost immediately upon release. 

May the Fourth at Disneyland Park is sold out for single park tickets, but there’s a loophole: Galaxy’s Edge is still accessible with a $209 Park Hopper ticket that starts with admission to Disney California Adventure and allows admission to Disneyland after 1 p.m. Those guests can attempt to get a spot in the noon Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, even from within California Adventure. 

If you’re one of them, may the force (and strong wifi) be with you.

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