Around 1996, I remember riding Star Tours at Disney’s MGM Studios. During our routine perusing of Tatooine Traders, my parents did something very special. They bought me a toy version of Luke Skywalker’s green lightsaber from Return of the Jedi. Even though it was basically a themed flashlight with a plastic cone on top, this became my most treasured possession. This was a piece of the Star Wars saga that I could call my own.
“They’re charging what for a lightsaber?” That was my initial reaction when I read that the Savi’s Workshop custom lightsaber building experience at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and Walt Disney World would cost $199.99 plus tax. No annual passholder discount could be applied. Disney had been indicating that this would be a premium experience and premium product, but this price point came in way over what I had naively been anticipating. Despite the fact that I am a huge Star Wars fan and that building a lightsaber would fulfill a dream I’ve had since I’ve been a child, I decided that it was a little too rich for my blood and that I wouldn’t be purchasing a lightsaber.
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Seven days later, the first thing I did upon entering Galaxy’s Edge opening weekend at Disneyland was head to Savi’s Workshop and put down 215 of my hard earned credits. The following is my in-depth review of the entire experience. If you are just wondering “Is it worth it?” while wanting to remain as unspoiled as possible, read on to the next paragraph.
Spoiler Free Review
For those of you who want to avoid spoilers, I’ll give you a brief spoiler-free synopsis of my verdict. If you are a Star Wars fan who can afford to spend over $200 on a souvenir: Yes, it is worth it. The lightsaber is very premium quality, and the show itself is complete wish fulfillment for anyone who has dreamt of wielding their own saber. The entire experience will go down as one of my favorite Star Wars moments ever. If that sounds worth $200 to you, then do not miss your chance to build a lightsaber at Savi’s. If you are a casual fan or have no clue what a kyber crystal is, you can definitely skip Savi’s. While the show is very neat, there’s plenty else to see and do around Batuu to fill an entire day.
SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT
The lightsaber experience starts as soon as you approach Savi’s junkyard. A group of cast members, roleplaying as Savi’s employees, ask aloud if guests would be interested in purchasing some “scrap metal.” The entire establishment has a speakeasy feel, as the First Order would not be happy with someone just selling lightsabers all willy nilly. “Is this the place to build lightsabers?” another guest asked. “Lightsabers? NO! Just scrap metal!” one of the workers loudly replied before responding in hushed tones “The line starts over there.”
Once in line, there are plenty of small details in to look at outside the workshop. I took out the Play Disney Parks app and scanned a few crates, revealing that they contained different kyber crystals. One of Savi’s workers went down the line explaining the different styles of lightsabers they sold.
Peace and Justice: The classic Jedi style, similar to Luke or Rey’s lightsaber.
Power and Control: The Sith style, similar to Darth Vader’s lightsaber.
Protection and Defense: This was described as the Old Republic style. These are ancient and ornamental.
Elemental Nature: The most unique looking of the four. They evoke all things natural, and include materials such as Brylark wood or Rancor teeth.
My childhood days wielding the Luke lightsaber toy made this decision simple for me: Peace and Justice. The employee gave me a card that resembled a coaster and told me to give that to the cashier. Yes, you have to purchase the lightsaber before you can do the experience. Fortunately, allies of the Force do accept American Express.
The cashier took my coaster and credit card and gave me a nice pin with the Peace and Justice symbol on it in return. Each of the four lightsaber styles have a unique pin. You wear this pin during the building ceremony so the workers know which tray of lightsaber parts to give you. This pin is included in the price of the experience and is yours to keep. The cashier also gave me an orange card (indicating my building group) and told me to return at 6 pm. Since I was building a lightsaber, I was allowed to bring in one guest. This is standard policy for Savi’s. One guest per builder.
Bethany and I returned at 6 to find Savi’s workers turning guests away, as they had sold out of reservations for the day. I flashed my card and was let into the courtyard. We waited here for about 30 minutes. Considering we had a reservation and our time at Galaxy’s Edge was so limited, this was a bit disappointing. However, the cast members made the experience great. They talked to us about the marriage customs on Batuu (Bethany and I were wearing anniversary buttons), gave a hard time to another guest wearing an Imperial shirt, and played around with a Porg that somebody bought. At one point, the cast members went into a commotion as Kylo Ren approached to inspect the shop. “Nothing to see here!” the cashier said loudly. These interactions helped the wait go by.
During this wait, I decided to play around more with the Play Disney Parks app. Using the translator function, I figured out that my orange card reservation card read “Savi’s Workshop. Group B” in Aurabesh. Not the secret code I was expecting, but very cool.
Finally, a hooded employee came out of the workshop, and my group was let in. At first, you step into a tiny but very tall room full of artifacts and scraps on the wall. There were a couple of Scout Trooper helmets. Since Savi’s is probably a one time experience, I wish I had more time in this room to look at all the details. But we very quickly were lead into the main room, which features an oval of workstations. We were told to pick a station and stand at it. I tried to pick the station that would provide the best experience, and I was lucky to be right. I got one of the middle stations on the left hand side. This gives you a straight ahead view of the worker giving the presentation. However, the room only has 14 workstations, so pretty much every spot gives you a great view, so I wouldn’t worry if you don’t get one of the center spots.
