How big will the crowd be when Disney's Star Wars land opens?

December 8, 2018, 3:07 PM · How big will the crowds be — and how long will people have to wait — when the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land opens at Disneyland next summer?

Lots of theme park fans and analysts are guessing what kind of effect Disney's new Star Wars lands will have next year on crowd levels at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, where Galaxy's Edge opens in fall. But as Disney Legend and IAAPA Hall of Famer Buzz Price once said, "guessing is dysfunctional; ignoring prior experience is denial."

So let us refer to prior experience to guide us as we attempt to forecast the attendance and operational effects of Galaxy's Edge. Fortunately, the theme park industry provides us many examples of major attraction openings, but the most instructive likely will be the most transformative attraction opening in recent industry history — the 2010 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

Potter is why we are getting a new Star Wars land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. It is why we got Cars Land at Disney California Adventure and Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's why Walt Disney World expanded its "New Fantasyland" at the Magic Kingdom. Potter — in both the original Hogsmeade land at Islands of Adventure and the accompanying Diagon Alley land at Universal Studios Florida — helped drive a 71% increase in attendance at Universal Orlando's theme parks over the past decade (from 2008 to 2017), compared to an 18% increase among the rest of the Top 20 theme parks in North American between those two years, according to the TEA/AECOM Theme Index attendance reports.

But it was the "day one" crowd at the 2010 opening of the first Wizarding World that helped define the project's success to the general public. Fans began lining up on Universal Boulevard the night before the official opening. By the time that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and other stars of the Harry Potter movie declared the land open on the morning of June 18, 2010, a queue of tens of thousands of fans extended through Islands of Adventure, out the front gate, all the way to Universal Studios Florida's entrance, and then snaked through CityWalk. Fans reported waits up to eight hours just to get into the land.

How will Disney's Star Wars land compare to that? To answer that question we need to compare the relative popularity of the two franchises and the differences between the Disneyland and Universal Orlando Resorts, including the locations, facilities, and existing annual passholder bases. Then, we need to take what we know about Disney's operational practices to make some predictions about how Disney might adapt those operations to accommodate the expected crowds for the new land.

Millennium Falcon, in Disney's Star Wars land
The Millennium Falcon, inside Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land. Photo courtesy Disney

Let's start with what I am guessing might be my most controversial suggestion...

Harry Potter was a more popular franchise in 2010 than Star Wars is now.

The sixth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had dominated the box office the summer before The Wizarding World opened, continuing a nearly decade-long string of box office success for the franchise, which built upon the phenomenal success of the Potter book series, which had sold hundreds of millions of volumes over the prior 13 years, already placing several of the titles among the best selling books of all time.

Unusual for a major entertainment franchise, Potter appealed equally across gender, and although the books were targeted at elementary and young adult readers, they developed a loyal following among the parents who read the books to or with their children, as well. This was no "Captain Underpants." In 2010, the final two Potter movies were still to come, and interest in the series, which had published its final book just three years before, might have been at an all-time high.

Let's compare that to Star Wars.

The 11 Star Wars films have grossed more than the 10 Potter films — $4.56 billion to $2.77 billion, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, but both franchises' most recent films have underwhelmed at the box office, with Solo: A Star Wars story beating only the animated Clone Wars movie in adjusted receipts, while Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald ranks last among the Wizarding World films, though it does remain in its theatrical run.

But we're not comparing Star Wars and Potter today. We are comparing Star Wars now with Potter in 2010. And by that standard, Star Wars is a franchise that has past its peak while Potter then was a franchise summiting toward it.

In addition, Universal's Wizarding World was the world's first significant Harry Potter-themed attraction. Legoland California and Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia had offered Harry Potter themes in playground and walk-through attractions, but no one had seen a legitimate Potter land or ride before. Star Wars, on the other hand, has had a substantial presence in Disney's theme parks since Star Tours opened at Disneyland on January 9, 1987. Disney also has offered Star Wars-themed Hyperspace Mountain overlays of its Space Mountain roller coasters and put on several Star Wars-themed events and shows at its parks over the years. Galaxy's Edge will not be the all-time debut of Star Wars in the parks that Universal's Wizarding World was for Harry Potter.

I am trying to track numbers to support this, but conversations with fans and people in the industry suggests to me that Star Wars' fan base skews significantly older than Potter's, too. Star Wars is a GenX franchise. Younger fans do not feel the same sense of ownership of the franchise that they do for Potter. That said, GenX is fiercely loyal to Star Wars and they have the money to take vacations to express that loyalty. But the hearts of the younger generation that drives this business lie with Potter. Star Wars also suffers from a gender gap to Potter, and older Star Wars fans' misogynistic temper tantrum over The Last Jedi isn't helping to close that.

