Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been operating in its limited-capacity, reservations-only mode for nearly a month now. This week, it opens to the general public in full, with a virtual queue and boarding pass system beginning June 24, 2019 and continuing indefinitely, as dictated by demand. In this post, we’ll share how this will work, offer tips for experiencing Star Wars Land via the virtual queue, and offer some predictions about attendance.
Let’s start with the predictions. We’ll preface this the same way we’ve prefaced our last few crowds-related Star Wars Land posts: that we were very wrong when it came to opening weekend forecasts. Some possible explanations are covered in our Star Wars Land Crowds: What Happened & What to Expect.
Suffice to say, we’re anticipating a precipitous increase in Disneyland’s crowds starting this week and continuing through the rest of the summer. Prior to this summer, we expected that June and July would be the two busiest months in Disneyland’s history. That obviously proved untrue for June, and we’re now adjusting our expectations downward for July…
There are a few reasons for this. First, tourists who avoided the opening month of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are likely to do the same for July. Hotel occupancy numbers for the Anaheim Resort District remain down for this time of year. Even though crowds were not as bad as anticipated for June, most out-of-state tourists who feared the worst have already locked-in their alternative summer vacation plans.
Second, although there’s less barrier to entry for locals and word has gotten out about the low crowds, many are still likely reticent about capacity closures and general chaos because now things are different. Finally, new Annual Passholder and Cast Member blockouts are now in effect. Likewise, Grad Nites have ended. All of this will at least partially offset the influx of guests not dissuaded.
As for everyone else, we’re expecting that a lot of locals and tourists are waiting until the end of the year. As we’ve said before (a couple of times now) the back to back Halloween and Christmas holidays are huge attendance drivers for Disneyland Resort.
With those festivities, the prospect of Rise of the Resistance being open, and erroneous belief that Star Wars Land’s popularity will “die down” after a few months, October through December are probably looking more attractive to a large segment of the potential guest population. We were wrong about the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but don’t expect that to happen again with regard to large crowds for the holidays.
Moving on to the logistics of the boarding group system, Disneyland has released some new details. First, you’ll want to download the Disneyland app before arriving.
Also prior to entering, you’ll want to link the theme park tickets of everyone in your party together on the app to request the same boarding group for your entire party.
Check the app or in-park signage the day of your visit to find out if you will need to be part of a boarding group to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that day, and also which boarding groups are currently being admitted into the land.
Unless you’re heading to Star Wars Land right at rope drop, it’s a near-certainty that Disneyland will utilize the boarding group system.
The boarding group will save you a virtual spot in line during which time you can do other attractions, dining, etc. Think of it just like FastPass or MaxPass, but for the land itself (hence it being a virtual queue to enter the land). As with FastPass and MaxPass, you may use the Disneyland app to request to be part of a boarding group after entering Disneyland.
For guests not using the Disneyland app, a boarding group may be obtained with a park admission ticket at select FastPass locations. These are located at Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Matterhorn Bobsleds FastPass kiosks.
We highly recommend that you go the in-app route, which will save you precious time when entering the park. We also recommend allowing or enabling push notifications on your mobile device for the Disneyland app so you will be notified when it is time to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Otherwise, you’ll need to incessantly refresh or check the Disneyland app or digital signage in the park to see when you’re up. Once your group is called, you’ll have up to two hours to enter Galaxy’s Edge.
Beginning June 24, reservations will be required for Savi’s Workshop and Oga’s Cantina, both of which have very limited capacity. Guests wishing to book a reservation for these experiences may do so on the same day of their visit, beginning at 7 a.m.
A non-refundable credit card guarantee will be required for the full cost of Savi’s or for $10 per person at Oga’s Cantina. Reservations for both experiences will allow access into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the time of the reservation, so it will not be necessary to join a boarding group to enter the land to participate in a reserved experience.
June 24, 2019 UPDATE: As of 7:18 a.m., all reservations for Savi’s Workshop had sold out for the day. The same happened for Oga’s Cantina at 7:25 a.m. Today is likely to have a lot of pent-up demand and both are very limited capacity, so it’s not much of a surprise they went fast.
(Update to the update: Availability has returned for both. Not sure if that was a glitch in Disneyland’s system or what, but we’d expect these reservations to sell out for the entire day before 9 a.m. with regularity.
In terms of strategy, it’ll take us a couple weeks of assessing crowd-flow and demand, but some of you who are visiting sooner might not have that luxury. Since we’ve already done everything in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and have a pretty good understanding of Disneyland touring efficiency, here are a few preliminary recommendations…
First, arrive before rope drop. This should be a given. We’re expecting that for at least the first few days, Disneyland will quietly open the park before the published opening time. Arriving early helps you beat the crowds and also prepares you for that.
Third, if you aren’t doing those things, we would not necessarily recommend trying to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at rope drop. We anticipate a disproportionate number of people doing this, meaning you’ll be in a herd heading all the way to the back of the park. Not a fun experience.
Additionally, there’s only one attraction currently operating in Star Wars Land, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Instead, we’d recommend following our normal Disneyland Morning Strategy & Rope Drop Tips, which is to say, start in Fantasyland. There are around a half-dozen rides in Fantasyland, each of which can be knocked out in quick succession (with almost no wait at rope drop).
Later in the day, these rides will have 30+ minute waits and all of their queues are boring. By contrast, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is only one ride, and it has an incredibly engaging queue. Waiting in line 90+ minutes in that interesting queue is far better than several 30 minute waits in uninteresting queues.
While doing the Fantasyland attractions, keep your eye on the Disneyland app and snag a boarding group for later in the day. Don’t wait too long, as these might very well ‘sell out’ early in the morning for the entire day.
Finally, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is best at night. Hence our recommendation for 7 p.m. reservations for Savi’s and/or Oga’s Cantina. If you enter the land around 7 p.m. and experience those, you’ll be there for the fireworks, and as Galaxy’s Edge comes alive at night. Additionally, you can stick around until the bitter end as the crowds clear out…when Smugglers Run should once again see its shortest waits of the day.
Of course, this is far from a fool-proof strategy and there are a lot of unknowns since the boarding pass system hasn’t debuted as of the time of this post. (And even once it does, there will likely be adjustments made to get it working smoothly.) However, this is what we’d recommend–and will be doing ourselves–for now.
Even if you’re not planning a visit to Disneyland, this should be interesting to watch. Walt Disney World still hasn’t announced its plans for handling crowds and entry into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and that could hinge on how well the boarding pass system works at Disneyland.
Obviously, the two parks are very different, but we think a modified version of this (more akin to FastPass+ in the sense that it’d be better booked in advance) could work very well at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and eliminate a lot of headaches and dispel some fears. Stay tuned!
Are you planning on visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge now that the boarding pass system is debuting? Will you try for Savi’s Workshop or Oga’s Cantina reservations? Do you agree or disagree with our preliminary strategy for best experiencing Star Wars Land and the rest of Disneyland? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!