When will be the best time to first visit Disney's Star Wars land?

September 29, 2018, 1:13 PM · When will you visit Disney's new Star Wars land?

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens next summer at the Disneyland Resort in California, followed by a debut at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida later that fall. Fans surely will crowd the lands at their openings, but will you be among them?

When do you like to visit new theme park attractions? Are you one of those who hangs around construction sites, waiting to pounce on the first soft opening? Do you book your trips for the official opening day, to be part of theme park history? Or do you wait until later to visit? If so, how much later? Later in the week, the month, or the year? Or do you stay away from openings and wait for crowds to calm down and operations to hit their stride before committing to visit?

There's a risk to waiting, though. Sometimes the way that a park speeds operation for a new attraction is to cut features. Hard truth — if all of the "interactive" features that Disney has promised for Galaxy's Edge survive the first season of operation, I would be shocked.

On the recently released Blu-ray edition of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney has included an extra called "The Millennium Falcon: From Page to Park" that details much of what Walt Disney Imagineering has revealed about one of the two new rides in Galaxy's Edge. In the as-yet-unnamed Millennium Falcon ride, crews of six guests will sit in the cockpit of the famed spaceship, with each person assigned to perform tasks using the 200 buttons, knobs, and switches in the cockpit to help the crew complete its mission successfully. (Think of a Star Wars-themed, plussed version of Epcot's Mission: Space ride.) According to Disney's Imagineers, how well you perform in the Falcon's cockpit will affect interactions you have with Disney's role-playing cast members elsewhere in the Black Spire outpost on the planet of Batuu that makes up the Galaxy's Edge land.

Black Spire outpost

That sounds amazing and immersive, but having been involved in this industry for decades, that type of interaction strikes me as the sort of thing that gets dumped quickly when queues for food, drinks, and merchandise stretch into gridlock. Think of a chatty grocery clerk in the checkout lane. How many of you have wished that they would skip the blather and get on with ringing up customers to keep the line moving? Now imagine a queue of waiting people 10 times as long. How would you feel about the chit-chat then?

Now let's think about the logistics of gathering all that data about your performance on the ride then distributing it to cast members elsewhere in the land. Walt Disney World has implemented several interactive, personalized features with its MagicBand tech, but that functionality isn't in place at Disneyland. Imagine you are an operations supervisor at Disney. If there's a problem with the brand new personalization functionality on the Millennium Falcon attraction, but the ride system otherwise is functioning well, do you close the ride? Or do you just go on without it?

Ops teams make those types of calls on theme park attractions every day. If Henry pees his pants on the Country Bear Jamboree, the show's down. But if one of the Five Bear Rugs stops moving, you would carry on. A turntable stops rotating in the chase scene on Pirates of the Caribbean? Meh. Fill out a report for third shift maintenance. The auctioneer stops moving? You're down.

Wait times for the Millennium Falcon ride are going to be insane, with it offering the lower capacity of the two rides in the land. (The other, a motion-base dark ride through a battle with the First Order is tipped to have a capacity near 3,000 people per hour. The Falcon ride's capacity is a matter of some dispute, as it depends on how many six-passenger, seven-pod "Falcons" will run and for how long each ride will last.) Uptime for the attractions will be key, and Disney quickly will triage a pecking order of ride features that it considers crucial or expendable.

Millennium Falcon ride

At the same time, Imagineers and maintenance personnel will be looking for ways to improve the reliability for some time after opening, too. Sometimes, attractions debut in stripped-down form to make an announced opening date, with features restored as time passes and tech crews have the opportunity to work more on the attraction. So maybe the situation flips. Perhaps those who come early get the reduced experience, while those who wait get the extended interactions. Who knows at this point?

Walt Disney World will have the advantage of several month of operation at Disneyland to help it prepare for the opening of its identical land later in the year. Whatever needs to be tweaked in California, Florida will know about before it opens. But fans who visit Disneyland will forever be able to say that they were the first to experience Galaxy's Edge. The experience for fans who wait to visit until 2020 or later might be substantially different than what those who visit at opening experience. But if it is, will that difference be for the better... or the worse?

That's a lot for fans to consider. So what are you feeling right now? When are you planning to visit Disney's new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land?

Replies (14)

September 29, 2018 at 1:30 PM

Ride breakdowns will be persistent for at least 3 months upon opening. Lines will be 6 hours for weeks, exceeding Avatar Flights of Passage or Radiator Springs Racers. I will wait until 2021.

September 29, 2018 at 1:48 PM

Waited too long for Rocket Rods lines to go down.

September 29, 2018 at 5:18 PM

I can say with certainty that I have no intention of going anywhere near Disneyland's Star Wars Land until at least Fall 2019. If my suspicions are correct, it's likely a visit to the land will essentially take up a full day (or close to one) for at least the first month, and probably throughout the entirety of the summer. Whether I go in the fall or wait until the first half of 2020 will largely depend on how everything goes, but regardless of crowds I definitely plan to check it out within a year of opening.

September 29, 2018 at 6:19 PM

I'm holding out for soft openings. If the only part of the park that ends up feeling crowded is SWL, taking attention off other rides, I may end up going more often this summer.

September 29, 2018 at 7:08 PM

I can’t even imagine what DHS will be like when it opens. It’s towards the back so the funneling down of the crowds into that area will be pure hell. It’s going to make Pandora look like a walk in the park, and I can see it being even more crazy than when IOA opened Harry Potter land ... and that was pure insanity for months, even years after opening day.

