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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 centre-point, Millennium Falcon even further from my standpoint.

Which is at the back of a snaking queue in the bowels of the new 14-acre €1bn Star Wars section of Disneyland in Anaheim, California on the very weekend it opens.

Stars align

It has taken me half an hour to get even 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.

Something to chew on

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

Chewbacca does envelop 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.

Rasta Masta

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

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.

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

Screen time

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. Honda Ohnaka, clues us in on our mission.

With a reprise from Chewbacca.

Smugglers’ Run

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 Rasta Dude has borrowed the craft and is using the opportunity…

To get us to smuggle some coaxium from Corellia for him which is 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.

Who put those meteors there?

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 Ward pantheon at 105kph and is a highly modified YT-1300.

But then, you know that yourself.

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

Poetry in Motion

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.

Donald and the Mexicans

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

I know how privileged I am 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 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 get I don’t Stars Wars.

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

My pal 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 The Donald 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 ask… yes, he really does love Mexicans.

My Travel Buddies

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 hiply won’t be glowered at.

Here. And on the Pirates of the 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.

Fireworks

Disneyland has no shortages.

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.

I’m all right, Jack

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

Look out for the old rogue popping up on the islands, semi-hidden from view.

Keen eyes will see him in a vat of rum though and 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 gone 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 tumbly, and alternative entertainment if you want to take a weight off.

Duelling pianos meld in well with the Classical surroundings of Olde Worlde buildings and the open spaces simplify the sound.

The Castle

Nowhere is this better evidenced than the Disney Castle.

We sit down on the benches and grassy banks off Main Street to watch Mickey’s Music Extravaganza flash up on the Castle.

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

Light show

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 tunes 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.

Get your Mickey out

TRAVEL FACTS

How to get there: I flew Dublin to Los Angeles LAX with Aer Lingus with Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4-star airline. It operates a daily service from Dublin direct to LA.

With fares starting from €259 each way including taxes and charges when booked as a return trip.

The year-round service reduces to five times weekly during the winter season.

Where to stay: I stayed at 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).

Where to go: Attraction Tickets offers a range of offers and discounts and help with pre-booking which will save precious time and money.

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

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

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