By the end of the month, history will be made at Walt Disney World when Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens. The casual theme park go-er may be neutral or indifferent to the new land. Galaxy’s Edge will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29. However, there are many who are waiting intently and watching to see how the new land will be received and what the Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge crowds will be like.
Disney gambled big with the $1 billion expansion which targets an already diluted and subsequently fractured fandom. An overproduction of Star Wars films and counterintuitive theme for the new Star Wars Land has caused Disney and Star Wars fans alike to wonder if the expansion will sink or swim. It seemed as though overwhelming success was inevitable until the lackluster opening of the same land in Disneyland last May.
Many reasons for the lack of interest in Disneyland’s nearly identical Star Wars expansion began circulating almost immediately. After reports that the park was a ghost town throughout June and July, the downturn in attendance couldn’t be ignored. The Disneyland opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was relatively unsuccessful. Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened to a 10 hour wait time. Even Disney’s Pandora the World of Avatar brought in attendance-shattering crowds and wait times of over five hours. Most people compare Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge with Universal’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, where Universal puts fans in a recognizable world straight out of their favorite movies, Disney decided to go in the opposite direction.
The circumstances regarding the Star Wars Land opening at Walt Disney World will be slightly different than those at Disneyland. Here are some of the reasons for the low attendance at Disneyland and whether or not they might affect crowds in Disney World this fall.
- Annual Passholders Blocked.This will not be a factor. Walt Disney World Annual Passholders will be allowed a scheduled preview of the land on August 17-21.
- Only a partial opening with one out of two attractions operational. The same will be true at Walt Disney World. The land’s biggest attraction, Rise of the Resistance, will not open until phase 2 on December 5 (January 17 in Disneyland).
- Potential guests stayed home, afraid of extreme crowd levels.This is possible, except that the low attendance lasted well beyond the first few weeks at the height of summer.
- Unfamiliar setting based on the sequel trilogy.The land is the same at Walt Disney World as it is in Disneyland. There are few references to the original or prequel trilogies. The planet of Batuu is as yet unseen in any Star Wars film.
While the situation at Disneyland has been interesting, predictions for a huge opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios remain positive. There is enough difference between the parks that the consensus is that Walt Disney World won’t suffer the same fate. For starters, they are less reliant on pass holders for attendance. Also, they are not blocking them from experiencing the expansion early on. However, The fall opening takes place where attendance traditionally declines. If the peak season opening at Disneyland was unsuccessful, it seems unlikely that there will be a significant spike in attendance when summer is over and the kids are back in school.
Despite predictions of massive crowds from sites like Mickey Views, There is sufficient reason to expect relatively mild attendance leading up to the December 5 opening of Rise of the Resistance. The timing of the opening in conjunction with other known factors such as the lack of attractions, the high cost of the merchandise, and the unfamiliar setting will be enough to keep crowds from swarming the park in its opening weeks. Another indication that crowds will be light following the opening of the new Star Wars Land is the continued promotions such as additional Disney Dining promotions. These deals are presented to book hotel rooms which only happens when the hotels are not getting filled. hotel bookings are a solid indication of what crowds will be like when Galaxy’s Edge opens.