What is the best way for theme parks to manage demand?

December 13, 2019, 12:55 PM · The top question that theme park fans are asking right now seems to be: How do you get a chance to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance?

Walt Disney World is using a virtual queue system to handle boarding the highly-rated new ride in its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. But fans are claiming all spots in that virtual queue early each morning. Disney has backed up the park's published opening time to 7am (as of today), but fans are reporting that they need to arrive well before that to ensure that they get into the virtual queue and on the ride.

For first-person experiences and advice for getting into the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, please see our Discussion Board thread on Rise of the Resistance. And then set your alarm, because you're gonna be getting up early.

I have argued that virtual queues are a better way for theme parks to manage demand for popular attractions than making people wait for hours in physical queues. But are virtual queues the best way to manage extreme demand for theme park attractions?

Ultimately, theme parks have three main ways to allocate boarding opportunities on their attractions: First-come, first-serve systems such as queues, random-selection lotteries, and "pay to play" systems such as selling or auctioning seats. Parks also can decide whether to open access using any of these systems in advance or to make people wait until they are actually inside the park on the day of their visit to try to get access.

Right now, Disney is using a first-come, first-serve system open only on the day of visit to manage access to Rise of the Resistance. It is managing that line as a virtual queue instead of physical one, but both options would be the same first-come, first-served concept.

Disney could manage the virtual queue by allowing people access to it in advance of their visit. This would provide an advantage to people who did not want to haul their tired bodies out of bed and into the park before dawn to get into the queue. Just set your alarm for whatever time of day Disney opens the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue for your planned day of visit, then log in online and try to join the queue then. It would be similar to how people now try to claim Fastpasses for high-demand attractions at 7am Eastern time 60 or 30 days out from their visit. Or how people try to buy Comic-Con tickets.

The downside to that system would be a massive crush on Disney's servers as potentially hundreds of thousands of people log into attempt to get into the queue at once. It also might cause a decline in park attendance as people who do not get a place in the queue decide to postpone their visit until they do.

One alternative to that would be a free lottery. Log in and request a place in line whenever you want before a set deadline, and then Disney will select at random from the parties that requested access who gets a place in the queue. That would spread the load on Disney's servers and allow people to request access at their convenience, but it wouldn't do anything to prevent the issue with people postponing their trips.

Now Disney could address that with really creative (and potentially massively frustrating) day-of lottery system. You would arrive whenever you would like at the park, register your party in the My Disney Experience app, then request access to the ride. Disney's system would then randomly decide whether you would get that, based on some modeled odds for what percentage of guests can get on the ride on a given day. To prevent people from just mashing the system with multiple requests, each ticket through the gate would get one, and only one, shot at access.

Sound stressful? How about the certainty of just buying your way onto the ride? Disney could decide that Rise of the Resistance can only handle [some number X] number of riders each day, so it makes the attraction an upcharge costing whatever price it decides that number of people would be willing to pay. Guessing precisely what that price should be on any given day is tough, so the easier solution is just to put ride access up for auction and to let the market decide what the cut-off price should be. (Shout-out to my alma mater here, but there's a nifty way to do this called Purple Pricing.)

And if all this just sets your head spinning, there is the old-fashioned method of just making people line up and wait in a physical queue.

So which option would be your choice for trying to get on Rise of the Resistance, or any other wildly popular attraction at a theme park?

Make your case in the comments, please.

Replies (24)

December 13, 2019 at 2:04 PM

I remember Kevin Yee at Mice Age making the argument that the original Fast Pass didn't improve the customer experience, but made Disneyland feel more crowded because people weren't standing in the queues.

I don't know exactly the solution, but I feel like Fast/Max Pass makes the standby lines unreasonably long. I don't like it when they hold the standby line to let dozens of Fast Pass holders through, and I'm especially irked when no Fast passes are in sight, but they hold the line anyway. I'm ok if the standby line moves a little at a time, but don't like it when it's at a stand still for a couple minutes or more.

For a ride like RotR, it may be unavoidable that some people may not get on that day, standby only seems like the only equitable solution, other solutions may seem unfair to those who cannot make a reservation, etc. Or maybe have a standby line allowing one person in the party to remain in line while the others in the party may return later. At least that way, people can trade off standing in line, it seems more fair, and at least some people can enjoy the rest of the park. Or is this the way it works anyway with standby? Maybe make it more standardized or formal with specific rules?

