Anaheim, California, and Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Opened May 2019
If you haven’t heard of Batuu, you will. It’s a planet at the edge of the galaxy — not our own, but one far, far away. You know, the one with Kylo Ren, porgs, and lightsabers. When Galaxy’s Edge finally opens in May (California) and August (Florida), the identical parks will allow you to live out your geektastic Star Wars fantasies to the fullest.
Why is the Force so strong with these parks? For starters, Disney reportedly dropped a cool billion dollars on each location, and in the process, raised the bar for theme park storytelling and attraction technology to stratospheric levels. Disneyland is even requiring reservations to enter Galaxy’s Edge between May 31 and June 23 — demand is so rabid, all of the reservations were scooped up less than two hours after they were made available. It’s no wonder.
Like rival Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, something of a blueprint for how transportive a theme park can be, Disney’s Galaxy’s Edge is a wholly immersive experience. Pilot the Millennium Falcon and jump it to hyperspace in what promises to be an utterly realistic, next-gen ride, or build your own lightsaber, which will activate holocrons throughout the park, inviting you deeper into Star Wars lore. Gone are the herky-jerky Disney animatronics of yesteryear — looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean — as the parks’ new A1000 series features advanced robotics with 50 points of articulation. Translation: wildly realistic, lifelike movements from characters like space pirate Hondo Ohnaka, who recruits you for the Falcon mission.
Even now, more rides and experiences are in the works, like one that places you in the middle of a skirmish between the First Order and the Resistance, where you’ll board a massive Star Destroyer and come into contact with full-scale X-wing and A-wing starfighters, and, yes, enormous AT-AT walkers. Take that, boy wizard. — Arthur Levine