How Disneyland is using Galaxy's Edge to make its lines disappear

June 5, 2019, 6:57 PM · One week ago tonight, Harrison Ford dedicated Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land by smacking his fist onto the hull of the Millennium Falcon, bringing it to life. But judging from the crowd levels around the rest of the park since the Star Wars land's public debut Friday, one might be excused for wondering if the opening moment didn't involve Thanos snapping his fingers instead.

Walt times and crowd sizes elsewhere around the resort have fallen to levels last seen on a sunny day at Disneyland when J.J. Abrams' top sci-fi franchise was Cloverfield. The 14-acre Galaxy's Edge has sucked in guests like the Death Star hauling in the Falcon, leaving fans to enjoy average waits of just 20-40 minutes on the resort's other "E ticket" attractions, according to Disneyland officials.

"When you add a new area to the park, it adds capacity and has a positive impact on the whole park," Kris Theiler, Vice President of Disneyland Park, said. "So there is no better time to visit the Disneyland Resort than now."

Even within the land, wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run have averaged around 45-50 minutes since it opened on Friday, Disneyland officials said today. The resort has been limiting access to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge to guests staying at Disneyland's three hotels and those who made advance reservations last month. The reservation-only period extends to June 23, with the land opening to all Disneyland ticket holders on June 24.

Guests with reservations enter the land at assigned times and can stay for up to four hours before they are asked to leave. While the reservation system has limited crowds to manageable levels within the land, the reservation schedule also has led to a somewhat inconsistent flow of guests through the land. Wait time for the Falcon spike up to 90 minutes whenever a new reservation group enters the land, falling to as low as 15-20 minutes just before the next group hits, park officials said.

To help prevent the need for people waiting in long stand-by queues, Disneyland has implemented a call-back virtual queue for Oga's Cantina and a return time system for people booking $200 lightsaber building sessions in Savi's Workshop. Eventually, Disneyland officials said today, the plan is to move to an advance reservation system for Savi's, much like the one now used for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. But don't expect that switch until Disney gets a better handle on what crowd behavior will be like after June 24.

In the meantime, Disneyland officials said that most visitors to Oga's Cantina are naturally finishing within 30-45 minutes, which is keeping Disneyland from having to enforce a hard time limit in the cantina beyond that. But guests also are being limited to two drinks in the cantina, which is helping to keep the crowds moving through Disneyland's first public bar.

Disneyland also is reaching out via email to fans who mistakenly booked Galaxy's Edge reservations for a party of one, missing the option to add people to their party on the reservation form. Disneyland previous allowed those guests to add a second person to their reservation and now is allowing them to add the number of guests they'd intended to bring originally, officials said.

As for operations after June 24, the goal is to use a virtual queue to limit access to the land once it hits capacity, then also to smooth guest flow within it, to avoid the peaks and valleys of wait times now found in the land under the reservation system, officials said. The current systems will stay in place for Oga's and Savi's, too... at least at first. Expect more details from Disneyland about operational tweaks within the land as June 24 approaches, and we will pass them along here on Theme Park Insider.

Disneyland is also using new and refreshed attractions elsewhere in the park and Disney California Adventure to spread crowds around and reduce overall wait times. This Friday Disneyland Forever returns and a new Tale of the Lion King live musical show opens in the World of Color viewing area at California Adventure.

The Tale of the Lion King will run several times during the day, featuring an 18-member cast of singers, storytellers and musicians in a "story theater" production where they narrate and play roles in the familiar story of The Lion King, but with an all-new script, musical arrangements, and costumes, created specifically for the Disneyland Resort and inspired by contemporary Afrobeat music. The show will run through the summer.

California Adventure also is looking to draw crowds with the recent openings of Mickey's Philharmagic in the old Muppets theater in Hollywood Land, Jessie's Critter Carousel in Pixar Pier, and the return of Soarin' Over California for June only. (Though fans might be able to extend that return... if there is enough positive, enthusiastic demand. Soarin' Over California fans, you know what to do. See ya at the DCA Chamber of Commerce office!)

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Replies (12)

June 5, 2019 at 9:46 PM

Very interesting and informative update. Thanks, Robert!

June 5, 2019 at 11:29 PM

In case you didn't see it reading between the lines here, this was another "Project Stardust" call with invited media today. So of course, the result of a bunch of stories saying "Disneyland has short lines!" is going to be tons of people crowding the park to take advantage... and the return of the long lines.

