The pull of “the force” has loyal Star Wars fans flocking to Walt Disney World’s highly anticipated, $1 billion Galaxy’s Edge attraction –despite Hurricane Dorian's race towards the Sunshine State.
Though the gates of Disney’s Hollywood Studios were not scheduled to open until 6 a.m. on Thursday, officials surprised the “thousands” of fans gathered with early entry around 4:45 a.m., the Orlando Sentinel reports.
“I’m still on the high,” park-goer Adrian Vazquez of New Jersey told the outlet of the thrilling experience of visiting the Star Wars-themed land at last. “I haven’t slept in about 24 hours.”
Two Florida sweethearts even got engaged in front of the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride that day.
“I’ve never been too much of one to have an audience, but that was awesome,” Robert Trevelyan said of popping the question to his girlfriend Megan Bender before the signature ride. “The energy around is just amazing."
All storm-related concerns aside, Star Wars lovers waited for as many as five hours to hop on the Millennium Falcon ride, while people queued in long lines to buy $6 Coca-Cola sodas in thematic “thermal detonator” shaped bottles.
With both the Disney World and Disneyland branches of the buzzed-about attraction finally open to the public, one expert believes the entertainment giant will quickly turn a profit following the company’s purchase of Lucasfilm for a whopping $4 billion in 2012.
“It’s important to the company. It’s one of their most expensive IP [intellectual property] acquisitions,” Dennis Speigel, an industry theme park analyst, told the outlet. “It would be the Harry Potter of Disney.”
Months in the making, Galaxy’s Edge visitors can look forward to building their own lightsabers and droids at special shops, kitting themselves out at clothing stores like Black Spire Outfitters and dining at Oga’s Cantina and food stands on iconic fare like blue and green milk from the beloved film franchise, Fox 13 reports.
Despite all the fanfare, locals who live near the Happiest Place on Earth were stocking up on water, gas and the essentials as the Category 2 storm moves towards the Sunshine State, reported the Orlando Sentinel.
Dorian is expected to become a major hurricane Friday as forecasters are warning Florida residents that there is an “increasing likelihood” parts of the state will face “a prolonged period of hazardous weather conditions” early next week.
As of early Friday morning, the Category 2 storm – which has maximum sustained winds blowing at 110 mph – was centered about 255 miles east of the Bahamas, moving northwest at 12 mph. It was only about 1 mph away from reaching Category 3 status.
Meanwhile, officials for Disney World have yet to make a public statement regarding park hours or ticket policies in relation to the storm ahead of Labor Day weekend.
Reps for the theme park were not immediately available to offer a statement to Fox News on the matter.
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.