SWGE at DHS ..... The countdown is on.

Edited: July 30, 2019, 1:03 PM

With SWGE opening in less than a month, I thought I’d try and give you an idea of what’s going on from a local pass holder’s perspective ……

Today (July 30th) was the start of my 30 day window, so I opened up MDE to find plenty of TofT FP+’s, which was great. As mentioned before, the TofT has been operating with only 1 side since June, and Disney has reduced the FP+ allocation to such an extent that Slinky became easier to get. Of course, there was no sign of a Slinky FP+ now, but I was happy to take a TofT at 6:25pm. Fast passes were available from 6am thru 10pm, but the extra-extra magic hours were for on-site guests only, so if I was going to brave the 1st day crowds, the evening of the 29th would be the time to go.

The change in tiers was bittersweet, as TofT was now easily bookable, but my evenings of doing Slinky, TofT and Aerosmith were gone until, I assume, MFSR becomes FP+ available and the tiers get changed again.

A while back I contemplated the idea at staying at the Swan and Dolphin overnight on the 28th, but in the end I decided I’d rather spend my $400+ on a 3 night stay in Atlanta during September. Even with the 6am start it was difficult for me to justify that sort of money for 1 night.

I’d visited a very quiet DHS on Sunday to get my Aerosmith 20th anniversary pin, and it was interesting to see the front entrance almost complete. The new tram turnaround/drop-off area is also almost finished. There’s a huge open plaza now, with dozens of bag check areas. The new side has been open a few weeks, and the refurbished ‘old’ side was being painted when I was there. Still some ground work to do, but you know it’s going to be open before the 29th. Speaking to security and CM’s they have all been “in-training” for the big day, and it was interesting talking to security at the MK to learn they’d all been offered overtime to go over to DHS and help out …. :)

The Disney parks are deserted at the moment. I went to MK on Monday night to pick up a sleeping Dumbo for my grandson and the parking lot was no more than a ¼ full. EPCOT is offering us pass holders some extra ‘perks’ thru to the end of August, but according to WDWNT they’re nothing special. I’m going on Saturday, so I’ll see what they are for myself. I’m on a mission to get a high score on Test Track and get my name on the leader board for the day .. :) Of course, Fish ‘n chips and a look at the Skyliner station progress is also on my list of must-dos.

Work colleagues who have CM friends/spouses are all booked in for the previews, and our resident platinum pass holder is also ready to go, so once I start to get some feedback I’ll pass their thoughts along ……

Replies (7)

August 12, 2019, 1:46 PM

Just under 3 weeks and counting to the opening of SWGE at DHS, and the new entrance with its multitude of bag checks lines, and huge open plaza either side of the area is now up and running. Pity they still only have 1 “guests with no bags” line but then again there’s not many of us that go in bagless. 3 exits make it appear to be good for escaping, but we’ll see how that works out when the masses arrive later this month. It looks really good, that’s for sure. CM’s have their new uniforms to match the bright and colorful paintwork …… or does the paintwork match the CM’s bright and colorful uniforms ??

This weekend was the CM + spouse/friend previews at work (weird how they all ended up going on the same few days !?!?) but as you can imagine I took a fair amount of ribbing beforehand. All good fun though. I even received some photos of them wandering round what looked like a deserted SWGE. I think the one that hit home the hardest was a photo of the wait time for Smuggler’s Run …. it was 5 minutes !! and came with the comment ……. “Something you’ll never see .. LOL” Smart Ass friends … :)

Anyway, here’s a few of their thoughts and comments …

All 3 work colleagues had a great time, and agreed that due to the CM previews being relatively quiet, the land was easily doable in 2 hours, or less. The attention to detail was the thing that impressed them the most, and certainly the photos I’ve seen confirm that. I’m certainly looking forward to my first visit, and being able to wander around to see what it’s all about. The average wait time for MFSR was 20-30mins but all of them only rode it the once. The overall feeling was it being a good, but not great ride/experience. 2 of them were engineers and both said the view was OK but would have been much better if the consoles were facing the front or even angled at 45°. The other CM and spouse were gunners, and both admitted to being totally guided by the lighted buttons for the ‘flight”. How successful your mission was, seems to be related to the amount of money Hondo pays the ‘crew’ at the end of the flight ?? With audio and visual signals telling the crew when and what to do, hopefully the mixed cultural flights at DHS won’t be too much of a disaster.

None of them did the light saber or droid workshops, and it seems not many of the CM’s were that bothered either as they didn’t recollect seeing anyone walking around with a light saber hanging over their shoulder. All in all, a good time was had by all, that’s for sure. The actual park itself was very busy though, so the opportunity to try any of the other rides was none to zero as they didn’t have any FP+’s. Slinky was steady at almost 2 hours, and TofT around 90mins. Busy times at DHS.

CM previews finish on the 16th, and the Platinum passholders get their chance from the 17th. I have my FP+ for TofT on the 29th, so I’ll drive over after work. If I can get the car into the parking lot, then I’ll go in, but if it’s full, I’ll head home and try again the week after Labor Day. Rumours abound the Skyliner will be running soft openings later this month, but I’ll believe that when I see it. More likely sometime after Labor Day would be my guess.

