It's not exactly a Fast & Furious beef -- or a physical brawl like the recent one at Disneyland -- but a Disney Parks executive took a clear shot at the insane 10-hour wait times initially reported for Universal Orlando Resort's Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in defense of Disneyland's own Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Without naming the Hagrid ride -- because he didn't have to -- here's what Disney's Chairman of Parks, Experiences, and Products Bob Chapek said about the "win" of Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge wait times:
One of the wins that we had with the opening of the original Galaxy’s Edge is that we didn’t have the waits. The deep secret is that we don’t intend to have lines ... If you build in enough capacity, the rides don’t go down and it operates at 99% efficiency, you shouldn’t have 10-hour lines. So, 10-hour lines are not a sign of success. It should be seen as a sign of, frankly, failure.
Wands vs. lightsabers! He's right, though. It's tough to argue that a 10-hour wait time is a good thing. Sure, it sounds like there's a lot of excitement and hype for the attraction, but on a practical level YOU go wait 10 hours with a 9-year-old.
A few months ago, Universal felt the double-edged sword of headlines about the Hagrid ride's opening, with that early 10-hour-wait news probably exciting some fans while making others think they'd better just stay away for a long while. That Hagrid ride was so popular for a time that the park had to cut hours for a couple of weeks for maintenance.
The Disney Parks exec got on the defense a bit (via CNBC) because Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been in the news for being tied to the slight 3% downturn in Disneyland attendance this summer. He sees the positives, tied to a concerted effort by the company to manage crowds. CinemaBlend's own Disney expert also pointed out many positives in the lighter foot traffic at Disneyland, including that shorter lines make for a better park experience. Disney execs have noted that Galaxy's Edge is currently the most popular area in Disneyland, per Disney’s own customer satisfaction scores.
That said, one Disneyland employee recently spoke out to press about Disneyland reportedly cutting workers' hours because they expected Galaxy's Edge to be busier this summer. This employee said wait times for the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride were expected to be over 2-hours long all summer, but instead lines were averaging half that or less.
There's a wide chasm between a wait of one hour and a wait of 10 hours. Obviously waiting less time is better for the visitor, and I agree that long lines is not a sign of success. I think "failure" is harsh, but a 10-hour wait time certainly suggests the demand was more than they were ready to handle.
Disney's Bob Chapek added that the goal when they launch the new Rise of the Resistance attraction is to make it "a success under the guest experiential definition. We don’t define success as a picture of a long line." If the guests who actually go to the park and get into the ride enjoy it, that's what matters most.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens first at the Galaxy's Edge in Disney World in Florida on December 5, 2019, and then at Disneyland in California on January 17, 2020. Have you visited either Galaxy's Edge or the Hagrid ride yet? If so, what were your wait times like?