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Another month, another day filled with Galaxy’s Edge conversations, both regarding Disney World and Disneyland. While recently there has been some major hype about the upcoming Rise of the Resistance ride, this week Disney head honcho Bob Iger brought up both the Orlando and Anaheim theme parks’ Star Wars lands in a different context, noting that “delayed visitation” had a major effect on Galaxy’s Edge when it opened earlier in 2019.
According to Bob Iger, a lot of people haven’t visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge yet because both the Disneyland and Disney World parks aren’t completely finished yet. That will change very soon, as the second promised ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios on December 5. Per Iger:
We believe there were some delayed visitation to Galaxy’s Edge both at Disney and at Disney World ...So we sense that there are people that are just waiting for the whole thing to be opened. Which is fine.
But is it? Galaxy’s Edge in both parks cost upwards of $2 billion dollars to bring to life. That's a lot of money to put behind something that's doing OK.
Some Backstory On Attendance At Galaxy’s Edge
Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up back in May and the Disney World version opened in Hollywood studios this August. In both cases, attendance was lower than expected, but early reports noted the way Disneyland opened with required reservations may have been a part of that.
Then, wait times and attendance kept lagging and Disneyland even allegedly cut hours to offset the lack of people in the Land. It got to the point where some people were asking whether or not Galaxy’s Edge is actually a failure, and these new comments from Bob Iger are the latest in damage control related to those sorts of narratives.
An Optimistic Future For Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
Here’s the thing: Disney Parks have increased prices this year, and a reported earnings call (via CNBC) notes that revenue for that branch of the company was up 8% during the last quarter alone. In addition, booked hotels on property were up 5%.
According to Bob Iger, the rise of Galaxy’s Edge is soon to come along with these other positives. Once the second ride opens, and the new Star Wars hotel at Disney World – a hotel that will cost a pretty penny but will be incredibly immersive – it looks as if expectations will be much higher.
Meanwhile, we’ve also learned Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’s first ride to open, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, has already seen 5 million people pass through its queue. It hasn't been open for a whole year yet, so we'll have to wait and see how and if those numbers majorly change by the one-year mark.
Ultimately, the holiday season is typically busy for both Disneyland and Disney World. Only time will tell if this delay in Star Wars popularity is a real thing and if people will push harder to go into that part of the park in the next year or two. Given wait times for Galaxy’s Edge are even at the time of this writing lower than Avatar Flight of the Passage, which opened back in 2017, I’d say Disney has an interesting concern on its hands.
On the bright side, Galaxy's Edge is one of the more popular attractions at Hollywood Studios, along with Toy Story Land (which had a huge opening) and some of the bigger ticket rides like Rock 'n' Rollercoaster. The land has also certainly provided a much-needed facelift to the Orlando park. It's also a much cooler attraction at Disneyland than a petting zoo and BBQ restaurant were. So, whether or not it ends up being the biggest ticket item it was expected to be, it's still an improvement for both parks.
We'll be sure to keep you updated regardless of how this whole story pans out. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens at Disney World on December 5 and in Disneyland on January 17, 2020.