Fancy Gear for the Dedicated Fan
Savi's Workshop at Galaxy's Edge
I've been up front about the fact that Star WarsThe modern blockbuster: it's a concept so commonplace now we don't even think about the fact that before the end of the 1970s, this kind of movie -- huge spectacles, big action, massive budgets -- wasn't really made. That all changed, though, with Star Wars, a series of films that were big on spectacle (and even bigger on profits). A hero's journey set against a sci-fi backdrop, nothing like this series had ever really been done before, and then Hollywood was never the same. isn't my favorite series. The movies are okay in my book, but I have other obsessions that far outweigh the Galaxy Far, Far Away. However, even I can acknowledge that the lightsabers are pretty cool. While my tastes may run far more towards the Star TrekOriginally conceived as "Wagon Train in Space", Star Trek was released during the height of the Hollywood Western film and TV boom. While the concept CBS originally asked for had a western vibe, it was the smart, intellectual stories set in a future utopia of science and exploration that proved vital to the series' long impact on popular culture. side of the spectrum, I have been caught more than once lusting after the shiny laser swords. I have even, in the past, bought my wife some of the lower-level lightsaber kit although before now I've never ponied up the scratch for one of the really nice lightsabers. However, as were already planning to head to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, it seemed like the perfect time to hit up Savi's Workshop and have my wife build the saber of her dreams.
For those not in the know, Savi's Workshop is a retail location within Galaxy's Edge (the new Star Wars-themed attraction within Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, FL as well as a second location at Disneyland, too) where the lucky few can make hand-crafted lightsabers. I say the lucky few because, at least right now, you have to get a reservation to be allowed into Savi's and make your custom laser sword. It's a whole performance, along with the saber crafting, with only so many slots available each day, and those slots go quick. We planned our trip months in advance and by the time reservations were open to us there was already only a single slot left that we could nab. So get in quick and get lucky if you plan to hit of Savi's.
Also, be warned that you'll be shelling out at least $225 bucks for your fancy new saber, over $100 more than if you bought one of the normal ones from Best Buy or Think Geek. Of course, those sabers are customized to match one of the sabers in the movies, whether it be the sabers from Anakin or Luke, Obi-Wan or Darth Vader. Instead of just shelling out a normal $130 bucks or so (depending on where you get the toy) for one of those pedestrian sabers, you get to have your own kit customized to your tastes. Still, $225 bucks is a lot, especially when you consider that even Darth Maul's double-saber or Kylo Ren's broadsword-style sabers run $170 or less. We'll get into the build quality and whether I think the $225 is really worth it, but you're going to have to decide if that's money you want to shell out before you even get into the process. For many, I think the answer is probably, "no".
The process of actually building your saber (once you have a reservation, of course) actually begins once you get into the park. Savi's isn't marked, not that I could see, so you'll have to try and find it yourself. This makes sense as the whole point of Galaxy's Edge is to make you feel like you're really on this alien world inside a Star Wars film. The Republic is on the run, the First Order has taken over, and Jedi are fugitives. If you want to find Savi's so you can make a lightsaber, you'll likely have to talk to one of the cast members wandering around the park and ask about "making some scrap metal" (which is code for lightsabers). Of course, maybe don't ask one of the storm troopers. Or do, and man I wish I'd thought to do that when I was actually in the park. I wonder what they'd do if you tried.
Once you've found Savi's, and your reservation time is up, your first task it deciding what path you're going to take in this secret Jedi Order: Peace and Justice, Power and Control, Elemental Nature, or Protection and Defense. While there's story attached to each of these paths (which my wife, a big ol' Star Wars nerd if ever there was one, got way into), I didn't bother paying attention because, really, the four paths just dictate what kinds of pieces you get to play with. Protection and Defense, for example, featured beaten up piece of metal with inscriptions and runes (it's the path my wife took, if you're curious). Elemental Nature, meanwhile, featured bone and nature bits while Power and Control had connections to the Sith and was darker in theme. if you care about the story, and what it implies for the Jedi you'd want to be, then this probably matters. Were I to make a saber, though, I'd likely just go with what looked cool.
Path chosen, you then get to wait with all the other plebes outside for the workshop to actually open to you. This is, honestly, one of the things that really annoys me about the Disney properties: everything is hurry up to wait. We went to a restaurant at Disney Springs (what used to be Downtown Disney) and we had a reservation, but the reservation wasn't really a reservation: once we showed up at our designated time we were then told we have to wait 30 minutes or so until a table maybe opened. Really obnoxious because when I'm told to be somewhere at a designated time, like a normal restaurant, for example, I expect that the time means my event is actually going to happen then. Savi's was the same way: our 9:30 reservation was just so we could check in and then sit outside for another half an hour to wait for the workshop to really open.
