Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Seasons & Other Updates
Disney has released a slew of updates about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including opening seasons for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the name of the village on Batuu, and some additional concept art. For vacation planning purposes, opening timeframes are most pertinent, and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will debut in Summer 2019 at Disneyland and in Late Fall 2019 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Beyond that, Disney revealed that the name of the village in Galaxy’s Edge is called Black Spire Outpost, which is an infamous stop for traders, adventurers, and smugglers traveling around the Outer Rim and Wild Space. During panels at that event, Imagineers also confirmed the rumor that Galaxy’s Edge would feature full-sized AT-ATs, that the second attraction (after the Millennium Falcon ride) will take place aboard a Resistance Troop Transport ship, and that there will be a “creature stall” of some sort.
We’re late to the punch with this “news,” so there’s a good chance you’ve already read about it elsewhere. If not, here’s the link to the Disney Parks Blog article featuring new concept art and details about Black Spire Outpost on Batuu in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Rather than regurgitate those details here, I’m going to focus on what I think is most interesting here: the opening ‘seasons’ for the respective Star Wars lands…
Let’s start in reverse order, with the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World. While it’s common to think of December as winter (well, except perhaps when in Florida), it’s important to remember that fall technically does not end until December 21. This would put the specifically vague period of “Late Fall 2019” from around Thanksgiving until Christmas. Walt Disney World would undoubtedly like to open Star Wars land before Thanksgiving, but a desire by operations doesn’t necessarily translate to reality.
The problem with this Thanksgiving to Christmas opening range is that there aren’t many weeks that would provide a good, quiet time for the Star Wars land to debut with minimal operational headaches. It might sound appealing to have a splashy debut the week of Thanksgiving or Christmas, but those periods are already operational nightmares in the parks.
With Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge sure to exacerbate crowds to an unprecedented degree, opening the new land during anything above a moderately-crowded time would be unpleasant, and opening during peak season could be downright disastrous. Walt Disney World is sure to train Cast Members and prepare crowd control for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but there’s really only so much advance preparation that can be done.
Some aspects of opening a new land are necessarily trial by fire. We saw this with Pandora – World of Avatar, which was chaotic for a stretch following its Memorial Day weekend opening, and that’s not nearly as crowded of a time as December. Moreover, the Avatar franchise does not have nearly the loyal following of Star Wars. (The crowds Pandora continues to pull should be eye-opening for operations in terms of Galaxy’s Edge expectations.)
The potential scenarios at Disneyland aren’t much better. At the resort level, Disneyland still doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure to support Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Parking is a hassle on normal weekends, with the lots filling to capacity early somedays. The new parking structure won’t be done by next summer, which will mean crippling traffic on surface streets and the I-5 off-ramps unless further crowd control measures are put into place.
Inside Disneyland, the situation is only marginally better. To Disney’s credit, efforts have already been made to increase capacity and eliminate choke points. That still doesn’t change the fact that this is a 60+ year old park that was not designed for today’s–much less tomorrow’s–crowds. Don’t be surprised if the entire park has a one-way traffic sort of scheme used for crowd control around Main Street during nighttime spectaculars.
Hard ticket events are likewise a possibility at Disneyland, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a prolonged hard ticket event period–perhaps for several weeks from late May through mid-June 2019, with media previews late in June and the grand opening happening the second to last or last weekend of June 2019.
This give Disneyland’s operations team a chance to see crowd trends, plus what works and what doesn’t in a more controlled scenario. Just as important (to Disney, at least), it provides an up-charge revenue stream. And we all know Disney has no bashfulness about capitalizing on those nowadays.
Whether these hard ticket events last for a week or a month (or more) remains to be seen, but a one-night event a la Pixar Pier’s opening seems unlikely. Star Wars is a license to print money, and there’s no shortage of fans who will pay exorbitant amounts to experience Galaxy’s Edge early and/or with less crowds. Heck, I’m not a diehard Star Wars fan and am generally averse to Disney’s various new up-charges, but even I would pay extra to avoid those crowds.
It would seem that the only thing that would prevent Disneyland from doing hard ticket previews of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is if construction falls behind schedule. Thus far, we’ve seen no indication of that, but things could always change.
