America, Deals

Stair Wars

I wonder what Mickey thinks of this Science Fantasia. The Galaxy’s Edge is far, far away from Walt Disney’s vision.

And its centrepoint Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1billion Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens. It has taken me half an hour to even get this far.

I have passed by the inviting diversions of Walt’s Main Street USA, a jazz band on an island next to the Mark Twain Riverboat

And a host of our favourite, smiling, singing, hugging Disney characters before arriving in this dark place.

Chewbacca does envelope a middle-aged Asian woman in his arms but I am too slow off the mark to get my picture taken while the Storm Troopers brush me aside.

Personally, I’d have a welcoming party of Yoda, Jabba the Hutt, Princess Leia and R2-D2 instead.

Shaky all over

Still, I persevere and hang on the words of those in the line, a grown man with a light saber among them who have been waiting light years for this moment.

They point out the fine details of the futuristic world we are passing through in hushed, reverential tones.

Apparently, we are in the middle of the Black Spire Outpost which is on the Outer Rim planet of Batuu.

They could be speaking Yoda for all I know.

Rasta masta

And on and on we go, scaling the ramps. Whole battles don’t last this long.

Star Wars? This is more like Stair Wars.

And finally we are ushered through to a holding area, a hangar where a rasta dude intergalactic pirate.

Hondo Ohnaka, clues us in our mission with a reprise from Chewbacca, and informs us that the more we succeed the more rewards he gets. I bet!

The idea is that Chewy needs some supplies for the Resistance.

But Ohnaka has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity to get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him.

It’s hyperfuel from Han’s homeland, obviously. Thanks Brad from Texas for that.

But still the anticipation and the exhaustion (it’s now been an hour and a half) builds

As we have to trudge further before finally being given our briefs for the starship’s mission, Smugglers’ Run.

A little more about this 114ft hulk of flying saucer which has grown men and women clicking away – it was manned by Han Solo and Chewy and was the second fastest in the Star Wars pantheon at 1050kph and is a highly modified YT-1300. But then, you knew that yourself.

The action is set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker and played out on a video screen before us.

I’m gonna be a gunner

Myself and Hiro are gunners and Jill and Lesley are the pilots. I can’t remember the names of the two engineers at the back of the cockpit but one had to be Scotty. Or is that the other Star one?

And finally we are hurtling through space, dipping and swooping, dodging enemy battleships and giant asteroids.

Mine’s and Hiro’s job is simple, press square and round buttons to fire laser beams at the foe until the light goes out.

It is an interactive experience but I’d be surprised if my efforts are making a blind bit of difference. And this is what I spent five years at Space University for.

And then our ten minutes on the motion simulator are over.

I guess it’ll make more sense when I actually watch the movies – I was never going to admit that in the queue.

The lucky one

I know how privileged I am though and that there are millions who would gladly climb over me and queue a whole day to get to see Millennium Falcon and play Smugglers’ Run and The Rise of the Rise of the Resistance which will follow hard on its heels later this year.

And that it will be a huge success particularly when they space out the waiting times.

But it’s just that Star Wars I don’t it get.

I retreat instead to simpler pleasures and a star who never lets me down, the original, and still the best, The Donald.

I find him outside the Golden Horseshoe saloon with Jose and Panchito, the Three Caballeros, playing it for laughs.

And I’m sure he remembers me from Orlando a couple of years ago, he even wrote to me when I got back, and signed it too.

And when your friends ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

I want to be a cat too

In this part of Disneyland there are only smiles.

The jazz band are belting out Everybody Wants To Be A Cat. I am nibbling on my fried chicken, corn and rice. I’m truly at my happiest.

This is one place where a middle-aged, bandana-wearing hippy won’t be glowered at. Here, and on the Pirates of Caribbean water ride where I’m almost mistaken for Jack Sparrow.

The ride is gentle, more my style, but if you want seat-of-the-pants thrills, Disneyland has no shortage: Splash Mountain, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Indiana Jones, too many to mention.

But in your cart going through Jack’s world, you’ll get just gentle drops.

What really makes a ripple on the Pirates of Caribbean ride through caves and coves are the intricate fun sets which immerse you in Jack’s world.

Look out too for the old rogue popping up on the islands semi-hidden from view. Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though. I want to join him.

Harking back to the Star Wars section of Disneyland, that really is the best thing about it.

Disneyland, which has rightly prided itself on its family-friendly image and kept alcohol outside its doors for 60 years for the general public is now allowing you to have a snifter in Oga’s Cantina.

I could have used my time more profitably.

This being a corporate launch, I took a rum punch earlier from the tray of a passing waitress to settle my nerves for the simulator and have been going back to stock up long after I got off the ride.

There is no shortage of choice of diners to line your stomach for those hairy rides if you don’t want a rumbly tummy, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Disney Castle

Duelling pianos meld in well with the classical surroundings of Olde World buildings and the open spaces amplify the sound.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than the Disney Castle. We sit down in benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s music extravaganza flash up on the castle.

Mickey introduces his pals, King Louie and Elsa from Frozen among them, and they take over.

You can’t take your eyes off this light show or your hands from clapping along.

It is a kaleidoscope of colour and crescendo of sound, a Mickey Mix of Magic.

All the standards are there but for a younger audience it has been sassed up with modern toons getting us all up on our feet.


Of course, it’s all about Da Mouse in Da House though and he brings the party to a spectacular climax.

The fireworks pop off into the night sky and all eyes shoot upwards while in a galaxy far, far away – or across the park at least – the lights have long gone out.


How to get there: Dublin-Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with pre-clearance.

It operates a daily service from Dublin direct with fares starting from €259 each way when booked as a return trip. The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season. Visit

Where to stay: The Hilton Anaheim, a 15-minute walk from Disneyland Resort. King bed Disneyview for the sample dates of June 28-July 1 from $347 (€281). Visit

Where to go: Attraction Tickets has a range of offers and discounts which will save precious time and money.

The deal

Its two-day Disneyland California 1 Park Per Day Ticket is from €198 for an adult and €186 for a child including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is from €266 for an adult and €249 for a child. Visit

And for more duck-related fun… Why I love The Donald.

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