Let’s quickly go down the checklist. Would the majority of theme park tourists agree that Star Wars Land is spectacular? Oh yes. Do most people believe that the experience feels like a Star Wars experience in the real world? Absolutely.
Are the two rides worthy of their hype? Believe it or not, there has been some debate on this point. Not everyone loves Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. An analyst that I trust has claimed that it’s one of the lowest-rated rides at Hollywood Studios. That’s madness to me, but it’s the way that many feel. However, the arrival of Rise of the Resistance has tipped the scale. EVERYONE loves it, and so the overall answer to this question is yes.
Do theme park tourists find the experience immersive? Good lord, yes. It’s the ultimate in escapism. Many of us lose track of time while we’re visiting Batuu. Finally, do people love the food and beverages at Black Spire Outpost? Eek. That question is wholly in the eye of the beholder.
Some have fallen in love with Green Milk and whatever Ronto’s roasting (best not to ask). Others resent the menu’s needless level of complexity, as Galaxy’s Edge employs themed names for its cuisine.
You won’t find nuggets and fries here. For all we know, we’ve been snacking on Baby Yoda all this time. It's the problem with not speaking Batuu-ian or Batuu-ese or whatever that language is. All joking aside, theme parks serve comfort food for a reason. Guests want to be comfortable during a vacation day. At Galaxy’s Edge, the menu feels like some weird compromise between interstellar Vegans and carnivores. It’s the most glaring issue with Star Wars Land thus far.
Finally, how would visitors describe the shops? Nobody likes the price tags. That’s for sure. Despite the billionaires-only prices of some things like the Droid Depot and Savi’s Workshop, I’ll post some results later that resolve this debate. Guests love the merchandise here so much that they're willing to increase their budgets to get that one unique souvenir.
Overall, I count many more positives than negatives. At the end of the day, people can leave Batuu and head to ABC Commissary for a burger. But the rest of the Star Wars Land project is a tremendous triumph.
I don't just write about Disney. I read about it, as well. And for six months, it seemed like every comment involving Star Wars Land ended with a snide remark. No matter how many positives a person wrote, the attendance issue received a mention.
Were those negatives overstated? I’d like to say no, but that’d be disingenuous. During Disney’s fiscal quarter conference calls, executives inform investors about many details of park operation. Attendance is one of these statistics, and the truth is that CEO Robert Iger grimaced some in relaying the data.
During the fiscal third quarter of 2019, park attendance dropped three percent at Disneyland. At the time, it hosted the only Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on the planet, which should have driven admissions.
Iger commented that many consumers stayed away due to the fear of large crowds. This defense is at least somewhat valid. In fact, it’s happened to Disney on a much larger scale.
When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, some had projected opening day attendance in the hundreds of thousands. Barely ten thousand people showed up. Over time, research proved that fear of crowds had kept away a lot of potential customers.
Even allowing for that defense, ticket price increases played a factor. In fact, Disney raised the prices on everything in the months leading up to Star Wars Land. That's the real contributing factor here.
During the fiscal fourth quarter, Walt Disney World didn't get a Star Wars bump, either. Attendance was mostly flat, while Disneyland's park traffic again decreased year-over-year. So, I do think that Disney finally created its own pain point with overpriced theme park miscellany. BUT…