Is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge a Mistake?

ONE. BILLION. DOLLARS.

That’s the estimated cost of the new land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge which is coming to Disneyland on May 31 and Walt Disney World on August 29. That is a staggering amount of money just to create one area of the park. In fact, it’s the most expensive addition ever. And our sources are citing that $1 billion figure for Disneyland only.

Black Spire Outpost ©Disney

We can only assume the costs will be similar in Walt Disney World.  Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge promises to bring us the most immersive attractions and state-of-the-art technology ever seen in a theme park — but is it worth it?

It helps to be popular.

When creating a themed land, the audience is the most important thing to consider. Disney is spending literally millions of dollars, and wants to make sure it’s something relevant and beloved.

Although Avatar ranks as the highest-grossing movie of all time (without adjusting for inflation) there was a lot of concern regarding Pandora in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Was it relevant enough to be a success? A large reason the film Avatar was such a smash was the technology — it was the film that started the huge 3D revolution. But now, almost every blockbuster film — from Marvel to Jurassic Park — is shown in 3D, and thus some of Avatar’s groundbreaking appeal has been forgotten. Pandora – The World of Avatar began development in 2011, just two years after the film, but it didn’t open until 2017. And at this point, sequels are on the horizon, but does anyone really care? Millions and millions of people saw Avatar, but can you name a single character?

Avatar Flight of Passage ©Disney

Turns out, it doesn’t matter. Since its opening, Pandora has remained incredibly popular thanks to the amazing technology and attention to detail. Avatar Flight of Passage consistently ranks as the most popular attraction in Walt Disney World, with long wait times — occasionally up to SIX hours long. It appears that even if people have never seen the film, or have no memory or attachment to the story, they still want to see the newest technology from Disney.

Pandora cost an estimated $500 million to make — half of the current projected cost for Star Wars. So… will it be worth it?

Galaxy’s Edge was announced in 2015 and won’t open until 2019. However, unlike Avatar, Star Wars remains an incredibly popular franchise. In fact, it’s the second highest-grossing movie franchise of all time — behind the Marvel universe. Additionally, Disney and Lucasfilm have been much more strategic when it comes to releasing Star Wars films. One has been released every two years since 2015 (coincidence?) — every year if you count Rogue One and Solo,  both from the “A Star Wars Story” series. And Star Wars: Episode 9 is set to release just months after Galaxy’s Edge’s opening, only increasing the excitement for the land.

Star Wars isn’t new to Disney either — Star Tours and Jedi Training continue to be highly ranked and fairly popular attractions. Additionally, more and more Star Wars is being added, from the Launch Bay to fireworks. So unlike the Na’vi of Avatar, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 have made their presence known in the parks since the 1980s.

AT-AT Walkers in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

But is it overkill?

At this point, Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Disney World is considered a half-day park to some. The opening of Toy Story Land did help with this notion, however there are still considerably fewer attractions at Hollywood Studios than any other park. And for the non-Star Wars fan, it’s easy to write off several of the offerings already.  Unlike Flight of Passage, there isn’t a draw of the latest technology to the current Star Wars attractions.  If you don’t know or care who Kylo Ren is, you aren’t going to wait in line to meet him. The same can be true of waiting to see the March of the First Order or Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.

But Galaxy’s Edge promises to have the most innovative and state-of-the-art technology Disney has ever used. Will non-fans be interested? If the words Millennium Falcon or Boba Fett don’t mean anything to you, will you still want to wait in the inevitable insanely long lines to ride it, or will you skip Hollywood Studios, or even Disneyland, all together? Is there the possibility that even fans of the franchise will avoid the land because of the guaranteed over-crowding and wait times for everything from food to attractions to merchandise?

Beyond not wanting to deal with the crowds, there is also a risk that non-fans won’t even appreciate all that Galaxy’s Edge is offering. The land itself is said to be incredibly immersive, and your outcome on the attractions like Smugglers Run affects other interactions in the area. Will this all be lost on people who don’t give an Ewok about Star Wars?

Additionally, it’s no surprise that a trip to the Happiest or Most Magical Place on Earth is expensive. In the last year we’ve seen price increases on everything from tickets to bottled water and snacks. We can only assume that some of the price hikes are to balance out the cost of new additions. But at what point will Disney phase out the vast majority of its audience by making it completely unaffordable? Is the chance to drink Blue Milk or build your own light saber worth the ever-increasing cost?

 

An artist’s concept of the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction (Courtesy of Disney Parks)

 

Only Time will Tell. 

At this point, all we can do is wait to find out. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will no doubt be incredibly popular, no one will really know if it’s worth the $1 billion price tag until it’s open. Will state-of-the-art technology balance out the predictably outrageous wait times? Will adding more Star Wars isolate non-fans and in turn Force them (pun intended) to avoid the parks all together? All we can do is speculate, ask questions, and wait until May 31 in Disneyland and August 29 in Disney World, for our turn to travel to the galaxy far, far away.

 

What do you think — is Galaxy’s Edge a mistake? Are you excited or not for the new land? Let us know in the comments! 

 

For the latest in Star War: Galaxy’s Edge details, check out these other posts:

 

Remember! When you’re in Disney tag @allearsnet in your photos!

Be sure to check out our YouTube Channel for reviews, news, information and more! 

Subscribe to the AllEars® newsletter so you don’t miss any of the latest Disney news!

Click here to subscribe

Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

13 Replies to “Is Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge a Mistake?”

  1. I set the bar with the theming of the Harry Potter lands. I really know very little about the Harry Potter stories but am blown away every time I see these lands. I think we can all agree that toy story land was a bit of a stumble. I’m hoping that Star Wars land doesn’t end up like toy story land. We’ll see.

