On opening day at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge the crowds weren’t all that bad. Part of the reason is the land’s clever design and its staff’s crowd management, directing guests away from certain areas at certain times. Mainly though, it’s because fans were only given four hours to be in the park. So what happens if you overstay your welcome? After losing track of time in the Batuu marketplace, I found out.
Some coworkers and I were part of the second wave to visit Galaxy’s Edge on opening day. Our time slot started at 11 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. We wondered how the park would monitor us, ensuring we left at the right time. What sort of cutting-edge technological wizardry had Disney devised.
The answer: wristbands.
Before we were able to get into Disneyland’s latest land, we had to show a photo ID at a kiosk inside Tomorrowland and collect a special, color-coded wristband. Ours were green, while the group with the 2-6 p.m. slot got red ones.
At 11 a.m., we raised our green wristbands to the cast members at the gate to gain access to the park. Then we forgot the wristbands altogether.
Around 2:50, we moseyed into the marketplace for some last minute purchases.
Around 3:20, I realized we’d been shopping far past our allotted window in the park. I’d been engaging with the most official-looking of cast members. I’d walked right up to a Disney employee wearing a suit — clearly not a citizen of Batuu — and asked them where I could find a coffee mug for my wife. And nobody had said anything.
I’d waved my green wristband around the whole time, including all throughout the checkout process. No one — not even the cast members who worked behind the register inside the park — had said a word.
After the cast member handed me my bag, I turned to see my two colleagues standing quietly about 20 feet away. They were in the middle of being politely asked to leave.
Here’s how that engagement went, according to Polygon’s executive editor Chris Plante.
Batuu citizen: “I noticed you have a green wristband. You’re past your scheduled time on Batuu. I recommend you leave before the Stormtroopers take notice.”
Chris: “I’m sorry, we’re just waiting for our friend. The one over there. ”
Batuu citizen: “Which one?”
Chris: “The one about as tall as Chewbacca.”
Batuu citizen: “Ohhhh! No worries. You can wait till he’s finished, then make your way off planet.”
Chris: “Understood. Bright suns!”
Batuu citizen: “Till the Spires!”
The interaction happened quickly and quietly. Later, Plante told me the cast member was very polite. No word on if actual stormtroopers were employed to clear the park at the end of the night, but job listings indicate that Disney Parks has been staffing up.
After my final purchase, we made the slow walk back through the Resistance forest and out the way we came. Along the way we found a half-dozen cast members standing along the path and congratulated them on a wonderful opening day. I saw one visibly blush.
But at the gate I stopped short, my new little droid buddy strapped to my chest.
“What’s that, R2?” I said, standing just a few feet from the cast member keeping watch at the entrance. I turned to them with with my best puppy-dog look. “He says he doesn’t want to leave.”
“He can stay,” said the cast member. “You have to go, though.”