Looking at retail sales data, I believe that Star Wars and Potter stand among the top five enduring entertainment franchises in the world, along with Marvel, Nintendo, and Lord of the Rings. Star Wars has more than enough fans to fill Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios to capacity for weeks following the opening of Galaxy's Edge at each park. But I would not infer that the crowd that comes to Disneyland on Galaxy's Edge's opening day will be larger than that which came to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in June 2010. Based on the relative popularity of the franchises alone, I actually would predict that the crowd for Galaxy's Edge might be smaller. (Hold your fire! Here comes the disclaimer...)

But relative franchise popularity is hardly the only factor in play here.

Disneyland vs. Universal Orlando

Disneyland attracts far more visitors than Universal Orlando, and the gap between Disneyland today and Universal before Potter opened in 2010 is even more pronounced, with 27.9 million visitors to Disneyland's two parks last year, compared with 10.1 million to Universal Orlando's two parks in 2009. By all reports, Disneyland's annual pass base dwarfs all other theme parks' in North America, including Universal Orlando's. But Disneyland almost certainly will open Galaxy's Edge on a date when all but its most expensive Signature, Signature Plus, and Premier annual passes are blocked out. Still, that likely leaves Disneyland with more annual passholders eligible to visit on Galaxy's Edge's opening day than Universal had when the first Potter land opened.

So even before Disneyland sells a single ticket to the land's opening day, it is starting with a higher attendance base than Universal did with Potter.

Disneyland also lies in the second-biggest metro area in the country. More than 13 million people live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, compared with just 2.4 million in Orlando's. That's a huge market to pull from for an opening day event.

But even though Disneyland is more popular and draws from a much larger home market than Universal Orlando, it's a smaller facility. The pinch point that will limit attendance at Galaxy's Edge will not be the land's entrance. It'll be access to Disneyland's parking facilities.

Since Disneyland's new parking structure should be (okay, better be) open by the debut of Galaxy's Edge, the addition of those 6,000+ spaces to the 10,000+ at Mickey and Friends and 5,000+ at Toy Story, plus a 1,000+ in Pumbaa, will give Disneyland more public parking spaces than Universal Orlando has in its 19,000-space parking garages. If Disneyland tries to open Galaxy's Edge on a Friday, like Universal Orlando did with Potter, weekday rush hour traffic on Interstate 5 will put the area around Disneyland into gridlock. The area already gets pretty bad on regular Friday afternoons when annual passholders flock to the park during evening rush hour.

Which brings us to...

Disneyland won't handle Star Wars like Universal handled Potter.

That's because Disney has the experience of the Potter openings, plus its own openings of Cars Land and Pandora, to guide its operational strategy. It doesn't want any part of a crowd so big that it elicits a public backlash due to traffic gridlock. Disney will do everything it can to manage its Galaxy's Edge crowd to prevent any potential bad publicity.

Disney already has instituted park-specific AP blockout calendars to keep crowds away from Galaxy's Edge for the first few weeks of its operation. I suspect, given the reasons stated above, that Disneyland will put the official public opening date for Galaxy's Edge (if there is one — stay with me here), on a Saturday or Sunday between June 22 and July 14, given its published blockout calendar.

Disneyland will not rely on a soft open period to ease crowd levels on an official opening date. That's because the original Wizarding World was soft-opened for more than two weeks to the general public and three weeks to hotel guests before its official opening. And people slammed the resort anyway. Disneyland will need a more advanced strategy to manage its crowds.

Paid preview or "first look" events almost certainly will be part of that strategy, as they were on a much more limited basis for Cars Land and Pixar Pier. Expect those to be open exclusively to D23 Gold or Disneyland Annual Pass members, at least initially, as Disney looks to "double dip" on revenue by requiring that you buy one of those to be eligible to buy a first-look ticket to Galaxy's Edge.

I also would not be surprised to see Disneyland suspend the sale of regular tickets to Disneyland park on the first view days of Galaxy Edge's operation, leaving the land open only to on-site hotel guests, high-level annual passholders, and others who buy designated tickets.

Or Disneyland could require a Maxpass purchase in order to make a reservation to enter the land. And then Disneyland could limit admission into the park to those with Maxpass reservations for Galaxy's Edge, effectively closing Disneyland to new entrants for the rest of the day once those Maxpass reservations are gone.

Disneyland could open advance Maxpass reservations (for the first time) to hotel guests and high-level annual passholders, too, effectively accomplishing the same thing as limiting the sale of regular tickets, as one presume the APs and hotel guests would snatch up almost all, if not all, of the Galaxy's Edge reservations for the land's first days of operation. This strategy also might help keep people from coming to the park with the hope of getting in, limiting the PR risk of clogged freeways.

