The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be unlike anything we've ever seen at Disney World. And, with all that anticipation (and the crowds), there's a lot to learn before you travel to Batuu.
If you are planning on visiting Galaxy's Edge, you'll definitely want to put some extra planning into how to maximize your time there.
Here's some tips and thoughts to take with you as you plot out your visit.
In this article
Planning for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney World (opening August 29)
Now that Disneyland's version has opened we have a good idea of what to expect at Hollywood Studios in August.
While we can't say that everything that happened in Disneyland will be the same at Disney World, we do think there are some important lessons to be learned.
Here's what we know:
Disney World likely won't get a reservation system
Disneyland's opening was done with a reservation system that allowed guests to book a time slot for visiting Galaxy's Edge.
All indications point to Disney World not having a similar system.
That could all change, of course (and if it does we will be sure to update this post with relevant information), but it appears that instead of offering a reservation system, Walt Disney World will utilize Extra, Extra Magic Hours for the opening weeks.
What about a virtual queue?
Disneyland transitioned from a reservation system to a virtual queue system that worked like this:
Guests were allowed into Galaxy's Edge until crowds and waits for Smuggler's Run reached a certain level.
After that point, access to the area was closed and guests were instructed to join a "boarding group" via the app.
Each boarding group is then assigned a return window when they are allowed to enter the land.
While they wait for their turn, guests are free to do other things in the park.
If you were there for the opening days of Pandora or Toy Story Land you know the alternative method for crowd control was not ideal.
Instead of a virtual queue like this (which allows you to wander around and enjoy the rest of the park while you await your window), guests wishing to visit the new areas were forced to stand in lines for hours upon hours.
No word yet if the Disney World version will get a similar system, but after seeing the Disneyland version in action we definitely hope that they do.
Extra, Extra Magic Hours
From September 1 all the way until November 2, Hollywood Studios will open up to all guests staying onsite at a Walt Disney World resort at 6 a.m.
Yes, you read that correctly: 6 a.m.
Guests staying at The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Shades of Green, the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando will also be eligible.
Off-site guests will be allowed in beginning at 9:00 a.m.
There are WAY more onsite guests at Disney World than Disneyland, so even with the extended Extra Magic Hours we expect to see Galaxy's Edge reach capacity quickly.
Once capacity is reached, additional guests aren't allowed in until some leave.
That means your best bet for the shortest waits will be to arrive to the park early. More on that below.
One other thing to note:
Both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will have daily Extra, Extra Magic Hours, too.
Magic Kingdom: Fantasyland and Tomorrowland will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.
Animal Kingdom: Pandora plus select attractions will be open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.
Reservations now open for 3 of the most popular experiences
If you have your heart set on building a lightsaber, tossing a few back in Oga's Cantina, or building your own droid, you'll need to make some reservations first.
We've heard lots of reports from people that have had success by being persistent at checking their travel dates.
Opt for some non-ride experiences first
All of the experiences that aren't rides will see their lines grow faster (and be longer) than the 1 attraction (Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run) that will be open.
Remember, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run has a far greater capacity than anything else you can see and do in Galaxy's Edge, so even though lots of people will want to ride it, it can handle WAY more people per hour than anything else available at the Black Spire Outpost.
- Savi's Workshop* - design and build your own Lightsabers (requires reservation)
- Droid Depot* - Design and build droids (requires reservation)
- Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities - souvenirs from a all eras of the Star Wars galaxy
- First Order Cargo - First Order-themed gear including caps, pins, and more
- Resistance Supply - Resistance-themed gear including hats, pints, and more
- Market Stalls - Toydarian Toymaker (toys), Creature Stall (critters you can take home with you), Black Spire Outfitters (clothes), The Jewels of Birth (accessories)
- Oga’s Cantina* - Star Wars-themed cocktails (including non-alcoholic options) plus entertainment provided by RX-24 (reservations required)
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo - Quick Service dining (Mobile Ordering will likely be available here)
- Milk Stand - Blue and green milk (Mobile Ordering will likely be available here)
- Ronto Roasters - Sandwiches and drinks (Mobile Ordering will likely be available here)
- Kat Saka’s Kettle - Popcorn
- We will update this section as more information becomes available
*Expect these areas to be extremely popular
Plan to arrive early
Aside from the first days it's open, your goal should be to arrive to the front gates of Hollywood Studios no later than 45 minutes to 1 hour before park opening to have the shortest waits. That means if Extra Magic Hours start at 6 a.m., you'll want to be to the gates (that means through the security/bag check and to the turnstiles) around 5 a.m.