So if you got to enjoy the past few days of bliss at Disneyland, good job. And if the lines start to suck going forward, I guess I get part of that blame now. :^(

June 6, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Sshhhh... keep it down! I'm going to Disneyland next month and I've been optimistic with how manageable the crowds have been the past week or so. I'm constantly checking the app's wait times and it is really pleasant. I just hope that the crowds hold up until after I visit. Who am I kidding, half of the Northern Hemisphere is planning a trip to Anaheim thanks to this news (and the June 24 end of reservation embargo)

June 6, 2019 at 12:17 AM

In other words, if you don't care about this land at all, this is probably the best time ever to visit Disneyland and walk onto rides you'd normally be waiting hours for.

June 6, 2019 at 1:01 AM

We went yesterday (Tue) and while we spent the majority of our visit in GE, it did not feel like the rest of the park was significantly less crowded than your average non-summer/holiday Tuesday. I think most of us angelenos (and whatever OC and SD residents call themselves) were worried about major crowding the first few days but it had already started to correct itself by Tues and I suspect many people were already likely to try to get in there later this week and next weekend and over correct.

BTW, at least during the 4h preview period, I think a lot of guests would actually like to be in and out of Oga's in less than 30m (or even 15m) but slow service made that extremely difficult.

June 6, 2019 at 7:08 AM

Or maybe not many people are that bothered ... lol

June 6, 2019 at 8:44 AM

This really feels like one big PR con, and I'm only now realizing how brilliant this three-week reservation system is. While all eyes are on the grand opening, the reservation policy keeps lines low and operations efficient, leaving national media outlets to call everything a huge success, which it certainly is. By June 24, when crowds will crush Galaxy's Edge and wait times will soar (not to mention the utter disaster the Orlando opening seems like it's going to be), the media will have already covered everything and you won't hear more than a peep about it.

June 6, 2019 at 10:04 AM

I'm not buying this analysis. The fact of the matter is that Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland opened nearly a full month earlier than anyone expected. Those of us making plans long in advance would have never booked a trip to Disneyland right now. Also, the Reservation System is deliberately keeping guests away not only from Galaxy's Edge due to the limited number of slots they're allowing during this "soft opening" period, but also for regular guests, who are probably putting off a trip to Disneyland until they can ensure themselves a visit to Batuu.

The reports of short lines is a direct result of how Disney has chosen to open the new land, and any extrapolation of current conditions to later this summer is foolish. Disney should refrain from patting themselves on the back until the heart of the summer arrives, because I have no doubt that lines on June 24th will be suffocating, and any/all non-blacked out APs who were not lucky enough to score a reservation will descend upon the Anaheim resort at the end of the month. The shift from hard-ticket reservations to a virtual queue will have ripple affects across the resort as guests will fill neighboring attraction queues (BTMRR, Small World, and Splash Mountain/Pooh) while they await a callback to enter Black Spire Outpost (few will stray far wanting to be close when that text comes). The only hope will be that when RotR opens, it will bring additional capacity to Galaxy's Edge, but that Disney will stay conservative with the number of guests they allow into the land (and Disneyland as a whole) even after the 2nd ride opens. They need to still allow guests some breathing room within the park and new land, especially if RotR cannot operate at optimal capacity.

June 6, 2019 at 11:01 AM

I agree with the last previous posts. It's about to go down at the Disneyland resort after June 24th. I do buy the PR trick an above poster mentioned. My only hope for a not too crazy summer is people actually hold out until Rise of the Resistance opens.

June 6, 2019 at 4:33 PM

I was following the crowd patterns on the Disneyland App by checking wait times since last Friday. This article literally came out 3 days too late. Friday through Sunday had below average crowd levels for this time of year, but by Monday the word had gotten out and Disney had made moves already to compensate for it. For one starting Monday, Disney lifted the ban on CM sign ins. If you look at the App this afternoon, it's a pretty crowded day, with Space Mountain's wait at 90 minutes.

June 6, 2019 at 7:04 PM

Will they be implementing a virtual queue at DHS when their GE reaches capacity? If not, that would make no sense.

June 7, 2019 at 5:12 AM

Amusing typo in the second paragraph: “Walt times” :-)

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