But the best way to avoid a crushing opening-day crowd is simple — just don't announce an opening day. With no opening date to target, people will not book trips specifically for that date. It'll be like a perpetual soft open. Out-of-town visitors will distribute their trips more naturally throughout the summer. Locals might rush to the park when they hear it is open, but those who miss that initial surge might just choose to wait until the crowds die down a bit before trying to go.

I can't imagine Disney opting for that, though. Disney wants the publicity of a big, splashy opening event. I can't imagine Disney not scheduling a primetime ABC TV special promoting the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Disney will want every media outlet in the world talking about Disney hopes they will proclaim the greatest theme park attraction ever built. Disney is not going to just try to slide Galaxy's Edge past the public with the hope that the crowd levels won't be too bad. I suspect that some people within The Walt Disney Company might actually be disappointed if Galaxy's Edge does not elicit a longer line than Potter... or the opening of Star Tours back in 1987.

But Disney has a narrow target to hit to do that. It wants the buzz of a wildly popular opening, without it being so big that the crowd size clogs local freeways and elicits a backlash from the public and frustrated visitors. Disney's goal will be record attendance and revenue... with no refunds or apologies necessary.

Disney will know how many people it can accommodate in Galaxy's Edge in a single day of operation. Its first challenge is to find a way to limit the number of people coming to the resort on the land's opening day to just over that number (assuming the overload will go willingly to California Adventure.) Its second challenge is to get all those people to show up first thing in the morning on that weekend opening day — to get those Potter-busting aerial crowd photos that the company craves without overloading I-5 — and then to distribute the crowd throughout the day on the following weekdays until the crowd level settles into a sustainable level.

No, Disneyland will not draw 200,000 people for Galaxy's Edge's opening day. It probably won't draw even half that. But it will draw enough people to send a line out Disneyland's front gate and then through Downtown Disney and down Harbor Boulevard. Whether that is more or fewer people than filled Universal Orlando on Potter's opening day, ultimately, is irrelevant. Disney will ensure that Galaxy's Edge is the biggest entertainment story in the world on the day that it opens.

Now, will people who get in like what they see? What will be the public reaction to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge? Those are questions for another day.

Replies (32)

December 8, 2018 at 4:36 PM

It will be interesting to see if the fan backlash that Disney is facing due to the sad treatment that the original characters have gotten in the new films will carry over. Disney has failed to build new characters and stories apart from George Lucas' originals that people love and identify with. Placing SWL in a planet from the new trilogy was a gamble from the start, and even more so since the new movies seem to be slumping. I dont doubt it will be a great success, but maybe not as big as it could have been.

December 8, 2018 at 7:12 PM

First, pretty sure Rey is a great example of a new character well loved and admired, especially by young female fans.

Second, come on, Star Wars always a bigger deal than Potter so expect this to be huge. Remember when Jungle Cruise guides cracked about "Indiana Jones and the Four Hour Line?" Expect that to be topped here.

December 8, 2018 at 8:21 PM

I agree Daniel: Admiral Ackbar received sad treatment in the new films.

I’ll just assume that’s who you meant when talking about the treatment of Original Trilogy characters in the new films.

December 8, 2018 at 10:26 PM

@ Steve

Did you not see the Last Jedi? Even mark Hamill himself voiced his opposition to the completely inconsistent way Luke was portrayed. Its pretty well known that a lot of people hated it. Han Solo murdered in the first film? Leias stupid Mary Poppins flight? The 3 main characters didnt even have screen time together. This is no secret a lot of fans have complained just look it up. Not to mention the dropping box office trend and Blu ray sales. Solo actually lost money, unthinkable for a Star Wars film.

December 9, 2018 at 1:01 PM

@Mike

Rey well loved and admired? Lol. Well I guess if you are nearly omnipotent like suddenly being able to pilot a spaceship as an adult then ya thats cool but unfortunately unbelievable and unidentifiable, which is my point. Most people have to train and struggle to attain some sort of mastery or skill, which is why Luke is identifiable and likable (by males and females). I dont think most people are so shallow as to love a character merely because they share the same genitals as them lol. For example Im a male but I cant stand the new character Kylo Ren who comes off more as a whiny teenager than a great villain. Snoke was far more interesting but was dispatched prematurely. I could like Finn if he actually played some important role and had some sort of character arc but he pretty much got nothing in TLJ. I love Leia, Padme and Ashoka Tano but Rey does nothing for me. So ya me being a male really has nothing to do with whether or not I like a character or not.

