Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Opening Date Announced!
During today’s Walt Disney Co. Annual Meeting of Shareholders in St. Louis, Bob Iger revealed some new information about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including the grand opening date for the Star Wars land in Disneyland and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.
Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open to the general public on May 31, 2019, while Walt Disney World’s version will debut a couple months later on August 29, 2019. However, it will open in phases, with Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run opening first, followed by Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at a later date. (As we cover in our Tons of New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Details Emerge from Construction Tours post, Rise of the Resistance is the more complex, higher profile attraction.)
In this post, we’ll share thoughts on how these dates will impact crowds prior to and after the respective grand openings, and also cover what you should do right now if you’re planning a visit to Disneyland or Walt Disney World for the grand opening itself, or thereafter.
Walt Disney World’s opening has been a hot topic in fan circles of late, with “evidence” previously pointing to an opening as early as September or as late as December, depending upon the source of the rumor. Well, this is even earlier than the earliest of rumors due to the whole “phased opening” bit, the range in rumored months now makes sense. Additionally, it gives us a better idea of what to expect for the rest of 2019 at Walt Disney World.
First of all, the phased opening is an interesting twist. About a year ago, there was a rumor that this would be the case, but that was rumored in the event that delays were to occur, potentially pushing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to miss opening in 2019, at all.
This seems to be going the other direction, attempting to push forward the opening as far as possible to help prop up crowd numbers for Summer 2019 and beyond. This will also help dilute crowds to some degree, as most non-locals will have to choose between attending the grand opening or waiting for both rides to open. It’s an interesting approach.
The grand opening for Disneyland’s Star Wars land is not too surprising. Bob Iger has been saying “June” for a while, Disneyland’s Annual Pass blockout calendar suggested it would happen around then, and rumors of a media event the few days before that further corroborated that date. Again, though, the phased opening allows that timeline to move forward a bit. Nevertheless, we’d expect everything to be ready to go by July, at the latest.
Disneyland has been encouraging locals to visit before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with ticket specials, and is discouraging visits post-Galaxy’s Edge with blockout dates. Nevertheless, that can only do so much. Orange and Los Angeles Counties are home to about 14 million people, many of whom were raised on Disneyland and zealously attend each big opening at the park, no matter what.
To compound matters, Star Wars fans eager to be there when the land debuts and the normal summer Utah and Nevada tourist crowd, perhaps not totally aware of what they’re getting themselves into, will be there. Personally, I don’t expect a ton of Walt Disney World diehards to shift vacation plans to the West Coast for this, but that won’t matter from a congestion perspective. Disneyland will already have more demand than its infrastructure outside and inside the parks can handle.
To that end, Disney has also announced that guests planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland between May 31 and June 23, 2019 will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, to access the land. Information on how to make a reservation will be available at a later date, but we assume it’ll work like timed entry to Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan, except bookable in-app or online, and in advance.
Guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels during these dates will receive a designated reservation to access Galaxy’s Edge during their stay. Depending upon the level of competitiveness for those slots, this is one definite advantage to staying on-site.
Speaking of hotels, we cannot stress enough that you need to book a hotel now if you’re planning on visiting Disneyland anytime around or after May 31, 2019. As in, don’t even finish this article or wait to discuss travel dates with your family–open a new tab on your browser and book a hotel with a no-penalty cancellation policy.
This might seem extreme, but it’s really not. Despite several hotels going up in the last few years, Anaheim still has a room shortage. This was evident every time there used to be a runDisney event, and still sometimes plays out when large conventions come to town. (Speaking of which, if you’re attending the 2019 D23 Expo and don’t have a room yet, you also need to get on that now.)
Almost every off-site hotel near Disneyland uses dynamic pricing, meaning that prices increase based upon demand and inventory. Moreover, some hoteliers will undoubtedly have been waiting for this announcement to know when, precisely, to start raising their rates.
That exact scenario played out with Cars Land, and it will happen again here. If you don’t want to get stuck with a shady budget motel for $300/night, you need to jump now before everyone else and before the hotels themselves have a chance to act on this news.
We’d normally suggest carefully going through our Rankings and Reviews for Anaheim Hotels Near Disneyland, that gives numerical scores for several different factors and ranks 44 different hotels. However, you really don’t have the time for that. Instead, just quickly go through the top 10 and find one with availability and good pricing. You can always do your research later after you have something locked-in.
