So, I get to visit some pretty cool worlds in my line of work, but usually just from the comfort (and isolation) of my own home. But it’s been an awesome year of meeting so many of you at conventions all over the country, hearing about your favorite recipes and watching your excitement as your eyes light on a new cookbook. Not to mention all the great photos shared online of successful dishes- nothing brings satisfaction and happiness to an author like knowing their work is being enjoyed out in the wilds of the world.
But this year, to cap things off in truly epic style, I was invited down to Walt Disney World to do a signing of the new Galaxy’s Edge cookbook, and as luck would have it, the visit coincided with the opening of the new Rise of the Resistance attraction. I was excited for the trip just on account of that, but little did I know what an amazing time I was embarking on. Now, keep in mind that I hadn’t been to WDW since I was maybe five years old. I admit to being under the impression that it was primarily for kids and families. Never have I been so delighted to be wrong.
I was treated like an intergalactic princess, with a guide to show me around the parks (hi Homer!). It was an absolute whirlwind three day adventure of combined work and play. Coming from the frozen north, I took full advantage of the hotel pool on my first night, complete with waterslide, giant hottub, and poolside snacks. The following day started at 7am in Batuu with an interview segment, a cooking demo in one of the ridonkulously elaborate new Riviera villa kitchens, signing a stack of hundreds of cookbooks for media, and a presentation to the folks over in the Food Lab.
I fell in love with Pandora, especially at night (I’d love to crack the secret of making some of those bioluminescent plants for my own house), and the Rite of Passage ride was exceptional. Visiting again to do that is a must, but every one of the parks had a huge amount to recommend it. I watched the Imagineering story after I got home, which served to deepen my already massive respect for the Imagineering teams that bring the parks to life. I mean REALLY. From the line of sight in each section of each park that fully immerses you in wherever you happen to be, to the enticing layout of paths that lure you further into the unknown, down the the incredible sense of Place created with expert terrain building and weathering. Seriously, it’s so cool. I’m pretty sure that an Imagineer is another dream job I didn’t know existed when I was young.
Finally, back in Batuu, I finally got to pilot the Millennium Falcon alongside fellow authors George Mann and Ethan Sacks (naturally, we did quite well). I got some cunning holiday shopping in, and won Christmas morning when my husband unwrapped his own copy of Luke’s lightsaber, a dream of his since childhood. The markets in Galaxy’s Edge are reminiscent of an old world Bazaar, with really cool wares and goodies for sale throughout. We ogled various props, took some photos with characters, and generally reveled in just being there. We also ducked out of the park to do the Void VR Star Wars experience, which was an absolute delight, and you should seek out if there’s one anywhere near you.
The evening revved up with immersive storytelling in Batuu, complete with lightsaber and blaster fights from some talented actors, sample sized foods and drinks from Tugg’s Grub, and even a couple of x-wing drones rising up over the cliffs surrounding Galaxy’s Edge. Finally, at long last, the gates opened up to the Rise of the Resistance.
I fully expected the Rise of the Resistance to be impressive from everything I’d read, but I didn’t know it would leave me utterly gobsmacked and speechless. I didn’t even really take any photos from inside the ride, because the impact of experiencing it all for the first time in person can’t be beat. There were tears, incredulous laughter, and a whole lot of excited screaming. I won’t tell you any more than that, but however the queuing evolves for that ride, know that it’s absolutely worth it. I didn’t know I could still experience that level of disbelieving immersion as an adult, and it was fabulous.
Disney, if you’re listening, I had the time of my life. I’d love to write another cookbook for you. I longed for those macarons wandering around in Epcot France (Ratatouille, anyone?), devoured a caramel apple in Germany, and wolfed down other food and drink all through the parks. For, uh, research, of course… ;)