December 9, 2018 at 1:58 AM

I find your statement that the older generation had a "misogynistic temper tantrum" over Last Jedi insulting. The reality is that movie was horribly written. I've spoken to plenty of real people who despise that film because of it's awful plot and poor dialogue. The only place I've heard anything having to do with sexism has been from the people trying to defend it, claiming that everyone who didnt like it were misogynists. Just because I didnt like a movie that had a female in the lead, that doesnt make me a sexist. I enjoyed all of the other recent Star Wars films. My favorite film from the recent crop was Rogie One, which had a female lead. Rogue one was well written, well directed, and felt like it came from the Star Wars universe. The Last Jedi meanwhile was garbage pretending to be something great.

December 9, 2018 at 3:13 AM

Judging by the crowds brought to Cars Land and Pandora when those opened, compared to the relative popularity of those franchises at the time, I strongly suspect Disneyland will see a six figure guest count on the day Star Wars Land opens. I agree that Star Wars now is not quite as popular as Harry Potter was in 2010, but I'd say it is far more popular than Avatar was in 2017 or Cars in 2012. Now, in a regular operating day, based on the rumored capacity of the land's attractions my best guess is about 50,000 could actually experience the new land, which means there could be a major problem. I still think the best solution available to Disney to prevent this is to simply make the area accessible by advance reservation only, at least initially. Give passholders 50-60% of the available slots (with restrictions on reservations...perhaps one per month), reserve 20-30% for day ticket holders to grab at time of purchase, and the last 10-20% is available day-of to anyone who is at the park that morning. No reservation, you don't get into the land that day. More likely than not, this would still result in a park that is packed to the gills, but hopefully it would prevent the madness that has befallen Disneyland on occasion before (such as the 24 hour party days).

December 9, 2018 at 9:10 AM

I was an insane Star Wars fan, and to some extend I still am, but only about the first 3 movies. Lucas killed the love with Episode I, II and III. Disney didn't do anything to bring back the love for the new Star Wars movies. I hate what they have done with my old heroes and don't care about the new ones.

Regarding the park, the Star Wars ride has always been underwhelming for me. I loved the cue but the robot in the ride and the original or mashed together random ride movies and bumpy sim never did it for me.
Regarding the new land, wow, it's big and bold but doesn't bring me back to my favourit locations. It's (like the original star wars ride) a mashed together monster of Frankenstein area and I don't care about so no visit from me. I hope Disney does very well and push the industry as they did in the old days.

December 9, 2018 at 1:35 PM

California badly needs to improve their public transport. Sacramento is an embarrassment to the country, not only have they done nothing to address their major affordable housing shortage, but they have been trying to build a high speed train for decades and it seems like every week the LA Times is running another article about how the project could require billions of more dollars and has some sort of new delay. Meanwhile Florida manages to open a 100+mph train that connects its major cities on time and on budget (and it's a red state). I think we can all agree a comprehensive rail system in LA is impractical but there are many practical solutions that have been proposed over the years that could have been implemented to reduce traffic around DLR. I think its really sad Disney resorts in Toyko, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Paris don't have issues with traffic but its likely the story of Star Wars opening day in California will be about massive traffic jams.

Anyway regarding Star Wars: The opening day for this is going to be insane regardless of anyone's opinion of the new movies. And not just opening day, pretty much every day after that for the next several years. DLR is just too small to handle that kind of demand in any way that would be even remotely comfortable. Remember when MGM Studios and Blizzard Beach first opened? Their first summers they would have the park open at 9am and they would be closed by 9:30...i'm thinking that's a possibility (at least at WDW where they have other places to send people). IMO Disneyland should be doing "have to buy a ticket for a certain date" by now.

December 9, 2018 at 2:17 PM

the_man writes: "IMO Disneyland should be doing "have to buy a ticket for a certain date" by now."

I respond: AMEN! Also, I love all of the SW flicks. 'The Last Jedi' was awesome!

December 9, 2018 at 6:06 PM

I'm sure Star Wars land will be novel and I'm sure it will bring it a large amount of guests...

What Disney has done with Star Wars -- systematically killing off all ties and main characters from the original trilogy and introducing a "new wave" of gullible young fans -- has worked in the short-term. This, and a land not based on any particular film location, is exactly the kind of cop-out I would expect from Disney under Iger.

What will happen, though, is that the land will fade away as the new movies end and the "new" young fans lose interest. New fans will outgrow the sham that is the new movies, and old die-hard fans of the original trilogy won't care to visit this place.

