Disney World clones another Star Wars land. As a fan, do I need to go?

David G. Allan, CNNUpdated 29th August 2019
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(CNN) — Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge now lives on opposite edges of North America.
Four months after Disneyland in Anaheim, California, opened its most ambitious park expansion ever, a nearly identical Star Wars land opens August 29 at Walt Disney World Resort's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.
The immersive and film-evoking space recreates the distinct futuristic-yet-rough-and-real look and sounds that first hooked devoted fans in 1977 when the original "Star Wars" space opera was released. More than 40 years and nine more films later, visitors can finally step into that world, touch it, play in it, taste its food.
The setting for this new, interactive chapter in the Star Wars cannon is called Black Spire Outpost, on the planet Batuu, situated on the Outer Rim of the galaxy. It's not a location seen in any of the films or TV shows (yet), but it feels very familiar.
The architecture is earth-toned, roundish and battle-scarred. Chronologically it takes place among the current sequels, which is clear from the characters milling about. And there are many fun connections to earlier films and shows throughout Galaxy's Edge, the biggest being a full-scale, 100-foot-long Millennium Falcon. But I'll get to all that.
If you go to Hollywood Studios now -- and you should -- there are two important things to know. First, this Batuu is nearly identical to the Batuu in Disneyland, so there's no need to visit both -- unless you want to replicate the amazing time you had there, or catch whatever you missed.
Secondly, there is an epic ride called Rise of the Resistance that won't open in Hollywood Studios' Batuu until December 5 (and January 17 for Disneyland in Anaheim). The one current ride, where you pilot the Falcon, is fantastic but Rise is longer and more interactive than anything Disney may have ever pulled off -- hence the delays.
There are some minor differences between the East and West Coast Batuus, but none will greatly impact your experience.
The only structural difference is that Anaheim has three possible points of entry from the rest of the park and Orlando has two. There may be some variation to how cinematic your entrance feels as you get your first glimpse, but John Williams' original score will still get you in the mood.
There are some menu variations too: For example, in Orlando you can get liquor in your blue milk. And the orientation of the parks differs, which means the positioning of the sun (still only one) differs and varying paint hues of buildings were used to compensate.
Practically speaking, the two Batuus are the same. And for me, while there were some experiences I missed on opening day in Anaheim back in April -- chiefly not getting into the lightsaber shop -- I'm not that interested in going back to Galaxy's Edge until Rise of the Resistance opens.
But if you go now, you will love it no matter what level of fan you are. And you can rely on my opening day experience in Anaheim (and the Force, of course), to help guide your visit to the new planet.
Expect lines (and strategically take turns within your group holding your place so you can explore while you wait). Notice the details. Look for Easter Eggs. Don't skip the food. Take home something you'll play with later. Talk with the Batuu locals. Soak it all in.
Here's how to get your credits-worth while you're in this thrilling, movie-accurate 14-acre Star Wars playground.

The fastest hunk o' junk in the galaxy

If you're an OG Star Wars fan like I am, you may find yourself getting emotional when you approach the full-scale movie-perfect Falcon. I got choked up when I first saw it, and then grinned as steam exhaled from its underbelly.
The ride itself, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, is a fun, interactive video game in which the outcome is different every time depending how well your crew works together. Sorry, FastPass doesn't work for the line but there is cool stuff to see as you make your way through the hangar, like the views over the top of the Falcon.
My favorite part of the ride was walking through the ship itself. Those dirty-white, Chiclet-paneled airlock corridors took my breath away. In the main hold you can sit at the holographic "Let the Wookiee win" Dejarik (aka chess) board. On a shelf above the Dejarik table is the flight helmet with blaster shield that Luke wore when he first felt the Force.
And when you step into the most famous cockpit in history (real or imagined), touching the controls is not encouraged, it's required, including the lever you pull to make the star-blurring jump to hyperspace.
You won't stop smiling the entire time. As I exited the cockpit, I noticed the damage I helped cause the ship in the ride had caused the lights to flicker in the corridor.

Droids, sabers, creatures and much more

Of all the things you can buy, two are build-you-own: droids and lightsabers. These options are so popular that you can and probably should make reservations through the My Disney Experience app or online.
Getting to customize and put together a remote-controlled mini BB unit or R2 astromech droid may have been the highlight for my 11-year-old daughter when we went. LR (or "Little Red," the name she gave her BB unit) mainly sits atop her bookshelf now, but she'll make an appearance for anyone who visits us and is sympathetic to the Rebellion.
Savi's Workshop, where you can assemble your own lightsaber, was such a popular option on opening day in Anaheim that they closed up shop before we could go. And I envied those who made it as they brandished their elegant weapons for a more civilized age.
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Build your own astromech droid as parts come around on a conveyer belt.
David G. Allan/CNN
I love that inside Batuu you can't get "Star Wars" branded items. People on Batuu don't know what Star Wars is. Instead, the marketplace souk stalls and shops have their own specialized wares.
I bought my younger daughter a talking, flapping porg (from "The Last Jedi") from the creature stall, edging out a Kowakian monkey-lizard (aka Jabba's laughing sidekick in "Jedi"). A toy shop sells handcrafted knitted character dolls, cantina instruments and Sabacc cards.
But it's in Dok-Ondar's den of rare and black market antiquities from around the galaxy where my favorite items are found. They sell legacy lightsaber handles ($129.99 for Vader up to $199.99 for Ahsoka Tano's double lightsaber from "The Clone Wars"), Princess Leia Organa's necklace worn at the end of "A New Hope," and Yoda's walking stick.
Dok-Ondar's is also a museum of unlabeled items last seen in the films and not for sale but fun to spot. I noticed Han's blaster (no toy guns are sold or allowed by visitors in the park), a mounted tauntaun and a taxidermic wampa from the ice planet Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back," the helmet of bounty hunter Boushh, worn by Leia to rescue Han in "Jedi," and a breathing baby Sarlacc in a glass case.

When in Batuu

Disney has called their employees "cast members" since Walt days, no matter where they fall on the hospitality pecking order. But the title seems especially apt in Galaxy's Edge.
Not only do Batuu locals not look alike (diverse hiring plus the fact that they get to pick and choose their own outfits), but they are well prepared with dialogue to engage visitors, everything from their own special greetings to local gossip and advice. And because the Falcon is there, so is Chewbacca. And Rey. And saucy First Order Stormtroopers. At times it feels more like interactive theater (with selfies allowed) than amusement park.
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The author, with Chewbacca, on opening day of Galaxy's Edge in Disneyland.
Alice Rope
All the movie-connected characters, ships and debris are great fun too. To start you on your scavenger hunt: There is a dianoga, the slimey one-eyed water serpent from the Death Star trash compactor scene in "A New Hope," that appears above a drinking fountain.

Spiked milk

When you think of Star Wars, you don't necessarily think of food. Maybe drinks.
In "A New Hope," Luke drinks blue milk on the moisture farm where he lived, and in "The Last Jedi" we see him drink the green version and we witness the sea cow it comes from being milked by the Jedi. In the new Hollywood Studios Batuu, you can get both frozen and, if you want, spiked with rum or tequila.
Concept drawing of Black Spire Outpost, Batuu
Concept drawing of Black Spire Outpost, Batuu
Beyond that, Disney chefs had to use their imagination. Ronto Roasters serves meaty wraps from a grill fire emanating from a podracing engine. It's also fun to sit among the transport noise and container ships in Docking Bay 7 where you can munch on fried Endorian tip-yip (chicken) and sticky kaadu ribs (pork).
Coke and Sprite are served in round thermal detonator-shaped bottles featuring labels written in the cursive Star Wars alphabet script called Aurebesh, but you may not be able to get them back home on the plane as souvenirs. I was able to get two home, but new rules may restrict them on flights because of their resemblance to bombs.
You'll want to get a reservation at Oga's Cantina, which combines alcoholic and kid-friendly virgin cocktails with a unique experience. Less wretched hive of scum and villainy and more cool and elaborate bar with enthusiastic cast member-bartenders, Oga's features an '80s-meets-Bollywood playlist spun by a droid that fans will recognize from the old Star Tours ride.
Cheers to all that!