Archives for August 2019

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World

Woah.

Like literally. Woah. Joey Lawrence circa 1994 WOAH.

I gave you a sneak peek of our Galaxy’s Edge experience last week when I talked about my Star Wars Style, but this week I’m going to tell you everything I can about your first visit to Batuu.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder. And at some point in the last year, I managed to convert TBC3 over to passholder status as well. In this time, Disney announced they would be offering previews to passholders for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. It was on a first-come, first-serve basis, so as soon as the email went out, I got on the site. I waited for what seemed like an eternity until the virtual queue took me to the registration page.

I couldn’t get reservations at Oga’s Cantina (but we have one coming in September!) or Savi’s workshop (I don’t expect that I would have been able to rationalize the $200 for a build-your-own-lightsaber experience anyways), but I did manage to snag us a preview slot which guaranteed a ride on the Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Tom and I decided that if we could score a cheap hotel and flight, we’d go. A $100 round trip flight on United and $100/night on-property resort meant that we were definitely going to Batuu.

We arrived in Orlando the morning of our preview, Magical Expressed to our hotel and checked in. We hit up the Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain, the People Mover, and a Mickey pretzel before heading to Hollywood Studios. Our reservation was for 5 PM, but we were waved through at about 4:30 with ease.

Immersive Experience

By far, my favorite thing about Galaxy’s Edge is the incredible amount of detail that went into every little piece of the land. From the epic infrastructure to the cast member back stories, I’m here for all of it.


When you walk into the land, you truly feel like you’re stepping onto another planet.

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy's Edge

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy’s Edge


My Galaxy’s Edge outfit choice definitely made an impact on the CM interactions that I got. Several characters came up to me while I was wearing the Chewbacca dress I received from TV Store Online and invited me to join the resistance. They knew a good wookie when they saw one.

But each cast member will tell you what planet they are from and give you a story if you let them. Ask questions. Talk about the land. See what little nuggets you can uncover. Spend time exploring and learning about Batuu, because the experience is what this world is all about.

Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run

This attraction is amazing. We rode it three times so we could experience every role available. The queue is full of detail and story. Take in all of the visual artistry as you wait. Once you get into the attraction, there’s a short presentation with a mix of animatronics and video introducing you to the mission. Then you wall through a door and get assigned a role.


Our first time through, we waited 45 minutes and took the first thing they gave us: engineer. On our second ride, we waited 15 minutes and requested engineer. On our third ride, we, along with 50 other people, waited 0 minutes until we got to the assignment line and waited for pilot.


Then they usher you into an open waiting room, where you’re free to wander or lounge at the table until your team is called.


Our first two sets of pilots were awesome and the ride wasn’t too dizzying (I get vertigo). But when Tom and I took the helm, we (mostly me) were flying the ship all over the place. There was only one other person with us because of the aformentioned people waiting for pilot, and she had no idea what was going on, so we just laughed the entire time.


Even if you get a bad pilot (🙋🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️) or people who don’t know what they’re doing, you can still have fun. Sure it’s kind of a game with a score, but it’s also just a fun attraction. Enjoy it. Laugh more.

Food and drinks

We ate at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the quick-service spot with a dining hall. Tom had the kids’ fried endorian tip-yip (fried chicken with mac and cheese) and I had the kids’ yobshrimp noodle salad (shrimp and noodles with veggies). Yes, we order kids’ meals (which come with drinks btw) — it’s one of the ways we keep our spending down…or save money for dessert…

Kids' Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Kids’ Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


Both entrees were tasty, albeit simple. The shrimp and noodles was a very tiny portion, but perfect if you just want a taste (or you want to get dessert, which I did).

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The real stars of the meal were the desserts. I had the oi-oi puff (a raspberry filled cream puff topped with passion fruit mousse) and Tom had the Batuu-bon (chocolate cake with coffee flavored cream).

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The Batuu-bon was good, but the oi-oi puff will likely become one of my must-eats at WDW.

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


At Docking Bay 7, you can also get roasted chicken, ribs, pot roast, and a plant-based meatloaf dealie. You can also grab a quick meal or snack at Ronto Roasters, a quick-service stand that serves wraps and jerky. And if you just want something light to munch on, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers colorful popcorn.



