Earlier this week Disney released its quarterly financial report and though there was plenty of news about the company's box office performance and the impending launch of Disney+, theme park fans took a look at the flat attendance levels that have been seen at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and immediately chalked these disappointing numbers up to "prove" that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge has been a complete and utter failure.
And though its true that this new land didn't exactly have the blockbuster attendance numbers for the company that Disney was likely hoping for, is it really fair to call this new land a failure just yet? Let's take a bit of a deeper dive into what is going on with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
Opening a land in phases - probably a bad idea in hindsight
Disney is no stranger to phased land openings (New Fantasyland was one of the biggest in recent history), but many feel that Disney rushed Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge open too early, and should have waited for the "E-Ticket" Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction to be ready before opening this new land.
Interestingly enough, Disney seems to appreciate this point of view a lot more in hindsight, as executives said in recent conference call that bookings for the new year are up 5% because guests want to experience the full version of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge with its signature attraction, instead of coming down after opening and not being able to check out the full land.
Of course, that won't do much now as the attendance downturn at Disneyland (and only slight uptick at Walt Disney World) definitely have investors nervous about the billions of dollars Disney invested in these two lands. But surprisingly, there may be some good news when it comes to the dollars and cents of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge that doesn't specifically pertain to attendance...
The power of spending in Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge
When the subject of lackluster attendance at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was broached during a recent conference call Disney CEO Bob Iger defended his company's investment, saying “Those two lands have been far more successful than what’s been reported,” adding that guests are spending more on food, beverages and merchandise in the lands, and the guest satisfaction is “very, very high".
This is actually an important point, because, although attendance hasn't been great, revenue at Disney Parks is up. Guests that have visited this new land are spending more money, and it looks like Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is doing a great job driving cash flow, with its multiple gift shops, $199 lightsabers, and dining areas. And at the end of the day, as long as this new land is producing an increase in revenue, Disney can live without record-breaking attendance metrics. At least, for now.