Another possibility is timed entrance tickets to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. This is not an either/or thing for Disneyland; we expect both hard ticket events followed by timed entry tickets once the Star Wars lands open. This is something that Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan still utilizes on busy days years after that land’s opening, and it’s fairly effective.
At USJ, it’s a mad dash for paper timed entry tickets (think paper FastPass) once the park opens, but the U.S. Disney Parks could easily make this a largely-electronic process, with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge entry becoming the new hot ticket FastPass+ or MaxPass. We expect both coasts will use timed entry; if not, the lines simply to get into the land could consume much of their respective parks.
Ultimately, save for opening in the middle of September or January (incredibly unlikely scenarios), there aren’t really any “good” times to debut Galaxy’s Edge. Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon with incredibly diehard fans; between that and diehard Disney fans, the opening of this new land is bound to be a maelstrom of crowds, long lines, and chaos no matter when it opens.
If you want to avoid the worst of this, going to a preview (likely paid) or waiting for at least one month after the respective openings is bound to be your best bet. One month may not seem like much time for crowds to die down, and it’s not. The reality is that crowds won’t truly die down for years to come. Once you get outside the opening rush, the difference between one month and one year after opening will be pretty negligible. Waits will be more dictated by seasonal crowd patterns than time removed from the grand opening. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is going to draw hordes of guests with wait times measured in hours for years to come.
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What are your thoughts about the opening seasons of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Will you avoid Disneyland and DHS during the debut frenzy of this new land, or do you plan on going right away to experience Batuu? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!
Tom can I have your advise please!
We are planning on doing DL around 23/24 of July this summer. How do you think us non-SW buffs would be affected in the rest of the parks? Are we taking DL reaching capacity? Lines like At Animal Kingdom when Pandora opened just to enter the park?
We are seriously thinking of rescheduling….
Thank you kindly 🙂
I have the same dilemma! I believe Star Wars: Galaxy Edge was supposed to be opening mid to late June, so we were believing to have missed it. ( we are visiting June 11th and 12th). Now, I am not sure if a rescheduling is in order!
After reading and digesting this (now ‘old’) news, I find myself hoping Star Wars, at least in DL, becomes an up-charge second ticket within the park itself. That seems the ideal way to crowd control and let the corporation reap income after all this spending without purely raising ticket prices and crowd levels on everyone. I have no doubt those who choose to budget for a Disney trip and must experience Star Wars will find room in their wallets, though it’ll likely be a one-day thing instead of an experience throughout the trip. I myself wouldn’t mind paying such an upcharge long after the official opening despite how little I personally am invested in the franchise and I can’t imagine how else the original park will handle such an influx of people.
Now for the question; what are the possibilities that Star Wars land will end DL’s tradition of being a locals park or will WDW’s version be enough to offset that attraction?
I never thought I’d find myself hoping there’d be surcharges for experiences within Disney parks, but perhaps I can pretend this is an adult level of the princess makeovers?
Any thoughts on how this will affect free dining offers next year? We’re a large family squishing into two rooms and want to visit early next December but are kind of banking on free dining. I know they’ll have no problems filling rooms so does that mean they might nix FD?
I am a Star Wars fan and very excited for the the land. That being said, I have no interest in battling huge crowds during the initial opening timeframe of SWGE. So, our plan is to take our next trip to WDW just before it opens to hopefully enjoy lower crowd levels while everyone is waiting to visit after it opens. Then wait a year or two to go back.
So I am interested in what LATE FALL means as well…but so that we can go just before. I’m looking at the end of October 2019 right now. which is really only mid fall at best in terms of the calendar. Hoping that’s a safe bet later this fall when we book!
Lisa, I’m in same boat and hoping end of October 2019 will still be okay and SWGE is NOT open yet at that time
Are you going to try to brave the crowds for opening day at either park? I really want to be at Hollywood Studios for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge (I did my college program in DHS at Tatooine Traders, so I feel some sort of allegiance to being in my “home” for new Star Wars things) but I’m not sure if the insanity of the crowds will be “worth it”.
If they do the hard ticket events at Disneyland, we’ll likely do that (unless the price is exorbitant). I doubt we’ll do opening day at either because I expect that to be utter insanity on both coasts, but we’ll visit shortly thereafter to both if only to see crowd trends firsthand so we can write tips for visiting.
