Family hacking door panel with Star Wars Datapad app

…and you don’t even have to wait in line to enjoy it.

Disney has made some impressive strides in the last years in incorporating “free exploration” experiences into their lands, particularly by using the Play Disney Parks app. The ultra-immersive atmosphere at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios) provided the perfect springboard to take this concept to new heights.

Star Wars Datapad is a game within the Play Disney Parks app that guests can use to enhance exploration within the Black Spire Outpost (the land’s in-world location on planet Batuu). While a phone game doesn’t sound very impressive compared to Disney’s other offerings, Star Wars Datapad is somewhat unique in that its features allow guests to actually interact with various elements in the land—like droids that come alive, ships that power up, and even giving cast members cues about what your experiences in the land have been like. Before Galaxy’s Edge opened, we theorized that the land sounded like a live action version of an MMORPG, like Star Wars Galaxies or Star Wars: The Old Republic. This ended up being true—a trip to Galaxy’s Edge is like stepping into a live action video game.

Star Wars Datapad enhances this experience by giving guests more opportunities to experience the land—even to participate in “side quests” and build a reputation with key factions in the outpost like the Resistance, the First Order, and Scoundrels who are just out to make money. Indeed, there’s so much connected to this little app, that you might say it’s like a hidden attraction unto itself.

Curious? Here’s our ultimate guide to everything you need to know about Star Wars: Datapad.

The Basics:  Hack, Scan, Tune, Translate

Star Wars Datapad in front of X-Wing

Image: Disney

Accessing Star Wars Datapad is easy: simply download the Play Disney Parks app. Once you’re signed in, click on the park you’re in (Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios), then locate the icon for Star Wars Datapad in the Galaxy’s Edge section. It doesn’t matter if you select “Star Wars Datapad” or “Flight Crew Wanted” for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run—both actions take you to the same place. You will need to make sure that Bluetooth is turned on to use most of the app’s functionality. You can honestly leave your Wi-Fi off, and it will work just fine.

Once you’ve clicked through the app’s short tutorial, you can start exploring its features. On a basic level, the app offers four important functions for interacting with elements in the park:


Hack interface screen

Screenshot: Jett Farrell-Vega

Hacking is probably the feature you will use the most. Technically, in the Star Wars universe, this is called “Slicing”, but as we’ve learned from the ever-changing menu names at Docking Bay 7, Disney parks visitors can only handle so much lingo.

Depending on where you are standing within the Black Spire Outpost, selecting the Hack tool may pull up a number of terminals, door panels, ships, droids, and vehicles nearby that can be hacked. To hack the chosen item, you’ll need to complete a quick puzzle—basically complete a digital wiring grid by connecting colored “wires” between squares without crossing lines. These start out pretty easy but get harder the more experienced you become. When you reach the higher levels like “Expert Slicer” or “Master Slicer”, you’ll have to work quick as some of your lines will self-destruct if you don’t complete the hack fast enough. On rare occasion, the puzzle may have other elements included.

Within the app, successful hacks have all sorts of effects. They can reveal hidden schematics and earn you items within the game, or they can provide opportunities to install shifty-technology for your chosen faction. For the Resistance or First Order, this can mean installing defenses or surveillance, depending on where you are. If you fancy yourself something of a scoundrel, it can mean installing a credit skimmer if you earned one for completing a less-than-legal job (like a true skimmer, you can come back later and see how many in-game credits you nabbed through your lack of scruples).

Outside of the game, hacks have tangible effects on many objects within Galaxy’s Edge. Droids may power up and make sounds. Vehicles may start or ships power up. You can even hack a water fountain in the marketplace courtyard which can trigger a dianoga eye to appear. In short, hack everything you can find, outdoors and indoors.


Mom and kids scanning crates with Datapad app

Image: Disney

The second most common feature you’ll probably use is Scan. This allows you to scan certain crates throughout the land (via a cleverly disguised QR code) to see what contents are hidden inside. Often, these are oddities like Loth Cat Chow or macrobinoculars, but some crates hide special contents. These can either be items valuable to the factions on Batuu, or they might be something you’re required to find for a job (more on those later). In these cases, you’ll have to break through extra security measures by solving a puzzle like arranging pieces on a tangram shape puzzle or picking a digital lock. Your profile tab keeps track of all the items you’ve found through scans in the outpost so far.

A minor note to consider with scanning: be courteous of your fellow guests. Some crates can be a challenge to get to when guests block them. We’ve ran into a few occasions where crate piles became the go-to photo spot for queues of wandering visitors. In these cases, either move on and come back later, or just wait in the line like everyone else and ignore their baffled stares when you start quickly scanning crates.


Stormtrooper looking down over outpost

Image: Jett Farrell-Vega

Tune is quite another fun little feature, though you may not have quite as many opportunities to use it as Hack or Scan. It allows you to Tune into transmissions and communications sent from antennas throughout the Black Spire Outpost. Most of these are physical antennas throughout the land, but some are more difficult to spot than others. In short, always keep your eyes open if something looks like a transmission device.

Like the other features, tuning frequencies involves some quick puzzle-solving. First, you’ll have to use a scanner to locate where the frequency is at by physically turning until you’re pointing the right direction (the app gets confused sometimes, so this isn’t always pointed right at the antenna). Then, you’ll need to tilt your phone—er, Datapad—up and down until you locate the frequency. Depending on if you tuned into something extra juicy, you may have to crack extra puzzles, like lining up frequency pieces to form continuous lines or selecting icons at appropriate times during a scan. Some of the transmission transcripts are quite entertaining, and you can uncover full conversations over time that are stored in your profile.


Translate interface in Datapad app

Screenshot: Jett Farrell-Vega

If you’re a code-breaker or language buff, you’ll probably like Datapad’s translate feature, which allows you to translate Aurebesh writing (aka Star Wars alphabet) automatically or by manually entering characters. Opportunities abound for both throughout Galaxy’s Edge, and you can even use the manual translator at home.

Most of the opportunities to translate things will require manual entry. This can be a little slow, but you get the hang of it as you go, and the app even has the option to change fonts to match different styles of Aurebesh. The automatic feature works in a few different places throughout the land, and on rare occasion, it can even be used to translate alien dialogue in locations like Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities or Oga’s Cantina.


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