After years of following announcements, concept art and construction I finally got to explore Batuu and exploring it almost feels like you’ve stepped onto a Star Wars movie set for a new never before seen movie, which comes with its own positives and negatives. Whilst it’s amazing to walk around and explore such a detailed environment in areas it feels lifeless and sterile, more like a museum than a bustling outpost on a far off-planet.
We had a great time exploring Batuu, building a Saber and finally getting to pilot the Millenium Falcon, but Black Spire Outpost isn’t without its issues. In a few months, time Rise of the Resistances will finally open and help in making the land feel more complete but even if it’s the best ride in the world, it still won’t help fix some of the underlying issues in the land.
The lands detailed and grand scale of theming is truly spectacular, and where the land really shines. Walking around to see the reveal of the Falcon is one of the few moments of awe I’ve had in a Theme Park that matches walking under the Mira Costa and seeing the reveal of Mt Prometheus at Disney Sea or the astonishment a child feels when they round Main St USA to see Cinderella Castle. Whilst the Falcon is the most iconic and photographed part of the land there is plenty of other great places to explore in this massive land including the bustling marketplace, a Resistance outpost and even the landing pad for a never before seen First Order Tie Eschelon.
Incredible detail has gone into the land, its backstory and the characters who inhabit Black Spire Outpost, both those we see and those we don’t. Oga Garra is a female Blutopian and is almost like a Mob Boss keeping the outpost under her watchful eye. She is one of the only people who actually live on Black Spire Outpost with everyone else coming from different civilisations around. Backstage there is apparently an encyclopedia sized book with all of the stories, lore and characters of Black Spire Outpost (Including pictures of characters we the guests, will never see). Other great Theming Pieces throughout the land include Dok Ondar working hard keeping the books in his shop, the poor deactivated droids around and 8D-J8 a droid with dreams of being a chef who has sadly been reprogrammed to turn this wheel forever more at Ronto Roasters.
One of my favourite pieces of theming which has a great canonical backstory (Though most people would never know it) is the blaster shots outside Oga’s house which is where she shot at an ex-partner Wookie who was running away from her at the time.
Merchandise on Batuu ranges from the spectacular to the utterly bizarre and everything in between. The land gives you plenty of chances to part with your money with a marketplace in the middle which is pretty much a big immaculately themed mall, filled with a number of small specialist stores.
One thing I do love is how the items sold in the land are all “Black Spire Outpost” or “Batuu” specific as if it’s a real tourist destination, nothing is branded to Star Wars or Galaxy’s Edge and some items do feel and look handmade to fit with the storyline of the land.
Some of our stand out stores and items have to include –
- The Jewels of Bith store where almost could have bought one of everything. This is the home for anything you would want branded with Black Spire Outpost or Batuu.
- The plush toys from Toydarian Toymaker are also incredibly cute, giving a nice simplistic spin on the characters we all know and love. I simply had to pick up an Ewok and Watto plush.
- Dok Ondar’s also had a great variety of items from Kyber Crystals to Character Busts and so much more. Plus even if you don’t want to buy anything it’s worth having a look around and admiring the immaculate detail that has gone into the store’s design.
Of course, the item’s in Batuu have both the Disney and Star Wars premium on them so don’t expect anything to be cheap and even if you only want a few items the prices can easily add up.
Experiences such as rides, interactivity and so much more are where the best Theme Park lands truly shine. And whilst we did actually really enjoy Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run, in our opinion, it’s only the third-best experience in the land, with Savi’s Lightsabers and Oga’s Cantina being better in our mind (Though with the high price of entry and reservation requirements a lot of people won’t get to experience these).
As both a gamer and fan of Star Wars I greatly enjoyed my ability to finally get behind the control panel of the Falcon on Millenium Falcon Smugglers Run. Over our visits to the land I had the chance to try all three positions, and while Pilot is easily the most fun (Even if just for the cries of punch it from your teammates) all jobs had at least some enjoyment (Though for some it’s mostly just relaxing and actually watching the mission. I can understand the complaints from people though even if they don’t apply to me, some people just want to see back and experience a ride, not be the sole means of that rides success or failure. To me, I’m glad this experience exists, especially for it’s re-rideability. I don’t believe however that this ride can anchor a huge land like this completely and the single ride is a huge factor in the land feeling lifeless and empty.
The true stand-out experience in the land in our eyes is Savi’s Workshop, where the gatherers will help you assemble scrap metal and a rare saught after kyber crystal into your very own lightsaber. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked this experience but it truly is an immersive, emotional experience that has some spectacular magical moments I won’t spoil here. This experience though will sadly be unavailable to a lot of guests due to its high price point. If you do love the Universe and truly want a memorable experience though, I would recommend putting away a little bit of money each week to see if the Gatherers find any more Kyber Crystals on your trip to Batuu. Sadly the Droid Workshop isn’t quite as magical of an experience as Savi’s though is still a lot of fun letting you create your own custom BB or R2 unit, with my girlfriend leaving the land with her very own… BB-Grape.
