It’s all happening! Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which was announced nearly 4 years ago, has an opening date at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. This post will cover the information that was released about the opening dates and the systems that the resorts will use to deal with crowds. I’ll follow that up with a bit of commentary on what it all means. What this post will not include is specific details on the attractions and everything that will be inside of the land, as we’re trying to stay spoiler-free in our lead up to the opening. You can find plenty of that information elsewhere if you don’t care about spoilers. Let’s get on to the announcement details using the old standby – bullet points!
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening in Disneyland on Friday, May 31st.
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is opening Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios on Thursday, August 29th.
- Both resorts will open their land with only one of the attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, running. Rise of the Resistance will be opening “later this year”.
- At Disneyland, guests will need a no-cost (outside of Disneyland admission) reservation to get into Galaxy’s Edge from May 31st through June 23rd. If staying at a Disney hotel, these reservations will be made automatically. If not, then they will be available to get on Disneyland.com at a later date.
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will open (at both resorts) without FastPass, MaxPass, FastPass+ or anything else Disney decides to call it.
For slightly more info (or just a more wordy way of putting all of this) here’s a link to the Disney Parks Blog post all about it.
For a land that I have been eagerly anticipating for years, this announcement was a delicious medium-rare Wagyu steak covered in A1 Sauce. No, I don’t like A1 Sauce. We’ll start with the good aspects of this announcement because I like to look at the glass half full and if we wait too long then I’ll just drink from the glass because I get thirsty and then it will no longer be half full.
Disney is opening a project ahead of schedule! Caveats be damned, this hasn’t happened in a long time. Last we knew, Disneyland was scheduled to open Galaxy’s Edge this summer (Iger had said June at one point) and Disney World had announced late fall. While the last day in May still falls under summer, it’s still early and gives fans a chance to experience the (almost complete) new land all summer long. Disney World is the one way ahead of schedule with an August 29th opening date. I was very surprised to see that. I think the resort may have even been surprised to see that as it falls under the Free Dining promotion as well as room discounts. It makes sense though, as Disney will try to improve on crowd levels during one of the quieter times of year.
I’m also happy with the way Disney plans to handle crowds at Disneyland. Don’t get me wrong, the resort will be chaos throughout the entire summer but… The reservation system is a good route to go. This will make experiencing the new land enjoyable for the people with reservations and not overly crowded. As long as everyone does their research and knows that you need a reservation for essentially the first month of opening, it will go well. (Not everyone will know that system is in place and many people will be angry but I put most of that blame on them as Disney will give plenty of notice for those attending in that month.)
We have experienced a reservation at Universal Studios Japan. They implement a reservation system for Wizarding World of Harry Potter on busy days and I really enjoyed it. Sure, you can’t pick the exact time you want to go into the land but once inside the crowds were manageable and exploring the land was pleasant instead of over packed. I’m not saying Galaxy’s Edge won’t be crowded even with the reservation system but it will be a good way to spread out the crowds. I’ll be curious if they continue the system and/or add it to Disney World.
Not having FastPass in place for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is also a good move. While FastPass is fantastic if you have one, it also is what makes standby lines insanely high. By cutting out FastPass and adding reservations to the land, I think wait times will be closer to 3 or 4 hours in the first few months instead of 10 hours. I do expect both Star Wars attractions to add FastPass in a year or two but, for now, no FastPass will make life more enjoyable for everyone.
Infrastructure at Disneyland was not set up to be able to handle the chaos that Galaxy’s Edge was going to bring on them this summer. Frankly, it still probably isn’t. But by taking the steps they are, things will be marginally better. Even opening the land in phases, with Rise of the Resistance opening later, will inadvertently help the park as it spreads out the mass chaos of a huge grand opening to two (albeit still large) openings.