No, as mentioned before, my plan is to go on a cold, wet, windy and gray old day in early 2020 and take my chances then.

September 29, 2018 at 10:26 PM

If you're local and have free time, follow some other lurkers on Twitter and try to go during a soft opening. I did that for Hogsmeade and the experience was hands down one of the most amazing I've ever had at a theme park. It was fun watching people on the news swarm the place on the official opening day.

September 30, 2018 at 12:53 AM

I thought all simulators were 4 1/2 minutes long with 6 minute dispatch times. Thus creating an easy hourly capacity equation.

September 30, 2018 at 9:55 AM

'Flight of Passage' (TEATBH) has been in operation for almost a year and a half and the wait times have not significantly disipated. We dropped in to DAK last Friday. We were at the Bridge to Pandora when they opened at 830 AM. By the got through the attraction at 930 AM the wait time was 75 minutes. At 10 AM the Disney park ap posted a wait time of 120 minutes.

I suspect SWTGE will have wait times in excess of three hours -- not including the wait time just to get into the themed area.

September 30, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Hopefully, an ADVANCED PAID FOR opportunity will be offered to APs, offering an event one-step above Universal Halloween Horror Nights or Mickey’s Not so Scary Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party with dramatically reduced guest capacity, allowing for a unique and very enjoyable STAR WARS experience.

October 1, 2018 at 8:06 AM

We have traditionally preferred to wait 4-6 months after the planned opening of a highly anticipated attraction/land, but the timing for Galaxy's Edge makes the calculus a little more complicated. I think the ultimate decline in popularity in a new attraction/land is really dependent upon each individual situation. Like WWoHP and PtWoA, I think it will take well over a year before guests see any noticeable decline in wait times for DHS's Galaxy's Edge, and even then lines will likely be some of the longest at WDW for well beyond, just like FoP, Soarin', and 7DMT. As long as Galaxy's Edge stands as the newest attraction in the park, it will continue to carry the longest lines. It's possible that Guardians, Ratatouille, and Tron may have a slight impact on lines for Galaxy's Edge, but I'm guessing that 2+ hours lines will be the norm through at least 2022.

We were originally going to make an attempt to see both versions of Galaxy's Edge next year, but it doesn't look like it will work out because of the timing. When the construction at DHS first broke ground, it appeared that the Florida project was running about 3 months behind DL. Disneyland's version has pretty steadily rumored to be ready for a summer 2019 debut, so with a 3 month differential in the construction timeline (maintained throughout the process with topping offs and other milestones reached at almost perfect 3-month gaps from DL, along with the fact that the DL would get a lot of the trial and error in ride operation out of the way), we were going to visit DL in August (the latest we would be able to swing a SoCal vacation) and WDW in October, which would be during the normal time of year when we visit WDW and 2 years removed from our last big Orlando trip. However, with the DHS version of Galaxy's Edge looking like it's not going to open until November, or possibly even later, we scrapped the idea of a WDW trip in 2019, and will hold off until at least October 2020, depending upon when Guardians and Ratatouille opens. Plus, we expect trying to visit Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland will be a much more pleasant experience than at DHS, where FP+ reservations will disappear in seconds and the WDW drone will show up hours before rope drop during the first 4-6 months Galaxy's Edge is open, especially if it's during the already super busy holiday times. Visiting Disneyland as a whole is such a less stressful experience (though we haven't used MaxPass yet), and are hoping that the introduction of Galaxy's Edge won't significant alter that. Also, there's a lot more flexibility when visiting DL, so we can adjust our itinerary more easily if there are any technical issues with Galaxy's Edge in California than we could at WDW.

October 1, 2018 at 11:20 AM

I'll go win it opens (& hopefully be around for any soft openings)

I think the difference is managing expectations. I'll honestly go in expecting crazy crowds & not going or getting on anything. I'll take a ton of photos, check out the land & that's it.

As AJ said, this could take an entire day.....and those are the expectations Ill have.

Now, I'll say my experience will vary, because as an AP, I'd go back whenever to (attempt) to ride or just block out the day to just try the attractions, then bounce. We've gone to DL just to eat, so if Galaxy's Edge is all I do, cool. For guest visiting on a trip or vacation, I feel for them it could be upsetting if they aren't able to enjoy or experience the land they way it was intended........but I think everyone should expect the worst, crowd wise.

People who've been to DLR or WDW on Christmas day will apply that crowd experience......so they should just be fine.

It's all about tapering expectations.

October 1, 2018 at 1:57 PM

Disney (specifically WDW) somewhat "broke" me. The crowds are too much for me. I prefer shifting to weekdays in Sept/Jan/Feb. I don't plan on going anywhere near the Disneyland til at least 2021. DLR does a significantly better job at managing queues and crowds than WDW. Last visit to DLR was early 2013.

I know the experience will not be the same as it is the first 3 months. How you can have that many cast members interacting with all the park guests is a task. I think where ever it is at by 2021 I will just appreciate being there. I am sure that they will have to tweak outside shows and interactions and they will have to fine tune, so I think the "bugs" will be out of the system at that point.

Also, does someone know what the real capacity is going to be on the Millennium Falcon Attraction? I keep hearing 168 and a lot of recent blogs say 42... 670 riders per hr doesn't sound right to me.

October 1, 2018 at 6:52 PM

can't wait til Summer 2019, when i will just laugh my (explicit) off at those ludicrous wait times and crown sizes. It will be pure gold, guaranteed.

October 5, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Will have to wait since I don't have the change to go to A WD property.

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