Depending on where you are staying you'll have to factor in transportation time plus the time needed to go through the security checkpoints as well as the ticket turnstiles. The busier the time of year and the closer to Opening Day, the faster those lines will build.
What about Opening Day?
Going opening day? 1 hour before park opening won't be early enough. Instead, look for people to start lining up hours before the sun even thinks of rising (think 3 a.m. or earlier).
For reference, at Disneyland people were let into the park around 4:50 a.m., so expect something similar at Hollywood Studios.
If you want to be one of the first ones to go in, remember that August in Florida can be brutal and your day will likely be long (and hot).
Stay hydrated and go into with a good attitude. You'll likely be waiting in line for a long time, but you'll be waiting with thousands of other fans equally excited as you to experience the Black Spire Outpost at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, and that is something pretty special to be a part of.
Plan where you stay wisely
If convenience to Hollywood Studios and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is a priority, you'll definitely find that some resorts are better options than others.
Here's the pros and cons of your best choices:
Boardwalk Area resorts: Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk Inn, Swan, Dolphin
Pros: within walking distance which is a HUGE perk
Cons: can be pricey (although the Swan and Dolphin are typically less expensive since they are not official Disney Resorts but they do have resort fees you won't find at the Disney properties)
Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, Riviera (not yet open)
Pros: Disney Skyliner (gondola) access, Pop Century and Art of Animation are Value Resorts with affordable family-friendly room options
Cons: The Disney Skyline won't be operational until September 29
Choose your best transportation option
If you are staying at one of the Boardwalk Area resorts, walking to the park will be the best way to get there. Hands down, this is the best option around.
If you find yourself tired at the end of the day you can always take the boat back to your resort (or even use Lyft/Uber), but for getting to Hollywood Studios, walking is the way to go.
If you're driving, remember you'll either have to stop to pay to park (or to show/scan your MagicBand), so the earlier you can get to the entrance of the parking lots the better. If you run into lines at the parking lot you'll definitely be behind the game and find yourself in lines at the security checkpoint and turnstiles.
Again, we can't stress this enough: to get to the front of the pack, earlier is better.
Much like with driving yourself, if your plan is to use a ride sharing service or taxi or Minnie Van, earlier is better (especially with Minnie Vans which have a much smaller fleet of vehicles).
Also, keep in mind the time of day. You'll likely find fewer Lyft and Uber drivers available at 5 in the morning than you would see later in the day, and unless Disney updates their operating schedule, Minnie Vans don't even start until 6:30 a.m.
On Extra Magic Hour days Disney typically has the buses start running 1 hour before the park opens and we expect at least the same for the Extra, EXTRA Magic Hours.
Ideally, they'd start the buses earlier than that but if bus is your only option, your goal is to be on the first bus of the day.
As soon as we hear more about how Disney World plans to handle the buses on those 6 a.m. opening days we will update this post.
Gondolas (Disney Skyliner)
The Disney Skyliner gondolas will be another option for getting to Hollywood Studios; however, they won't be functional until September 29, which is about a month after the opening of Galaxy's Edge.
Once they are running they will be a fantastic option for anybody staying at a resort that has access to them (Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and in the future, Disney's Riviera).
If Single Rider is an option for your family, use it
Unlike Disneyland where there seem to be lots of Single Rider lines, Disney World currently only has 3 - but Smuggler's Run at Galaxy's Edge will have it as an option, too.
The great thing about using a Single Rider line is that it can greatly decrease the amount of time you wait, however, there are 2 important things to remember if you opt to use them:
- You must be at least 7 years old to use the Single Rider Line. But, more importantly than that age cutoff is having your child be ok with riding an attraction by themselves. If you have a young person that is technically old enough but they seem hesitant at the idea of boarding an attraction without somebody they know, we recommend skipping the Single Rider Line and using the regular line instead.
