“Your role for this mission is on the ticket,” the resistance member says as he hands me an orange slab.
I look down at the card. It reads “Ohnaka Transport Solutions – Pilot”.
I’m about to become the pilot of the Millenium Falcon – the fastest hunk of junk in the universe.
Our group of six – two pilots, two gunners and two engineers is hustled towards the flight deck. The Falcon is prepped and ready to take off. It shakes beneath our feet and rumbles as we rush to secure our seat belts and make the jump to hyperspace.
This is a smuggling run. Our mission is to find a train and secure a cable to it so we can loot the goods.
My role is to move the Falcon left and right. My co-pilot will make the ship move up and down. The gunners must target and shoot down the enemy ships and the engineers must restore all damage sustained in the mission.
It’s harder than it looks. The controls are extremely sensitive. Sometimes we successfully navigate down deep ravines, through narrow industrial structures and over mountains. Other times, we bump and crash our way through the ride.
Everyone in our crew is screaming, bashing buttons and doing everything they can to ensure we secure the cargo. We all completely believe we are on this mission.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set on the fictional planet Batuu. Disney designed Batuu to look and feel exactly like the films, but steered away from making it an exact replica of any scene. The result is that it is eerily familiar.
Every single detail inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is deliberate and perfect. The paint has worn on the yellow railings on the way up to the Millenium Falcon exposing the metal underneath in imperfect patches. The stamped concrete walls look like they have seen years of battles.
In the Catina, tubes of blue, yellow and purple liquids bubble in glass containers surrounded by industrial metal and piping. If you look closely enough – you can find bullet holes in the walls – signs of previous battles between scum and villainy.
At Droid Depot, guests can design, assemble and activate their own droid from parts that circulate on a conveyer belt. Look up and you will see legs, arms and pieces of scrap metal traveller around the room above your head.
The cast members in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are always in character. Ask a cast member to take a photo and they will tell you they like your “transmitting device”. If you ask a First Order member about where to find lightsabres – they won’t tell you. But ask the right person and this land reveals many secrets.
Two Stormtroopers check a woman’s papers as I walk towards the Batuu marketplace. I hug the wall and chat with a couple of characters standing in front of a door. One of them is holding a strange green lizard-like animal. They tell me I should avoid trouble up ahead and instead come inside to see “some antiques”.
Inside, is Savi’s Workshop a clandestine lightsabre outlet. I’ve been chosen to work with the resistance. They ask me which lightsabre is calling to me. I choose blue – the colour of Obe One, Luke Skywalker and Rey and head to the middle of the room to practice my lightsabre skills.
Wielding the weapon left and right, pretending to be Rey, I find one certain spot is incredibly strong with the force. I can’t tell you too much about it- that’s a secret you will have to find for yourself.
The first stage of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened in Anaheim California on May 31, later in the year Disney will add a second ride – Rise of the Resistance.
“There was a lot of pressure on us to make sure that we took the Star Wars franchise and brought it to life in a way that made sense to the world,”. Disney President Josh D’Amaro says.
On opening day, D’Amaro spotted a 501st fan in Batu. The 501st is a group of Star Wars advocates and die-hard fans who dress up like Stormtroopers and go to Comic Con. Needless to say, D’Amaro was nervous.
“I walked about the gentleman. He was standing in front of the lightsabre shop and I said: “How’s it going, what do you think?,” D’Amaro says.
“This big 6 foot 4 guy started to cry and said: ‘you have over-delivered on our expectations in terms of delivering an immersive storytelling experience that lives up to everything I thought Star Wars was going to be’.”
Getting there: Disneyland California is in Anaheim California, about 30 minutes from Los Angeles Airport.
Staying there: The Disneyland hotel is steps away from Downtown Disney with easy access to the park
Top Tip: Be sure to taste the blue milk and green milk at The Milk Stand. The drinks, made famous in the films, have a rice and coconut base rather than dairy.