December 13, 2019 at 2:38 PM

I think there's no real way to come up with a truly equitable solution, because regardless what procedure you come up with, there are going to be some guests that ultimately don't get on the attraction and are upset. That's probably why Disney manages the FP+ system the way they do, because if an attraction is so popular that its advanced-reservation FPs are all gone 60+ days ahead of time (like FoP, SDD, and 7DMT), guests know that if they wake up early enough, stay until the end of the day, or simply wait through hours-long standby lines, they'll eventually get on those attractions. However, there's an inefficiency created by the merging of FP and standby guests as well as the built-in unfairness to those whose even on-site stays are not as long or live west of the Eastern time zone where you have to get up at 4 AM (Pacific) to have the best chance at the most coveted FP reservations. As an aside, we recently made our FP+ reservation for our upcoming trip at the end of January, and while we were able to get reservations for a number of high profile attractions, there was scarce availability for the first 2 days of our trip (60 and 60+1). Plus there's the inherent randomness of the system itself as Disney seems to release additional FP reservations at random times, and randomly alters park hours that makes blocks of FP+ reservations available (like what happened earlier this week for our late January trip or what happened when Disney was finally able to consistently operate a 3rd theater on FoP and flooded MDE with FP+ reservations for it).

I definitely think asking people to pay for access to high demand attraction is a bad idea. There are already ways for guests to buy their way onto popular rides (though RotR has been exempted from ALL tours right now, even VIP tours). It just sends a bad message to guests who are already paying through the nose just to get through the gate and the perception that the rich are taking over every corner of the parks with upcharge tours, dessert parties, after hours events, increasing souvenir costs, etc...

While I haven't personally experienced the VQ for RotR, I think what Disney doing is the absolute BEST way they can manage the attraction. The bottom line is that the current demand for the ride far exceeds the number of people that can ride the attraction in a given day. Also, the unreliability and unpredictable but inevitable downtime for the attraction makes it impossible for Disney to employ FP+ and to know for certain how many guests they will be able to get through the ride each day (one of the reasons why they've expanded DHS hours and shifted EMH to evening hours). That means, it's simply unrealistic to manage a physical standby queue, and utilizing the existing FP+ system, where guests select time slots to ride months in advance, would result in far too many guests receiving "Anytime FPs", which will further degrade Disney's ability to manage the RotR queue as well as other attractions in the park.

It may seem reasonable to allow guests to reserve a spot in a virtual queue in advance, but as Robert notes, this may force guests to stay away on days where they're unable to secure coveted reservations. Also, there's the problem of how far in advance they allow guests to reserve and if any advantages are given to on-site guests, Concierge Level guests, APs, and/or VIPs (in addition to how much Disney wants to charge to get early access to the system). Allowing advanced reservations to a virtual queue would be similar to the way most high-end restaurants operate, but since there's no value associated with a spot in a theme park attraction's virtual queue, people could no-show without penalty, which would reduce Disney's ability to accurately manage the queue (unless of course Disney wanted to charge guests a "deposit" for getting in the VQ).

Nope, I think the current day-of, first-come-first-serve, virtual queue/Boarding Groups system is the way to go. Yes, it sucks to get up early in the morning and drag your entire family to the park to ensure that you get on the ride, but that's the way it works for so many other aspects of life. The guests who are dedicated enough to get in line before dawn should be given the first spots in line. I will say the restaurant industry has been going through similar problems with virtual queues/reservations, and standard queues/lines. There are a number of extremely popular restaurants in major metropolitan areas that have grown tired of the "snipers" that capture (and sell) highly coveted advanced reservations the second they become available. Many establishments have gone back to standard lines to fill their small dining rooms every service. However, as a result, it's created another problem where "clever" guests have started paying people (often homeless people) to physically stand in these lines hours ahead of the opening, meaning an "average" guest has practically no chance of getting a table at these uber-popular establishments. In the end, if something limited in supply is high enough demand (or if the supply is extremely scarce), people will pay whatever it takes to make sure they get it.

Until Disney increases the throughput of the attraction and has enough data to accurately predict how many guests can ride RotR in a given day, the virtual queue is the way to go, because it's a free system and favors those dedicated to arriving at the park early - which has a carry-on effect of clearing out the park in the evening as those that showed up a 5 AM are exhausted, leaving the park more open for guests that arrived later in the day.