December 9, 2018 at 6:13 PM

Interestingly enough, I watched The Last Jedi again yesterday. I think when all of the films are released it will be proved to be an excellent aspect of the overall story, but to the point at hand, the points about whether people will or will not come because of Solo or Jedi, I think is irrelevant. Solo was not a movie people wanted to see, and Jedi is the vocal minority. People will flock to the land. Flock to it. It will be every bit as big as Potter, and possibly even more so. I do think it is almost an apples to apples comparison, actually. They are both basically a fantasy fan base (yes, Star Wars is fantasy). The points in the article are well taken, but the crowds must be compared based on DL and WDW. DL will have to deal with traffic and how to herd the people through the choke points. The real challenge, and where the PR nightmare will arise, is with the horrible WDW system of FP+. What is going to happen when a family of four spends $7000 to visit Star Wars and cannot experience a single attraction? I have no idea how they will make it work. Potter fans could go a year later and get on Forbidden Journey several times. Does anybody think that will happen in Orlando? Not with the current system it won't.

December 9, 2018 at 7:07 PM

I don’t think WDW will have that big of a problem since if the Die hards would have gone California to already and fast passes will just be the new impossible ones to get. Flight of Passage and Gringotts had pretty terrible waits when I went to their first years but they were running at limited capacity because of the ride systems. Galaxy ‘s Edge’s rides should be fairly old ride systems with advanced computing power for the interactivity and augmented reality. If that goes down a few guests will have some funky experiences but not shut the whole attraction down.

December 9, 2018 at 9:23 PM

Star Wars Land is going to be bonkers crazy when it opens - and for quite some time after it opens. People can complain all they want about the movies, but there is no other franchise that quite rivals it.

In the end, I think if the build quality, attractions, dining establishments, and overall atmosphere are up to the standard set with Harry Potter, people will "flock to it", no matter what the IP was. Park goers demand high quality, immersive lands if they're to spend a small fortune (and getting more expensive all the time) to visit a park.

I think WDW can handle the crush of people at DHS when their Star Wars land opens, but Anaheim is going to be in a bad place, and I'm excited to see how it's handled.

December 10, 2018 at 8:13 AM

I'm not sure why anyone not already living in the LA Metro region would want to be in Disneyland on opening day. WWoHP demonstrated that trying to be at a park when it opens an iconic development is a flat out stupid decision. We already know that one of the attractions (Falcon ride) is going to be like no other ride system in existence, so the chances that it can run anywhere close to max capacity is about as likely as meeting Carrie Fisher. I can see press being there to cover the opening and to give reviews of the attractions, and I can see the superfans and long-time Disney fans with deep pockets and limitless free time wanting to see the opening in person, but the average guests just wanting to be shoulder to shoulder with the biggest nerds on the planet just to catch a 3-second glimpse of Mark Hammill or George Lucas in the heat of the Southern California summer are a bunch of morons.

I've been following the developments of both lands very closely, and when they were first announced, I was considering the possibility of visiting both DL and WDW in the same year to experience Galaxy's Edge on both coasts. However, with the DHS installation falling behind, with an opening that's going to put it squarely into the Holiday season (a time of year I already try to avoid), we dumped the idea of even trying to plan a trip to Orlando next year. We still are tentatively planning a trip to Southern California in late July/early August next summer with the hopes that Galaxy's Edge has been open for at least a month and while the crowds may not have died down, the attractions will be running closer to full capacity with cast members efficiently moving guests through the new land.

I think that's the biggest thing that is not considered when evaluating what crowds might be like for Galaxy's Edge. A lot of what causes immense crowding and frustration within theme parks is an inability to keep things moving. If people know where to go and what is going on, the cast members' job is a little bit easier. So far, Disney has been pretty hush hush on the layout and a lot of the specificity of Galaxy's Edge. Universal was the same way, and when WWoHP opened, guests had no idea what to do, and cast members spent half their time answering questions instead of controlling the crowds. Part of that was because Universal was unprepared for the insane popularity of the new land, but much of it was a lack of knowledge given to the guests and a deer in the headlights reaction from many of the cast members to the giant crowds and overall inexperience in controlling them. Disney, particularly Disneyland, has a lot of experience in crowd control, so an order of magnitude increase in the average crowd should not stress the parks to the point of collapse. However, some cast members may have trouble handling the masses, and may spend more time dealing with quizzical guests than managing the crowds. Also, the larger the crowds, the more cast members that will be needed, increasing the overall bodycount within the parks.