Edited: August 12, 2019, 2:21 PM

We just got back from a 2-week excursion to SoCal, and I have some impressions regarding Galaxy's Edge...

1. The detail of the land is INSANE, and since DHS's is pretty much a carbon copy (save for the 3rd entrance/exit in DL), I expect WDW's to be equally awe-inspiring. As a huge Star Wars fan, it was nirvana for me. I'll go into more detail when I write about our experiences, but it easily tops PtWoA even with just the one ride running.
2. I found MFSR very repeatable. I'll admit that the first time we rode, I was too busy picking my jaw up off the floor just walking through the queue and into the cockpit, but it's a fun ride, definitely made easier if you make quick friends with those in the cockpit with you. I never got into the pilot's seat, so I cannot compare the views from up front versus the back of the bus, but I think Disney really missed an opportunity by having a small video screen at each of the 4 "rear" positions that doesn't duplicate at least part of the image that the pilots see. I found myself looking back and forth trying to use my peripheral vision to see which buttons were flashing, but I would have concentrated more on my console if I could have seen the forward view from the video screen at my station.
3. Savi's was an otherworldly experience for me. Again, I'm a huge SW fan, and even when one of the Gatherers accidentally dropped a Kyber Crystal on the ground when explaining their power, it did not lessen the overall awe-inspiring experience. My guess is that most CMs are waiting to see if Disney might start allowing discounts before plunking $200 down on a Lightsaber. Also, I'm wondering if WDW might offer shipping to the front of the park or to resort hotels (something DL is not doing) to eliminate the burden of lugging the awkward devices around the park. We did our build at 5 PM, and wish I didn't have to lug the thing through the park for just 5 hours (can only imagine what it's like to tote one around all day if you have an early morning build). FWIW, I didn't notice many Lightsabers during the day, but they multiply like rabbits at night, particularly at all of the Photopass locations.

I am still skeptical about the Sweatliner opening date, and also wouldn't be surprised if it starts taking early runs at the end of the month. I think it's a case of under-promising and over-delivering, but it also might be Disney truly concerned about the heat and not wanting to run it on 90+ degree days right off the bat. Doing so might create lots of unhappy people that will never ride it again even in cooler temps just because of a bad first experience. It might ultimately come down to the weather forecast as to when it starts carrying its first official passengers. If it's under 90 on August 29th, and the DHS parking lot is overflowing at 7 AM, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Disney puts the Sweatliner into action.

August 13, 2019, 9:29 AM

I can't wait to read your full review, Russell! My November visit is (very slowly) approaching!

August 14, 2019, 7:45 AM

Considering Star Wars Land opens in (what is basically) September and the big ride opens in December, based off what we've seen at DLR I think there's a good chance WDW won't be busy the first few months its open. Starting in December WDW will probably be packed and will stay that way for a few years.

Edited: August 14, 2019, 8:36 AM

@the_man - I think WDW will be crowded from day 1. Don't forget that Disney offered a number of discounts and promotions for guests to visit during the September-November period even BEFORE they announced the opening date for Galaxy's Edge. It was long believed that the new land was going to open in November when they offered these discounts, but they instead bumped up the timeline. In fact, a number of guests that had little interest in Galaxy's Edge deliberately booked trips this fall to try to get ahead of the anticipated rush for the new land with discounted rooms and DDP promotions sweetening the draw to WDW. Instead, those that wanted to avoid the Star Wars fans will be right smack in the middle of the initial rush for the new land. Throw in the annual Halloween events and EPCOT F&W festival, and WDW could have a perfect storm to see parks as crowded as they are during peak seasons like the Holidays, Spring Break, and July 4th.

I think it will be hard to tell whether there will be a direct impact of RotR, because it's opening at time where WDW starts seeing a slow ramp-up of guests towards the busiest week of the year, though I have no doubt it will have a lasting impact on attendance at DHS for many years to come.

Edited: August 14, 2019, 9:25 AM

I expect the extra-extra magic hours to have an impact on thru the day park attendance at DHS. Hotel guests will see those 3 hours as an opportunity to beat the crowds, but if they all do it, then SWGE could be at it's busiest during the 6-9am time frame.

I'm still hoping for slightly reduced crowds during the evenings. I'll found out on the 29th.

And as Russell mentioned, ROTR opens just before the madness and mayhem that is WDW at Christmas, so it's going to be extra-extra crazy for sure :)

Edited: August 16, 2019, 3:31 PM

I had the opportunity to visit SWGE at WDW yesterday with a cast member. The one impression that really stuck out is that Batuu is expensive, about 20%-30% more expensive than other parts of WDW. We did SWGE in the morning/early afternoon and DAK in the afternoon/evening and the price differences were noticeable. A $13 beer in Batuu was $10 at DAK, $16-$19 food items counter service in Batuu were $12-$16 at DAK. My advice when visiting Batuu is watch your wallet closely as it can get out of control really fast. And when you visit Oga’s Cantina, do not feel obligated to have two drinks each. For two people, four drinks (no food) can easily exceed $80.
As for SWGE itself, the land felt incomplete, obviously, with only one attraction. My second bit of advice is to be patient and wait for Rise of the Resistance to open before visiting Batuu.

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