December 13, 2019 at 5:33 PM

There's no perfect winning answer. Nobody wants to wait for rides, and nobody wants to get shut out of the experience, but with something as popular as this (and Hagrid's Coaster, and Flight of Passage, and whatever new, groundbreaking, ride that comes along) I think the general consensus is the right one: Reward those who come early, by letting them make the first reservations. Literally, if you snooze, you lose - but it is the most fair and simple requirement.

Rewarding the patient (ie; those willing to stand in line for ridiculous hours upon hours) is also a great equalizer in principle, however it is very unfair to those with children or physical limitations. But anybody can set their alarm for 6 AM.

Or, of course, just be patient and wait a year before visiting.

December 13, 2019 at 3:37 PM

You managed to list the options in my exact order of preference.
Let's start at the bottom:

Pay-to-play with an auction:
Because I don't spend enough money for a Disney vacation? If Disney wants to use this option, fine. Just make sure to put up a sign saying "Families making less than $250k per year unwelcome." We'll take the hint.

In-park lottery on day of visit:
I don't want to blow a ton of cash on a visit to WDW to leave riding RotR up to chance. This makes sense from Disney's perspective, because any advance options for reservations (such as Fastpass) could cause families to postpone their visit until they can grab those FPs. But Disney makes a ton of money off of the parks, and people don't want to spend their hard earned cash to have a shot at getting the full experience.

Lottery in advance of visit:
Acceptable, but not preferable. I don't like leaving things to chance. You could always postpone your trip if you don't win the lottery, but not everyone has that luxury. You only get so many vacation days, and you have to put them in months in advance to make sure no one beats you to them. Kids have school, and while you might be okay with pulling them out for a few days, you want to minimize the amount of time that they miss, because god forbid they get bronchitis or something that keeps them out of school for a week or more.

First-come reservation made in advance:
These last three options are our tried-and-true methods. This is basically a Fastpass. Reserve it online, use it in the park. I'd be okay with this, but there is still some element of chance to this. Disney's servers might go down, and you're unable to spend the rest of the day periodically refreshing to see if it's back up. Or there was just a big storm, and your internet is out. Some things you want to do in person, just to be sure.

Physical queue or First-come reservation made on the day of visit:
These last two are kind of a toss-up for me. Obviously, the virtual queue is superior in many ways. You don't have to spend hours waiting on line in the hot Florida sun (part of the time, at least), you can go visit other attractions in the park, you can eat, keep hydrated, and have access to restrooms (particularly important to parents of small children), and from Disney's POV, the more time you're not physically standing on a line is more time that you can be spending money. The virtual queue is a win-win.
Unless you get up crazy early in the morning, take a taxi to the park hours before opening, and STILL don't get a reservation.
This is the only time when a physical queue is better. If you're queued up for a ride, Disney will let you get on. they will not remove you from a queue that you've been waiting on because the park is closing. Ultimately, that is probably the reason that Disney isn't using a physical queue for RotR. Because they would have to keep the ride open for HOURS after park closing to accommodate everyone.

December 13, 2019 at 4:41 PM

I really like the FP+ system. I don't feel ripped off, because its free and I don't see the "rich kids" being treated better than me. I know that I am guaranteed to experience 3 attractions I might otherwise be worried about not having the time/endurance to wait for, and when attractions are under capacity its good at enocuraging peple to go and experience them.

I would like to see more parks move to 100% virtual queues. But if this is not possible, or if it does have that "Unintended Crowded" affect, then I'd like to see more innovation as to what a queue is. Does a queue have to be physically *standing* in a *line*. Why can't it be a lobby where I can sit down, out of the weather, maybe take a comfort break or a drink without fear of losing my place?

December 13, 2019 at 4:45 PM

As others have said, there's no perfect answer here.

The day-of, first-come reservations are probably the best option in a vacuum, but if Disney is going to ask you to plan every other minute of your vacation months in advance, a day-of "maybe if we get there early enough, we'll get a reservation" plan is not a particularly fair ask for out-of-towners.

So while I don't think it's necessarily the best option, I think WDW's overall vacation planning process would have made first-come advanced reservations the most appropriate option.

For other parks that require less advanced planning, I think the day-of, first-come reservations are the way to go.