There's also cast member familiarity with the attractions. Flight of Passage had such long lines over the summer of 2017 not only because it was an amazing technological achievement, but it was also because CMs had never ran an attraction quite like it before with multiple levels of load platforms and multiple theaters that could cycle out of service at random times. WWoHP had a similar problem with a dark ride that loads on a conveyor belt that could bring the entire attraction to a screeching halt if one guest doesn't sit down fast enough. For all of the training and testing cast members can do, they have no idea how average guests are going to react when they face getting onto the attraction for the first time. This is where Disney really needs to get out the word as to what the load platforms and ride systems will look like. They don't need to reveal all the details right now, but they should think about slowly releasing tidbits about the attractions over the months before the opening. When designers start testing the ride systems, they should be releasing videos about the attractions, so guests are prepared to limit the number of people that are completely clueless about what they're about to experience. You won't totally eliminate them, but at least those that will show up in the first few days Galaxy's Edge is open will be ready, and allow the cast members to more smoothly operate the attractions and manage the crowds. The cast members will be almost as new to Galaxy's Edge as the guests, so they will need all the help they can get to make those first few weeks of operation as smooth as they can make it.

@Gabriel - I actually think DL is better equipped to handle the crowds for Galaxy's Edge. Both parks are about the same size, but DL has the advantage of far more attractions to divert guests' attention if the lines for Galaxy's Edge are too long. Yes, DHS has TSL, and should have MMRR open when Galaxy's Edge debuts, but it's a far cry from the alternatives guests will have next summer in California. Also, the FP+ system at WDW can cripple the guest experience. FP+ made PtWoA a nightmare at DAK, and I doubt it will do any better under the extreme stress the system will be under when Galaxy's Edge opens. MaxPass at DL, assuming they maintain the same rules and operation it has now, is a much better system for managing a virtual queue. Allowing guests to reserve ride times 2+ months in advance (for an attraction that hasn't even given a real guests a ride) is ridiculous, and forces Disney to limit the availability of spots in the virtual line, leading to guest frustration and increased expectations from guests that were lucky enough to score the coveted FP+ reservations. MaxPass is just a better system, and the Anaheim Resort as a whole seems to operate in a much more orderly manner.

December 10, 2018 at 9:00 AM

The biggest issue I see at DHS is that Galaxy's Edge is tucked away in the far corner of the park, thus making it a trap for people already in there and then trying to get out. I can see the "lines" for GE at DHS stretching all the way back to the entrance gate, and the closest thing to hell on earth that is the MK during the holidays is going to seem like a pleasant day in paradise !!

My guess is Disney will give priority to the platinum plus members first, and the rest will be allowed to go as and when all the opening day/week BS is over. At least WDW will have an idea what it's going to be like, as the DL version will open first .... but will they learn ?!?!?

As for the crowds .... we've already had this discussion, but my thoughts haven't changed ..... there is no word that will describe the carnage that will unfold at both parks when GE opens.

December 10, 2018 at 9:07 AM

FYI, at DHS Disney is finishing construction on the entry plaza outside the gates. Instead of curving south to the trams the entry plaza now goes dead east, straight back like 300 yards.

December 10, 2018 at 10:12 AM

The Disney parks are getting Star Wars lands!?...hmmm...who knew?

December 10, 2018 at 10:41 AM

@Makorider - I would note that the DL installation of Galaxy's Edge is also in a back corner of the park, but the difference is that if there's a 4-hour line just to get in, there's plenty of other stuff to do at Disneyland (and steps-away DCA), whereas at DHS, the crowds of disappointed guests that don't want to wait just to get a glimpse of the new land will overwhelm the capacities of the other DHS attractions.

December 10, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Russell, the problem will arise with the families that come with the intention to do nothing but Star Wars, just like they did with Potter. The only difference is the crowd levels on what is remaining to do will be much, much different with systems that do not favor the unprepared. I tell you, there will be people that travel across the county and spend thousands of dollars than are unable to ride an attraction once, all because of FP+, which was created for the sole purpose for the benefit of the park and not the guest, which should have been the other way around. I predict the lands will be very popular, but DL will be the better place to experience it.

December 10, 2018 at 1:20 PM

I'm optimistic about this because I know a lot of Disney folks asked a lot of the Universal folks about what worked and what didn't. I was working there on opening day and I've gotten to talk a lot about my experience with friends at Disney.

FWIW I spent the day on the bridge from Seuss Landing into Lost Continent making sure it was "exit only" and helping/directing Guests as I could. It was a wild day, but certainly not the worst day I've ever had working at UO.

December 10, 2018 at 4:52 PM

On either coast, Galaxy`s Edge will be the biggest new opening in theme park history. That`s not a bold prediction; it`s as predictable as tomorrow`s sunrise.

As soon as the new land opens, DHS will be the most popular theme park in the world. Okay, maybe that does sound bold, but think about it: Toy Story Land, Mickey and Minnie Railway, and Star Wars Land, all opening during an 18-month period or so. So many new goodies, all in one park. The plus will be that the fast pass situation will be good: it`ll finally be easy to get those coveted SDD FPs! And the insanity should take a lot of pressure off the other parks, including the MK.