Alternatively, our Top 10 Cheap Off-Site Disneyland Hotels post gives a good run-down for budget seekers. Note that if you’re coming to this article a week or even perhaps a day after the announcement, those hotels may not be so “cheap.” (In our experience, Anaheim Desert Inn is always slow to raise its prices–so long as there’s availability, it’s a good option if others are price-gouging.)
If you’re looking to save some money, you can book a hotel + ticket vacation package via Get Away Today to save money. In addition to the package discount, some hotels have ‘4th night free’ promos, and there’s currently a ‘5th day free’ promo on park tickets. In addition to their normal discounts and special packages, you can save an extra $10 by using code TOURIST at checkout.
If this is the ultimate splurge, give strong consideration to booking Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. The guaranteed access, location, and the comparative lack of bag check insanity might make the high nightly rates a little easier to swallow. Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier Hotel should also offer a bag check advantage, but not as distinct of one.
Security lines on the Harbor Boulevard side are likely to be chaotic, but those will still beat the potential for traffic, parking, and security delays on the Mickey & Friends side. As such, we’d strongly encourage you not to book a more remote hotel and drive. For the same reason, we’d also avoid anything beyond walking distance. Taking Uber or Lyft to the drop-off area might not be a good idea. Minimize all potential sources of friction.
It’s worth noting that while the grand opening and all summer months will be busy thanks to tourists, things won’t really get better in the fall. Annual Passholder blockouts will lift, and then the back-to-back Halloween and Christmas seasons arrive, both of which are huge draws for locals.
Your “best” options are the first two weeks of August 2019 or January and February 2020. Just be sure to avoid August 23-25, 2019, as that’s the incredibly popular D23 Expo, and crowds at Disneyland will be bonkers around that weekend. Or, if you’re a local and can plan a last-minute visit, any day it rains. (It’s a little known fact, but Southern Californians are deathly afraid of precipitation.)
If you want to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge but don’t need to be among the first, we’d strongly recommend sitting out Disneyland’s opening and waiting for Walt Disney World. While Disney’s Hollywood Studios will undoubtedly be busy for years after Star Wars land opens, it is better situated to absorb the crowds. This is particularly true outside the park, where Walt Disney World’s infrastructure is prepared for it. There will be backups opening week, but gridlock is unlikely.
Moreover, at Walt Disney World, there are three other parks, each with their own parking and security, to help absorb the crowds. They will function as a release valve if there’s overflow from DHS hitting capacity during the initial opening rush. By contrast, Disneyland and Disney California Adventure all share that infrastructure, which could cause some problems.
We do not for a second expect Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Animal Kingdom will see a dip in attendance once Galaxy’s Edge opens. To the contrary, they should each see a slight bump. First, very few people are going to plan a trip to Florida, and only do Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Second, those who aren’t huge Star Wars fans might look at DHS wait times and alter their plans to avoid that park. Finally, people will not have a choice if/when DHS hits capacity.
For similar reasons, we don’t expect wait times on other rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to drop. Nowhere is going to be a “ghost town” because Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is drawing everyone there. Its capacity is a very small fraction of all guests at Walt Disney World. As with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, this is going to a “rising tide that lifts all boats.”
As for timing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World post-grand opening, the same issues exist as with Disneyland. Your best option might honestly be showing up a week after the grand opening, as September is typically the slowest month of the year. October, November, and December are all really popular.
In fact, if I had to choose a time to visit this fall and avoiding crowds were my priority, I’d absolutely choose one of the second two weeks of September. While this may seem dangerously close to that grand opening, it’s in the slowest month of the year and a week after the initial hype subsides. It’ll still be abnormally busy, but not October through December busy.
To this point, both Toy Story Land and Pandora saw larger crowds in October through December of their opening years than they did in the summer months immediately after debuting. Waiting until January or February 2020 offers no guarantees, as both of those months have seen a spike in crowds–or at least wait times–the last two years.
When it comes to booking a hotel at Walt Disney World, there’s definitely a sense of urgency, but not as immediate as for Anaheim. The one thing we would stress is staying on-site. While Disney has been eroding the on-site advantages recently, they still exist.
In particular, being within Skyliner or walking distance of DHS will be huge. We plan on booking Disney’s Riviera Resort or Pop Century. As for other perks, we don’t know fully how Walt Disney World plans to handle Extra Magic Hours or FastPass+ (at least from a paid v. unpaid perspective). Nevertheless, the on-site advantage should be apparent the first several months of Galaxy’s Edge.
Overall, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has the potential to redefine the guest experience at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. There are a lot of incredible, envelope-pushing ways this will occur, and those have already been focused on in our recent Tons of New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Details Emerge from Construction Tours post.