December 13, 2019 at 4:55 PM

In general, I think just having a physical line is the best way to go about it. No reservations, no express passes, just show up and wait your turn. However, on attractions that routinely have wait times in excess of an hour, I do think a first-come, first-served virtual queue alternative is a satisfactory option, particularly at parks that attract a lot of non-local visitors. It's one thing to wait hours for a ride when you visit several times a year, but it's another when you've got one day at the park and you likely won't be back for 5+ years. Therefore, for rides that are perpetually crowded, keeping a queue of 20-30 minutes and issuing boarding passes to get in that line seems the best way to maximize how many get to experience the ride and minimize impact on the rest of the guest's day. I strongly oppose any of the other options presented here, especially any option that requires an upcharge.

What Disney is doing with Rise of the Resistance is in my mind the best option, but I'd make one small adjustment: At check-in, guests staying on property may select one day during their visit to join the virtual queue for the attraction in advance. This doesn't guarantee they will be able to ride, but does prevent the need to arrive several hours early just to have a chance at it. Other than that, I don't think there's a more fair system, and I wouldn't mind seeing the current procedure rolled out to other popular attractions that routinely command multi-hour waits (such as Flight of Passage). For rides that typically peak at less than 45 minutes on all but the busiest days, however, it would just be unnecessary...stick to standard queues for those.

December 13, 2019 at 11:20 PM

This just makes me realize how old I am as I can so vividly remember the days of being at WDW, hoping you'd get a good time for Space Mountain or such, see 60 minutes, shrug "ah, probably the best I'll get" and then waiting for it. Just makes you better appreciate all the options today to cut that down.

December 14, 2019 at 10:12 AM

Yes, I know it sucks to get up early and have to join the boarding groups early, but there are several pros:
1) You can leave the park and do whatever you want whether it be go home to take a nap, go to a different park, see a show, anything you want until your boarding group gets called.
2) You do have 2 hours to return to the park in order to ride.
3) I would much rather have the opportunity to walk around the parks, grab a bite or even use the bathroom rather than spending 13 hours in a queue (a la Hagrid).
4) I have to admit to their credit that they management is really improving the overall experience by helping guests whose boarding groups are not called that day by giving the 1 day park hopper (transferrable, worth about $180 right now, with no blackout dates AND valid till 2030) and the golden fastpass for the next day.

December 14, 2019 at 8:59 PM

The VQ is not the best solution; it`s the least bad solution. Demand is outstripping supply, and, to make matters worse, the ride breaks down a lot. I`ll try to ride it near the end of next year, probably. At DLR.

December 15, 2019 at 1:37 PM

A virtual line seems better than an actual line and first come may be the best short-term solution. The real issue is going to be what are they going to do if the demand is still the same a year from now? I suspect it may be. I also suspect that the FP+ system on everything else may make it extremely problematic. Years ago I stated it would be a problem if they just had two attractions at SWGE, that they needed another gate due to demand. Of course that is a financial risk in case the IP tanks, but what you have currently is a system at WDW with FP+ that bottlenecks the supply across all the gates. You then have two attractions at GE without FP+. What do they do when families spend $10,000 (or more) this coming spring break and never get to experience a Star Wars attraction when that is what they fly or drive 15 hours for and also can't get fast passes for Avatar or Slinky Dog? They better train a lot of cast members to use the Jedi mind trick on angry, fit throwing parents. It's all good for people that frequent this website who can understand the system, but the average family will miss out. It is time to scrap FP+. The older fast pass system would spread the guests out through the parks and eliminated the system on attractions hat didn't need it. And don't tell me you can just refresh the app and get more during the day. No, you can't. They are gone or the app fails to work. Further, that system will push demand right back to DHS which already has problems with FP+. Or just don't use any system at all.

December 15, 2019 at 4:08 PM

I think everyone should except the virtual queue to be the new norm for the new attractions opening in 2021 (Tron at MK and Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot). Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway will go the usual route of FPs and long lines because it will not surpass the demand of RotR at HS.

Assuming RotR continues to be in high demand as FoP has after these many years, we do need to consider that there will be a paid option coming up: the Galactic Starcruiser. I have no doubt that front of line access to Galaxy’s Edge attractions will be a perk exclusive to this unique hotel, and guaranteed access to RotR without waking up at 4:00 a.m. would guarantee full rooms at the hotel at any price.