Unfortunately, that’s the only good news about Rise of the Resistance not opening with the rest of the land. Having an opening date to one of the largest lands Disney has ever created without the marquee attraction is a bit of a letdown. I have little doubt that Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run will be fantastic but Rise of the Resistance is the attraction with the most current hype. For those visiting in the first few weeks (or months) before both attractions open, the land won’t be ready to fully experience.
Speaking personally, Melissa and I are planning a trip down to Disneyland specifically to experience Galaxy’s Edge. We kicked around the idea of going opening weekend but once we say only one attraction would be open we quickly opted out of that plan. For the year, we only have one trip to Disneyland in the budget and would like to experience the land full-bore. I’m slightly bummed because I would have liked to have coverage on the blog of the new land up sooner than that but we’ll kick the can down the road until we (hopefully) get an opening date for Rise of the Resistance.
As far as speculation on when Rise of the Resistance will open, I’ve seen guesses all over the board. Some think Disneyland’s version of the attraction is merely weeks behind the rest of the land. I’ve also seen guesses that Disney World’s Rise of the Resistance won’t open until 2020. One theory that makes sense to me is that the attraction is still on time with the original timeline (summer at Disneyland and late fall at WDW) but Disney saw an opportunity to make extra money and maybe alleviate some crowd issues and took it. I’m hoping that’s the case and the attraction hasn’t fallen way behind schedule.
For those not waiting around for Rise of the Resistance and want to attend Disneyland in the first few weeks of Galaxy’s Edge opening, get your hotel yesterday. Anaheim doesn’t have enough hotel rooms to accommodate everyone who will be there for the massive opening weeks. They will also use dynamic pricing. If you are even thinking about going to Disneyland in June, go make a reservation at a hotel now, make sure it’s refundable, and then decide later if you want to go or not.
Moving over to Walt Disney World, I don’t think there will be quite as much chaos with Galaxy’s Edge opening. The resort will handle crowds better simply because it’s bigger. Again, I’m curious to see if they will implement the reservation system in the first few months there. I’m hoping so, although the park can probably handle it either way.
For those looking to go to the Hollywood Studios grand opening (or in the months following that), I would advise getting a room at a Walt Disney World resort. In the past few years, Disney has offered Extra Magic Hours nearly every day in the months following that specific land’s opening. My guess is that Hollywood Studios will be opening at 7 AM and closing around midnight for resort guests every day from September until the 2020 at least. Getting those extra hours will be greatly beneficial.
As far as what this will do to wait times across the board at Disney World and Disneyland – they will probably go up a little but not significantly unless you’re there on opening weekend or during a holiday. I’ve seen the thought that “this should make Food & Wine less crazy” or “I’ll just go to another park and do those rides while everyone’s at Galaxy’s Edge”. That probably won’t work. There may be some dips in crowds at other spots but it’s important to remember that this opening is bringing additional people to the resorts, not just the same amount of guests concentrated in one spot. Speaking as someone who’s (frighteningly) fascinated by theme park operations, it will be really interesting to see how the crowds ebb and flow this year at both resorts.
I don’t expect crowd levels to drop much at all from the opening of both Galaxy’s Edge all the way through summer of 2020. Disneyland might see some down time in late January/early February 2020 but otherwise I don’t see where the crowds will slow down.
One last interesting thought, regarding Disney World, is with the opening date of Galaxy’s Edge being much earlier than expected does that push up the timeline for the Disney Skyliner and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. I’m guessing that the earlier opening means that both of those projects will be done before August. If you follow any Disney message boards or Twitter accounts then you likely know that the gondolas have been testing for weeks. I don’t think there’s any doubt that they’ll be ready to go by August (or even before). Runaway Railway is up in the air simply because we don’t know what’s going on inside of the ride. If I had to guess, those projects will be completed ahead of schedule (both were said to open in the fall) and open sometime this summer.
That’s all for now on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. For more information and thoughts on this, check out our podcast that will be released this weekend. As the opening dates get closer we will be updating itineraries and other posts to include this massive addition to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Are you excited for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? Let us know any thoughts or questions you have down below in the comments. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, you can subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!