Rise of the Resistance – Of course the Bantha in the room has to be Rise of The Resistance, originally scheduled to open with the land before being pushed back multiple times to its current scheduled opening in December at Hollywood Studios and January at Disneyland. If everything I am hearing about the experience is correct, this ride looks to be spectacular and truly pushes the boundaries on what we expect from a Theme Park Ride. The ride won’t be a magical fix-all for the land though even if it is the best ride in the World when it opens, we are incredibly excited to finally get to ride this attraction in the coming years though, and truly hope it lives up to the hype.
Food & Beverage
Galaxy’s Edge has tried hard to come up with “Must Have Snacks” from the Star Wars Universe and Spread them throughout the land, from the bizarre tasting Spicy/Sweet Popcorn to the awesome souvenir (albeit expensive) themed Coke Bottles and of course the utterly divisive blue and green milk. In my group of four, I was the only one who actually enjoyed both the blue and green milk with me slightly swaying towards Green being my more favourable of the two. However, on subsequent revisits to the land on different days, I felt no need to get another cup of either flavour, unlike the joy of Frozen Butterbeer which I have to get on every visit to the Wizarding World.
The only item we got to try at Docking Bay 7 was the Mastafarian Lava Roll for breakfast which was essentially a Cinnamon Roll topped with Oreos, whilst it was quite tasty the stand-out breakfast item was the Ronto Morning Wrap at Ronto Roasters and a great way to start your day.
The true food and beverage (though mostly beverage) experience in the land though is Oga’s Cantina. One of the Galaxy’s Most infamous watering holes (and the only place you can get an alcoholic beverage at Disneyland outside the elusive Club 33). Between our group, we got to try a number of items on the menu including the Yub Nub a deliciously tropical drink in an amazing souvenir mug and the T-16 Skyhopper which almost tasted like an alcoholic version of the classic Japanese Melon Soda Float. Of course, as you sip on your otherworldly drink concoctions you are entertained by none other than DJ-Rex spinning the tunes, easily the best piece of entertainment on offer in the land. Just be aware that Oga’s Cantina does require reservations which can be made online in advance, also note that a reservation does not guarantee a seat, whilst we were lucky enough to be seated in a booth, most guests only had standing tables or the bar to lean against.
The biggest problem with the atmosphere of that land is that it lacks Kinetics, it has these awesome massive showpieces but nothing really moves and kinetics and movement are something that has always been a staple of a Disney park, look at the wonder of Tomorrowland back in the day. A few clever audio effects simulating overhead flight or a radio left on the podracing channel or tools all-around suggest the presence of other lifeforms but you never see them. Apart from a few albeit spectacular animatronics, there are no “Alien lifeforms” on the planet to interactive with, no droids roaming around, no bounty hunters who have come to track us down for crashing the Falcon, all of which were part of the initial land proposal but was quietly cut before debut by Bob Chapek.
Speaking of cuts from Bob Chapek, one of the biggest loses to the land that was ultimately cut has to be the Entertainment. The biggest reason for the land feeling dead is that all of the character interactions, roaming droids, mini-shows and stunt performances were cut at the last minute to save money on expensive specialised Entertainment wages. This is why roaming the lands now are just a few Characters like Rey, Chewbacca and some First Order Stormtroopers who simply had the budget realocated from elsewhere in the park. Frustratingly Bob Chapek said the gaps would be filled by every cast member in the land developing a character and “acting” with the guests, but as someone who has worked in Theme Parks, we don’t have time for any of that and whilst Cast Members are incredibly talented they aren’t paid a premium to LARP with guests. Huge respect to the CM’s who were in character completely, but I hold no grudges against those who have regretted the move to Batuu and lost some of their characters charms.
I really enjoyed my first ever visit to Batuu and a Galaxy Far Far Away, but every time I went back I noticed more and more gaps in the finished product, gaps that shouldn’t have existed if we look back at the original plans for the land. A lot of problems can and hopefully will be fixed with the readdition of the cut entertainment, fast-tracking of the cut dinner theatre project and successful opening of Rise of The Resistance. But Disney had one chance to knock it out of the park and blow guests out of the water with their biggest, most expensive land to date, and they flubbed that chance making Disney look out of touch with its guests. Don’t get me wrong Galaxy’s Edge has more good than bad, and I can’t wait to get back again once Rise of the Resistance opens, I just wish the land was closer to what we were originally shown, a bustling outpost full of aliens, bounty hunters and droids, rather than the lifeless museum we were ultimately presented with.