I’m sure this is an absolute pipe dream and completely unrealistic comment-HOWEVER-would WDW ever limit its park tickets? As in create a cap of how many based on the day of the year ? I know their profit if their number one concern but the crowds are so out of control most of the time now it’s affecting overall enjoyment of the parks-and the smaller details are mostly lost when it’s a struggle just to cross a “ street” in the parks.
Yes, it will be massively popular but I’m with Tom. Both will be upcharge events for quite a while. Pandora is still nuts in terms of crowds and most of it is just because its a new ride! Disney will need to do a much better job of crowd control though. We had people fainting in the rope drop crush for Pandora. GE you enter through a narrow-ish tunnel!!!! They didn’t think that one through at all. I’ve seen grown men push baby buggies aside to get to TSM at rope drop! So please Disney THINK about that Pandora experience, the lack of space around (both) sites and have proper corralling in place.
One other thing – the Falcon ride will be very unreliable. Have you seen how complex it’s rude and projection system is?! Its a wired one.
This is what leads me to believe Disney will use a timed entry system…at least, I hope so. They should’ve learned that much from Pandora.
This might seem like a weird question, but how do you think SW:GE at WDW might affect crowds at Universal in Florida? My instinct is that it might be a great time to go because the crowds will be at WDW, but I also worry that there is more of an overlap between Star Wars fans and Harry Potter fans who might just go to DHS for one day and spend the rest of their vacation at Universal, spiking crowds there too. I was hoping to take my son there that Fall for his birthday. Although, if we go before December perhaps we’ll be safe either way.
I think SWGE will increase tourism numbers across the board in Florida. This won’t be a matter of existing visitors reallocating time to spend more days at DHS–it will be new guests coming on top of that. Accordingly, I’d expect an increase at both USF and IOA. Probably not as pronounced as at the Walt Disney World parks, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 3-5% bump in attendance for Universal’s parks in 2020.
I am not a Star Wars fan at all but I am happy its going to DHS since its my least favorite domestic Disney park and I am hoping it eases the crowds at MK, Epcot, and AK.
I hate that SW:GE is going to DL. I agree that DLR should’ve opened a third gate to put Marvel and Star Wars rather than shoehorn into DL or DCA. I was a little depressed recently eating dinner at Hungry Bear in Critter Country and seeing the SW:GE buildings intrude in the background of Critter Country.
As of now, I’m hoping to make a trip down either late this summer or around Feb. or so to see DL before SWGE opens. I am a HUGE Star Wars fan, but I don’t want my first visit in almost 15 years to be SO swamped. (This is why I also gave up on the idea of WDW for my 40th birthday. Once it looked like that would be right around the target date for the opening at DHS I didn’t want that to be my first experience)
I am incredibly excited to set foot in Baatu, but I want to see DL one last time before it opens.
I’ve gone back and forth on posting this, as I sort of agree with you, so take this as “devil’s advocate” commentary:
For crowds overall to significantly increase at WDW long term, it would need to regularly attract people to the parks who otherwise wouldn’t have gone. Pandora was chaotically busy, but it didn’t seem to have a significantly noticeable effect on the rest of the resort. Star Wars fans do not, in and of themselves, necessarily seem like the sorts of people who would enjoy Peter Pan at MK, or Epcot World Showcase for example (that’s not to say they wouldn’t, but it doesn’t seem implausible they’d prefer to spend their 3 days vacation time looking around SW:GE and the Star Wars Hotel).
I think people taking vacations to Florida is overwhelmingly more affected by things on the macro level – there are a large number of vacation types against which WDW is not competing, people who are obsessed with Star Wars already have good reason to be at WDW but Star Tours consistently has one of the lowest E-ticket wait times in the resort, HyperSpace Mountain at DLP did not result in draamrically increasing wait times, and Star Wars fans will be split between two resorts rather than coming from across the country to one resort.
Now, I may be proven wrong, but I am cautious about agreeing that “it’ll be chaos”. Inside Galaxy’s Edge, of course it will – but across the resort, I question it, unless Disney is overwhelmingly successful in attracting the silent majority of Star Wars “moderates” to the park.
“…unless Disney is overwhelmingly successful in attracting the silent majority of Star Wars ‘moderates’ to the park.”
