It wasn’t very long ago that we first set foot inside Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu, and now we have returned to a galaxy far, far away as Disney debuts its second eagerly awaited Star Wars expansion on the East Coast. Having thoroughly explored Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland during its preview and grand opening period, we are excited to see what changes were made for Walt Disney World’s version, which officially opened August 29th at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
The good news is that, unlike some bi-coastal attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, neither resort got the short end of the stick. Whether you visit the version in Anaheim or Orlando, you’ll enjoy virtually an identical experience, with all of the most important elements exactingly duplicated at each location. For example, aside from some easily overlooked variations in the exit hallway, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is the exact same experience at both parks.
However, it’s the little things that make the “Disney Difference,” and fans who visit both resorts will be delighted to learn that there are several subtle but significant variations that keep the two Batuus from being identical clones. (Lucky thing, lest they start another one of those Republic-wrecking wars.)
For the most part, our in-depth reviews of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland fully apply to Walt Disney World’s identically named area. But for those with an eye for detail, here are the six most important variations that we noticed during our recent pre-opening preview of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ epic new addition.
The most important difference between the Californian and Floridian versions of Batuu is your number of options for entry and egress. In Disneyland, you have your pick of three possible gateways to Galaxy’s Edge: the Critter Country trail, which leads to the Resistance area; the Frontierland tunnel, which opens on the center of Black Spire Outpost; or the Fantasyland end of Big Thunder Trail, which connects to the First Order’s sector.
In Walt Disney World, that final entryway has been eliminated, with the open archway replaced by a solid door concealing backstage areas.
The middle passageway portal, which can be used freely at Disneyland, is restricted to exit-only here for the foreseeable future.
That leaves the tunnel from Grand Avenue as the sole entry point for Walt Disney World guests. While Disneyland’s version of this gateway is long enough to allow for a subtle transition from the surrounding park, DHS’s juxtaposition of Los Angeles Freeway-inspired tilework and laser-cut stone is abrupt at best.
Once they’ve passed through the Grand Avenue entryway, visitors to the East Coast Batuu may notice a reconfiguration of the geography surrounding the Resistance base camp, which will become home to the Rise of the Resistance ride later this year. While the attraction entrances are identical, the pathway leading to Florida’s version is much shorter, and the blue X-Wing fighter on display has been shifted from next to the A-Wing, over to the opposite side of the pathway.
Perhaps to compensate for the abbreviated entry path, Hollywood Studios does have this extra wooded area just outside Black Spire Outpost’s marketplace.
Finally, over by the area’s exit, you’ll find one final spaceship-related difference: this wrecked escape pod, which appears to have created a crater when it crash-landed, is currently exclusive to Walt Disney World.
The least obvious—but possibly most important—difference between Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and DHS is the color scheme. While the overall art direction is largely identical, the colors in Florida seem bolder, darker, and more saturated in several areas. It isn’t a major change, but if you visit both Batuus, you will notice that Orlando’s colors appear more vibrant, while Anaheim’s feel a bit more weathered.
Of course, this could easily be less of an intentional aesthetic decision and more of an attempt to resist Orlando’s notoriously harsh weather, which has a habit of baking the pigment out of paints at a breakneck pace. If other Walt Disney World landmarks (like the Tower of Terror, which was originally almost salmon-colored before fading to today’s pale pink) are any indication, both Black Spires may look equally washed-out in a few years.
Different Store Decor
Shopping is a major attraction at both Black Spire Outposts, and the objects decorating the stores are just as entertaining as the items offered for sale. Most of the detailed screen-accurate props have been duplicated at both locations, but there are small variations in how they’ve been displayed.
For example, the animatronic Loth-cat found in Anaheim’s creature shop has torn up and discarded his Porg chew-toy, but his adorable Orlando cousin cuddles its dolls while it sleeps.
Inside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, this wall of mounted trophies has a different color and arrangement.
Another difference is that Orlando’s store shelves are still fully stocked with items that have become scarce in Anaheim. At least for the time being, souvenirs like Kyber Crystals (which do not require purchase of a Holocron in Florida) and custom Droid personality chips are still available, despite being in restricted supply out west.
Similar to the stores, restaurants inside Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge are largely the same on both coasts, but their menus are not completely identical. In the morning, California’s Ronto Roasters serves scrambled eggs on its breakfast wraps, while Orlando cooks them omelette-style. Disneyland’s Docking Bay 7 opened with an excellent meatless Ithorian Garden Loaf on its menu, while Orlando only serves the equally tasty vegan Felucian Garden Spread.
Inside Oga’s Cantina, the Batuu Bits snack lacks wasabi peas in Florida, but it more than makes up for their absence with an addictive spicy dipping sauce.
But the biggest dining difference between Disneyland and Hollywood Studios is found in the drink menus. In California, alcohol can only be ordered inside Oga’s Cantina. In Orlando, Ronto Roasters and Docking Bay 7 freely serve concoctions like the Takodana Quencher (dragonberry rum and blue curacao with fruit juice) and Gold Squadron Lager.
The one place where the alcoholic expansion had its biggest impact is the Milk Stand. While Disneyland only serves nonalcoholic versions of the non-dairy slushie drinks, Walt Disney World offers blue milk spiked with rum, or green with tequila. As a result of this, along with the fact that it doesn’t yet accept Mobile Orders, the Orlando milk stand has seen significantly longer queues.
Unfortunately, as for the alcohol’s effect on the drinks’ divisive flavors and mouth-feel…
Last, but not least, there’s one big difference between California and Florida that Disney has no control over, at least until they build that giant dome over Lake Buena Vista. While Disneyland’s Batuu feels like a welcoming wooded wilderness like Maz Kanta’s castle, the atmosphere at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is more reminiscent of a visit to Tatooine during the peak of its twin-sun summer. You can thank Orlando’s oppressive humidity, which can frequently drive the heat index well over 100 degrees, for that extra immersive touch.
The environmental difference isn’t simply academic. Open-air shops that were designed with simple ceiling fans for Anaheim have been forced to improvise with additional equipment for circulating air in Orlando.
So be extra nice to the costumed characters you’ll find wandering around Walt Disney World’s Batuu because they are literally risking heat-stroke just to help you live out your Star Wars fantasies. Besides, you really don’t want to be on the bad side of a sweat-soaked Stormtrooper!
And there is one bonus difference: No much fireworks are seen on Batuu, unlike at Disneyland where the fireworks illuminate the sky of the Millennium Falcon.
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Seth Kubersky is the coauthor of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and a contributor to The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.