In the drinks department, you’ve got the Milk Stand, where you’ll find blue and green milk. Both are fruity and sweet. We liked both, but not enough to really order them again. We both agreed that green was the superior milk, though for me, there wasn’t a big gap. Blue is sweeter, like a Hawaiian punch and green is more citrusy, though I can see why people say it’s got a floral flavor. Neither can hold a flame to LeFou’s Brew or the new Red’s Revenge, which is where my money will be allocated.


And finally, there’s Oga’s Cantina, which we did not get to visit because there were no available reservations. I will update you in two weeks when we return for our advanced dining reservation!

Photo ops

There are so many incredible places to snap a photo, I don’t even know where to begin. The land is full of amazing backdrops and photopass photographers everywhere you turn.


There are magic shots with porgs (in the front of Galaxy’s Edge near the main entrance) and TIE fighters (near the First Order area).


And every photographer wants you to use the force in at least one photo.


If you’re a big fan of Memory Maker or Disney Photo Pass, Batuu is full of talent!

Shopping

So the other major thing you can do in Galaxy’s Edge is add to your merch collection. They have two interactive build-your-own shops: Savi’s Workshop takes reservations and will set you back a couple hundred dollars for a custom-made lightsaber and Droid Depot (which I believe also takes resos) will set you back about $100(+) for a customized droid. The plus is for add-ons like personality chips. The droids aren’t really designed to roll around the ground at Galaxy’s Edge,  so if you buy one and want the personality chip interaction with cast members, you should plan on carrying your new bundle of robot joy around the park.


There are LOTS of shopping opportunities in Galaxy’s Edge. A couple of walk-in stores and then a market of small shops, some selling beautiful robes and costumes, others selling toys, collectibles, and more. One of the best things I saw though was a shopping limit per person.

Merch at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World

Limit of one item per item per person on collectibles at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Each person can purchase one of each item available. This keeps ebayers at bay at least a littld bit, which means limited edition merchandise won’t sell out super fast to resellers. Hallelujah! (I really don’t like when people buy something JUST to resell it right away for a huge uptick in price).

I managed to leave without spending a dime on merchandise, but your mileage may vary, so I wanted to let you know there are lots of really cool items for sale.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge? What are you most looking forward to? When are you planning on visiting? Tell me everything in the comments.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What to wear to Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, this week has been quite the whirlwind! Tom and I managed to snag tickets to the Walt Disney World annual passholder preview for Galaxy’s Edge, and I have a full trip report coming next week, so make sure you’re subscribed for email updates.

Today, I’m talking about Star Wars style at Disney. Because when you head to Batuu, you’ll definitely want to get into the jedi spirit. I don’t say this solely because I like playing with fashion and style, but because it is 100% part of the experience. The cast member interaction is incredible, and the right outfit can actually enhance the interaction to the point where cast members will start talking to you about the resistance and the first order.

Now, because this is a part of Disney World, you still have to follow Disney’s rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed. Costumes are only allowed for guests ages 14 and under, with the notable exception of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a separate ticketed event in the Magic Kingdom. And while you can buy some pretty amazing-looking cloaks, robes, and fighter pilot costumes in Batuu, you can’t actually wear them in the parks.

With that in mind, there are still a few different types of looks you can choose if you want to get into the spirit of Galaxy’s Edge (and ideally secure some of those fun cast member interactions).

Graphic tees and Star Wars symbols

Obviously, a Star Wars graphic tee will always fit in and absolutely has its place in Galaxy’s Edge. You can also wear other Star Wars branded clothing, like skater dresses and skirts with one of the many symbols of the various alliances in the Star Wars ‘verse.

Chrissy wearing a Star Wars Dress in Magic Kingdom

You can probably see the R2D2 and C3P0, but can you spot all the rebel alliance symbols?

What about the armies of R2 units disguised as flowers?I thought about wearing this low-key HerUniverse skater dress (I did see other ladies wearing it in the park), but two in-park outfit changes was already stretching my 4-hour time budget, and I was really excited about the other two looks.

Costume-y skater dresses

One of my favorite ways around the no-costume rule is to wear a skater dress inspired by a character. You can find all sorts of fun cosplay-light looks that won’t break the bank or the Disney rules. My first outfit in Batuu was this AMAZING Chewbacca skater dress. I received this dress from my friends over at TV Store Online (who like to send me quirky things to wear to random events like Jury Duty and other epic places) in order to provide an honest opinion of it, and I absolutely love it! I considered getting the non-furry Chewbacca version of the skater dress, but then I remembered how extra I am, and if I was going to Batuu, I was going big.

