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There are some life experiences that stay with you forever – the birth of a child, their first day at school and safely landing the Millennium Falcon. Last week, I had the pleasure of the latter at the long-awaited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opened at Disneyland Anaheim on the 31st May. Costing in the region of a billion bucks to build, no expense has been spared in Disney’s recreation of Planet Batuu. Taking visitors to a galaxy far, far away, the stark, rocky land incorporates the movie sets, our favourite characters and a life-size Millennium Falcon, causing legions of grown men to whimper with excitement.

From droid-style bins, alien bazaars and the aurebesh (alien language) signs in the neon-lit Oga’s Cantina to R2-D2 tracks (made by the original robot) grooved into the concrete, the park’s attention to detail is incredible. It fully immerse fans – young and old – into the world of Star Wars. Wannabe Luke Skywalkers can create their own custom lightsaber (at $200 a pop) or build a unique droid ($99), sup blue milk and eat Endorian Tip-Yip in Docking Bay 7. Later this year, it will open a second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which Disney claims will be their longest and most epic ride yet.

On my four-hour allotted slot in the park, I stroke Chewbacca and meet Rey, get accosted by stormtroopers (swoon) and, of course, fly the Millennium Falcon on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, an interactive virtual reality ride where teams of six fly the iconic space ship on a smuggling mission. Having grown up with Star Wars (Princess Leia buns were a staple look through the Eighties) to see the famous ‘hunk of junk’ up close was pretty magical. The queue is long, as expected, and winds through a seemingly never-ending series of rocky caverns and industrial-looking corridors with dry, patchy concrete and exposed wires.

After an hour or so, I arrive in the flight holding pen where our six-strong flight crew are given roles – pilot, gunner or engineer – while space pirate Hondo Ohnaka, an incredibly lifelike animatronic robot, talks us through the back story. After another few minutes, we’re bundled into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and told to buckle up for the ride of our lives. Before I even have a chance to adjust my Leia buns, we’re flying through asteroid showers, dodging alien space craft and shooting at the enemy. Like an video game, riders are in control of the ship and depending on your (good or bad) piloting skills, you could have a longer experience than others.

After landing the Millennium Falcon safely, I high-five my crew and head to Oga’s Cantina for celebratory Jabba Juices all round. Now where’s Hans Solo when you need him?

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland

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