As exciting as all of that is, there are also the practical, operational realities of Star Wars land’s impact. We’re incredibly excited for Galaxy’s Edge and don’t mean to be buzzkills with all of the above, but if you’re thinking about going for the grand opening or shortly thereafter, it’s important that you know what you’re likely going to encounter. Hopefully this post provided some insight into that.
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Are you going to be there for the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Irritated by the phased opening, or do you think that presents an advantage from the perspective of avoiding crowds? Will you avoid grand opening…or Disney’s Hollywood Studios entirely…until crowds are at a more manageable level? Other thoughts to add? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!
I just returned from a week at animal kingdom lodge and am a DVC member. I, like everyone else in orlando, was curious about the opening of Star Wars so asked a dear friend and cast member for the low down. There are several options that disney is looking at according to him. One uses fast pass to get into the area. The second is that disney has studied universal studios world of Harry Potter and will begin giving a perk to DVC members and deluxe resorts guests by allowing and 1 or 2 hour early entrance to Hollywood studios. Each deluxe resort in the disney family would have a day each week available for this perk . An example would be only Animal Kingdome lodge on Monday would be allowed to enter early. There is several new perks in the works for DVC members and club level guest.
Does anyone have an idea as to why Disney has disabled booking at Disney World past 2019? I know it’s still early in the year but I’ve always thought you could be at least a year out if not longer…. I would think it’s because they want people to book Star Wars for this year instead of trying to get the jump on planning for next year but it seems out of character in a way.
Is Early Morning Magic sell outs a good indicator of crowd levels? They are selling out quick in September 2019 (post Star Wars) but still available in August before Star Wars. I have a pretty flexible Aug/Sept to plan for and don’t care for being there so soon after a new land/ride opens. Preference is favored towards crowd levels.
I believe if you go a couple weeks before it opens you won’t hit the same crowd level. You know its gonna be crazy pretty much august 24th on. Most schools here get back around august 17th. Its like one trip I took 5 years ago a week before thanksgiving week it was really a great week for crowds but I stayed until Saturday got on the bus early that morning I was second stop on that resort and still standing room only. In ways though I enjoyed that week vacation more than the 4 days at the poly
We LOVE Star Wars….but….we live locally and will wait until 2020 to go….unless they close the park for a hurricane, then we will go the day the parks re-open. It’s going to be crazy at HS.
Looking for everyone’s thoughts. Our trip was booked for 8/22 – 8/29 in Florida. We are not going to be going to the parks on the 29th, and really don’t want to be part of the madness of opening. Wanted everyone’s thoughts though on when they expect crowds to pick up the day(s) prior to GE opening. Is the weekend before (8/24 & 8/25) going to be busy too? Thanks all.
We are planning a trip to California the very end of June. We are coming from the east coast so this will probably be our only chance for our kids to do Disneyland. Disneyland isn’t our reason for coming but I thought it would be great to spend a couple of days there. With the opening of the Star Wars land I wonder if it will be a waste of our time and money to even try to go. Do you think it will still be enjoyable? I am also afraid that the second phase might be opening around that time which would make it even worse. Any ideas on the opening of the second phase?
Any clue to when the phase 2 will open? We are going in December.
Any clue to when phase 2 will open? We are going in December.
We are actually flying back home the day of GE grand opening at WDW, are we going to miss anything besides 2 rides and huge crowds? We did a bunch of the star wars area in 2017. I’m not a huge fan but my hubby and kids are, so I could edit the trip a bit if it’s worth it.
Only one ride will be open, and opening day for that one you better get in line about two days beforehand!
Sad but True.
Do any Disney veterans know/remember how many days of the week Animal Kingdom did extra magic hours when Pandora opened?
I’m sure some strategies will get posted on the webs, but with no FastPasses available I think the most I can tolerate is stay on site, get to the park an hour and change before it opens on an extra magic hours morning, and hope for the best.
If after all that it’s still too many people to handle I guess I’ll wait till my kids are 30 to take them back.
No fastpasses initially doesn’t make sense to me at all…
I was hoping SWL would be delayed until mid Dec. We have visited the week after thanksgiving the past few years and we always had free dining. This means that won’t happen and the crowds will be brutal in Nov/Dec. I think we won’t be back for a few years. Oh well. Maybe it’s time to visit Universal.
We have done the exact thing, booking the week after Thanksgiving, Universal will probably be packed too due to large crossover attendance from WDW!
Ah. You make a great point about crossover crowds at Universal. Esp since Star Wars fans will extend across all age groups and Universal is great for teens.
When we used to make family trips with my sister who has rette syndrome, they let us go to the front of every line. In my experience, Disney treats special needs children and their families like gold. Granted, the last time we went was 12 years ago. Does anyone know if Disney’s accommodations for special needs have changed?
If you were expecting a ghost town before the Galaxys Edge announcement, I think you were probably going to be a little disappointed anyway. Regardless, I hope you special needs families are able to enjoy your vacation, or reschedule without too much hassle. Me and my girlfriend (who’s never been to Disney) booked a trip for September 4 thru 11, and I too was hoping to enjoy the calm before the storm of the new Star Wars theme park. We’ve decided to stick with our plans and to look at the bright side (yay, Star Wars!). Alas, I’m sure it’ll be easier for adult couples than families with children. Good luck to you guys!
Disney is still great with special needs guests, but its not like it was before. Now you have to physically go to the ride (the special needs person, too), then get a pass with a return time that is the same as the wait time (so you’re waiting the standby wait but you can do it away from the que), then when you come back you can go in the FastPass line. We have NOT used a guest assistance pass because my child could not understand that we were going to the Winnie the Pooh ride only to LEAVE the Winnie the Pooh ride; he wasn’t able to grasp “we’ll come back in 45min” due to language impairment. It would be a guaranteed meltdown. Though the guest assistance pass doesn’t work for MY family, I still applaud what they do and know it helps many others. But since it doesn’t help me, instead we carefully plan to go on 1-2 crowd level days with a touring plan that never has us wait more than 10-15 minutes in line for anything, and on our last 4 trips it has worked perfectly. Even on level 1 days there are 40-75 minutes wait at some rides, that’s why you have to know how to tour efficiently to avoid this when you have a special needs child. But now I’m in uncharted waters with GE opening a few days into my trip. nervous.
The special needs person doesn’t have to physically go to the line to get the pass. Any family member can take their band and get it then the entire party goes back to ride the ride. It’s an extremely fair system especially since you can use fast passes as well!
Our trip is planned for September 15th thru the 20th, staying at Pop Century Resort. I am bringing my special needs adult son with me, its our first time to WDW and he is super excited about seeing GE. We are also attending the Halloween party, my son is delayed In certain things mentally but, big crowds don’t bother him. I don’t think the crowds will be as bad as some people think since school is in session for just about every one around the world. I mean are parents gonna take their kids out of school to see a half finished land? Since we have never been I can’t really say. We picked the week we did to make sure all the Halloween stuff was out because that’s what my son wanted to see. 🙂
Countdown 191 days out.
I’m thinking with so many people commenting they booked in Sept to avoid the crowds, Sept was going to be a very busy month
I also booked in Sept at AoA hoping for a less crowded time and I was very disappointed to hear about this early opening. If my choices are a less crowded WDW with no SWGE or a crazy crowded WDW with SWGE (or partial GE) the choice would be easy for me. SWGE doesn’t appeal enough to me or my family to ease the pain of overcrowding at my happy place. But alas, I have no choice if I want to go as my vacation time is fixed at work and cannot be changed. So now my choices are WDW or no WDW. I’m not going to cancel just yet. I’m going to think on it for a while and maybe check out a few Star Wars movies with my kids. I did enjoy the original 3 years ago, so maybe?….
You make good points and I totally agree. We booked September hoping to avoid the opening rush of SW especially as I’m not really a Star Wars fan. I’ve seen one or two of the new movies and I’m sure back in the day I saw one or two of the old ones. But now that we know this is happening I for sure will plan a few movie nights with my kids so we can better appreciate Galaxys Edge. We did the dame thing with Avatar before we visited Pandora. I had never seen the movie and had zero interest in it…surprise, surprise…I love that movie. It isn’t my typical jam but I felt like it was very good and seeing it before walking into Pandora gave us some backstory for a lot of the details in the land and on the rides. We will for sure make the best of the curve ball we’ve just been thrown!
For all of those who have commented with something to the effect of “I don’t like Star Wars, I’ve never even seen any of the movies!” I would say:
1. It’s okay not to like Star Wars. Not everyone has to like everything. But how do you know you won’t like something unless you’ve seen or experienced it? I’m sure in the past you’ve watched a movie, eaten something, or even ridden a Disney ride that you didn’t think you’d like…but ended up really enjoying. Saying it’s “just not the kind of thing I like” isn’t a valid answer for everything in life.
2. The Star Wars movies (especially the original/core trilogy) are really good! They are rooted in fantasy, myth, romance, adventure, and historical allegory. They aren’t geared for “sci-fi nerds” at all. There’s a reason such a diverse audience appreciates them.
3. Given how much Star Wars pervades our pop culture these days, wouldn’t you at least want to take a couple hours to see what all the fuss is about? Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll at least be able to relate to what people are talking about, and you’ll start getting a lot of cultural references you’ve been missing. I recently read a few of the Harry Potter books for this same reason. Not only did I enjoy them more than I thought, but now I can actually relate to so many more of the jokes and references of my 20-something work colleagues. 🙂
4. If you’re into Disney (and you probably are if you’re commenting on this site), Star Wars is a core part of Disney now — whether you like it or not it’s their #1 intellectual property by far (and at this point likely the #1 IP in the world). If you want to feel like you’re embracing everything Disney, you may not need to become a Star Wars superfan — but you’ve got a huge gap in your “Disney resume” if you are maintaining willful ignorance.
To summarize, as someone who’s planning to engage in Disney experiences in the future but has never seen a Star Wars film, your homework is to watch the original 1977 “Star Wars” (subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope). If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch more of them. But if nothing else, you’ll be more enlightened to what is a core life experience for large percentage of your friends/family/colleagues.
I am Star Wars Fan. I’m P.O.ed about missing my last chance of visiting a crowded WDW, and facing a severely OverCrowded WDW!
@Mike That’s fair! Our kids first major WDW experience was last August, and we weren’t able to make another trip work for this year. I’m super excited for Galaxy’s Edge but I grieve the fact that when we return sometime in the next few years the experience will not be the same. My comment above was directed toward folks who think they dislike Star Wars but admit they’ve never seen any of the movies.
A friend of mine just got back and she has a special needs adult daughter they would tell her to come back in a couple of hours. So she didn’t really feel like they helped her.
It helped by not making her stand in the actual line but to be fair she had the same wait as those in line but they could do other things during the wait, shows, other rides, eat, etc.
We are booked at Saratoga Springs for 10 nights starting September 15th, so this is an unexpected announcement since most thought it would be December, we were just planning on waiting till our next trip to see it, and were hoping for some slower days, oh well.
Can someone clarify this for me… Will the hotel within Galaxy’s Edge be open for this initial opening? Any info about when that will be taking reservations?
It’s only in the planning stage as of now.
Steve and Kevin, you’ve maganed those high crowds with a special needs child? Impressive. You should each write a blog to help us drowning parents learn how to do it better. If you DONT have a special needs child or loved one you bring on every trip, then you really have no standing to call our disappointment and frustration of GE opening on the 3rd day of my trip laughable and an exaggeration. Saving and planning for 2 years to take a Disney trip where they force you to make solid daily plans 180 out (which for me means hours of planning with personalized touring plans), but then throw this massive curveball 174 days out from your trip gives me every reason to be upset. If they had announced it even 190 days out I could have moved my trip back one week easily. As is, it’s frustrating, and we may need to cancel. I can be flexible and endure inescapable crowds, my special needs child cannot. I feel sad, and it’s more sad that people think my sadness is laughable.
Definitely is not an easy matter for those of us with kids with special needs that purposely booked a trip before GE was supposed to open. Been an emotional day and a half for me as well. Disney clearly doesn’t care about their guests.
I agree with you completely, about Disney no longer caring about their guest!
Can someone please explain why WDW would not allow guest who are staying property to have Fast Passes ?????????????????
Rosalie – I’m not meaning to make light of your feelings. I just think people are thinking it’s going to be a much bigger deal than it will end up being. WDW is a big place, if you avoid GE I woudl be surprised if you see a big effect.
And I do think comments like the one below are over the top. Disney doesn’t care abotu it’s guests? I can understand the reason this might not be a good thing for you personally, but if you went to a restaurant and they told you a table would be ready at 7PM, then it was open at 6:45Pm would people be bitchign like this? They are going to give more guests than expected the opportunity to experince a highly-anticipated land/ride. I think it’s pretty twisted to call that action bad.
Disney doesn’t care! They continually over sell admittance to the point of making it difficult to walk from point to point through there parks, and create hours long waits for attractions. I’ve said this before, and say it again. It Is Unethical, How can this practice provide more guest access? It does not! All it provides is higher profit for Disney at the expense of there guests!
We are with you! Special needs family as well & we could not be more devastated. I booked early September specifically to avoid this. “Late Fall” is what I heard all last year before booking.