bragged on this week's investor call that the company wouldn't need to spend much money to promote it. That's a huge break from Disney's SOP, which is to drop the equivalent of a small nation's GDP hyping each new product it launches.Disney CEO Bob Iger seems convinced that his company's upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands will be huge hits with theme park fans. So much so that he
But Iger is right. Galaxy's Edge is going hit like no other theme park development before it. Let's look at some of the reasons why Disney's Star Wars land will be the biggest theme park hit ever.
[Note: Don't miss our companion piece to this post, in which we argue why Disney's Star Wars land won't be the big hit people expect. Yep — we are arguing this one both ways, setting up a vote for you to decide. Because, well, ultimately you are the only ones who will decide how big a hit these lands will be.]
Star Wars is the second-biggest movie franchise of all time, according to box office receipts. (Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe - with twice as many films - ranks number one.) Generation X grew up with Star Wars, creating the demand that allowed Lucasfilm to build a real-life Empire across film, television, publishing and merchandising.
And, oh yes, theme parks. Disney brought Star Wars to its theme parks with Star Tours in 1987, and its continuing popularity speaks to the enduring appeal of this franchise among theme park fans. With Galaxy's Edge, however, Disney finally will have a Star Wars-themed attraction that matches the scale and appeal of the Star Wars franchise.
Want an insider's way of forecasting the appeal of a new theme park attraction? Go stand in the corner and look at the walls.
Seriously. For anything other than a straight roller coaster installation, attraction success tracks strongly with its build quality. Just look at the shop and queue walls in a Six Flags or Cedar Fair theme park, then compare them with the walls in Disney or Universal park. Notice the quality of the building material and finishes. Are details simply painted or created in material? Look down at the floors and up at the lighting. Touch stuff. (Or note if you'e even tempted to do that.)
When I think of great build quality in theme park attractions, I think of Universal's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Disney's Pandora - The World of Avatar, and the entirety of Tokyo DisneySea. These are places where people crave to be. The Black Spire Outpost on Batuu in Galaxy's Edge will surpass them all for build quality. This is Disney's opportunity to show that no one in this business — especially Universal with its Harry Potter lands — can build a higher-quality theme park attraction than Disney. It ain't gonna miss this shot.
At 14 acres, Galaxy's Edge is Disney's biggest single theme park land development ever. It offers the size to accommodate record-setting crowds, while at the same time creating a sense of intimacy that will make people rave about it to family and friends... while planning their own return visits. Building upon the lessons of past Disney masterpieces such as Epcot's Morocco pavilion, Galaxy's Edge will provide the ultimate expression of Disney magic — summoning tens of thousands of people to surround you in a land, while at the same time effectively making them disappear from your notice.
One of the main ways that Galaxy's Edge will suck in guests' attention will be with its unprecedented level of interactivity. This is massive, multi-player role-playing come to life. We've joked that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will be Star Tours crossed with Mission: Space. But those won't be disconnected placebo buttons you push on the bridge of the Millennium Falcon. You will be playing a team game when you ride this Galaxy's Edge attraction, but this won't feel like some shooter ride. Disney will be using its Play Disney Parks app to help make a visit to Black Spire Outpost feel like a live-action role-playing game... if you want it to be.
Prefer to experience Galaxy's Edge as a more traditional theme park attraction? You can do that, as well. In true interactive fashion, the story of Black Spire Outpost will adjust to your preferred levels of input and participation. That type of reaction from a attraction can be addictive, and will drive many to want to return to experience it - and perfect their input - just as the best video games keep you playing for hours on end. That addictive quality will drive attendance for this land higher and higher as the months go by.
Disney's PR machine
Let's not kid ourselves. I joked on Twitter about how much money Disney's PR teams now will spend to tell the world how much money they won't have to spend to promote Galaxy's Edge. Hype is as Disney as Mickey Mouse. The company is already using its Marvel Comics and book publishing business to promote Galaxy's Edge, and there's simply no way that it will be able to resist the temptation to spread word about this land on its ABC television network, social media channels, and network of celebrity influencers, as well.
Yes, Disney has been raising prices and increasing blockout dates to keep the crowd levels inside Galaxy's Edge manageable. But do not for a minute delude yourself into believing that those crowd levels will be anything other than very, very large. Disney's PR machine will fill Galaxy's Edge to capacity... and keep it filled for years to come.
And that is why Disney's Star Wars land will be the biggest theme park hit ever.
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