- You will be split up. The likelihood you will be together with anybody in your group is quite small, so if you absolutely MUST ride the new attractions in Galaxy's Edge with a friend/family member, don't do Single Rider.
FastPass+ won't be available...yet
Even though Disney is quite proud of its FastPass technology, don't expect it to be available for Smuggler's Run (or even Rise of the Resistance) when it opens.
Instead, your only options will be Standby and possibly Single Rider.
On the positive that means that you'll be able to save your FastPass+ reservations for other attractions at Hollywood Studios OR, if you have Park Hoppers, for later in the day at a different park entirely.
Use Mobile Order
Mobile Order allows you to place your food and beverage orders via the My Disney Experience App instead of by waiting in line at a cash register. Even though you'll likely have to wait a bit at the window for your items, skipping the line to pay definitely saves time and being able to order at your own pace on your phone is a huge perk, too.
Disney hasn't officially announced which locations at Hollywood Studios will have Mobile Order as an option but we expect it to be the same as Disneyland:
- Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo
- Ronto Roasters
- Milk Stand
You'll notice that Oga's Cantina is not listed and likely won't have a Mobile Order option meaning if that is on your To Do List, you'll want to make sure you snag a reservation.
Understand the costume rules
Just like with Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Disney encourages "bounding" but not full costumes that could be mistaken for Disney Cast Members or characters.
Just what is Disney Bounding, you ask?
Disney Bounding means using a majority of regular clothing items to put together ensembles that resemble popular Disney (or in this case, Star Wars) characters.
It lets fans represent their favorite heroes or villains without causing issues that would pop up if guests looked too much like the real thing.
When planning what to wear, Disney states that these things are NOT allowed:
- All robes or military-style attire
- Masks, face paint, elaborate headwear, blasters or holsters (lightsabers are allowed) or hard items such as body armor, helmets or kneepads
- Full character suits
Check out this Disney Parks Blog post for more information on what clothing items are (and are not) allowed.
Look for fun additions in the Play Disney App
Play Disney is a fun app that lets you enjoy in-queue games while waiting in line. In addition, the app provides chances for some interactive experiences in several different attractions like Peter Pan's Flight, Toy Story Mania!, and Slinky Dog Dash.
But, the app takes the interactive element to the next level in Galaxy's Edge.
Disney hasn't released the official info for Hollywood Studios, but we think things will be quite similar to what is seen at Disneyland.
First, once you get into the Galaxy's Edge area of the park your Play Disney App will be transformed into the Star Wars: Datapad which you can then use to "hack into droids, scan encrypted cargo, tune into transmissions, trnaslate galactic languages, and even help the Millennium Falcon for hyperspace."
Here's the video Disney has inserted in the app that helps explain it a little more:
In addition, people that were there on opening day found themselves earning special badges and awards inside the app; just a fun extra for those fans dedicated to being some of the first people into the new Star Wars land.
If possible, an easy way to cut a little bit of time off off your arrival is to skip bringing a bag into the parks.
This won't work for everybody, but, if you don't have a bag you won't be required to go through bag check (which is easily one of the most cumbersome parts of entering a park).
Instead, try to stick with what you can carry with you in your pockets.
Sample touring plan for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
- Plan to arrive to the gates of Hollywood Studios 1 hour before opening (even on days with Extra Magic Hours and Extra, EXTRA Magic Hours)
- Do non-attraction experiences first (like building a lightsaber, visiting the Cantina, and shopping)
- Take photos and explore the area a bit, following along with the Play Disney App as you go
- Jump into line for Smugglers Run (but be prepared for a wait)
- Head out and explore the rest of Hollywood Studios or hop to a different park for even lower crowds
If you are visiting in the first few weeks after Galaxy's Edge opens, an even better option for guests staying onsite with Park Hoppers is to divide up what you want to accomplish into 2 mornings focusing 1 morning on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and another morning on non-attraction experiences and shopping.
With 6 and 7 a.m. openings you would have plenty of time after doing that to hop to a different park to get away from the crowds.