Friday, June 21, 2019

Traveling to Batuu Alone (Part 3)

Click here for Part 2.

My reservation for Galaxy's Edge was from 11 to 3 on Thursday--that seemed like a pretty good time, though getting it makes you realize how big of a chunk that takes out from the rest of your park time. I mean, for people who specifically came to see Star Wars, no big deal, but this was my one trip to the parks after a year--and I never know how long it'll be before the next one. So the four hours in the separate land and then the half hour of arriving early to await entrance and then the little bit of time it took to check in at Launch Bay (I really didn't have any wait time there), it adds up.

However, it was completely worth it. And those who have said that Galaxy's Edge feels separate from the rest of the park, you like are in fact on Batuu at Black Spire Outpost and not in Disneyland are completely right.

You walk down that stretch past Hungry Bear and out of Critter Country . . . into another place. It's all so subtle and yet so complete and detailed. Even knowing that they just built this place and it didn't exist a couple years ago and they're the ones who intentionally colored in the rocks and the aging on the buildings, your mind doesn't really believe any of that when you're there. What you see is completely real--and it's beautiful.

Galaxy's Edge is gorgeous. It's like a combination of Takodana and Tatooine with just a touch of Endor's forest moon. The colors and textures are earthy, giving that feeling of the remote outpost that it is. If I had met this location in the films, it would still genuinely be one of my favorites. And that isn't coincidence: the designers certainly put plenty of thought into what characteristics we all love best and would most want to have in the one real place that we can visit.

Going in with the reservation system, you're kind of all herded in and you have to keep walking until you've essentially walked the length of the land--which is where people start getting in line for Oga's Cantina and building a lightsaber and all that. That's where you start splitting off. Before that, though, you're all just walking in one open-mouthed clan, all in simultaneous awe of everything you're seeing. You have to remind yourself that there'll be time later to stop and take it all in and take pictures.

The Ride

Though I'd heard not to do the Millennium Falcon first because the wait time goes down as you get deeper in the session time, I was fairly near the front of the herd, so the wait said 15 minutes, so I thought, ah, why not. Since the wait was low, I went ahead and went through the standby line so that I could see the queue (obviously, though, there must be plenty more queue that they didn't route us through with such a short line). So I continued my wide-eyed looks, admiring the hallways and the from-the-top view of the Falcon. I was the last person in the room with Hondo--you suddenly look up and there is this fictional, animated character standing in real life above you and you completely buy into the illusion that he is real.

I did the ride two more times after this during my session, single rider both those times. I definitely recommend going standby at least once to see Hondo and the queue and I definitely recommend doing standby rather than single rider if you're not actually a single rider. What makes the ride fun is riding with your group and getting to control the Falcon. There are six riders and you each have a different task: two pilots, two gunners, and two engineers in the back. Single riders always get engineer, where you just have to press flashing buttons. Still amazingly fun, but I'd love to pilot sometime, too.

But let me back that up. They're arranged it all so well. After you see Hondo, you wait in a small hallway, then you're divided into your groups, where you hang out for a second in the room in the Falcon with the holo table. It can be a little difficult to hear your group color called, so especially if you're a single rider, memorize who the rest of your group is and keep them in view so you don't get left behind. It all happens so fast at this point: you're suddenly in the cockpit of the Falcon and it's all going.

It's just a simulator, like Star Tours. You're still just sitting in front of a screen. And (when you're in the back, at least) it's actually a little hard to see much of what's even going on in the screen. You're looking forward but also to the side at all the buttons. And yet that's kind of the point. Being there is the point, not riding a ride. That's what makes the experience fun. I'd definitely recommend getting in at least two rides: the first ride is kind of just taking it in and figuring out how it all works. By the second one, you have more of a feel for it and so can take more control.

The Food

By this point, I'd already been in the park for four hours, so it was a while since the banana bread muffins I'd had on a bench in Main Street before park opening. So my plan was to go to Ronto Roasters and get a Meiloorun Juice and some Nuna Turkey Jerky. They're always talking about meiloorun fruits in Rebels, so this was the item I got most excited over back when Disney first announced the menus. Basically it's flavored lemonade, not any specific fruit flavors, just a sweet, candy-fruit sense that was nice enough. I do appreciate places in general having drink options other than soda. I chose the sweet jerky rather than spicy; it had a sort of barbecue sauce flavor. I kept that in my purse to nibble on throughout the day, as the little reminder of where I'd traveled earlier.

Later I got the blue and the green milk. Obligatorily, of course. The blue milk was nice. As everyone has mentioned by now, they have sort of a frozen smoothie texture. The blue milk tastes like something I can't quite put my finger on, like maybe a candy lost somewhere in my memory. It tasted just right. Simple and mildly pleasant. The floral flavor I'd heard the green had is not an exaggeration and it isn't floral like sweet, rose flavor--it's more of that zingy, floral flavor as when chocolate has floral flavor notes. So not my preference. It's just very strong and feels more like something that should be an added flavor rather than a flavor on its own--which is why you can mix the blue and green and end up with something nice even if you don't care much for the green on its own. I threw out most of the green because I didn't really like it and because, you know, that was my third drink in a four hour window. One person can only drink so much in four hours. So, yeah, they are a little on the pricey side. A cost of $5.50 or thereabouts feels very average for a drink, but nearly $8, well, obviously I paid it without blinking, which is why it's that price, but these won't really be drinks for return visits if they cost so much more than other drink options in the park or even the land (minus the alcohol, of course).

