With word spreading that Disneyland isn’t as busy feeling as some expect for the middle of the summer, some factions of the internet have suggested Galaxy’s Edge is failing. Is there any truth to this suggestion?
This past weekend, I made the mistake of looking at the videos YouTube’s algorithms decided I would like. Being a Star Wars fan, this often leads to Galaxy’s Edge vlogs, or videos from the always excellent Star Wars Explained.
On this occasion, I was flooded with “STAR WARS BACKLASH! GALAXY’S EDGE A FLOP?!?” style titles.
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Hyperbole such as this isn’t new in the world of YouTube. Naturally, views lead to revenue, and headlines such as these are almost required to pull in the viewer. While I often avoid such videos, and the channels behind them, I made an allowance. My usual decision to avoid said channels was vindicated as I was met with a 20-minute rant about Disney’s handling of the series.
While the content of these videos is less than savory, they do bring to light the current headlines surrounding Galaxy’s Edge, and Disneyland as a whole.
Certain publications, for example, are reporting that Disneyland in California is “a ghost town”, and that wait times for the Smugglers Run ride aren’t anywhere close to a Cars ride that opened in 2012. With it being the height of the summer, at one of the most popular holiday destinations on the planet, are the YouTuber’s of today right in saying a backlash to Disney’s take on Star Wars is leading to their new billion-dollar park?
Galaxy’s Edge is not failing
Ok, it’s not a simple as just “no”. There are a multitude of factors that need to be accounted for when discussing why Disneyland might feel as empty as it supposedly does right right now.
I want to preface this by saying I’m not a huge theme park guy. I’ve never been to Disneyland nor Disney World; the only real comparable I have is going to Disneyland Paris, and even then my experience was over a decade ago. I can’t comment on the “wider walkways” within the park, or the new attractions opened at the California Adventure park.
Although, having a bunch of rides open around the same time as Galaxy’s Edge is sure to divide the attention of families spending a week at the resort.
I also don’t have enough knowledge on Disney Parks to discuss the matter of “annual pass blackouts”, though, to be completely honest, I’m not sure that ties into this particularly. As far as I can see, there are a myriad of factors to consider before turning to the tired “the fans hate the series” line. Through a few educated guesses, hopefully I’ll have convinced you the same.
Wait it out
The biggest story around Galaxy’s Edge, pre-launch, was just how busy it would be.
“There will be crowds of biblical proportions” was the general feeling prior to the parks opening. In his video review/vlog/whatever you want to all it, YouTube’s “Quinton Reviews” stated the expectation was the opening of Galaxy’s Edge would create a peak season lasting until around February 2022.
The expectation was this park would basically make Disneyland a no-go zone if you want to do everything is a timely and comfortable manner.
That expectation will have passed onto the customer. Considering Disneyland is notoriously popular during the summer months as it is, adding a new park, centered around one of the biggest and most popular entertainment franchises in history, is a recipe for disaster for crowd control.
People looking at visiting a Star Wars-themed land will have been put off at the prospect of 2-3 hour waits to pilot the Millennium Falcon, and families looking for their Disneyland adventure would think twice before booking their trip over the launch window of such an anticipated attraction. At the very least, both sets of people will want to get their money’s worth.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 29: Details of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge media preview at The Disneyland Resort at Disneyland on May 29, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Save that money
Looking right now, a 7-night trip to Disney World, Orlando, in February 2020, I am looking at *at least* £887 ($1,111.23). That’s a price per person, and includes flights, hotel, dining plans etc. For a family of two adults and two children, that comes to a total from £2408 ($3,017).
In short; a Disney holiday isn’t cheap. Both myself and my girlfriend work full time, and that’s a figure that neither of us can reach on a whim; I can’t imagine a family of four being able to stump up that sort of cash easily, either.
Factor in the $200 cost of building your own lightsaber, $100 to build your own droid (pay $45 for its backpack), a trip to Dok-Ondar’s den of antiquities, themed food and drink ranging from $6 to $42, not to mention all the other merchandise around the rest of the parks- that $3,000 family holiday is starting to come closer to $4,000, at least. A trip like that will mean serious saving, over a sustained period of time.
That family of four can probably look at putting away between $200-400 a month, when all is said and done.
Coming back to the first point, however; if you’re spending that amount of money on, what could well be a once in a lifetime sort of trip, why would you choose to spend when the park is likely to be at its fullest?
Or, to further that point, why would you spend that sort of money on a trip before you know just what sort of experience you and your children will have? Sure you’re better off waiting until the park has been open for a while, to get a fuller picture of what you’re getting for your money? Especially when the park itself isn’t finished.
The park isn’t finished
This, in my mind, the main reason Disneyland isn’t flooded with Star Wars fans right now.
Galaxy’s Edge may be open, but it isn’t complete. Although the Smuggler’s Run ride is up and running, the second ride, Rise of the Resistance, isn’t yet. Nor does it have a firm opening date.
While some are lucky enough to regularly frequent Disneyland, most of us aren’t. If you’re making that trip, you’re making it knowing you’re unlikely to be going again for a good while at least. So, if that family of four are going to Disney World, they want to go when they know they’re getting a complete experience.
Naturally, Galaxy’s Edge is going to be ever evolving. Just this weekend, Fantha Tracks leaked plans for a full sit down restaurant to be opened in the area. Additionally, here are reports of merchandise selling out and not being restocked quickly, resulting in some experiences being unavailable at all times.
The park was billed on two rides, and only one of those is currently open. My best guess would be that there is a reluctance to make the journey to a park that is yet to be fully formed, when you know there’s more coming. Especially for the cost. Especially when there’s a belief that the park is going to be crazy busy.
What this means, in my mind, at least, is that the expected Disneyland/Disney World rush will come, albeit in a delayed manner. With Galaxy’s Edge due to open in Orlando on August 31st, and Orlando being the preferred choice for those this side of the Atlantic (at least colloquially), there’s every chance those will be the parks that sees the hustle and bustle initially expected.
And who’s to say that Galaxy’s Edge isn’t already stealing the attention of park goers? While wait times for Smugglers Run aren’t hitting the 2-3 hours of the Radiator Springs Cars ride, it’s still regularly pulling lines of at least 60 minutes, while wait times within the rest of Disneyland itself are falling. Also, Oga’s Cantina has a reservation system in place, meaning there’s no benefit to waiting outside until you’re called up for your 45-minute slot.
It is worth adding how Disney talked up their preparation for the parks opening prior to launch. Liz Jaeger, Disney spokesperson, stated to Fox News that “with all of our new offerings, advanced planning and innovative technology, has resulted in incredible feedback and satisfaction from our guests.”
It could well be the case that Disney have been so well prepared for the opening of their newest attraction that the park has simply become easier to traverse as a result.
Either way, be it conjuncture or otherwise, it’s far too early to suggest Galaxy’s Edge is a flop. It’s far too opportunistic to suggest sequel trilogy backlash is leading to people boycotting Disney Parks.
And it’s far too easy to look at a few tweets about open spaces and decide that’s proof that the fans are fighting back. My advice would be to wait for actual attendance figures to be released before deciding the park is failing.
Though I suppose it’s too much to ask for this fan base to not be hyper reactionary.
Have you been to Galaxy’s Edge? What did you make of it? Rise of the Resistance has a vague “2019” launch date, while Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando will open on August 31st 2019