We all expect Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to bring massive crowds to Disneyland when it finally opens in Summer 2019, but according to theme park experts, the new land could attract up to 200,000 people on opening day.
According to Blooloop, experts predict enormous crowds, swamped parking lots, and 10-hour lines. Bill Zanetti, who teaches theme park courses at the University of Central Florida, expects 200,000 guests to descend on Disneyland for the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. “The number is based on what I believe is the actual interest,” he said. “That’s just how many people I expect to descend on the resort on the first opening day." Touring Plans, which uses statistical analysis to predict crowd sizes and wait times at the parks, places the estimated number of guests at 150,000. The company predicts 8 – 10-hour lines just to get into Disneyland.
To manage such huge crowds, it’s expected Disneyland will make use of MaxPass and FASTPASS systems to set up return times for the Star Wars-themed land. Currently, Disney MaxPass is available for $10 a day and allows guests to make FASTPASS selections using the Disneyland app. But, as we all know from trying to reserve FASTPASSES for the most popular attractions, FASTPASS availability is limited and not guaranteed. You can expect FASTPASSES for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to be snatched up immediately.
Generally, for those who don’t purchase the MaxPass add-on, FASTPASSES can be obtained at distribution points near select attractions in the parks. These are available on a first-come, first served basis and are not guaranteed.
Those lucky enough to score FASTPASSES for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would be able to enjoy other attractions in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure before returning to enter Galaxy’s Edge. According to Zanetti, if you don’t snag FASTPASSES, you’ll likely have to wait in overflow queues in Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, or Downtown Disney District.
Len Testa, president of Touring Plans, estimates Galaxy’s Edge can hold 13,000 people. Once inside the new land, guests could face 6-hour waits for the attractions. According to the report, guests wanting to dine and shop in Galaxy’s Edge could see 90-minute wait times, which doesn’t seem so bad when compared to the predicted wait time for attractions.
Luckily, Disney Parks are experts at crowd control. Long wait times for attractions are eased with interesting ride queues that make the boring part a little more bearable. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will include two new attractions at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort — Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. New York Times reporter Brooks Barnes, who recently covered Disney’s massive investments in their theme parks, said the Millennium Falcon attraction will have enough pods to handle 1,800 people per hour.
I tried a test version of the Millennium Falcon ride as part of reporting. Built in a CA warehouse. I must say, pretty amazing. You're in the cockpit with only a few others. But they will have enough pods to handle 1,800 people/hour. https://t.co/sZqTbu9n7b
— Brooks Barnes (@brooksbarnesNYT) November 16, 2018
With such a large turnout expected, parking may be an issue. A new 6,500-space parking structure is currently being built near the Mickey & Friends parking structure, and it’s scheduled to be complete next year. “I think parking is going to be more of the problem,” Zanetti told Blooloop. “There might be gridlock in the resort district for I don’t know how long. Hopefully, that new parking garage will be open in time."
Though Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is expected to draw out-of-this-world attendance, this won’t be the first time Disney Parks have dealt with huge opening day crowds. Most recently, Pandora – The World of Avatar had a big opening weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017.
To help ease congestion, there may be preview events for annual passholders and members of the D23 fan club. It’s also possible Disney will sell tickets to an exclusive premiere event for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, similar to what they did for the premiere of the newly-reimagined Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure in June. Those tickets cost $299, and Len Testa of Touring Plans predicts Galaxy’s Edge premiere tickets could cost a whopping $500 – $1,000.
Testa thinks long lines and huge crowds won’t deter guests and massive “Star Wars” fans from visiting Galaxy’s Edge on opening day, even if Disneyland reaches capacity. “They will want to get into the line that gets them into the line that gets them into Galaxy’s Edge,” he told Blooloop.
Disney has not commented on the anticipated crowds and wait times for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but we don’t have too much longer to wait before opening day arrives. The new land debuts at Disneyland in Summer 2019 and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Fall 2019.