It’s hard to ignore the excitement for the upcoming addition of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Disney’s Hollywood Studios now set to open August 29, 2019. The recent release of the opening dates of the new land and the flood of new details has taken over Disney Twitter and YouTube. It’s easy to see why with information on theming, rides, animatronics, food and drinks, and the immersive nature of the land. It is igniting the imagination of guests regardless of whether they know what a Wookie is or not. That being said, the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World is still a few months down the road, making now an important time to get to the parks because everything is about to change. Don't get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone about the new addition, but I’m also hesitant at the impact this will have on my overall enjoyment at Disney in the months following the opening. With this in mind, here are my top 5 reasons for getting to Walt Disney World before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens.
1. Crowds, crowds, and more crowds
Let’s start with the obvious: crowds. I’m not talking Epcot during Food & Wine crowds. I’m talking Christmas-level traffic at Hollywood Studios for weeks and months following the Galaxy’s Edge opening. And the August 29 date is only a soft opening. This traffic likely won’t be as intense at the other parks, but there will be a significant increase as Star Wars and Disney fans converge on the Reedy Creek Improvement District like a crowd searching for the last Mickey Bar on Main Street U.S.A. in July. There is no telling what traffic levels will be like at Galaxy’s Edge in the long term. No one truly knows. But, I am confident that the crowds will be large and will put pressure on wait times at rides and your general comfort level across property. We are still seeing 4 hour+ wait times for Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom two years after opening. This is Star Wars — It will be even more intense. A 300-minute standby for Slinky Dog Dash might become the norm for a short while. The only way to avoid this outcome is to hit Disney before the madness begins.
It has been pointed out on The Dis and other Disney news outlets that they have never seen so many deals like free dining and room discounts this early in the year and for such an extended period of time. This is an indication that Disney is having trouble filling their rooms for dates leading up to the new Star Wars addition. And, as one would expect with what is likely to be a successful addition, Disney will find that there is no slow season in the coming year(s) and will put a premium on nearly every on-property resort, restaurant, and ticket after Galaxy’s Edge opens. It was even announced last week that Disney was raising ticket prices. It is only fair; Disney would like to recoup some of the money they've spent creating his immersive experience in a galaxy far, far away.
3. Time to work out the kinks
FOMO (fear of missing out) is real when it comes to the Galaxy’s Edge opening, but like any new iOS update, I never want to be the first one to download it. As much as I would like to say I was at Disney the day, week, month, or even year that Galaxy’s Edge opened, there will be growing pains. If you visit Disney every year, or multiple times a year, you could deal with these headaches since you’ll be back soon anyways. But for those, like me, who go every couple of years, I can wait to ensure management has staffing levels, parking, and even maintenance figured out before I spend thousands on a vacation filled with technical and staffing headaches that could have been avoided.
4. Avoiding dining reservation headaches
The addition of Galaxy’s Edge also means new restaurants, but the sheer number of people that will descend on Disney during the months and years following the opening of Galaxy's Edge will make reservations a challenge property-wide. There are only so many excellent restaurants on property and a sustained influx of new visitors will ultimately mean your reservation at Hollywood Brown Derby, Ohana, and Be Our Guest might be that much more challenging.If you wanted to enjoy a calm atmosphere at your dining experience or even the chance to eat at your chosen restaurant, I would plan on doing it now.
5. Clogged transportation
Anyone who has waited for a bus at your on-property value resort on a reasonably busy day knows the pain of lines miles before you enter a park. Couple that with an eager yet whiny three-year-old, sweltering heat and strangers with amazing body odor issues, the Disney buses aren’t exactly magical all the time. This experience is likely to get even worse once Galaxy’s Edge arrives. Coupled with the addition of new on-property resort hotels, such as Disney’s Riviera and Reflections, the sheer number of new people on property will be at new levels that the transportation infrastructure has never faced. Sure, the addition of the Disney Skyliner could help take some of the pressure off the buses, monorails, and boats, and I hope Disney will anticipate the increased headcount and stress it will put on an already aging transportation system, but hope is only going to get you into the line. Patience has to take you the rest of the way. Until Disney knows what the traffic will be like from their on-property resorts and those coming in off-property, you can bet that the parking lots will be at capacity, the buses will be packed, and the line for the monorail will be never ending.
Disney will never be the same after Galaxy’s Edge. Yes, change is an ever present reality at Walt Disney World; it is not a museum, and we’ve all seen and endured change over the past five decades. But, right now is the final chance my kids will have to experience the parks the way they did when they first stepped foot on Disney World property, and for me to see them walk around a park not overflowing with people from rope drop to fireworks. The traffic, the people, and the level of immersion will likely change Walt Disney World forever (for better or for worse) and I might want to stay in that bubble of nostalgia one last time. In the end, Disney should be applauded for their business acumen in developing Galaxy’s Edge and the level of detail that is going into its development. It will be loved by many who have never even seen Cinderella Castle before. It will be $2 billion well spent from a Disney World fan perspective, but I’ll wait a little longer before taking an energetic Ewok leap.What do you think? Are you actively traveling to Disney before Galaxy’s Edge or do you think I’m crazy at not caring about missing out on the first moments of Walt Disney World’s most anticipated addition in years? Let me know!
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