This is exactly who they’re going to attract. I think it’s fair to say Cars Land’s popularity is not attributable to Cars diehards, but it has had a huge impact on the resort as a whole. It’s just like the Star Wars films, or even Wizarding World of Harry Potter–you hear a ton about the diehard fans, but the ones driving ticket sales are the silent majority who have made these franchises cultural phenomenons.
So long as Galaxy’s Edge garners positive reviews and strong mainstream buzz (and from the outside, it sure looks like a slam dunk) it’ll draw a ton of people. Of course, I too could be wrong, but I’d be willing to wager that SWGE will have a strong resort-wide impact on both coasts.
It’s interesting to look at Cars Land as a comparison. Cars Land increased traffic to California Adventure (a much needed increase). But it also siphoned off traffic from both other parts of CA and Disneyland itself. In fact, I have photos of me crossing over the bridge to go towards the coaster formerly known as California Screamin. The bridge was empty and I walked onto both Screaming and Toy Story Mania several times in a row. Meanwhile, Radiator Springs Racers went to a 1 hour wait time.
It will be interesting to see if Star Wars suddenly sucks all the life out of California Adventure and what the effect will be on Tomorrow Land and Fantasy Land within Disneyland itself.
The other interesting dynamic with Disneyland is the effect of annual pass holders on Disneyland. Again…sucking the life out of California Adventure.
I’ve not even begun to process WDW. I mean Pandora has effectively moved crowds there and opened up my kids’ favorite coaster. Who doesn’t like the Yeti?
Just to add on this–the new movies have made fans of a huge WDW demographic: kids. When trick or treating last year I’d estimate that at least one in three kids age 4 through teen were in Star Wars costumes. Just look at the insanity that is rope drop sign-up at HS for the jedi training academy. These kids are not adult super fans that will stick to GE, and you can bet they are going to want to ride the millenium falcon AND the magic kingdom classics.
I was going to say something similar. The media might spend time with hardcore older fans from the first trilogy, but many of those fans and millions of others (the “moderates”) are now *parents*. We are going to SWGE for Star Wars love, sure, but we have plenty of interest in Fantasyland and other family-friendly attractions for kids under 12. With hard tickets, yes, a certain segment will pay just for SWGE and not really get into the rest of the parks at DLR or WDW, but don’t underestimate how much they’ll do the other parks just because they’re already there, so certain costs are already sunk and they might as well Do It All. And families like mine are coming for everything, even as we are holding back a trip until SWGE opens.
This is going to get Way To CRAZY! I want to see Igor Impeached from his CEO position.
Great article as usual. Just my opinion as more of a casual Disney parks fan, but the more I think about it, I am very excited about the natural fit of Galaxy’s Edge at DHS. However, I’m actually dreading what it will do to Disneyland in terms of what that park becomes. It’s hard to imagine Disneyland ever feeling the same again, ever. 🙁
Totally agreed. I think Galaxy’s Edge is an excellent long-term addition to DHS. (I do think they *still* need more to round out the attraction lineup, even with TSL and Runaway Railway, but that’s another matter.)
At Disneyland, I maintain that Marvel and Star Wars should’ve been the anchors of a third gate. I think adding to Disneyland and DCA will ultimately prove to be short-sighted.
Appreciate all your thoughts on this Tom. I agree with your line of thinking that this land really should not have been built in DL Park itself….but that is where we are. My family loves DLR and as a Midwest family can only do Disney trips every couple of years. What are your thoughts on summer 2019 vs. 2020? Will one month into the opening really be equal to one year later? Our goal would probably be to see the land and get one ride on each of the attractions. I’m concerned about being able to experience the rest of the park as well with a capacity level crowds. Do you believe DL will hit capacity most days that first Summer? Thanks for your thoughts.
The thing about booking “Summer 2019” right now is that you don’t know when the land will officially open. It could be Memorial Day (doubtful), it could be Labor Day (wouldn’t surprise me if the general public debut were around then), or it could be somewhere in between.
Once Galaxy’s Edge opens to the general public, I think Disneyland hits capacity everyday for at least a month–probably more. The bigger issue (if it matters to you) is that parking will hit capacity well before that, and they’ll likely have to shuttle guests from Angel Stadium.