  2. Yes. The money and land should have been used for a Disney Studios project (yet keeping Osborne Lights even if moved to another area). Disney World is no longer DISNEY world. Story is thrown out; the majority of renovations go to non-Disney works. Imagine what could have been done with the 2 billion for Avatar alone: Beastly Kingdom; extend the monorail, update Toontown with up to date rides like thrill rides based on Epic Mickey and Kingdom of Hearts. Upgrade the raceway with the popular Disney Racers. Update Future World with a history of what we thought would be the future and what we got right, with emphasis on Walt’s World’s Fair, then other pavilions emphasizing what his version of Epcot would have been like. A chance to be in his city with updating ideas and places that had his vision (like the movie I’Robot). Instead, it’s Pixar Star Marvel World now. But it makes money, so it’ll never return to Walt Disney World.

    1. I am one of those non Star Wars fan and I totally agree with Erin! We have been to Disney LOTS of times since our children were small and it feels like they have gotten totally away from Mickey Mouse and ideas that Walt might have wanted for HIS venture. It’s beginning to feel to “serious” in nature and more for the adults then “childlike and fun” for the children for whom it all was designed for. I understand we must “keep up” with technology, etc but the “magic of Disney” is being lost. And let’s be honest with ourselves; the prices for tickets, food and rooms these days are just ridiculous, especially when you get to enjoy very few rides when you get there. (just for fun-I have a letter when Disneyland first opened as a member -now that’s OLD!!!)

  3. it’s definitely a mistake for them to be opening it ahead of schedule. they should be waiting until both rides are ready. but they posted “late fall 2019” all over the place for a year, then they announce a late august opening. that really screwed up a lot of people’s vacations who wanted to visit before the crowds.

    disney only cares about dollar signs anymore. we can all sit here as long-time visitors and agree we feel it’s a mistake in one fashion or another, but ultimately, and unfortunately, disney doesn’t care about our opinions.

  4. I would love nothing more than for this to be the thing that people decide to stay home for. The headlines, “Disney loses billions on Star Wars gamble” would be music to my ears. I am hoping beyond hope that because of the fear of massive crowds and no chance of actually getting on any of the new rides, that people just choose to stay home. It’s high time Disney lose their butts and maybe stop the nonsense. It’s just killing them that Universal does so well with the Harry Potter franchise. They keep trying to come up with something to top them. Sorry but you missed the boat there! Universal did an excellent job on that and I honestly don’t think that Disney could have done any better. Here’s the thing. Universal spends millions on Harry Potter and yet we can all still afford to go there. Novel idea! What good is the Star Wars area if people can’t afford to enjoy it but maybe once in a lifetime? Seems like a one and done unless you’re a Florida resident or AP holder. Come on people, protest with your pocketbooks! Unless we do this, we teach Disney that we’ll shell out whatever their asking for the privilege of enjoying their parks. I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly don’t have the money to pay for this Star Wars junk that I have no interest in seeing anyway.

    1. Until a few weeks ago the one day Universal ticket was more than the Disney one day ticket and didn’t include Express pass at another $129 per day per person- that is in no way a better value.

  5. I don’t know if Galaxy’s edge is a mistake. I only know that I don’t like it. It looks like some run down town in Africa with the M. Falcon stuck inside. I don’t recognize it as any of the Star Wars scenes. And it has no original trilogy characters, the ones I love, but only the new Disney ones, which I don’t care about or hate (Kylo ren — is that his name? You know, the creep?).
    I am curious about it and want to go inside and look at it once, but I feel no interest in it. It’s like the Han Solo movie. I don’t know what it’s about and don’t care because I am a Han Solo fan, and that guy in there ain’t Han Solo. Galaxy’s Edge isn’t a true Star Wars location of ANY Star Wars movie. So you are not really inside Star Wars by visiting Galaxy’s Edge.

    And it cost so much that Disney will never build a true Star Wars land, having already blown all the money on Galaxy’s Edge.

  6. It will probe itself to be worth the money. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan (I have seen three of the movies) but I’m interested in seeing what Galaxy’s Edge has to offer. Yes it will be crowded and if I don’t get on the rides my first visit I’ll be ok…. but the amount of people who it will draw and who will buy a ticket, and souvenirs, and food and stay the night will recoup that billion dollars rather quickly

  7. I grew up with Star Wars, have seen all of the films but am no way a Star Wars groupie! I am a DVC member and thus have been to WDW most years for the last 30 years. On 29th of November will be the last of 14 days of 2019’s vacation. I am unlikely to go to Disney Studios. It’s just not worth the crowds that will descend. God willing I will still be here to see it in the future. As I have grown older there is no way I would line up for hours for a “ride” any ride. However one of my long term criticisms of Disney, other than the price, has been the lack or slow pace of introducing new attractions so it would be churlish to complain about this new land. But I do think that they need to do something about overcrowding and introducing more thrilling attractions for the more adventurous

  8. It’s a mistake. But only in the sense that it was a poorly thought out choice to add a land to Disneyland rather than build a 3rd park in Anaheim. A Star Wars park would have been massively popular. They could have divided it into different lands/zone by making each one a separate planet in Star Wars lore. Naboo, Coruscant, Hoth, and Tatooine would have been good choices. Each offers different climates, landscapes, and unique flavors of the Star Wars univers. A central area with the Yavin IV base and the Death Star would have rounded it out.
    Now, with 3 parks, Disney could have better dealt with crowding issues, adding more hotels, additional pricing packages based on different parks.
    THAT should have been the way to go. Galaxy’s Edge will be fine – even though it seriously clashes with the feel of the rest of the park – but it’s a major missed opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *