Not only was it the opening of a brand new land in Disneyland, but it was the opening of the first ever Star Wars themed land—our very first chance to step into a galaxy far, far away and drink blue milk, eat food cooked on a podracer engine, and walk right up to the Millennium Falcon. (And fly it!!) Getting to be a part of the very first group to visit Batuu on Opening Day was beyond anything I could have imagined. My brain is foggy from lack of sleep and overload of joy, but here’s a timeline of what I can remember…
4:15 am: Wake up. Today is the day. TODAY IS THE DAY!!
5:25 am: Enter Disneyland and try not to cry at the incredibly beautiful (and textured!) opening day map a nice lady just handed me. Also, I’ve never seen that time on the clocktower before.
5:30 am: I’ve also never seen the castle at sunrise before.
5:45 am: Line up with hundreds of my newest Star Wars friends. Have delightful conversations about droids, podracing, and which attraction to visit first. (The Cantina seems to be a clear winner.)
6:00 am: Enter Launch Bay and receive extremely cool wristband. Take multiple pictures of said wristband. It is definitely going in a frame.
7:00 am: Hang out with aforementioned hundreds of new Star Wars friends by the Matterhorn. Marvel at never-before-seen maintenance car driving on the old People Mover tracks. So this is Disney at Dawn.
7:30: We’re moving!! Shake hands with President of Disneyland, thank him profusely (thank you Josh D'Amaro!!), and follow new Star Wars friends on the most joyful parade through the park that has ever been marched. Reach entrance to Batuu. Pause inside rock-tunnel. Bounce with excitement.
7:59 am: We’re counting!! WE ARE COUNTING!! LOUDLY!!! Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! *wipe tears* Three! Two! ONE!!!
8:00 am: THIS IS HAPPENING!! IT’S REALLY HAPPENING!! High five long line of grinning Imagineers who frame the entrance. (Honestly, this was one my favorite parts of the day. Seeing the Imagineers faces as they welcomed us to the world they created was a memory I’ll never forget. These guys are my heroes!) Parade past a massive T.I.E. Fighter and First Order flags. Through a row of domed buildings. Past the Cantina. THE CANTINA!!! And under an archway that reveals . . .
8:02 am: IS THAT THE MILLENNIUM FALCON???? THE. MILLENNIUM. FALCON??
8:04 am: Pick self off ground. Give in to waves of uncontrollable sobs at the sight of children squealing while jumping up and down. At grown men weeping, without an ounce of restraint. At strangers hugging. (Wait, that was me. Sorry, kind Disneyland photographer. But you were next to me, and I had so many feelings.) Wipe tears. This is the Millennium Falcon. The larger than life ship that’s inspired play, conversations, stories and imaginations for four decades. It is right there.
And it is everything.
Honestly, my timeline after that is just a blur. What I remember most from the day is the joy. Every step, every location, every interaction in Batuu, from guests to Imagineers (thank you guys, for sticking around and chatting with us!) to Cast Members (I have never seen a group so authentically inhabit their roles, ever!), was filled with complete and total joy.
From the team at Savvi’s Workshop, who helped off-worlders build “scrap metal” (lightsabers are illegal on Batuu. But playing on the vehicles in the "scrap metal" yard is not!) . . .
To the Batuuans who tied fabric to the Wishing Tree then took time to teach us about their planet . . .
To the team at Dok Ondar's, who went above and beyond to track down a difficult-to-procure item so I could bring it home . . .
To the handlers at the creature cart who taught off-worlders all we needed to know to care for our new pet Kowakian Monkey-Lizards/Porgs/Loth Cats/Mynocks/creepy white Rebels spiders I did not for one minute consider taking home with me ever! . . .
To the crew of the Millennium Falcon who so just got it, you guys. They just got it.
To the team at Oga's Cantina who also totally got it. And to DJ Rex - I'm so glad you got another job, buddy!
To the Lucasfilm team who made sure podracers were well represented in this galaxy not-so far, far away.
To all of you, I say I thank you. Truly. Thank you.
Each interaction I had in Batuu was so engaging, so in-world, so exactly what you’d hope living the Star Wars experience would be. Watching Rey teach younglings to use the Force was precious, and seeing everyone hug Chewy was beyond joyful. That was the day, in a word. Opening Day at Galaxy’s Edge was simply joyful. Nobody does magic like Disney, but Batuu took that magic to a whole new level. I’m so thankful I got to experience that joy, and I’m so excited to visit again soon.