Though high attendance is something that theme parks love to tout as a measure of success, Walt Disney World has struggled in the past with overcrowding, which is an issue the resort has tackled head-on in recent years with substantial price hikes, the implementation of the tiered annual passholder system, and even special perks for guests visiting in the "off" season. However, it looks like Disney may be considering another measure to control crowds that would be its most dramatic yet.
A survey started making the rounds a few weeks ago that suggests that Walt Disney World is considering implementing a new policy that would include expanded restrictions for annual passholders. Under the proposed new system, annual passholders at lower tiers would not only be subject to admission blackouts during specific times of the year, but would also potentially lose the ability to access to new rides and attractions unless they paid to upgrade their pass.
Though we’ve already gone over some of the details regarding this rumored plan (you can read all about it here), in recent weeks more and more fans have been wondering about why Walt Disney World would even be considering a plan like this and if Disney is serious about their proposed plan to block access to specific new attractions for some of its most loyal fans.
With price hikes coming soon, we figured we’d take a closer look at this rumor and how plausible a scheme like this really is.
This idea is directly tied to the opening of Star Wars Land
Walt Disney World has a lot of new attractions opening up in the near future. However, though we’re sure Pandora: The World of Avatar will be amazing and Toy Story Land will be interesting, these new lands aren't expected to the be the same draw that Star Wars Land will be. And that could potentially be very bad for Disney's Hollywood Studios. To explain why, let's jump back in time a little bit.
Orlando theme park fans may recall the opening day for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter back in 2010, when thousands of guests showed up at Universal Orlando Resort, causing traffic jams and forming a massive queue through Islands of Adventure that stretched far out of the park gates, spilling over into CityWalk. Right now Disney is anticipating those kinds of crowds for Star Wars Land, and wants to ensure that such a nightmare scenario doesn't happen at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which doesn't have the park capacity to support such a giant crowd. And here's where their brilliant plan comes in.
By blocking annual passholders out of Star Wars Land during its first days (whenever those are), Disney would theoretically be able to instantly eliminate a good percentage of guests who would ordinarily show up for opening day, thereby (hopefully) avoiding a super-crowded situation like the one we saw at Universal in 2010. This would also allow Walt Disney World to give preference to guests who bought a ticket especially for this grand opening date as well as on-property guests, who would likely be encouraged to experience new attractions during Extra Magic Hours.
Of course, Star Wars Land won't be open for at least three or four years, and a lot can change in that time period. In fact, with this land barely just breaking ground at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you’d be forgiven for wondering why we’re talking about this now anyway. And while we don’t know for sure about why Disney is circulating this survey now, we’d guess that if Disney does decide to go ahead with this plan, they will likely be testing it out with Pandora: The World of Avatar (perhaps specifically with the Flight of Passage E-ticket attraction), and will then will use the results from this test to decide how to move forward in the years before Star Wars Land opens.