The Walt Disney Company’s 2019 annual shareholder meeting has concluded, and although the largest announcement to come from the function was an expected one, that doesn’t diminish the impact that it will have on Disney Parks fans and prospective vacation planners. Opening dates for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts were revealed by CEO Bob Iger during the Parks and Resorts update, with the stipulation that only one attraction would be running during the lands’ debuts.
Shortly after Iger’s announcement, The Walt Disney Company revealed some details about the new lands, their attractions, and how guests can experience them when they open. Here is what we know so far:
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland Park will open to the public on May 31st of this year. If guests want to experience the new land between May 31st and June 23rd they will not only need theme park admission but also a reservation. The reservations are no extra cost, but subject to availability and will presumably run out rapidly. Information on how to obtain a reservation will be released later, but for now we do know that guests with a stay booked at one of the three official Disneyland Resort hotels during this time will get a designated reservation (one reservation per registered guest).
- Galaxy’s Edge will open in Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios on August 29th of this year. No reservation will be required to experience the new land, but capacity will be limited. Galaxy’s Edge will be available for Extra Magic Hours, but details on what days that will entail will also be forthcoming.
- On both coasts, Galaxy’s Edge will open in two phases. This means that when it debuts at each park only one of the two attractions will be operational. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will be available on opening day; Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open at a later date yet to be named.
- The height requirements for the rides are as follows: Guests must be 38″ (97 cm) or taller to ride Smugglers Run, 40″ (102 cm) or taller for Rise of the Resistance.
- FastPass+ at Walt Disney World and FASTPASS at Disneyland will not initially be available for Smugglers Run when it opens.
- Iger noted in response to a shareholder question that the new lands were developed with special provisions in mind for people with disabilities.
- Early in the concept stages of both Galaxy’s Edge lands, Iger told Lucasfilm and Imagineers, “Make sure they’re ambitious.”
While Galaxy’s Edge may been the focus of the most fan anticipation, the meeting spanned many areas of The Walt Disney Company.
Some Parks and Resorts highlights include:
- Iger referenced new projects coming to Disney Parks around the world, including the Epcot updates, Magic Kingdom’s Tron coaster, the new Marvel land at Disney California Adventure, a Zootopia land in Shanghai Disneyland, an increased Marvel and Frozen presence in Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, Paris’ Marvel-themed hotel, and a new hotel slated for Tokyo DisneySea.
- Iger was asked about the possibility of renovations to Tomorrowland, and although he had nothing to announce yet, the CEO did say, “In the years ahead there will be a lot of Tomorrowland activity.”
- When asked about Disney’s recent price increases, and if the company was still trying to retain its place as an affordable middle-class vacation destination, Iger responded by highlighting the increased flexibility of the new date-based pricing structure, explaining that it was developed to make vacation planning possible for a range of budgets. According to Iger, Disney is attempting to manage demand, price accordingly, and preserve the guests experience.
The Walt Disney Company’s new direct-to-consumer direction, the Disney-Fox acquisition, and other company issues got some attention as well:
- Iger expects the company’s acquisition of Fox to be finalized in the near future. In response to a shareholder question, Iger explained that while all new projects will be under The Walt Disney Company, new projects (mainly films) will continue to be developed under the Fox, Fox Searchlight, and FX brands. The acquisition doesn’t include the purchase of Fox lots, but Disney will have access to those locations through leases.
- The CEO touted Disney’s environmental efforts and referenced their new solar facility which will provide enough clean energy to power two theme parks and eliminate 60,000 tons of greenhouse emissions.
- A lobbying transparency proposal and a cyber-security proposal were both discouraged by the board and rejected.
- ESPN+, Disney’s sports streaming service, has amassed 2 million subscribers in less than a year, which Iger says serves as a good sign for the release of Disney’s movie and video streaming service, Disney+. The company is continuing to invest in direct-to-consumer content and technology.
- Disney+ will be showcasing its content on April 11th. The service will host both a library of old content and new exclusive content. At some point in the future Disney+ will house Disney’s entire library of past and present films, according to Iger. All newly released projects under the Disney umbrella will be released on the service.
- Iger boasted of Disney Cruise Line’s 3 new ships slated for completion over the next few years, and teased a new destination in the Bahamas for the cruise line.
- Iger said these projects were part of the “biggest expansion [The Walt Disney’s Company’s] Parks and Resorts team has ever created.”
Iger also spoke on Disney’s slate of upcoming films, with a 2019 schedule that includes Tim Burton’s Dumbo, the live-action Aladdin remake, Toy Story 4, and Star Wars: Episode IX. Shareholders were shown a clip Toy Story 4, a scene from the Disney’s live-action The Lion King, a sneak peak at the 2020 followup to Maleficent titled Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and a special promo for Episode IX, which has completed filming and is currently being edited.
Shareholders also got a special glimpse into the making of James Cameron’s Avatar sequels. Now under the Disney banner as part of the Fox acquisition, Iger boasted of the sequels but did not give any completion timeline.
Source: The Walt Disney Company