Wearing a Chewbacca dress in Disney World Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

The cast member guarding this part of Batuu told me there was a top-secret resistance mission coming in December, and they could use someone like me to join their cause. I fully believe my Chewbacca dress was the reason she initiated the conversation.

So there I was, wearing a fur dress in August in Florida. Granted, it was after 4 PM, so the midday sun was fading, but it was still a toast position to be in. In fact another cast member walked up to me and told me, “Batuu has three moons…and three suns.” And then she looked at me like I was insane.

Chrissy in a Chewbacca dress in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Batuu Disney World

Taking in all three suns

To be perfectly honest, gang, I had every intention of putting the dress on (which I did in the middle of Batuu over the neon green tank top and shorts I was wearing under my Buzz Lightyear Disneybound) and taking it off immediately after a few solid photo opps. But something surprising happened. I never overheated. I didn’t even feel that warm. There were fans blowing in the land, creating a nice breeze. The interior shops and spaces had A/C blowing, and I was keeping myself SUPER hydrated. I also refrained from drinking alcohol (a must for me when it’s as hot as Florida is in the summer).

Wearing a Chewbacca dress waiting to ride the Millenium Falcon

I felt right at home in the Millenium Falcon.

And so I spent two+ hours in the dress. We rode the Millenium Falcon, took lots of photos, had dinner, and wandered the shops. It was comfortable, looked AWESOME, and provided countless opportunities to engage with cast members. I also got a lot of compliments, which is always a confidence booster. I would have worn it the entire time if I wasn’t carrying around a backpack full of clothes, including a skirt I was super stoked about.A couple things to note about the dress: it is furry, so it does shed a little. It is also a little snug in the arms, so I recommend sizing up if you are able.

Disneybounding

The last look you can use, and my all-time favorite way to dress up in the parks and at home, is to Disneybound a character from the movies.I found the most perfect skirt while thrifting a few months back, and I knew it would be a perfect way to check out Batuu. I only had to find a character that would work. After much Googling, I came across the scene of Padme Amidala packing for Naboo. And I knew what I needed to find: a sparkly tank to wear under a black vest I already owned.

Senator Padme Amidala packing for Naboo dress in Attack of the Clones

I was super excited to put together my thrifted outfit once I found the perfect black and silver sequin top just days before leaving for Batuu.

It was comfortable, breezy and looked fun in Disney Photopass shots, but it didn’t get as much uninitiated interaction from cast members.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida (or even California)? What would you wear to Batuu? Let me know in the comments below!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

When you’re ashamed of your alma mater

I graduated from Glenbard East in Lombard, Illinois in 2001. This is the place that I spent four years of my life a few lifetimes ago. I was an enthusiastic, involved athlete and student during my time there. I was a cheerleader for two and a half seasons, a student leader, member of the choir, president of an organization, and active member of several other groups.

But now, my alma mater has made national news. They’re trending for publicly shaming young women for wearing tank tops to school in the hot humidity of the midwest in a school whose relationship with air conditioning has typically been spotty at best.

Like the female students humiliated last week, I was also shamed for what I wore nearly 20 years ago. But I was not given a scarlet letter to wear. I was forced to don a school sweatshirt from my locker in 90-degree heat, because “girls with women’s bodies” can’t wear things like sleeveless tops and overalls — these were things my school friends wore with no issue.

The dress code violation is that of showing someone’s back and shoulders…

Two cheerleaders at the Glenbard East High School Homecoming dance 2000 in formalwear and cowboy hats.
This was my bestie and I at the Fall 2000 Glenbard East homecoming dance. I wonder how the school plans to enforce a no-shoulders allowed dress code for that school-sanctioned event this fall.

It’s hard for me to stomach that things have not only not improved at this school, THEY’VE GOTTEN WORSE. I was appalled to hear about the first day of school ambush from the mostly male administration and that the two females on the administration — according to the Glenbard East staff website — joined in the enforcement of this antiquated dress code.

In the last few days, I have cried thinking about the young women who were told that their carefully chosen first-day-of-school outfits were inappropriate because they would distract their male peers from learning. As if forcing girls to wear construction orange tee-shirts complete with the dress-code violation branding (Dean Rental) would eliminate distraction from the classroom. 

