I think it’s safe to say that Disney is worried about how many people are going to show up to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge when it opens at Disneyland in Summer 2019. The problem here isn’t too few visitors – it’s too many visitors.
How many people will be able to experience Galaxy’s Edge each day? How long will the lines be? What is the ride capacity? We don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but the first information is coming in and giving us an idea of what to expect.
— Brooks Barnes (@brooksbarnesNYT) November 16, 2018
Up to 1,800 Riders Per Hour Will Get to Fly the Millenium Falcon
Disney believes that one of the land’s signature attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, will accommodate up to 1,800 riders per hour. The ride will let guests board the Millenium Falcon and take the galaxy’s most famous hunk of junk on a mission, controlling the movement, the weapons, shields and more. 42 guests can experience the ride at a time through seven pods that seat six people each. That works out to a maximum capacity of 28,800 daily riders.
According to OCR:
A theoretical 1,800 riders per hour would put Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run near the middle of Disneyland E-Ticket attractions in terms of ride capacity. Pirates of the Caribbean (2,800 riders per hour), Big Thunder Mountain (2,200) and Haunted Mansion (2,100) would be on the higher end, Gennawey estimates. Space Mountain (1,600 riders per hour), Matterhorn Bobsleds (1,500) and Star Tours (1,300) would be on the lower end, according to Gennawey. Indiana Jones Adventure, with an estimated 1,800 riders per hour, would be the closest comparison to the anticipated ride capacity of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.
That number seems impressive, but also keep in mind that’s if everything goes perfectly. If there are no ride shutdowns, slow-moving crowds, or unseen problems. Remember, this is the most advanced motion simulator ever created for a mass audience and I’m sure there will be unforeseen issues. Let’s play it safe and say that 22,000 people will ride this attraction daily.
Disneyland attracted 18.3 million visitors in 2017, an average of 50,100 visitors per day. The park’s current capacity is somewhere around 70,000 visitors in a day, and that will probably increase with the opening of the new 14-acre land. Our estimated daily capacity for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is about one-third of the maximum capacity of the park.
How Long Will the Lines Be?
There have been reports that the rides at Galaxy’s Edge will not have traditional stand-by lines, but will instead only be available via MaxPass reservations (the company’s phone-booked FastPass system). We don’t know if that is true, but the show buildings seem to have layouts to accommodate lines of some sort. It’s hard to estimate how long these lines will or could be.
The popular Disney parks site Touring Plans, which analyzes statistical data to calculate daily crowd sizes and ride wait times, anticipates Disneyland guests could wait for 6-hours or more for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance trackless dark ride on the opening day of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. But how much will that cool down in the days and weeks beyond that?
How Many People are Even Going to Get Into Galaxy’s Edge?
Bill Zanetti, an Orlando, Florida university teacher who studies theme park design, operations, and management, estimates that 200,000 fans will show up at Disneyland for the opening day of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Of course, that number of people is well above the maximum capacity of Disneyland Resort’s two theme parks, never mind Galaxy’s Edge. This will leave many people on opening day stuck outside the park gates.
For almost a year now, I’ve been hearing rumblings from Walt Disney Imagineering sources over the concern that the demand for the new Star Wars-themed land will outweigh the company’s ambitious plans to put guests in the center of their own personalized Star Wars story. I had even heard rumblings that they were considering pushing the opening back so it wouldn’t happen alongside the already insane Summer crowds at Disneyland resorts. I’ve heard estimates that Disney is expecting Disneyland to reach capacity by 10:00 A.M. for the first 90 days of Galaxy’s Edge’s opening, which is truly insane, but entirely believable.
There have been rumors of a possible “Batuu Travel Agency,” where, for an extra fee in addition to your park ticket, you’ll be able to book a visit to Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve even heard these Batuu tickets could be booked in time-segmented allotments and not actually for full-day admission to the Star Wars-themed land. This sounds even more insane to me, and I personally hope that isn’t the case. One thing is for sure: Disney is going to have to figure out a solution for the crowds to come.
We’ve also heard that Disney has an estimated capacity that they want to keep for Galaxy’s Edge and that a queue outside the entrance will be required to make it so that guests visiting the Star Wars galaxy won’t get a subpar experience that is too crowded. This isn’t unusual – Universal Studios did this with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. But this is troublesome still, as the Disneyland version of Galaxy’s edge has three entrances (the Florida version, at least initially, will only have two).
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