That one time we went BACK to Universal! June 21 Update 6/7 We came, We saw, We tried.

Bethany10

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Day 5: off to Batuu!!

Day 5 was our well pre-pandemic planned Disney Hollywood Studios day. Props to the Disney people on the boards for answering all of my silly questions about getting in, magic bands etc. People were incredibly kind and I am struck by the real difference between Universal and Disney. We had droid building reservations on this day and I was concerned about being able to bring them on the rides, I mean don't you guys have lockers? :) I got a um, why wouldn't they let you bring them on the ride? from the Disney folk on here.

The other thing that struck me is the very real science behind line management and how to best disperse people in places like a theme park.

Like Disney springs, Disney was requiring people to wear a mask from entering the queue to getting off the ride as well as when inside. They were also doing social distancing most noticeably in the Batuu areas where the shops are very small.

ok, gratuitous photo of the Falcon to kick us off.

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First things first, I'm a huge Star Wars fan (OG series). When they announced they were building this land my response was shut up and take my money. When we started planning this trip I seriously looked at how much it would cost to just do this park. This was the compromise between getting 2 rooms (before the trip I felt it was an unnecessary expense) that was Todd's request. We purchased tickets in late 2019, and thankfully Disney just let us push back the date when everything blew up.

As I'm sure many of you know, Disney parks require months of advance planning. Right now they are requiring park reservations which do fill up quickly. In addition all sit down dining reservations open earlier to those staying on site than those of us who are just coming in for the day. I didn't even try to get dining reservations.

Galaxy's Edge (the name of the area of the park) or Batuu (the planet you're on when you're there) offers basically 2 rides- Smugglers Run (inside the Millennium Falcon) and Rise of the Resistance (for which you need a boarding pass, more on that in a second here). They also offer 2 building experiences, Droid Depot (build an R2 or BB series) and Savi's workshop (Build a lightsaber). both of these experiences are reservation only and like dining reservations open for off site guests 30 days out. There are also character interactions and various Imperial troops running around. The whole thing is set during the new movies, so … Kylo Ren is your big villan, lots of Rey and Chewie but no Luke, Han and Leia.

Everyone with me so far? ok. Callan wanted to build a droid, but Anna wanted to build a lightsaber. I managed to get 2 decent droid reservations but there was no lightsaber to be had. I tried for the weeks leading up to the trip but it was totally booked. If you're looking to do this and miss your window there's a great cancelation thread happening on the GE thread of the main theme park board on the Disney side. May the force be with you on that one.

This brings us to Rise of the Resistance. They way they're working the boarding parties is basically a virtual queue. at 7 am each day they release the first round of passes. At one point, you had to be IN the park when these were released (at 9 I think) but shortly after re-opening from lockdown they changed it and you can be off property to get one. They go in seconds and you have to be ON the app at 7 to get it.

Which is how I found myself at 6:55 sitting straight up in bed glued to my phone with my ipad set to the atomic clock to tell me when to hit refresh. I had asked my family to help do this on their phones, as my teenagers are quicker on the draw than I am. What are they doing? sleeping of course 8-).

6:58 refresh
6:59 refresh
7:00 its up go go go!

I should end the post here right? ;)



It let me in to the next screen, I clicked join join join (yes, I practiced this, yes I am that sad) and it kicked me back to the rise "home page" screen. Well did I get it or not?


I went to the my queues page and there we were QUEUE 44!!!!!!!!!!

I was so happy I woke up Todd, who mumbled at me. I then tried to wake both kids, who were like yeah mom, that's great (crazy motion). I posted on another message board (non park related) and those who knew what I was talking about shared my excitement.

I sat back and started breathing again, and began the process of rousting my family so we could use the thing at the appropriate time.

Disney isn't too far from Universal, and we hit the gates to park at 8:17 according to the timestamp on my phone. Todd conned me into paying for premium parking (I could hear my father rolling in his grave, but my knees thanked me) and we headed for the gates. The park opened at 9, but my first photo of the day shows us IN the park at 8:33. After a quick photo on the main street we booked it back to Batuu.

Smugglers Run had a 10 minute posted wait, and the line for Slinky Dog was already growing so Callan and I headed for the Falcon. This is where I got the photo that kicked us off. Somehow we had gotten separated from Todd and Anna which would not have been that big of a deal except for the fact that Todd had the park bag which had my glasses in it. I was wearing my prescription sunglasses. We moved very swiftly into the ride itself and they were not sharing cabins with people, so it was just the 2 of us. You have a choice of "roles" on this ride and it is interactive- You can be the pilot, gunner or engineer and it will hold up to 6 people (2 per role). It's basically a big video game, you have a mission and depending on how you react changes the outcome. If you have a competitive group, or group that would find flying the falcon to be amazing be sure they're all together because if you happen to be the one thinking this ride is passive you'll find yourself getting yelled at lol.