While we're on food. I didn't go to Oga's Cantina because I figured, I'm by myself, I would still have fun, but I can save that for later when I have people with me and I can enjoy it in a different way. Nice to keep something to look forward to for a return visit, anyway. Lunch proper was at Docking Bay 7. Possibly I should have just headed here first and then visited all the beverages, maybe then my appetite would have been more normal. But I'm just making excuses: truth is, I didn't care for the food. I chose the Fried Endorian Tip-yip and the Batuu-bon. Tip-yips are in universe and look just like chickens. So it's fried chicken, but it comes in a rectangle that looks more like fish. It's served on vegetable potato hash with herb gravy. And it all tasted very strongly of what I want to call chicken broth but was maybe a specific herb or vegetable that I don't favor. It was just too strong of a flavor for me, so I honestly only ended up picking at it all. I'm picky, though, and I know some of the other dishes seemed to have an Asian influence and I don't usually care for Asian food much, so it's probably just me and my weird palate. The Batuu-bon was a mini cake sphere. I didn't care for the cream and without it, the cake tasted a little dry--so I didn't even like that. It was all pretty, though. I liked the idea of it all. I just didn't like eating any of it. I'll try something else next time, but it could be that I'll just have to eat outside of the Star Wars universe in the future.

The Shopping

I didn't do Oga's Cantina. I didn't build a lightsaber. I didn't build a droid. What? Then what did I even go there for? Ha, ha, no, even if those are the most popular things, they're not the only things there. Once more, these seemed like things I'd rather save for when I wasn't alone. And while I would mind having a lightsaber or a droid, I preferred to spend my money on a few things than just one thing. And I wanted to buy all the things. Shopping in Galaxy's Edge feels more like shopping in Santa Fe than at Disneyland. It's fantastic. All these trinkets. I almost got an Ahsoka rag doll ($20 or $25, I think) at the Toydarian Toymaker just because it was so cool. I did get chance cubes ($8) there, though. Rey's vest (about $60 or $70) was tempting. All the little shops at the market are so beautiful and so perfect. They're so fun, just being in them is an experience of itself. You're in Star Wars, it's amazing. I'd planned to get a Kowakian Monkey Lizard ($70), so I did that. I was beaming carrying that thing around in its little box. That made me more happy than a lightsaber, anyway.

My other planned purchase was a holocron ($50, $12 more for a kyber crystal) from Dok Ondar's Den of Antiquities. Ah, the way they display them in the store is just unreal. You're not going to Wal-Mart and buying this thing in plastic hanging from a display hook. Dok Ondar's was the best. I was so tempted to get the lamp from The Empire Strikes Back (it's called Yoda's, though technically it wasn't Yoda's until he stole it from Luke), but I did end up getting the Jedi notebook ($30) because, you know, notebooks are my thing. And sitting there, it looked like an ancient Jedi text and I just couldn't help it.  What awed me, though, was seeing Padme's Jappor snippet necklace ($20) that Anakin gave her. I snatched that up and I adore it. I put it on immediately and I can't stop wearing it. I maybe have imbued it with personal meaning and it makes me so happy.

So the shopping is amazing. All of these things that feel real and not like merchandise even though they are merchandise. They're like the things we as fans dream about. And the robes, oh, the robes. Should I save money next trip for a lightsaber or for a robe? A robe honestly might get me more excited, so I don't know. So, yes, budget for shopping, too, because you'll want to buy everything because it's all amazing.

A Loth Cat snapshot for my friend who's fond of cats.

All the loot (the lanyard and red pin the hotel gave me).

The Characters

Though I obviously love Star Wars, I do not like seeing the stormtroopers in Disneyland. I hate it, in fact. It doesn't feel right or look right, having these servants of the Empire marching around the Happiest Place on Earth. Don't like it. I'd rather turn the other way than stay to watch them.

In Galaxy's Edge, though, completely different story. This is their universe, so they make sense here. You see them and say, there are stormtroopers, this land is alive, I'm in a Star Wars story that's happening around me. It's real. And they do their little bit with the officer over by the Tie-fighter and then Kylo Ren comes out and he just starts walking around the land. And you just want to go stalk him and it's hilarious. It's great.

They did such a wonderful job at creating a fully-immersive experience. When you pay, instead of asking if you have an annual pass, they ask if you have a discount card. When someone wanted to see how she looked trying on a piece of clothing, the shopkeeper offered to take a picture of her with her data pad (instead of her phone). You truly feel like you're all part of this grand play game and it's so wonderful because since it's new, we're all playing along and fully buying into it. That's how all of Disneyland is supposed to be, we've just kind of forgotten to leave our world behind when we're there--but we remember to do so when we're on Batuu.

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