Disney has announced grand opening dates for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance for Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. In this post, we’ll cover the official debuts for Star Wars Land’s flagship attraction, plus some thoughts.
The big twist here is that despite opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge a few months later, Walt Disney World’s version of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will actually open first, right as Christmas season kicks into high gear on December 5, 2019.
By contrast, the official grand opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland has slipped into next year, with an opening date of January 17, 2020. Obviously, this is an interesting turn of events for the two Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge projects…
Note that there is not a single team of Imagineers that personally builds every Disney attraction brick by brick, detail by detail. While the attraction is being cloned for both coasts, it has distinct construction crews, with each version having its own third party contractors and subcontractors.
This is to say that it’s not as if resources have been diverted from one coast’s version of the project to rush the other one towards completion. To the contrary, Disneyland’s Rise of the Resistance was months ahead of Walt Disney World’s at one point, but saw significant issues in early spring that has necessitated previously completed work to be redone.
Given the nature of the delay, we’re actually a bit surprised that Disneyland is setting an official opening date for Rise of the Resistance so many months in advance. While some ‘rumors’ have suggested the attraction would be ready to open in this month or that, it’s been our understanding that there were internal goals for its completion, but nothing certain.
Having a precise, remote opening date for a project that has had problems strikes us as odd. It’s possible that Disney wanted to release something, and chose a very conservative official date. This gives people more certainty in their planning, and Disney always has the freedom of debuting early (as we saw with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge itself) or doing an extended soft opening preview period.
This might make sense from another perspective, as well. As we’ve covered extensively, crowds have been really low at Disneyland this summer. (See our “Why Are Star Wars Land Crowds So Low?” post for more on that.) At least part of the reason for this is because there are a lot of Disneyland locals who have said they’ll “wait a couple of months to visit when it’s all open.”
Perhaps by announcing a 2020 debut date for Rise of the Resistance, Disney is hoping to get these potential guests to stop waiting and visit now, knowing it’ll be more than a couple of months before Rise of the Resistance is ready to debut. In the last couple of weeks, Disneyland has taken numerous moves to help address this low crowd “problem” and this could be yet another move with that goal.
We have zero insight into the progress on Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Given that original rumors (that date back into last year) indicated Walt Disney World was targeting a December 2019 opening date for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, we’re inclined to believe that the project is more or less on schedule in Florida.
It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if there have been technical challenges in getting all of the effects working and timing of the attraction right on both coasts. As has been stated countless times, this is Disney’s most technically-ambitious attraction ever, and has a lot of “moving parts” (in a manner of speaking). It’s going to have some amount of hiccups in getting everything working properly.
An early December 2019 debut date in Walt Disney World suggests minor hiccups (at most) for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. A January 2020 date at Disneyland, for the version that was previously several months ahead of schedule, suggests something more serious.
As for how this will impact crowds on either coast or how the parks will handle operations, we are hesitant to even speculate. Obviously, we thought the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would bring a huge influx of crushing crowds to Disneyland…and pretty much the exact opposite happened.
January is typically a slow month at Disneyland, with the only real exception to that being a couple of years ago when Main Street Electrical Parade returned and an aggressive SoCal resident ticket special was offered. The parks were bonkers then, despite it being California’s off-season for tourists. It’s hard to say if January 2020 will be the “turning point” with Star Wars Land and locals, with crazy crowds.
Personally, I think that turning point will occur in September or October, at the latest. This low crowd phenomenon is likely a temporary one that’ll likely end with summer. (It’s great for guests, but incredibly concerning to Disney, which has made itself beholden to quarterly numbers.)
December is a busy month at Walt Disney World, and would be irrespective of all things Star Wars. On-site hotel occupancy is high for December, and some room types have been totally sold out for certain dates for a while now. That doesn’t tell the whole story, as off-site guests and locals do make up a considerable number of guests. Nevertheless, we’d be shocked if Walt Disney World is not busy this December.
At Walt Disney World, the wildcards will be whether Extra, Extra Magic Hours gets extended and when FastPass+ is offered for Rise of the Resistance. We would not bank on FastPass+ being available for either Galaxy’s Edge attraction until Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway debuts, and perhaps not even right away then.
Unfortunately, an extension of Extra, Extra Magic Hours is also uncertain. If September and October are not insanely busy, there’s a good chance Disney management won’t want to continue running Extra, Extra Magic Hours beyond their slated end date. That’s unfortunate, as December is the month when something like that will be needed most. Here’s hoping Disney has a little more foresight and faith in Rise of the Resistance’s drawing power.
If you’re planning on visiting the new land, you’ll also want to read our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide. This covers a range of topics from basics about the land and its location, to strategically choosing a hotel for your stay, recommended strategy for the land, and how to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition.
Are you going to be there for the grand opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Excited for this attraction? Will you avoid grand opening until crowds are at a more manageable level? What do you think of the delayed opening at Disneyland? 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