December 10, 2018 at 6:42 PM

I think the " anger" toward the Last Jedi is somewhat over estimated. Yes, there was backlash, but alot of that was applified and when you factor in the new online "fan sabotaging" troll wars that plague Rotten Tomatoes & other reviews based sites, it can make things look larger than what they actually are.......now that doesn't mean that overall that people didn't have any issues with it, but you'll find just as many fans who enjoyed it as the ones that didn't....It's a bit divisive, but in no way is in the worst thing to happen to cinema (or to Star Wars)

People were angry & many despised the prequels, but it didn't destroy the franchise & neither did Last Jedi. Plus, JJ Abrams return may signal a "safer" film than what Rian Johnson delivered.

Ultimately the problem with Star Wars low box office returns was / is Disney overflowing the market.

There was a a 16 year gap between the OG trilogy (3 films) & the prequels (3 films) . .....then a 10 year gap before episode 7. However Disney has released 4 Star Wars films in 3 years...with another due next year.

When you over saturate the market, you'll get diminishing returns & less of the event style turnout the franchise is used to. It was way too much in such a sort amount of time....this is a franchise that thrived on anticipation. You can't anticipate something when there's a theatrical release every year.

In a strange way, Solo underperforming will help in the long run. Disney has since canceled a few spinoffs & admired it might be too much too soon.

Give the franchise some breathing room. It's lasted this long, it will be fine.

December 10, 2018 at 7:34 PM

One thing that strikes me as different between Harry Potter and Star Wars is the depth of the material. Harry Potter started out as books, SW are just scripts. As far as movies, the HP movies "hang together" much more cohesively as they were done in a (relatively) short amount of time.

My predictions:

HP will be read to generations of future kids who will enjoy them, see the movies, visit the lands. At some stage I'd imagine the movies will be remade in the far future

Star Wars will lose it's new fanbase, all these new kids who are only into it because of the marketing machine called Disney and some poor movies that aren't in the spirit of the originals. Star Wars will be remembered not for all the fanfare that is going on currently, but for the original trilogy.

December 10, 2018 at 9:17 PM

Great topic Robert! Not sure I can buy into the idea that the Harry Potter fanbase circa 2010 would be stronger than that of the Star Wars fanbase 2019. Even if that were the case, what about the comparatively stronger economy now and the overall growth of the theme park business? I'm inclined to think the demand for Star Wars land is going to be another level beyond that for World of Harry Potter.

Setting aside all other factors, here's my take. I LOVE Harry Potter. I was 28 when the last book came out and rushed out to buy it as soon as it was released. I'm a casual Star Wars fan. Hated episodes 1-3 (Jar Jar Binks anyone?), and think the new movies are at least decent comparatively. Despite being a far bigger Harry Potter fan, I'm substantially more interested in Galaxy's Edge. I think it boils down to this: I can visit an English village and/or castle in real life (granted, w/out the magical IP). But a space "village" in a galaxy far far away? I can only visit that place at Disneyland (or DHS). As incredibly themed as World of Harry Potter is, I don't think it will hold a candle to Galaxy's Edge when it's all said and done.

You don't have to be a huge Star Wars fan to be excited for these lands. Any theme park fan should be pumped about Galaxy's Edge. If Pandora, with an IP that most people had long since quit caring about, can attract the kind of enthusiasm it has, I can't imagine any scenario in which Galaxy's Edge doesn't blow all other theme park lands out of the water.

After a January 2019 trip, I for one will be avoiding Disneyland like the plague for the next couple of years because I'm fully convinced Galaxy's Edge will be a phenomenon that will create huge crowds at Disneyland for years to come. I'm still disappointed they couldn't have found a place for it other than Disneyland because the crowding will not only be contained to Galaxy's Edge, it will impact the rest of the park significantly, and for a very very long time.

December 10, 2018 at 9:25 PM

I disagree DB. I am a rabid fan of both, and I do not see Star Wars going away at all. I also cannot imagine Harry Potter being remade. Even with no films or really bad ones (Jar-Jar), Star Wars is incredibly popular. It always will be. I am not sure where Star Trek is, but if somebody made a theme park to the level and care that Universal put into Potter, it would be super popular. I think that is the key. Galaxy's Edge is going to be a success, no doubt. The question is how far Disney will go. Will they sell plastic Death Star cups and light saber wielding Mickey Mouse toys? Or will they go for the total immersion that Universal has done and make you feel that you are in another world? And this business about the Last Jedi being bad; I am sorry, but that is just a vocal minority. I thought it was excellent minus a nitpick here and there.

