With Star Wars being one of the biggest brands in history and with Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort being some of the most visited amusement parks on the planet, it would make sense that the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge would draw in an overwhelming number of visitors. In the four years since the project was first announced, Disney clearly found ways to accommodate the expected crowds, with attendance at the now-open Galaxy's Edge area of Disneyland ultimately being lighter than expected. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently addressed the factors that played into those figures, which are seemingly all part of the process.
"I think a number of things happened," Iger shared during Disney’s Q3 FY19 Earnings Results Webcast. "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."
Not only were the anticipated crowds a deterrent for potential guests, but there were price increases which made it more expensive to access Galaxy's Edge.
"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," Iger noted. "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."
Fans have known for months that the parks were aiming to open in 2019, with Disney surprising fans earlier this year by revealing both parks would have soft openings that would require reservations ahead of the parks' official openings. Not only did this alleviate some of the crowds, but both parks opened without all of their attractions being accessible.
"And then we opened up Galaxy's Edge with one attraction instead of two, the second attraction is going to open in January," Iger explained. "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. And so, long term, we build these things for the long term, we have no concerns whatsoever about them. We're opening Galaxy's Edge in August in Orlando, the second attraction there will open in December, and, as I said, the second attraction in Anaheim will open in January, so we feel great about the product we've created, it just takes some time to, basically for us, to work themselves out in terms of how the marketplace is reacting."
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is officially open at Disneyland and opens at Walt Disney World on August 23rd. The second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opens on December 5th in Orlando and on January 17, 2020 in Anaheim.
Are you surprised by these lower attendance numbers for the park? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!