December 15, 2019 at 9:34 PM

At the price they are letting out about the 'hotel' I would expect front of the line access, but it seems it is not just a hotel but a full on cosplay, which will be off putting for many. Also, at that price, I would expect them to have a Void experience on site included in the cost as well along with a full costume and lightsabers from the park. I am not sure that hotel will be for my family, rabid Star Wars fans that we are, as I doubt the extreme cost would be worth it. However, staying at the Hard Rock and getting front of the line on EVERYTHING at 5% of the cost of the Star Wars hotel? That I can justify.

December 16, 2019 at 11:19 AM

The virtual line has some merit... But it forces people to come early, and probably have to stay late in the day to get that ride. Disney seems to be finding a way to maximize the amount of time guests will spend in the park.

The good news is that it prevents people from reserving the ride days (or weeks) in advance. If someone is planning a long distance trip to Disney World, it does NOT offer them any level of certainty that their vacation will include the ride(s) of their choice. It could be a very disappointing vacation for some.

But the Fast Pass system can be just as bad. Before I moved to Florida, I had to plan my vacation more than 60 days in advance, and pay for it ahead of time. Then I could “try” to get a Fast Pass for my favorite rides. I got some, but I didn’t always get the ones I really wanted. So, I was forced to stand in the line and hope.

Now, for long distance guests, the Virtual Line does not allow for any certainty of getting the ride, even though people are spending thousands of dollars well in advance.

Overall, I don’t like the virtual lines.

So what is the solution? The better rides need to be capable of more guests. I know that’s easy to say.

December 16, 2019 at 4:22 PM

When Runaway Railway opens, Disney should put that ride, the GE rides and SDD in Tier One. That way,there will be a lot of tempting tier one options, and they also fix the current disaster with the lousy Tier 2 selections.

December 16, 2019 at 5:11 PM

So allow me to compare recent trips to DL and WDW where both parks were operating at or near capacity. I will only compare MK and DL for simplicity's sake. FP+ three attractions booked at MK. Arrived at rope drop and able to ride ten attractions during the day. MK allowed me to get two additional FP+ selections, but no other parks would during our stay. When we stood in the standby the lines were over an hour including the longest I stood in which was almost two hours for Jungle Cruise. DL arrived two hours after opening. Twenty attractions and it was just as crowded. Granted it has more attractions, so not apples to apples, but the longest line was 45 minutes for Small World. Did not stay near as long but could have ridden 5-6 more attractions. The fast loaders like Haunted Mansion and Pirates had 30-45 minute waits while at WDW they were 60-90 minutes at the same time of the day. The compact nature of DL does make it harder to get around, but you can easily accomplish much more than double without the extreme aggravation of having your vacation planned out in advance. And when you start having to factor tiers into the equation, that just makes it worse.

December 16, 2019 at 5:16 PM

Just so I understand, if I buy a one day ticket to DHS, I have to be at the park before opening, then inside the park and try to secure a spot on ROTR through the Disney app? Then there is no guarantee I will even get on the ride?

December 17, 2019 at 7:22 AM

All great comments above. Also, Galaxy's Edge could add one or two innovative younger kids rides ("crowd-eaters") to fill out the land, similar in footprint to magic carpet ride or Dumbo. Or something like Pteranadon Flyers where you could see the land from above.

December 17, 2019 at 7:28 AM

@Robert L - Based on current conditions and expected crowd levels that will only increase over the next week, guests are reporting that DHS gates are opening @6:30 (30 minutes prior to posted opening time, which has been shifted up an hour and all EMHs shifted to the evenings). In order to join a Boarding Group to ride RotR (the only way to ride RotR right now even with a DAS pass or VIP Tour), your entire party must be physically in the park beyond the entrance gates (tapped in with valid admission). Once MDE recognizes that you are inside the park, you can then choose a Boarding Group for RotR. This does not affect any of your pre-arranged FP+ reservations, ADRs, or your ability to select additional FP+ reservations after you've completed your first 3. Boarding Groups have been filling up typically between 7:45 and 8:00 AM (it has been reported that the highest number has been 120), but of course the closer you are to the cutoff, the later in the day you will be called back to the attraction. Therefore, if you want to ensure that you can get on the attraction during the first half of the day, you need to try to get your party through the gates within the first 15-20 minutes that they're open (again the times the gates have been opening is variable, and based more on the crowds gathering outside and not a hard and fast time). Based on the reported crowds outside the park prior to opening, that means you probably want to be at DHS no later than 6:00 AM (the first guests are arriving as early as 4-5 AM FWIW, which is probably going to get even earlier as WDW gets more and more crowded during the holidays).

