'Star Wars': Galaxy's Edge opening this week at Disney's Hollywood Studios

News4Jax gets a sneak peek at the 'Star Wars' land

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Mike Schneider, Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Disney's "Star Wars": Galaxy's Edge is set to open this week in Hollywood Studios in Florida.

Guests will be able to visit a galaxy far, far away starting Thursday, but News4Jax and more than 200 reporters from across the world got a look inside the highly anticipated attraction Tuesday to see what visitors can expect. 

The 14-acre themed attraction, Disney's largest-ever single-themed land expansion, includes zones such as the Black Spire Outpost on the Planet Batuu; state-of-the-art rides "Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run" and "Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance," the longest ride ever at a Disney park; themed shops and restaurants, including the first Disneyland eatery to sell alcohol; full-sized replicas of the Millennium Falcon, an X-wing and a TIE fighter; and an interactive app unlocking secrets of the park.

On Tuesday, Disney officials also gave new details on the most anticipated ride at the "Star Wars" land. "Rise of the Resistance" won't open at the Florida park until December, but Disney officials described it as one of the most ambitious and complicated rides ever built at a Disney park.

It has "everything that makes 'Star Wars' Star Wars, all in one attraction," said Scott Trowbridge, creative portfolio executive at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Passengers on the ride are part of a rag-tag group of rebels who are pulled into the enemy First Order's ship, where they try to make their way to an escape pod using a ride system. Once they arrive at the escape pod, their ride car gets into a motion-based simulator. There's a stomach-in-throat surprise drop, and then the simulator makes them feel like they're returning to their home planet.

"There's a kick-in-the-pants final moment," Trowbridge said.

Along the way, passengers encounter the Star Wars characters of Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren.

In a sneak peek of the unfinished ride given to the media, doors swoosh open to reveal the command bridge of a Star Destroyer. Three dozen stormtroopers are lined up in three rows before a gigantic screen of small stars set against the blackness of space.

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Click here for park hours, map and attractions.

The next film in the franchise, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," will be released Dec. 20.

'Star Wars' hotel at Disney World like a cruise into space

As Disney World prepared to open its $1 billion, 14-acre "Star Wars"-themed land, it gave new details Tuesday about "Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser."

It will be like a two-day cruise in that it drops visitors into a completely self-contained world. Except instead of traveling on the high seas, visitors will be made to feel like they've been launched from a parking lot at Walt Disney World in Florida to a spaceship millions of miles above Earth.

Once aboard the "ship," visitors become part of a narrative involving other passengers, crew members and cast members dressed as Chewbacca or stormtroopers. They are given tours of the ship's "bridge," where navigation and defense systems are explained. At various points during the two days, they may have to put knowledge they've acquired on the cruise to use as part of the storytelling, said Ann Morrow Johnson, a creative director at Walt Disney Imagineering, during a presentation where video and still photography was prohibited.

"There are characters on the ship, and many you will be meeting for the first time," Johnson said. "It's a dangerous time in the galaxy and you should be wary about who you make allegiances with because your choices matter. The choices will affect how your 'Star Wars' story unfolds."

Hotel room windows won't look out to the Florida sun and palm tree, but rather a screen showing the twinkly lights of stars in the vast darkness of space. The bedrooms have king-sized beds and also bunk beds built into the walls.

The opening date hasn't been announced yet, nor have prices been set, though given that a single-day admission to the Magic Kingdom can cost $125 without tax, the cost might be something only Lando Calrissian can afford.

Visitors staying at the Star Wars hotel will get to visit the new land, "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge," as their "port of call" during their two-day stay.

Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.