Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the newest land from the Walt Disney Company in Disneyland park (until Marvel opens next year), and it is completely unlike any other land at the theme park. For those Star Wars fans that have sensory needs, taking a few steps in advance of your visit to a galaxy far far away and knowing what to expect when you arrive will make the whole trip more enjoyable for everyone.
11 Tips for visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with an autistic child, or sensory processing disorders
If your family theme park travels look anything like mine, we have to plan ahead for our son’s sensory needs. This list is exactly what we did to help him have fun, and not feel overwhelmed visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland park, in Anaheim California! Here are 11 tips on how to maximize your trip to Star Wars Land.
1. Get your DAS pass.
DAS stands for Disability Access Services. It is a pass meant for those Disney theme park guests that have disabilities that make it hard for them to wait in line, or have physical needs that require assistance. At City Hall in the Disneyland resort, we waited in a short line for our pass and and our stroller tag. The DAS pass allows us to sign up at the information stations and wait in line for the next ride (without actually waiting in the line). It works similarly to a FastPass.
2. Consider a stroller tag
Assuming your stroller is within the new Disney requirements for size (and cast members do check), I recommend getting it tagged with a stroller tag. It then is essentially a wheelchair, and you can take it most places. When our son gets overwhelmed, he likes to sit in there, and unwind.
3. Use your DAS pass to sign up for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Currently, there are no FastPasses available for Millennium Falcon. The only exception is the DAS pass. For Millennium Falcon, the only place that you can sign up for that ride is the information station in the new Star Wars-themed land. It is outside of the Droid Depot, before the pathway ends at Thunder Mountain. Once Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens in January 2020, use your DAS pass to sign up for that ride as well.
4. Go later in the day
Currently, Galaxy’s Edge is not a part of the extra magic hour. Even if you are staying at a resort hotel and have early access to the park, you cannot enter until Galaxy’s Edge opens at 8 a.m. with the rest of the Star Wars fans. We went first thing, and the crowd was unbearable. There were hundreds of people waiting, and then (despite cast member warnings) many ran to the new Star Wars Land. When we went again later in the day, the crowds were much lighter, and the lines weren’t long.
5. Bring noise cancelling headphones
My son can be sensitive to lots of sound, and inside Star Wars Land, there is a lot of piped in sound. As opposed to lots of lands (like Fantasyland, or Frontierland) Disneyland’s Star Wars themed Galaxy’s Edge is an immersive experience. The imagineering is incredible, but it is very overwhelming to the senses. Those noise cancelling headphones helped to dull the experience and he still enjoyed it!
6. Sit outside to eat at Docking Bay 7
Docking Bay 7 food and cargo was so good! We all loved the rising moons overnight oats. The interior is like a working hangar bay, which is cool, but the kids found it to be scary. It is a bit dark, and is very loud. Fortunately, after ordering, we headed outside to a much quieter (and shaded) table. It was the perfect spot to decrease the sensory overload.
7. Take advantage of the distractions.
There are several places where you can sit in the shade and regroup. I recommend trying the blue milk or the green milk from the milk stand, and watching all of the activity. The kids loved it, and we watched the storm troopers escort Kylo Ren around the black spire outpost on the planet of Batuu. If you aren’t careful, you may end up being questioned by a storm trooper!
Another great distraction is the Play Disney Parks app. Within the app, we were activating droids, and playing with the games while we waited. If you are feeling brave, or the crowds are lighter at the end of the day, venture into one of the really cool shops. Our favorites were the Toydarian Toymaker, First Order Cargo, and Black Spire Outfitters (where you can outfit your resistance supply).
8. Make a reservation well in advance to Savi’s Workshop and the Droid Depot
We were unprepared, and unable to build our own droid, or light saber. Now we know that, in order to build our own take-home piece of the outer rim, and reduce frustrations, we need to make reservations in advance. We ended up at the Den of Antiquities, and browsing the creature stall (across from the very cool Ronto Roasters), which was a nice compromise. There were lots of neat looking light sabers all over the park, but keep in mind that they are pretty expensive. But totally worth it for fans of a galaxy far far away.
9. Know what to expect on the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
With the DAS (FastPass entry), getting onto the ride was easy. There is some chaotic waiting in an ante room, where each of the six passengers from the planet Batuu are given a card with a job on it. Then we all waited until our color-coded boarding card was called. Upon entering, we sat with the pilots in the front, the gunners in the middle row, and the engineers in the back two seats. Much like Star Tours, it is a VR ride, with more interactive participation from the Star Wars fans. We each get a score based on following the instructions (with blinking lights if following verbal directions is too complicated). But like Star Tours, the whole ship moves around. If loud and startling noises are bothersome, it may be a skip.
They do offer an air conditioned kennel for service dogs! We are so looking forward to joining the resistance in their fight against the first order when the new ride (Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) has its opening day on the planet Batuu on January 17, 2020.
10. Consider skipping Oga’s Cantina
Oga’s Cantina is located next to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, and across from Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. It requires advance reservations, and isn’t sensory friendly. It is dark, loud and overwhelming. There are a lot of neat things and a DJ droid to see, and it is the only place in Disneyland that offers alcoholic beverages. It also doesn’t offer any food, just some crunchy snacks. I was able to get a sneak peek, and it isn’t very child friendly. If the sounds and lights aren’t a problem, the wheelchair tag on the stroller means that it can come inside (in case of a sensory meltdown).
11. Take advantage of mobile ordering on the Disneyland park app.
Avoid wait times by using the mobile ordering option on the Disney Parks app. On the Disneyland app, you choose your arrival window, place your order, and pay with a credit card. It is that simple to order all over the park, but particularly on Batuu, where the lines are overwhelming at times. Currently they allow mobile ordering at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the milk stand (where you can order that green milk frosty, and ready to go), and Ronto Roasters.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has its opening day in Walt Disney World in Florida on August 29, 2019. It is located in Hollywood Studios (near the new Toy Story Land), and while we haven’t yet seen it, I am sure that many of the tips that apply to Disneyland will also apply to Walt Disney World. We have done the DAS pass in both places, and while there are minor differences, it should be similar!
About the Author
Christy is a glam crunchy mom of three preschool and elementary aged kiddos, one on the autism spectrum. She has a Master’s degree in special education, and never turns down an opportunity to travel anywhere she can. She lists the Maldives, Seoul, and Hawaii among her favorites. Christy shares her love of traveling with her kids by taking them along whenever possible. Preferably if there is a beach, pampering, and amazing food involved! Rely on her insights to make family travel possible for everyone, including special needs kids and their parents.