Disney Admits to Lower Than Usual Crowds at Disneyland Due to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Bob Iger pointed out in today’s earnings call that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge may have caused lower than normal crowds this summer at domestic parks. While many speculated Galaxy’s Edge scared people away from the parks, hearing it from the Disney CEO indicates it is a significant issue.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during Cast Member previews.

At the domestic Disney Parks, Disneyland, and Walt Disney World, park attendance was down by 3%. Disney said this was due to Annual Passholder block-outs at Disneyland, and that paid attendance was actually up. In fact, Iger reiterated that there was no “pricing issue” at any of the domestic parks.

At Disneyland, Iger said the May opening of Galaxy’s Edge caused Disney and nearby hotels to raise rates in anticipation of large crowds. When the crowds did not appear due to consumer expectations of overcrowding, Disneyland was left with lower-than-normal attendance numbers.

For the first few weeks of opening, Disney blocked out numerous Annual Passholders and Cast Members to try to control the number of people visiting Disneyland Park. Also, Disney announced Rise of the Resistance would not open with the rest of the land, keeping many Annual Passholders who might’ve bought a one-day ticket to see the land, at home. It was suggested that many of these same guests are now waiting for the attraction’s official opening in December for Walt Disney World and January in Disneyland, potentially offering strong numbers in the next quarter.

At Walt Disney World, Iger and other Disney executives speculate that the late August opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge made many guests defer their summer vacations until the land opened. Also, two major attractions in Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, are opening in early 2020. These factors may have caused a large number of guests to defer their vacations into late 2019 and even 2020.