Callan wanted to be the engineer at first (the "lesser" action packed role IMO) so I told him he wanted to be the pilot and he agreed. I took gunner thinking that would also give me something to do. I sat directly behind him and concentrated on hitting the buttons. Everything was darker than normal due to my sunglasses, but it was a blast not only hitting buttons as I was told to but listening to Callan yell about trying to work the levers to fly the ship. It's incredibly immersive and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am NOT a coaster person, but the movement is manageable and i concentrated on the buttons and less on the screen.

At the end of it, you do get a score as to how well you did, as well as how well you completed the mission. Full details of the mission itself and how to get a better score are available on the Disney side of the boards as well as elsewhere on the internet. We stumbled off the ride to find that Anna and Todd had also both ridden, but by themselves. For some reason Anna was Engineer and was frustrated at not knowing what to do. Todd was pilot but of course as the only one in the "cockpit" had trouble reaching the correct lever. They both enjoyed the ride however.

Next up, Anna checks out some animation and Callan and I have our "Seuss moment". Stay tuned!
 
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ofcabbagesandkings

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 16, 2014
I wonder if the crazy lines for food will start to go down when they bring back more team members. One of the longest lines I've ever waited in was the Starbucks at Animal Kingdom pre-pandemic, so I completely believe you could wait an hour for fast food at this point in time. But given how expensive these vacations are, I can't imagine wasting an hour of park time waiting for food or Butterbeer.
 

Jess_S

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 14, 2015
I wonder if the crazy lines for food will start to go down when they bring back more team members. One of the longest lines I've ever waited in was the Starbucks at Animal Kingdom pre-pandemic, so I completely believe you could wait an hour for fast food at this point in time. But given how expensive these vacations are, I can't imagine wasting an hour of park time waiting for food or Butterbeer.
I was wondering the same thing. Hopefully they will be able to appropriately restaff now that it is clear it will be a busy summer. (Although sometimes even with appropriate staff, you can wind up with ridiculous waits for food. I did the Disney college program and I remember several days where the line for pizza at the fast food place I worked at was as long as a ride because there are certain bottle necks that just can't be eliminated no matter how many people are working that day).

I appreciate knowing about the crowds and waits before we go so that I can plan appropriately. It sounds like I need to make some dining reservations and download the universal app for mobile ordering.
 

Bethany10

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
I appreciate knowing about the crowds and waits before we go so that I can plan appropriately. It sounds like I need to make some dining reservations and download the universal app for mobile ordering.
absolutely yes you do. Every sit down restaurant we went to I saw a family being turned away due to not having a reservation. we actually cancelled our Vivo reservation on Tuesday evening (the day of the hotel transition) as we were all beat by the time we got into the correct room. I got very lucky to be able to snag one for a reasonable time on Friday but had to totally drop Cowfish as a result. There was nothing either Wednesday or Thursday evenings that was before 9.
 

Bethany10

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
I wonder if the crazy lines for food will start to go down when they bring back more team members. One of the longest lines I've ever waited in was the Starbucks at Animal Kingdom pre-pandemic, so I completely believe you could wait an hour for fast food at this point in time. But given how expensive these vacations are, I can't imagine wasting an hour of park time waiting for food or Butterbeer.
It was easily an hour wait for butterbeer, and I waited 30 minutes just to refill my mug at one of the stands. I would say an hour minimum at the food place as once you get the food, you then get to find a table and I know we sat over an hour after we ordered waiting. I certainly hope they can find enough team members to bring back.
 

Bethany10

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 17, 2016
Day 5 continued

ok, so when I left off we had ridden Smugglers Run and were now "killing time" until they called our boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. Anna is an artist, and illustrator and wanted to check out some of the animation displays they had around about both the park and Galaxy's edge. Callan was, in the spirit of most preteen/teenage boys everywhere, hungry. I had stopped to purchase a couple of thermal detonator cokes, and Todd texted that they were at the pretzel cart waiting for it to open. I took a minute on the walk back to sit and watch slinky dog as the cart they were at was clear at the front of the park. The line for slinky was now around an hour.

By the time I got back to the rest of my family they had ordered pretzels and drinks, and we sat in the shade and enjoyed the day checking out what had low wait times. Turns out Mickey and Minnie's runaway railway had a 20 minute wait. This is the new ride that opened last year just before the lockdown. Not at the top of my list, but with that short of a wait, I wanted to jump in line. Callan decided to come with me, with a warning that it was "vintage Mickey" not the mickey he was used to from the modern cartoons. The line moved swiftly and soon we were masked and enjoying the AC inside the queue.