Over the past 2 days, guests have been reporting that Disney has been offering "Backup Boarding Groups" beyond #120 that are being offered with caveats. There is clear language if you select this option that there is a distinct possibility that you may not be able to ride RotR at all, but being in a backup group at least gives you a chance. This indicates that Disney is getting more confident in the number of guests they can get through the attraction (when the attraction first opened, guests in the latest Boarding Groups were not being called, but as a consolation were being given "Anytime FP+" for the rest of their vacation as well as a 1-Day park admission that didn't expire until 2030 (honestly, that's quite a comp for simply not getting on a high demand ride that's known to be problematic and running at limited capacity right now).

Obviously, you're never guaranteed to get on any attraction when you visit a theme park, and a ride with the demand and limited capacity of RotR is going to be subject to the willingness of other guests to arrive early as much as it is to technical difficulties. However, if you want to give yourself the best opportunity to ride RotR right now (I would say this extends through at least the first week of January), you should be at the gates to DHS no later than 6 AM.

December 17, 2019 at 7:41 AM

@Chewy2000 - Neither of those attractions you cite are what would be considered "crowd eaters". In fact, Pteranodon Flyers is one of the lowest capacity attractions in any major theme park, which is one of the reasons Universal has put such tight restrictions on it - adults cannot ride without a child.

FWIW, Imagineering had a concept for a "Dewback" track-based attraction that was supposed to ring the perimeter of the Black Spire Outpost, but it was scrapped. There are expansion pads built into Galaxy's Edge (and PtWoA), so the possibility of future attractions was always a consideration for the land. However, even with a $1 billion budget, there are limitations. Plus there's something to be said for leaving guests wanting more, and not fully developing a land when it debuts. Theme parks should grow and evolve with guests, and as their tastes and preferences change. The fact that Galaxy's Edge is now open (at least in Florida) with what would be considered two E-Ticket level rides should be considered quite an accomplishment. MFSR is more of a "crowd eater" than anyone expected, and once RotR gets through its shakedown period, it should also be able to take a large volume of guests.

December 17, 2019 at 7:53 AM

The back-up boarding pass is a bit of a con really. Unless that ride utilises all 4 of the vehicles (only 2 were being used when I rode it, but 4 were being sent thru) then 121 is never going to be called. At park close last night they were boarding 96-120, so tough luck on your back-up pass.

I wonder if they are offering the sweetener package to the 121+ groups. I haven't heard that they are just yet. Also if you are unlucky enough to get a 121+, when do they tell you there's no chance to get on ?? Park close at 9pm, or maybe earlier.

EMH, as Russell mentioned, is now during the evening hours, but ROTR is not included. If you have a 121+ does that mean you will get on the ride, even it that means it takes you into the EMH ?

I've just checked MDE app, and Disney seems to be shifting the back-up boarding groups depending how well the ride is running. All groups are now gone, but the back-up group starts at 107. Even with 107+ it would seem you have little chance to ride ROTR today ??

Maybe that's a way for them to get out of giving away the sweetener package (FP+ or day pass) "Oh sorry, you were in the back-up group and you don't qualify" ?? Very interesting ....

December 17, 2019 at 8:18 AM

@makorider - I think Disney is being far too generous in offering the comps for guests that don't get on RotR. I know it's a huge draw for guests to the park, especially over that first weekend that it was open. However, after operations become more "regular" following that opening weekend, Disney should have pulled back the comps. Now they have some guests who rode RotR on earlier days of their trip with no intention of spending any more time in DHS deliberately showing up at the park to get in those last few Boarding Groups in the hope of scoring the comps. They're showing up at 7 AM, and then scanning MDE until the BG numbers get over 100, grabbing one, and then leave with no intention of returning, even if their number is called.

