today's announcements and the reactions, let's recap what we know — and don't — about the impending openings of Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge lands.
AfterIn case you missed the announcement, Disney CEO Bob Iger said this morning that Galaxy's Edge would open on May 31 at Disneyland and August 29 at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. But the lands' biggest attraction, the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, won't open on those dates, debuting instead "later this year." And visitors to the Disneyland installation will need to get an advance reservation to enter the land between May 31 and June 23.
So we are getting a phased opening, starting with reservation-only visits before a public debut on June 24, then a full opening with both attractions later in 2019. Walt Disney World is skipping the reservations phase, moving directly to the public opening on August 29, followed by the full opening later.
Today's announcement means that — unless another park does something stupid — there will be no conflict with competing attractions opening at the same time, as we are seeing later this month with Legoland Florida and SeaWorld Orlando opening new kiddie lands on the same date, or as we saw in 2017 when Disney World scheduled the media event for Pandora: The World of Avatar on top of the media event for Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay. The closest thing to competition for Galaxy's Edge — the new coaster at Islands of Adventure's The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure — will open on June 13.
That's what we know. Here's what we don't know:
1) When Rise of the Resistance will open. If you are a family that can afford to make just one trip to see Galaxy's Edge — and want the complete experience — you still don't know when to book your trip, despite today's announcements. Perhaps that's by design. By holding back Rise of the Resistance, Disney has created a big incentive for many fans to postpone their Disney Star Wars adventure, taking some crowd-management pressure off the lands at their launch.
2) How to get one of those Disneyland reservations. The resort said that these reservations will be available at no cost, and that instructions will be forthcoming. But will annual passholders or DVC members get an early crack at the reservations, or will their reservations come from a different pool of times than those for the general public? People staying at the three on-site Disneyland hotels will get a reservation for Galaxy' Edge during their stay. But for everyone else, we're still guessing.
3) How people will react. Will one, moderate-capacity ride (Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run), a first-for-Disneyland bar, a couple food stands, and stores themed to a location no one's ever heard of satisfy fans of one of the world's most popular and beloved franchises? Or will the opening of these new attractions simply amplify the hype for the debut of Rise of the Resistance?
If Disney was hoping that Galaxy's Edge would dethrone The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley as the current industry favorite, reestablishing Disney as the clear creative leader in themed entertainment design, it's going to be tough for the land to do that before it's fully open. Even if what opens on May 31 blows everyone away, it's going to be tough not to defer some judgment about Galaxy's Edge until Rise of the Resistance opens and completes the land.
But as the undisputed leader in theme park attendance and revenue worldwide, Disney can afford to wait for its accolades. If holding back Rise of the Resistance keeps crowd levels manageable and the ride wows everyone when it does open, no one except a few geeks and scolds will remember the phased opening for Galaxy's Edge. Ultimately, this land will succeed or slide by (failure isn't really on the table here) on the quality of the experience it delivers. If people really love it, they will wait for it, no matter how long that takes.
And that, we know for sure.
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