Even The Happiest Place On Earth has to answer to supply and demand. Disneyland hasn't had the expected crowd levels for 2019's opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. That sounds great if you're a visitor and stand in shorter lines than you feared. But it's reportedly leaving Disneyland employees with fewer working hours and, therefore, smaller paychecks than they'd hoped for the summer.
Wait times this summer for the new Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride were expected to be over 2 hours long all summer, but in reality, the lines have been averaging half that or less. As a result, the company has been forced to cut our hours. The need for us to work simply isn't there.
That's the word from an unnamed Disneyland employee to FOX Business. The same employee said hours have been cut to 30-35 hours for some weeks, even for employees who have been at the park for years. That may not sound like a huge cut from a 40-hour workweek, but if workers make around $15 an hour, a week's paycheck could go from $600 to $450 before taxes.
A Disney spokesperson responded to FOX Business' report with this statement:
Full-time cast members know that they are regularly scheduled between 30 and 40 hours per week and that their schedules vary depending on a number of factors.
With one factor clearly being park attendance. It does makes sense, it just has to be the exact opposite of what Disneyland employees expected for summer 2019.
What went wrong with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge? Well, everyone is sharing reasons -- or arguing "nothing" -- and one such analyst is Disney CEO Bob Iger himself. Before recounting what Iger said, this particular Disneyland employee said he or she feels the problem was that the Star Wars land took too long to build, so they rushed the opening with "only one cool feature" in Smugglers Run. The second big ride, Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance, is set to open December 5 at Walt Disney World in Florida, and in January 2020 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Disney CEO Bob Iger addressed the small drop in Disneyland park attendance (via Comicbook), tying it to "a number of things," including hype and crowd expectations leading some fans to just wait until the fanfare died down.
First of all, helped in part by some of our efforts, there was tremendous concern in the marketplace that there was going to be huge crowding when we opened Galaxy’s Edge. So some people stayed away, just because they expected that it would not be a great guest experience. At the same time that that was going on, all of the local hotels in the region, expecting a huge influx of visitation, raised their prices. So it simply got more expensive to come stay in Anaheim. In addition to that, we raised our prices, we brought our daily price up, so if you think about local visitation, we brought the price of a one-day ticket up substantially from a year ago.
Crowds and money. Makes sense. And, yes, Disneyland's ticket prices did go up substantially earlier this year, ahead of Galaxy's Edge opening. Speaking of that, Bob Iger continued:
And then we opened up Galaxy’s Edge with one attraction instead of two; the second attraction is going to open in January. And so all of those factors contributed to attendance that was below what we would have hoped it would be. That said, guest satisfaction, interest in the attraction in the land is extremely high, it’s the most popular thing at the park.
CinemaBlend's own Dirk Libbey also found some silver linings in Disneyland's slight drop in attendance since Galaxy's Edge opened. Everything in life is a trade-off, and that's playing out here.
No one should cry for Disneyland, which saw an uptick in merchandising in the past quarter, despite lower attendance. The money is still coming in, and smaller crowds make for a better guest experience. However, there's always a flip side, and fewer guests means fewer park employees are needed to work. Supply and demand.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens August 29 at Walt Disney World in Florida. Are you planning a trip to either park anytime soon?