This year my family and I rang in the New Year at Star Wars Galaxy Edge at the Disneyland Resort.
Typically, New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights at Disneyland Resort California. Find out if it was as bad as the rumors say or if you should start planning your own NYE celebration!
A dream or a nightmare?
Ringing in the New Year at Disneyland has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. However, I was still hesitant to do it because of my chronic illnesses.
Having an autoimmune disease should have made me wary of getting sick, but that was the least of my worries. I have experienced the park when it has reached capacity. Let me tell you, it’s not a fun experience when relying on a mobility aid to get around. There’s nowhere no move and nobody sees you.
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Whether I am seated in my wheelchair or rollator/transport chair combo, I cannot breathe when stuck in the middle of an area where people are standing shoulder to shoulder. They literally block my access to fresh air. People fall on me, push so close that their rear-ends are on my armrests, and they have hit my head with their elbows. It’s a terrifying experience.
After reading that, you may wonder why I would still want to experience NYE at Disneyland. I will admit that I was a little nervous about it. To ease my mind and that of my anxious daughter, I had a plan that would prevent a repeat experience of the last time we were in the park when it reached capacity.
Knowing how long the lines can get for food and not wanting anyone in my party to get hangry, I packed a bag of snacks. To stay hydrated, we each brought a refillable water bottle. There are many places to refill a water bottle throughout the parks and downtown district.
We weren’t planning on arriving until early evening. After reading about past NYE celebrations in the park, I was sure that Disneyland would reach capacity and that we would be celebrating across the esplanade at Disney’s California Adventure. I had no problem with not being in the Disneyland park itself as California Adventure has more room and its wide walkways make it easier to get around. So plan B was to ring in the New Year at DCA.
Back to plan A. Should we be lucky enough to get into Disneyland, the goal was to avoid the Castle area until it neared midnight. Then as the time drew nearer, we would remain on the outskirts of the area. Close enough to see the castle, but far enough to have room to breathe.
Our plan was to spend the time prior to making our way to the castle over in Star Wars Galaxy Edge. We chose this area for several reasons. The first being that we love it, secondly, it has a relaxed atmosphere and thirdly, it is large and roomy.
Addressing pain and health concerns
Even though I planned to use my rollator/transport combo, I was still recovering from a multi-month costochondritis flare. This would require a lot of resting and addressing pain before it got out of hand. To manage my back and spine pain I use a portable PEMF device that has relieved the pain I experience from fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis like no other. I alternated PEMF treatments on my back with a portable heating pad to help relax my muscles.
It should come as no surprise that most people I know come down with some type of cold whenever they visit Disneyland. You might even think it’s impossible to avoid germs when hanging out with tens of thousands of people from all over the world. With that said, I don’t get sick after a visit! And I have an autoimmune disease! Here are a few ways I and others avoid bringing home Disney germs.
- Do not touch anything!
- Wear a face mask
- Wash hands often
- Use a hand sanitizer
- Drink enough water
- Avoid direct contact with characters
I personally haven’t needed to wear a medical face mask, but I follow the no-touch and use of hand sanitizer rule like my life depends on it! To avoid collecting germs from the safety bars and seatbelts on rides, wear gloves or sanitize your hands immediately afterward.
In reference to touching characters, I am not suggesting that you don’t give your favorite character a hug, but that to remember that you are not the only person to do so. Whether the character is in full costume or not, they have been touched by many people before you.
Arriving at our destination
To our surprise, there were no lines at the parking garage, security, or to board the tram. The foot traffic in Downtown Disney consisted mostly of families heading back to their hotels for dinner. We overheard some say they weren’t coming back until the next day.
We were once again surprised that there weren’t long lines to enter the gates of Disneyland! It was busy but not as busy as I had imagined it would be or had experienced it with past 24 hour parties.
Thrilled to be able to easily walk down Main Street, we headed over to Tomorrowland, specifically the Launch Bay to pick up our complimentary souvenir NYE hats and noisemakers. I have to say, this process was faster and more efficient than I had thought it would be. Within minutes we had our freebies and were on our way to Space Mountain to pick up a Disabled Return Time (a virtual queue for attractions that do not have an ADA compliant standard queue for mobility aids).
Why I love Star Wars Galaxy Edge
To get a Space Mountain Disabled Return Time, one must check in with the cast member at the attraction’s exit. While Main Street hadn’t felt busy, this area was packed!! It was crowded, loud, and chaotic. Once we had our return time we decided to follow our plan to stay relaxed and to have fun by heading to our favorite land.
A calmness overcame my daughter and me as we entered Star Wars Galaxy Edge. I honestly do not know why, but I am always relaxed when I am in this part of the park. It may be the lighting, the sounds, or that it really does make me feel like I have left earth for another planet. All I know is that it has become my favorite land.
Lost in a time
With having a two-three hour window to return to Space Mountain, we weren’t scared away by the two hour wait time for Smuggler’s Run. Being a newer ride, this Galaxy Edge attraction’s queue is ADA accessible. Two hours on my feet is too much and is one reason I require the use of a rollator/transport chair combo. I sat as needed and my husband pushed me through the queue.
For the first time since the attraction opened this year and with all the times that we have ridden it, the wait was actually longer than what was posted on the official Disneyland app and ride entrance. When we finally exited the attraction we realized that we only had 10 minutes to make our way across the park to check-in for Space Mountain. Had I been able to move faster and without a mobility aid, we might have made it, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, we adjusted our plan to ride something closer to where we were and where we wanted to for the countdown.
Out of this world
As I mentioned earlier, Star Wars Galaxy Edge has a super chill, relaxed vibe to it. I personally compare leaving it and entering Critter Country like leaving a secluded planet to being thrown into the heart of downtown Los Angeles during rush hour. A peaceful walk quickly turns into a fight to avoid being hit by traffic.
We made our way to the exit of the Haunted Mansion to get a Disabled Return Time. This time we only had a 20-minute wait, so we decided to stay nearby. It was to our advantage that Fantasmic was showing on the Rivers of America and we were able to find a bench back by the shops of New Orleans Square.
A change of plans
Watching how chaotic the traffic was in that area, I began having second thoughts about which location we should go to for the countdown. Double-checking the list of countdown locations on the flier we received upon entering the park gate, I noticed a location that I hadn’t seen online. In addition to the usual locations, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, River’s of America, and Small World was Galaxy Edge!!!!
We voted and decided to ring in the New Year on the planet of Batuu. Having it be that land’s first New Year celebration added to the specialness of our choice.
Star Wars Galaxy Edge Treats
After riding the Haunted Mansion we made our way back to Galaxy Edge. Still having time to kill before the NYE celebration we headed over to Docking Bay 7 for a bite to eat. Unlike the lines for food in other areas of the park, the lines in Batuu were at most one or two people deep.
For dessert, we ordered something that we hadn’t tried before. The Batuu-bon (see picture above) is described as chocolate cake, white chocolate mousse, and coffee custard. It was $6.99 before my Annual Pass discount.
We have no idea what the green stuff was. If it had a flavor it was unnoticeable by the three of us or overpowered by the chocolate and coffee flavors. Another mystery is the yellowish sauce on the side of the plate. Both garnishments aren’t but should be listed on the description to help guests avoid ingredients they are allergic to. Knowing that the yellow sauce was made with some sort of citrus would have saved some pain. I have an odd citrus allergy and my body reacts in varying degrees of reactions which include but are not limited to blistering of the tongue, gums, and inside of the mouth, swelling of tongue and throat, rashes, and trouble breathing.
Minus the discomfort I later experienced from tasting the yellow sauce, we all agreed that the dessert was out of this world delicious!
On a mission
Finding where the celebration in the land was to take place was a bit confusing. Fireworks can be seen from either end of the land. There is usually an area in front of the Millineum Falcon taped off for guests to watch from. However, on this particular evening, they weren’t allowing guests over there. They were also closing off the area in front of Docking Bay 7, which is also a popular location to view them from. Trying to get at a straight answer from a Batuu resident was not easy. But we finally got one from the 7th one we asked.
The celebration location for Star Wars Galaxy Edge took place in front of the First Order Cargo store. They had just finished taping off the area when we arrived. From what we could see, most people were leaving the land to go to the more populated countdown areas. So we took a chance and went to the center of the area.
Star Wars Galaxy Edge is a disability dream come true
It was a disability dream come true!!! The area filled up, but there was space. Anyone with personal space issues would have loved it! Nobody was rubbing elbows or bumping into each other. DJ R-3X was our host and the music was what is often heard in the cantina. It was festive, fun, and everybody even those like me who were seated in a wheelchair or rollator were tapping their feet and rocking out.
There was plenty of space and room to move whether you were using a mobility aid or not. The area around the celebration site in Galaxy Edge was quiet. This was fantastic for anyone who didn’t want to be in a crowd of any sort. There were no distractions from the music or the fireworks.
Another perk that you wouldn’t have found in any other area of the park was no lines for the restrooms!!!
Walking to the land’s exits after the celebration was also a breeze. Nobody was rushing and we weren’t herded out like cattle. It was upon exiting the land that we found ourselves in a human traffic jam.
A sea of people
Even though the park was open until 2AM, most people, like us, chose to leave after the countdown celebration. If I were to do anything different, I would have waited another 30-60 minutes before attempting to leave the land. The funny thing is that although we were shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip while exiting the park, the traffic was civilized. That is until we exited the park gates and entered the esplanade. From there and through Downtown Disney, it was a mess.
One thing I would definitely do again would be to skip the tram back to the parking garage. The lines were long. Anyone who has ever had to wait in the handicap line knows that the wait can be quite long. Walking to the west end of Downtown Disney and using the bridge to access the garage much faster.
What to expect at Star Wars Galaxy Edge next year
Being that Star Wars isn’t considered classic”Disney”, I predict that Galaxy Edge will still be a disabled dream come true. With that said, there is no way to predict what it will be like. The articles that I had read prior to going all said that we wouldn’t have a chance of getting into Disneyland if we hadn’t arrived by noon. Yet, we didn’t arrive until 5PM and we were able to enter that park. Will the same hold true next year? I guess we’ll just have to find out!
Have you ever celebrated NYE at Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure? I would love to hear about your experience!
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