From the sound of it (on other sites) they really want to have open by the start of summer season. But who knows….they aren’t opening Pixar Pier yet either. Parking wouldn’t affect us since we stay close to the park but I agree it’s going to be ugly. Maybe next year we take my kids to USO to see Potter and hope the HS opening eases the pressure on Anaheim a tiny bit.
Do you see the AP black out days starting in JUNE for Disneyland as an indication that it may open in JUNE?
Once GE opens in Hollywood Studios, what do you think the effect will be on the rest of the park? Our usual touring for HS focuses between TSM and TOT with Star Tours and some shopping thrown in before park hopping for the rest of the day. Usually we can get in like 5-6 rides on those 3 before midday – is that ever going to be possible again? I’m sure it’s going to be a cool land but I’m not excited for it at all.
Wait times will increase significantly across the board at DHS. SWGE will create way more demand than it adds capacity, and that coupled with people wanting to do more than just 2 attractions during the day will spike all wait times.
How far along is SWGE at DL vs. WDW?
Based upon pics posted on some of the other blogs, being mindful of posting dates, it does not seem WDW is not far behind, if at all.
For my family, SWGE is what we are awaiting for our last trip to WDW. The costs of future trips are not going to justify going there vs. Experiencing other destinations.
It’s tough to say since we don’t know what progress looks like inside the show buildings, but WDW has been consistently 2-3 months behind Disneyland throughout the project. I doubt they’ve made up (or will make up) that ground.
I have zero interest in Star Wars Galaxy Edge and, truth be told, I am very UNHAPPY about this newest land. I have no doubt it will be brilliantly themed and extremely immersive. This will be THE DESTINATION for Star Wars fans. However, what this will do to crowd levels for the next few years will be obscene. I am hoping to get in a trip next April / May to avoid the upcoming chaos, but I imagine that will be my last visit for many years. I don’t mind crowds. I actually enjoy seeing lots of people at the parks; families spending time together, kids skipping from ride to ride… but SWGE is on a completely different level. Crowds, and the increasing costs associated with the ability to “print money”, will keep me away for many years after this opening.
On the bright side… my vacations will be much cheaper after 2019!
Sounds like early November 2019 would be relatively safe for those of us who want to make it down BEFORE it opens and things get nuts? I suspect I’m not the only one who will have this brilliant idea so maybe it will be extra busy regardless…thoughts?
If that were my goal, early November is exactly when I’d plan a visit. You’ll miss the heavy crowds of October, but still *should* be early enough that you’ll miss the fanfare of Galaxy’s Edge. There’s also the outside chance of a Galaxy’s Edge soft-opening with limited crowds, but I definitely would not bank on that. (I think all previews–except maybe Cast Member previews–will be paid.)
Considering the subdued response to the Solo movie (which I enjoyed for the record) do you suppose there is some Star Wars fatigue that may result in less interest/ticket sales for the new Star Wars lands at the parks? A combination of sticker shock from resultant price hikes and fatigue with the brand that would result in disappointing attendance?
It’s undeniable that some Star Wars fans are annoyed by some decisions made in the Last Jedi, but I think Solo is an outlier in terms of the films (released shortly after the last film, troubled production history, etc.). Moreover, even if there was some fatigue in terms of the films, I don’t think that would change fan enthusiasm for stepping foot into the world of Star Wars. That’s a totally new and fresh experience that even most disenchanted fans will want to visit, and doesn’t really relate to the box office–at least in my opinion.
Exactly. And even “subdued” response was >$100 million for Solo.
I was in AK last year on Pandora’s opening day just to see the insanity and it did not disappoint. Star Wars is way, way more popular than Avatar, and the 2 attractions in this land sound (on paper) better than the two in Pandora. So I cannot imagine what SW:GE’s opening will look like.
So do you think there will be soft openings for Galaxys Edge at WDW? If they are saying a late fall opening, perhaps early fall/late summer time frame where you just may walk by and it is open? Or do you think they will just be hard ticket events until they are ready to fully open?
I mean, it’s all a guessing game at this point, but I suspect Disney will attempt to monetize as much as possible with Galaxy’s Edge. As such, I’d expect paid previews rather than regular soft openings. Hopefully I’m wrong!