Way to go Glenbard East. I am ashamed to be an alumnus of any institution that would be so cruel to embarrass and publicly shame young women when navigating high school is hard enough. Adults, and especially educators, have a responsibility to inspire and guide young people. They should provide a safe haven from all of the other things that teenagers have to endure. You have so much power, but with great power comes great responsibility. Now, what are you going to do to remedy the situation?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I love you 3000

Yesterday was truly one of the most exciting days ever. I woke up to my Disney alarm at 3:20 AM, brushed my teeth, got dressed, grabbed a camp chair, and jumped in the car. I made it to the Bucktown Best Buy before 4:30 in the morning and prayed I was among the first 100 people in line to pick up my preorder copy of Avengers Endgame, which, after seeing it four times this summer, I can safely say is my favorite movie of all time.

I waited in line with other Avengers superfans and the hours flew by. I sat in my comfy camp chair, took a Cap nap, even walked to the Mariano’s a few blocks away for a bathroom and breakfast break. There seems to be a gentleman’s agreement that the people in line will respect your place in line so you can take care of human needs etc. I was very glad of that being by myself on this particular adventure. It was surprisingly cool when I was napping, and in hindsight I should have brought a light blanket, but otherwise I had everything I needed.

I was in line to meet Joe Russo, who is probably the first director to ever have such a huge impact on me. He was in Chicago as part of the We Love You 3000 tour. With his brother Anthony and writers, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, they make a dream team of storytellers that inspire and delight me as an audience member and fellow storyteller.

I kept thinking about the Q&A I had the honor of attending, sitting smack in the center of the front row, on Monday with Joe Russo at The Second City and some of the nuggets of wisdom he imparted on an audience of artists, performers, creators, and filmmakers.

Make the story you want to tell. Make what you believe in. Make what you care about.

-Joe Russo

As someone who is deep in the throes of writing a novel, this particular advice was meaningful in ways I didn’t expect. Hearing it from someone who capped off one of the greatest storytelling events in this lifetime gave it so much more weight than I could have imagined. Avengers Endgame was the twenty-second movie in a ten-year saga of 23 movies. I still get emotional thinking about the events that transpired and the way they were able to truly payoff the set-up they started a decade ago.

He talked about long-form storytelling being the future, as it helps audiences connect with the characters for an emotional payoff you can’t get out of a singular movie. How the actors know their characters better than he ever would and the trust he puts in them to bring those characters to life. This is something Brian and I talk about a lot. We both really hope to see more movie studios picking up on this idea that a series of interconnected stories in a single world can truly immerse audiences and drive interest and excitement.

He answered my question about “I love you 3000” – where it came from (Robery Downey Jr. told them it was a cute thing his daughter said, so they used it) and if they realized the impact it would have on the audience and eventually their marketing plans (they actually found that test audiences loved it so much, they added it to the hologram later, unaware of its potential at the time. He claimed meme culture helps bring one-off lines like this to the front line of movies and TV).

Joe Russo inspires me. And so when I had the opportunity to wait in line to meet him, I took it.

Which returns us to his appearance at Best Buy yesterday.

As they handed out wristbands, I anxiously watched, hoping our counts had been close and we were under 100. It didn’t feel real until they wrapped a blue paper wristband with the number 075 around my left wrist.

They handed out pins and Chicago themed posters with Iron Man (my favorite Avenger) that had me tearing up. They gave out gift bags with McDonald’s toys and Funko Pops for everyone.

In addition to the meet and greet, autograph, and goodie bags, they had actual props that had actual screen time in the movie.

  • Cap’s broken shield.
  • Thor’s axe, Stormbringer.
  • Iron Man’s power source.

I died.

It was truly a dream come to life, and it got even better when it was time to get back in line to meet the storytelling legend himself.

I walked up and shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet him. He made polite conversation and seemed genuinely kind. He complimented my Captain America shirt twice. He signed everything he could in and on my Bluray case and then told me he would sign an extra poster, “just in case.” It really seemed he knew what it was like to be a fan getting autographs andhe did his best to make it a magical experience for everyone in line, so I like to believe he was there once upon a time too.

I didn’t embarrass myself this time. I didn’t fawn all over him, ramble like a fool, try to touch his chest, or let Brian come so he could say something that gets us death stares. I didn’t cry like I did when I met John Grogan (I should really tell that story). I was cool. I was collected. I was still me and talked the whole time, but would you expect any different?

Overall, this was one of my favorite meet and greets, and it was worth every second of sitting out in the strangely cool humidity for 6 hours.

Have you ever met a celebrity? What was it like? Would you rather wait in line for hours or pay money at a convention to meet someone? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!