The ride is very similar to Cat in the Hat in that it's a flat ride that spins you a bit (nothing like men in black) with scenes happening around you. You're on a tour of the park on a train being run by goofy. Of course the train "crashes" and you wind up on a "runaway railway" looking at scenes from Mickey and Minnie's day out. The ride is charming and had both my son and myself totally enthralled, and we're not big mickey people. After we got off Callan looked at me and said that was our Seuss for this trip mom, meaning a ride that we go on with very low expectations that just blows us away.

Todd and Anna had checked out the art of animation and were headed back to the Star Wars area so we headed that way. Both slinky and toy story mania were at hour plus waits. I kept checking as I thought both kids might enjoy these rides but they did not drop the entire time we were there. Soon enough we joined Todd and Anna on a cargo box outside the entrance to rise. They were moving swiftly through the queue and our boarding group was called around I think 11:30. There are several "pre-shows" for this ride and we got to experience all of them. There is one area where pre-covid they were holding you and we just walked through that part. We reached a place where they asked people to separate into two lines, with plexiglass in between us - Todd of course jumped left, we jumped right. So he ended up going by himself and I went with both kids.

If you're curious about the ride there are tons of videos on youtube, but if you're a SW fan I highly encourage you to go in blind. As a non coaster person I had watched multiple videos of the ride so I knew what to expect and there were still places where my jaw was on the floor. I had to keep readjusting my mask as my mouth kept falling open. it's that good. Honestly, it's the best ride I went on all trip. My kids were blown away as well. The immersiveness of it, the story, the effects. Simply stunning. Both kids got off and were like that was amazing mom.

We stumbled back out into the heat to wait for Todd. He wound up going in a car by himself, and when he got in managed to rip the side of his shorts. We headed back up to the shops to see if we could find a replacement pair, and eventually split up. Anna wanted to go her own way, so Callan and I headed to Ronto Roasters really just to sit down. We split a sausage, which meant he ate the sausage and I ate the rest of the wrap. Anna and I wanted to walk thorough the marketplace, but they were doing virtual sign up and then come back when it's your turn. We both put our names in then returned to the table. Todd eventually joined us and more sausages were ordered. Side note here, I had planned to eat at Woody's Lunch Box, as I knew the offerings would be a better fit for our family. Did they listen? of course not. While everyone enjoyed the sausage I think the sandwiches would have gone over better.

By the time it was our turn to go into the market it had begun to rain. Anna and I stood in line to get in, then stood in individual lines to get into the "stores". Little kiosk type stores that could hold maybe 5 people at a time. it was a beautiful area, but so small the measures they were taking due to covid just put a damper on the whole thing.

Our final priority in the park was droid building. Both kids had a reservation at 1:30, we went into the store attached to the depot before hand to get personality chips and other "extras" for the droids. If this is on your list I highly recommend hitting the store first, then building your droid. By the time we got out it was time to check in. the line to get in was all outside, and once again it was the hottest part of the day. I got light headed, and managed to make it to the entrance to the depot, but even the AC was making me sick at that point. I left the kids and gave instructions to Todd to film as much of the experience as he could and went to sit down.

I was able to find a spot under an umbrella and drink some water. A family who had obviously reached the end of their rope decided to get into an argument while standing in front of me. I drank my water and tried to give them space while not giving up my seat. Having been the tired and hangry mom in that scenario I totally get it.

Soon enough the kids came out with their droids, and miracle of miracles the 15 year old was GRINNING from the experience. Later in the hotel room she actually laughed as she operated her droid. That alone made the whole day priceless to me.

We did stop at one of the gift shops on the way out, and The Child merch was acquired, to go with all the other child merch I may or may not have here. I may have a slight baby yoda problem.

We started the slog toward the car, not as far out as it could be thanks to the premium parking, and headed back to the hotel.

I had no plans for dinner tonight as I had no clue how tired we'd be from the parks that day. Dinner ended up being bayliner diner for everyone which no one minded. I think we all fell asleep early as well, it was a long but great day.

Overall Disney thoughts: this was always a one and done for us, with the focus being on galaxy's edge. No one else in the family is that interested in the Disney parks, and it's too expensive for me just to get to see the castle. I would go again if we found ourselves in central Florida for another reason, but wouldn't schedule a trip just for this park.

If you're a Star Wars fan this is a neat opportunity if you find yourself in the area and Rise of the Resistance will have your jaw on the floor. You can certainly plan a half day around just this area of the park if that's all you want to see. Mickey and Minnie's Runaway railway was a great bonus for us, and worth a jump on if the line happens to be short.
 
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