Both Disney and Star Wars fans were thrilled when the long-awaited dates of the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands were finally announced for the Disney parks in California and Florida. The land is scheduled to open at Disneyland on May 31, and at Walt Disney World a couple of months after, on August 29th.
The two parks are treating their respective openings somewhat differently. This is how the opening will be run at Disneyland:
Things will be a little looser at Walt Disney World, in that no reservations will be required to enter the land during its first month:
The big question for WDW visitors is how the opening will affect people and their vacation towards from late August 2019 forward, and perhaps into 2020 and beyond? Using past experience and a little hypothesis, this is what we think…
We don’t know. 😉
Well, I mean, we DO know some things. We know it’s going to be super duper crowded for quite some time. We can tell you that, for sure ;-). But how will that affect peoples’ vacation? It’s hard to say at this time. Seeing how the opening and aftermath goes at DL should help, to an extent, to determine how it will go at WDW. Until then, this is what we know…
The June, 2010 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure is the only thing we really have to compare to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge at this time. For that, people began queuing up at midnight the night before, they counted/limited how many people could be in the land at any one time, and the wait was said to be 8+ hours to enter the land on the day it opened. This photo shows the queue to enter the land on opening day.
I know we waited about 90 minutes to get into the land in August of that year, and except for rainy days, it took a few months after that until you could just walk into the land without waiting on a queue (especially first thing in the morning).
Now compare the popularity of Harry Potter to Star Wars.
The first Harry Potter book was released in 1997, and the 7th and final one in 2007. As of February 2018, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide (they’re the best-selling book series in history). Each book has been made into a successful film, and it’s the third highest grossing film series of all time. In 2016, the entire Harry Potter franchise was estimated at about $25 billion.
The original Star Wars film was released in 1977, so it had a 20-year head start on Harry Potter. It and its 8 sequels are the second-highest grossing film series of all time and, same as Harry Potter, it’s still growing with movies, merchandise, spin offs, etc. As of 2018, the franchise was worth roughly $65 billion.
As much of a Harry Potter fan I am (and of a Star Wars fan I am not), those numbers don’t lie…overall, Star Wars is bigger than Harry Potter. MUCH bigger.
So yeah, Galaxy’s Edge? The queues are going to be ridiculous. For, like, YEARS.
Well, maybe not years. But for a very long time. See, besides the fact that Star Wars is more popular than Harry Potter, Disney has hyped Galaxy’s Edge up the ying yang and they KNOW they have to do it justice to keep the Star Wars geeks happy and to keep up with the quality of what they put out in regards to The Boy Who Lived down the block.
Harry Potter land calmed down, to an extent, after a couple of months. But SW has more decades and more fans behind it. And that’s on top of the regular Disney fans who may not be huge Star Wars fans but still want to see it just because it’s part of Disney. So maybe “years” isn’t such a outlandish prediction?
So what can you do about it?
Welp, if you can get to WDW before August 29, 2019, do it. I’m serious. It might be the last time you can enjoy the parks – all the parks – at their “normal” crowd level, before a “new normal” comes into play.
See, although I suspect Galaxy’s Edge is going to be done magnificently, it’s still going to be just one land with just one ride/attraction, one restaurant and a handful of shops when it first opens (a second attraction will open later on). It’s also housed in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is the smallest park WDW has. So both the land and the park are going to be at capacity for, I suspect, a while. Yet all these people are going to be at WDW, so what’s going to happen to the overflow? They’re going to go to the other parks, of course.
I would love to say that the queues for Flight of Passage, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Frozen Ever After, etc. would be shorter because everyone would be at the Studios, but honestly I think all the other parks are going to be even more crowded (as if they’re not crowded enough?) because all those people are going to have to go somewhere when they can’t get into “Star Wars Land,” or even into the park that houses it.
You might want to consider delaying your visit for a while. Or maybe think about making it longer so you have more time to deal with the crowds and the longer queues. Or maybe (and I realize this might be verboten to some, but…) spend your vacation in Central Florida by expanding your horizons and visiting all the other things it has to offer. Universal. SeaWorld. The other, smaller parks and attractions.
Or maybe it won’t be as bad as all that. Attractions Magazine doesn’t seem to think so. We just don’t really know for sure, do we? Time will tell.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary