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.
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.
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?Tweet
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.