Frankly, I think Disney is going way too far here. If the ride shuts down for more than 5 minutes, Disney instantly sends Chewie, Rey, and snack/drinks through the line even if guests just showed up. Guests are standing in line for hours to ride FoP, and get NOTHING, but even with a breakdown, guests are not standing in the physical RotR queue for more than an hour. I understand that Disney wants to keep guests happy, and it's frustrating that they can't operate RotR anywhere close to its full capacity right now as they approach the busiest times of the year, but word is quickly spreading about what Disney is doing for guests who are just the tiniest bit inconvenienced. Giving them a return ticket that doesn't expire for 10 YEARS is pretty ridiculous for not getting on a new ride that's known to have technical issues. The Anytime FP+ should be more than enough for guests that are past the cutoff, and a free bag of popcorn or other snack should satisfy guests that may not be returning to WDW for a while.

December 17, 2019 at 7:50 PM

Disney needs to get started on a third GE ride. That might be the only way to take pressure off ROTR.

December 18, 2019 at 7:33 AM

You think so Still a fan? Would that ride be in both versions of the land or just DHS? The only pressure that's on RotR is to get it running consistently up to theoretical capacity, which by most accounts is at least double what it's running at right now. Another attraction is NOT going to accomplish that goal. With MMRR coming in less than 3 months, along with lighter crowd levels during the winter, RotR will finally get a chance to ease into more normal operations.

Let's take a step back here, because the issues with RotR are not because of the ride itself nor the overall design of Galaxy's Edge. The problems Disney is facing right now are solely due to their decision making process.

1. MMRR missed its post - While Disney won't admit it publicly, announcing the attraction at the tail end of 2017's D23 Expo (where Galaxy's Edge was officially announced) was a clear sign that the ride was initially planned to open AHEAD of the new Star Wars land in Florida. Serious construction on Black Spire Outpost had not yet started in DHS, a park that was woefully short on attractions that would need something more than TSL to take the pressure off the intense crowds expected for Galaxy's Edge. The early rumors were that MMRR would open in late 2018 or early 2019 since it was utilizing an existing attraction building, but delays have placed the opening far beyond the debut of Galaxy's Edge.

2. Shakedown happening in Florida instead of California - It was clear from the start that Galaxy's Edge was supposed to completely open in California prior to Florida. Disneyland sees far more APs and locals than it does tourists, so downtime, technical issues, and slow-moving lines are more tolerable to guests that can come back whenever they want instead of the once-in-a-lifetime guests that frequently flood WDW. Disney would have had far more leeway to shut the attraction down for a day or even a week if they had issues that needed to be sorted out knowing the a majority of guests visiting DL could just come back another day or simply enjoy the dozens and dozens of other rides in the park. Disney doesn't have that luxury at DHS with just a handful of other attractions, and an intense amount of pressure to make sure the ride is open and running for guests that may only have 1 shot at riding the marquee attraction. The issues that caused Disney to halt progress on the attraction in California and shift resources to Florida have directly led to the situation they're dealing with right now.

3. Timing and financial pressures - I don't think it's a stretch to think that executives have forced designers' hand here. In a perfect world where there are ZERO construction delays, Disney would have opened all of Galaxy's Edge in California in April/May and then all of it in Florida by July. However, that simply didn't happen, and the shifting of resources from the California project to the Florida project mid-stream shows how much more revenue is generated by WDW compared to Disneyland. Executives also can better predict the flow of revenue at WDW with ADRs, FP+, and resort reservations, and likely leveraged the popularity and anticipation of Star Wars to increase revenue at the Florida complex. In doing so, they tried to squeeze the debut of the land into a tight window between the busy summer months and the growing popularity of the fall festivals and events. Then when Imagineers saw light at the end of the tunnel for RotR, they were almost certainly pressured to squeeze the shakedown into an even tighter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In reality, Disney has created 90% of the pressure that's on RotR, and better decision making and foresight would have likely limited some of the issues that they're dealing with right now. However, simply dropping in another attraction into Galaxy's Edge is not the answer to the issues plaguing RotR. Operators just need a couple of weeks where they're not trying to put the pedal to the metal, and can allow the attraction to break in normally. Once January comes, they should be able to do this (and may even have a chance to take the ride down for a full day or more to work out specific issues), and then the addition of MMRR will come on board to take up any remaining slack. Disney has enough on its plate right now with the EPCOT work, Tron, and WDW50. Another Star Wars ride is at least 2-3 years away, if not more.

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



Discounted Park Tickets

  Orlando attractions

  Southern California attractions

Get Our Newsletter

Read Robert's Book

Stories from a Theme Park Insider