Is Disneyland going to hit capacity every single day for Star Wars Land?
Capacity crowds at Disneyland are nothing out of the ordinary during peak times like the holidays, but with the opening of Star Wars Land this summer, a lot more sold-out days may be on the horizon.
For the first time of the 2018 holiday season, Disneyland officially reached maximum capacity on December 27—giving us a modest preview of what to expect once Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in a few months.
The days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are the “worst days ever” to visit Disneyland. In fact, December 26-30 are historically some of the highest-attendance days of the year and are almost always “Forget About It” days on the Disneyland Crowd Calendar. So it was no surprise that the park would hit capacity just two days after Christmas. Disney was forced to stop selling tickets by noon as wait times soared to 100-200min and crowds continued to swarm both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (which was also very crowded, but still had tickets available all day).
— Try Everything Daily (@tedailytweets) December 28, 2018
So, a Disneyland at capacity got us thinking: if it’s this bad now, just how much worse will it get once a land themed to one of the most popular franchises on the planet opens up?
If the steps Disney has already taken ahead of the opening are any indication, it’s going to be ugly.
Too Many Annual Passholders
Let’s start with Disneyland’s popular annual pass program. Annual passholders make up a significant portion of attendance to the parks, and Disney has already taken unprecedented measures to keep the AP crowds at bay for the Star Wars Land opening.
The solution? More blockout dates! Starting on June 21, 2019, the vast majority of annual passes will be blocked out from Disneyland for the summer. For the first time, blockout dates will also be park-specific, with some passholders being restricted to DCA-only entry on certain days.
The new AP blockout calendars should help relieve some of Star Wars chaos since days when more passes are valid tend to be more crowded. However, don’t expect blockout dates to stop Disneyland from reaching capacity at all. During the busiest time of the year around Christmas, all annual passes (except for the very highest tier) are blocked out as well—and Disneyland still manages to regularly hit capacity.
When all annual passholders, including the lowest tier (SoCal Select), are valid again after the summer season on September 3, 2019, may the Force be with you because that’s when it’s projected to get even uglier. Keep an eye on the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for any updates.
The Lines Are Already Crazy
So, just exactly how long the lines will be for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? It’s anyone’s guess at this point, but if a Disneyland without Star Wars pulls off 2-3 hour long waits on capacity days now, be prepared for at least two to three times longer waits once the new land opens.
Star Wars Land’s premiere may end up being something like the 1995 opening of Indiana Jones Adventure—but on steroids. When that ride first opened, the line stretched to Main Street and clocked in at more than 4 hours long. When a revamped Star Tours reopened in 2011, wait times of 2-3 hours were common that summer season.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will feature two major attractions, and if we had to guess, we wouldn’t be surprised if both lines end up being at least 5-6 hours long for each ride. That’s not counting the wait to just enter Disneyland, which could extend for even more hours.
When “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opened at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2016, as much as 2-3 hour waits were the norm that summer, as record-setting crowds descended on the new land. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is expected to attract even more crowds. The good news though is that attendance for Harry Potter World dropped toward the end of the summer season, but the attractions still continue to draw 2-hour waits on crowded days.
It doesn’t look like Disney California Adventure will be spared from the massive crowds, either. On December 27, 2018, while ticket sales to a full-capacity Disneyland were halted, the wait times at DCA surged. Radiator Springs Racers topped out at 300min, Soarin’ Around the World climbed to 200min, and even Monsters, Inc. (yes, that ride) hit a whopping 60min wait. DCA never reached maximum capacity that day, but if this is any indication, both parks may very well run into capacity issues on the days following the opening of Star Wars Land.
There’s Not Enough Parking
Ok, let’s talk about the parking situation. Parking capacity has been an issue at the resort for quite some time now. The Mickey & Friends parking structure almost routinely fills up and temporarily closes, forcing guests to park at the Toy Story parking lot. There’s even an unofficial Twitter account, Is Mickey & Friends Full? (@IsParkingFull), keeping track of the parking headaches at Disneyland.
Thankfully, a new 6,500-space structure is being built and is expected to dramatically improve parking and traffic flow throughout the resort. The new parking structure should be ready in time for the Star Wars madness, so hopefully there won’t be too much gridlock as far as transportation goes next summer and beyond. The lines to get in the parks and the lines to ride the attractions, however, will be a completely different story of course.
When the security lines are all the way to the bus stops so heres your friendly reminder to be nice to Cast Members and be patient if you choose to come to Disneyland or California Adventure . pic.twitter.com/wK6yN8IpWh
— Lizzie Kaczmarek (@lizziekaczmarek) December 28, 2018
Be sure to check out the Disneyland Crowd Calendar for the best and worst days to go before and after Star Wars Land opens. The forecast is updated regularly, so check back often.
Are you planning on visiting Disneyland for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? How do you think the parks will handle the crowds? How long do you think the lines will be? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!