December 11, 2018 at 7:34 AM

You write, "Star Wars is a GenX franchise. Younger fans do not feel the same sense of ownership of the franchise that they do for Potter." While I see why you would assume this, and since this isn't based on objective data, you could be correct, but I can't agree. Working the entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando I see little stormtroopers, Vaders, Kylo Rens, Jedis, Reys, Leias, even the occasional Ashoka coming and going, and usually swinging their lightsabers as they go. I meet and speak with Star Wars fans in every generation, but the majority are not from my generation (I'm 53). They are from the youngest segments. And when they ask their Star Wars fan parents to take them to see anything Disney and Star Wars related, their parents seem to be under the influence of the Force. They cannot resist.

An 25+ year Imagineer has told me that WDW is taking their own forecasts for a massive opening extremely seriously, and I'm watching that unfold all around me.

So, how about you address the WDW Florida opening vs Potter Orlando? Or are you planning a Part Two?

December 12, 2018 at 9:16 AM

Any big, new IP-land is going to pack the park. Beauty and Beast, and Frozen would also be insane the first month. The question should be long-term how Disney's investment in a single IP-land will play out. I see Star Wars fading out long-term. The original trilogy was great, especially for its time, but the prequels and recent films have been middling at best. The recent films just feel like a remixed pastiche of Star Wars greatest hits, and the new characters are incredibly dull with no compelling story arcs. The second hand market of Star Wars collectables has tanked the last year, and the new toys are peg warmers at Target and Wal-Mart. And, no, it's not because of Star Wars fatigue. Just look at Marvel with multiple hit movies year after year. I'm so tired of that worn-out excuse. The problem with Star Wars is after the Skywalker saga has concluded, who cares? In the last year, people have been tuning out SW, especially after The Last Jedi. Just look at the box office for Solo. Disney really fumbled the ball with Star Wars but that's what you get when you put someone with no creative vision or realistic sense of the marketplace like Kennedy in charge, instead of a visionary genius like Feige at Marvel. The comparative case study of Marvel and Lucasfilm will be required reading at MBA schools for how to succeed and fail in IP media management. Just wait a few months after Galaxy's Edge opens, and the crowds will be fairly manageable. Wait five years, and Star Wars land will be the land dedicated to a flailing failing IP. In 20 years, I won't be surprised to see the whole thing bulldozed or reskinned.

December 12, 2018 at 12:17 PM

Tony, I will take 20 to one odds against that.

December 12, 2018 at 4:27 PM

Tony, Star Wars isn't going anywhere (certainly not within the next few years). Again this is a franchise that has been around for decades.

While the films have been the driving force, this is also a franchise that has successful TV series, video games, books, comics, etc.

Th OG trilogy is established (and popular enough) that it can stand on its own. Vadar, Yoda aren't even in the new trilogy....yet they are among the most popular characters. These new movies & chapters are extend the franchise.

The Force Awakens is second only to Avatar is terms of box office. That was just 3 years ago. Disney oversaturated the market since then, so that's why you're seeing dwindling results. By adding in spin offs (a mistake) they started to dilute the market. But when sticking to the direct episodes, even episode 8 still grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.

Star Wars won't be a "failing" IP. Even if it wanes in popularity, it still won't go the way of "Buck Rogers" in terms of sci fi.

December 12, 2018 at 4:27 PM

Tony, Star Wars isn't going anywhere (certainly not within the next few years). Again this is a franchise that has been around for decades.

While the films have been the driving force, this is also a franchise that has successful TV series, video games, books, comics, etc.

Th OG trilogy is established (and popular enough) that it can stand on its own. Vadar, Yoda aren't even in the new trilogy....yet they are among the most popular characters. These new movies & chapters are extend the franchise.

The Force Awakens is second only to Avatar is terms of box office. That was just 3 years ago. Disney oversaturated the market since then, so that's why you're seeing dwindling results. By adding in spin offs (a mistake) they started to dilute the market. But when sticking to the direct episodes, even episode 8 still grossed over a billion dollars worldwide.

Star Wars won't be a "failing" IP. Even if it wanes in popularity, it still won't go the way of "Buck Rogers" in terms of sci fi.

December 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM

"Just wait a few months after Galaxy's Edge opens, and the crowds will be fairly manageable. Wait five years, and Star Wars land will be the land dedicated to a flailing failing IP. In 20 years, I won't be surprised to see the whole thing bulldozed or reskinned." -- Tony Perkins, above.

LOL. Tony, congrats. You win the Most Preposterous Statement of the Month Award. Enjoy!

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