Although I found the waiting annoying, at least once we got in the whole process was smooth as silk. Standing in the workshop, each person is put at one of the designated spots. Each Jedi in potentia was then guided through the story of the Jedi, who they were, what their power and their lightsabers meant. This included a discussion on the various colors, and even a speech from Yoda's Force Ghost (voice only, no holograms, sadly). It was a pretty neat presentation even if it was obviously a canned speech that "Savi" (the actor playing them for our session, anyway) said every time. It certainly helped to set the mood and, for those looking to get into the spirit of Star Wars, it was a nice touch to really help everyone get into the spirit of the Jedi (or Sith, for those making red sabers).
That said, the actual build process was pretty basic and rather limited. Each of the paths essentially had 16 or so pieces to choose from. The sabers themselves or a basic grey tube that holds are the hardware as well as your chosen kyber crystal (the colored crystal that tells the saber what color to display -- I await people hacking these to do all kinds of cool colors, and patterns, and Spaceballs plaid). You pick one of two bodies to wrap around the main part of the saber, and then two of four rings for the top and bottom, and then one of two bases for the hilt. While there are four paths to choose, and a few dozen combinations to make in each path, I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there with the same saber, no matter how "custom" it might really be.
And the saber options are pretty limited. Because everyone gets the same base saber, with the same construction points and the same relative girth to the body, everyone was going to end up with sabers that were all in the same style. By that I mean there was no option to build a saber like the one Count Dooku would use, with the curved hilt. Or if you were looking for something with the thin, stealth design like the one favored by Emperor Palpatine, Savi didn't have that option for you. And while yellow and white crystals are part of continuity now (thanks, Clone Wars), those crystals weren't available to the Jedi in the room (although I do hear you can buy them separately to place in your saber after the fact). And if you want a double-saber of Ky lo-style broadsword, look elsewhere. It's a "one-size fits most" model.
Still, I did enjoy watching my wife (and the other proto-Jedi) going to town assembling their sabers. However limiting the options might have seemed to me, a plebe standing on the sidelines too cool to participate, the people doing the actual assembly really seemed to enjoy thinking about what parts to use and how they'd build their saber out. It was fun for them, and honestly it made the energy infectious for everyone else in the room. With all assembled, Savi then went around the room, inspecting some of the saber bodies (my wife's included), marveling at the look and feel of it. He seemed genuinely interested in each new saber being built, which probably wasn't authentic (since I'm sure this is his job, day in and day out, and he's had to do this hundreds of times already) but certainly seemed like he cared. Good acting on his part, certainly.
Sabers assembled and inspected, the next step was the insert the saber into the activation tube (which, really, is just a fancy way of them attacking the glow stick to the toy body). The lights then dimmed, everyone got ready, and as a group they all activated their sabers. Sitting there, in the dark, as the sabers lit up and the music swelled... yeah, I got it then. There was some magic to that moment. Plus, seeing all the colors of the sabers, watching everyone pick up their blades and wave them around, that was an infectious moment of pure joy.
And I will credit Disney: despite basically seeing how the sausage is made by assembling one of the plastic-and-metal constructions, I will say that the sabers seem to be high-quality. Certainly the exterior shell is sturdy, made of dense metal that really makes it feel like you have a true saber in your hands. The build quality honestly felt better than even those really nice lightsabers you can check out at regular retailers (like the aforementioned stores I listed earlier), and while I don't have one to compare the Savi's saber to, from memory I think this saber is much better. Sturdier in its base construction.
That said, I wouldn't go around having lightsaber fights with other people with this bad boy. Just like the other, lesser ones you can buy elsewhere, these things are meant more as display pieces than practice sticks for dueling. A few of the Savi's patrons were out in the park afterwards, tinkering with their blade and battling each other, and the lightsabers were already starting to have weird flickering issues. They aren't meant for beating against too much, just for you to wave it around and maybe, occasionally, tapping it against something to get that fun, "sparky" sound. If you want to hit people, go buy some swords made out a rattan.
But Savi's Workshop isn't just about the end product. It's an hour-long show about the sabers, a bit of entertainment along with you being able to build the lightsaber of your dreams (Well, unless you're picky like me).
And, I guess, that does bring us back to the real question of this whole article: is the lightsaber really worth $225 bucks? If you view it only as the cost of the saber itself then even with the better build quality of the hilt (and taking points away for the potential fragility of the glow stick blade), I'd have to think it's not worth it. If you just want a lightsaber you can find the nice ones at normal retailers for half the price. Heck, they even make cheaper versions of the sabers that I've seen (and bought) at toy stores for 30 bucks. Sure, those are cruddy plastic versions but they light up and make the "whoosh" noises, so who cares?
So you then, once again, have to ask yourself if the price of the whole package -- a show along with the customized look and feel added to your actual saber -- is worth it to you, then yes, I could see $225 being a fair price. You're paying for an experience that also has some fancy kit included. Still, there are plenty of us that won't be served by the sabers on display at Savi's (I, for one, want a Dooku-style curved hilt with a yellow crystal) and for us, that price is probably too hight for a saber we'll like but not love. And the end of the day, what you're looking for from your saber is going to tell you if the price is too much or just right.