I’m going to begin my Star Wars Galactic Nights story by saying that it was an awesome event overall and I had an amazing time…that said, Disney needs to get their stuff together when it comes to organizing this event.
There have been previous Star Wars Galactic Nights – the most recent one being during Star Wars Celebration earlier this year – but there were a lot of new things going on during this one, and honestly, had I attended the one in April that apparently didn’t include a lot of these additions, I’m not sure I would have left the event believing it was worth the $120 cost ($130 for those who aren’t annual passholders, by the way).
For those of you who haven’t heard of Star Wars Galactic Nights, it’s similar to other separately ticketed Disney events (Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas being the most popular) – you pay for a ticket to an event that starts later in the day (6 PM, usually, though in this case, 7 PM) and runs until midnight. These events include special parades and activities, popular rides being open (with shorter lines!), fun character meet and greets that you wouldn’t normally experience, and more. And of course this time it was all Star Wars!
There were more than a few things that I didn’t get to experience, despite being at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from about 5:45 PM until 11 PM. The one I was most sad to miss was the “Inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” presentation, though from what I’ve heard it was more of a sneak peak into the progress…which is cool, and again, sad I missed it, but I’d be more interested if they were going to tell us how much it’s going to cost to have this immersive Star Wars/Disney experience 😉
Now, the reason I missed that presentation (along with the live shows) is because there really was a LOT to do! Despite arriving over an hour before Star Wars Galactic Nights actually began (and being exhausted enough to leave about an hour before it ended), it really was hard to fit everything in! Honestly the most important thing for me was merch – I missed out on some awesome Force Awakens merchandise and I really didn’t want that to happen again for The Last Jedi.
We got lucky – we stopped at a store when we first arrived to ask some questions, and happened to see the cast member’s guide…which was COMPLETELY different from ours. For instance, the only character we cared about getting a picture with was Seventh Sister (because she’s not usually there) and the only place to get said photo was in the plaza beyond Rock-n-Roller Coaster – but we wouldn’t have known this had we not gotten a peek at the cast member’s guide. Additionally, had we not stopped to ask about the merchandise, we wouldn’t have known that the exclusive merch that wasn’t available in most stores until 7 was for sale at the back of the park starting at 5.
Therefore, the first item on my list was to head to the official store and pick up some exclusive items…although that wasn’t the end all/be all of exclusive items, which was frustrating to say the least – especially after waiting twenty minutes to get into the store in the first place (although I will give kudos to them for the fact that once we got into the store, we were in and out in maybe 15 minutes). The problem was that once you were in the store it was a complete mess…yes, they told you to follow the blue arrows, but they didn’t tell you what items were available at what stop, and then there was an entirely separate area for annual passholder items – and none of it made any sense. Sure, it was great that the whole thing only took about 35 minutes, but it was a frustrating experience overall.
And listen, I get it – the AT-AT popcorn holders should only be available at popcorn carts, so I was fine waiting in line for fifteen minutes or so for one of those. But there was literally NO full list of official merchandise in the program – regardless of whether it was exclusive or simply new. This meant that at the very end of the night we wandered into Mickey’s of Hollywood to buy an ornament set and just HAPPENED to see that they also had a Star Wars Dooney & Bourke purse. Literally the ONLY thing I wanted…and if we had purchased that ornament set from any other store, or even from any other register in Mickey’s of Hollywood, I wouldn’t have known it existed. Just…WHY?
Don’t even get me started on the mess that was Launch Bay. They had items on display that you couldn’t find in the store (or in any store), but we were really there so that my partner could purchase a magic band. He designed it and we got in line…and when we were sent to a cashier…that person spent at least 10 minutes wrapping up the previous purchase while we just stood there. At one point we tried to go to the next available cashier, but the person guiding the line stopped us and forced us to stay where we were. We told her we’d been waiting and would like the next available cashier, but she insisted that we stay where we were. We ended up watching about ten people check out before we ever got a chance to, and to be honest, this kept us from buying an additional item that was only for sale behind the counter (the BB-droid pin set).
As for the rides, for the most part we had good luck with those – Tower of Terror was basically a walk-on, as was Toy Story Mania (the latter of which is usually an hour or more). Rock-n-Roller-Coaster – which was themed for Star Wars Galactic Nights – varied between 20 and 60 minutes, but we caught it at 20 (thankfully). To be honest? I would have waited at least 45 minutes for it, though I didn’t really KNOW that until I actually rode it. First of all, it was entirely dark, but with Star Wars projections on the walls and of course Star Wars music as well…and while I’ve ridden Rock-n-Roller Coaster hundreds of times, that was the best experience I’ve ever had on it.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great experience on Star Tours. We approached the attraction when the sign said there was a 10 minute wait, and at the entrance a cast member asked the people in front of us how many were in their party (it was two). She sent them to the left, but sent us (also a party of two) to the right. Mind you, the right queue was full; the left was empty. So we stood there and watched upwards of 100 people who should have been behind us walk by us while we stood still. And then even when our line did start moving, it stopped soon after and we watched yet another 100+ people pass us by. In the end it was only about a 20 minute wait, but I’m still unsure as to why we had to wait that long. What about us made the cast member send us to the right, knowing we’d be, well, screwed? The wait itself isn’t the issue; the fact that we shouldn’t have had to wait that long is.
The food was another mixed bag. We tried a LOT of the special food items, and while I wouldn’t say any of them was amazing, they were at least fun. First we had the Grilled Wagyu Beef Slider, inspired by Dexter Jettster of Dex’s Diner. It was a bit bland, but with some salt it improved quite a bit! As a side we had the Red Wine Risotto, a ‘colorful dish reminiscent of the beautiful Queen Amidala of Naboo’, which was good but honestly would be better served by a full-service restaurant (we got it from Fairfax Fare, a.k.a. not full-service).
Much later in the night we stopped by Dockside Diner to try the Ribeye Steak Puff (according to the menu, ‘something a scruffy nerf herder would appreciate’) and the Tatooine Bisque (‘inspired by the sand storms and moisture farms of Tatooine’). The former was…well, not good. If it was supposed to be served hot, it wasn’t (and I feel like it would have been better if it was). Thankfully, the the soup was AMAZING. As in, I wish we’d ordered two of that and one of the steak puffs and not vice versa.
I also got suckered into the Star Wars themed cupcake because COME ON it had a glowing Millennium Falcon on it! The cupcake itself was good – I’m not big on fruit-tinged baked goods and this was an ‘orange truffle cupcake’ (guys, I don’t like pie because I don’t liked cooked fruit) – but it was a fun item and I don’t regret that we got one. Well…except for the fact that I got one and then dropped the Millennium Falcon on my white dress and left a small chocolate frosting stain.
Oh, I also got a lightsaber churro and I am seriously disappointed. Mostly because I thought we’d get the Kylo Ren version, but it was just a simple lightsaber churro, and that makes me wish I’d gotten the Star Wars-themed eclair trio instead because at least that had a BB-8 eclair…especially as the only thing other than the holder that made it a ‘lightsaber churro’ was a bunch of really bitter colored sugar that ruined the idea of the churro as a whole.
There was a lot of other cool stuff going on as well – the projections on Tower of Terror, random photo stops (of which I only experienced one, sadly), and even a sticker scavenger hunt that I was too lazy to finish. So if it wasn’t clear, Star Wars Galactic Nights was *absolutely* worth the money – I just think it could do with some better organization.
P.S. THANK YOU to the popcorn cart people who were limiting AT-AT popcorn holder transactions to two per person. Disney usually fails at limiting per person transactions so I was REALLY happy to see this.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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