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Disney’s Star Wars land at capacity before sunrise, thinner by daylight

We were there when Galaxy’s Edge opened to the public.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Like lasting peace in the galaxy, the exact opening time of Disney’s new Star Wars land on Thursday remained elusive. By 6 a.m., the official posted opening time of Hollywood Studios’ new $1 billion land, there were already swarms of eager guests inside.

Some people said they arrived at 4 a.m. Others had been in line since 2 a.m. Disney employees inside Galaxy’s Edge said they began letting guests into the land around 5.

Either way, by around 7 a.m., Galaxy’s Edge was closed due to capacity, with the rest of the would-be guests joining a virtual queue via Disney’s mobile app. There was a 300-minute line for the land’s only current ride, Smugglers Run. Lines for Blue Milk started at 40 minutes and went up from there.

Guests wait in line to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run on opening day of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Aug. [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]

The mystery felt intentional, in order to reduce a massive rush of crowds all at once. Lines snaked around the entire land, from the front to the back, past Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities and Oga’s Cantina, all the way to Toy Story Land, the park’s other recent addition. The end of one line was indiscernible from another, Smugglers Run queues melding with smaller snack outposts.

RELATED: We toured the new Star Wars land at Disney World

Some lines were shorter than anticipated. By 7 a.m., Oga’s Cantina, the mostly standing room only bar (yes, they were serving alcohol that early) and snack spot barely had a wait.

Gus and Jessica Vu found cheap, last-minute plane tickets and decided a couple weeks ago to fly from Ohio for the Galaxy’s Edge opening.

They took an Uber from their Disney hotel at 4 a.m., and by 6:20 a.m. they were riding Smugglers Run. They were surprised they could get into the park at 5 a.m., and said there were already plenty of guests inside. Guests at their resort said they saw Disney buses running around 3:30 a.m.

The Vus waited about an hour to ride Smugglers Run, they said.

“And the line was so awesome, we didn’t even care about waiting,” Jessica said. “It met every expectation.”

By 7:30 a.m., they were toasting Bespin Fizz cocktails at the bar at Oga’s Cantina.

The crowds at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge on Aug. 29, 2019 at Hollywood Studios in Orlando.

By the time the sun was fully out, crowds seemed noticeably thinner though still large.

At 9 a.m., we were able to ride Smugglers Run after just a 45-minute wait in the single rider line. Disney employees were stationed every couple feet to help direct the flow of the crowd. Large, portable water containers and little paper cups were scattered around for guests. For most of the morning though, the tall architecture of Galaxy’s Edge shaded the rising sun.

Crowds remained consistent but not crazy through the morning.

Around 12:30 p.m., we weaved through the land’s marketplace, past the still-short line for Oga’s Cantina and the Millennium Falcon replica, toward the exit. A new crowd was waiting to get in, phones in hand, their “boarding groups” called via the virtual queue on the Disney app.

Crowds on Aug. 29, opening day at Galaxy's Edge, Walt Disney World's new Star Wars land. [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]

Disney employees warned those leaving that they would need to join the line to get back in.

On the way out of Hollywood Studios, a handful of employees stood around the entrance to Star Tours, one of the park’s original rides. Several guests and employees described Smugglers Run as a cooler, better, more interactive simulator, like Hollywood Studio’s Star Tours, an attraction that opened in 2011 as a successor to the original simulator from the 1980s.

Parkgoers whizzed by that ride, which is set apart from the new land, on their way to Galaxy’s Edge. By noon, the line for Smugglers Run was 2 1/2 hours, half of what it was when the land first opened.

The Star Tours wait time: 20 minutes.

Guests wait in line to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run at the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Aug. 29, 2019. [MICHELLE STARK | Tampa Bay Times]