The hooded employee stepped into the center of the room. He removed his hood, introducing himself and the other employees as “The Gatherers.” He explained how they travel across the Galaxy to scavenge relics of the past. He recalled the legend of Luke Skywalker, telling us that there’s a new Jedi known as Rey who will lead us during these troubled times. This really sold the feeling that we were there as members of the Resistance, dodging the law of the First Order.
The lead Gatherer told us that we were there to build lightsabers. A mysterious weapon that reflects the personality of the builder and allows them to connect to the force. He then took out a kyber crystal, which is the heart of the lightsaber. John Williams’ iconic score accompanies his speech, which gives everything an epic feeling.
The Gatherer explained the four different colors of kyber crystal and gave examples of the Jedi and Sith who have used them in both the movies and the TV shows. Blue like Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, and Rey. Green like Luke Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jin. Purple like Mace Windu. And Red like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Kylo Ren. As he displayed each different crystal, the lighting in the room shifted to the same color. The lighting plus the sound effects just kept on building the anticipation. The lead Gatherer asked us to close our eyes and see whatever color crystal resonated inside our hearts.
The other Gatherers went around the room with canisters full of glowing kyber crystals. We were told to open our eyes and choose our crystal. “Do you see your color?” Once again, my heart went back to being a little boy swinging around Luke’s green saber. Even though my favorite colors are typically blue or red, there was no way I wasn’t grabbing green out of that canister.
I placed my crystal on my workstation, and then was presented with a tray of parts that fit the Peace and Justice theme. I picked one of the pieces up, and I was a little stunned. It felt heavy, metallic, and cool. From the pictures I had seen online, I was expecting something more plasticky, like a nicer version of what they offer at the toy lightsaber building station at Star Traders or Tatooine Traders. But these parts have an extremely premium feel. I almost started shaking with excitement.
From right to left, the tray contains
- 1 lightsaber chassis. This houses your crystal and is what you place all of the other pieces on.
- Columns 1 & 2: Four grips. These go on the top and bottom of your saber. You pick any two of the sleeves from either of the columns (i.e. you don’t have to stick to just one from each column).
- Column 3: Two emitters. This goes on the top of the lightsaber. You choose one.
- Column 4: Two pommels. This goes on the very bottom. You choose one.
- Column 5: Two activation plates. This turns your saber on and off. You choose one.
We were given instructions to start by placing the crystal in the chassis. This was a little tricky, as there’s a spring-loaded pad you need to snuggly fit the crystal into. Once that’s in place, your crystal will light up. I then placed the activation plate around the crystal, before moving onto the grips, then the emitter and the pommel. These last pieces all screw into place.
As for the decision making process, I used some trial and error here, putting different parts next to each other to see how I felt about them. While the amount of choices could seem a little limiting at first blush, I’m really glad that they didn’t include any more options. It would have made choosing that much harder. Also, the lightsabers that I’ve seen other guests carrying around all look different. These choices just come down to preference, but it felt so cool to make a saber that spoke to me personally.
Once you are done, you place your completed lightsaber hilt on a stand on your station. One of the Gatherers will come up and inspect it. There were a couple of minutes that I could look around and see the different styles that everyone chose. So far, this whole experience has been really cool and I would have said that it was worth it just for the building process alone. But the best was still ahead.
“Now comes the most dangerous part.” It was time to activate our lightsabers. The lead Gatherer pointed to some explosion marks high on the ceilings, letting us know that they had constructed some activation chambers due to previous accidents. The Gatherers went around and inserted our saber hilts into these white tubes that were built in next to our workstations.
As soon as all the sabers were insert, the lights dimmed and John Williams’ Force Theme played. That’s when we all heard the voice of Yoda, telling us “Chosen for yourself you have. Now joined you will be. It is time.”
I still get goosebumps thinking about this moment. We were told to put our hands on our lightsabers and, as one, activate. As soon as we did, each of the chambers lit up, green, red, blue, and purple. The room was aglow with color. I had assumed we would pull the sabers out, like unsheathing a sword, but instead the chamber door rotated open, revealing the glowing lightsaber. Everyone let out a gasp of joy.
Now my goosebumps had goosebumps. It was impossible not to think back to being a kid, playing with a lightsaber and dreaming of the adventures I would have if I was a Jedi. I started tearing up as I lifted my saber up with everyone else. I know that it’s just for a very expensive toy. But looking around, it felt like we were Jedi Knights of the Round Table, even for a brief instant.
They let the instant linger before we were instructed to deactivate our lightsabers. We were then given sheaths – large padded carrying cases that you can sling around your back.
With that our 20 minute experience was over. I walked outside, giddy and a bit dazed. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
An unanticipated perk of having a lightsaber was that it lead to some amazing Photopass pictures. My pictures inside the Resistance Forest and in front of the Falcon are some of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken at Disney World or Disneyland.
I came into the day a complete skeptic on whether this would justify the big price tag. The quality of the lightsaber is comparable to the ForceFX or legacy lightsabers sold within the land, which carry a similar price tag. For $200, you get the hilt, the LED blade, the kyber crystal, the carrying case, and the pin. But you also get the experience: to briefly feel connected to that kid inside of you who believed the Force was real. For me, that alone was worth it.