How Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will Impact the Crowd Calendar

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Star Wars: Galaxy Edge now has official opening dates on both coasts, and we all have questions about how this will impact wait times, the Crowd Calendar, and the Touring Plans.

First, note that a lot is still unknown about new lands. I’d like more details on how entrance to Galaxy’s Edge will be controlled, and we need to know when exactly Rise of the Resistance will open, since that will likely bring another wave of guests to the resorts. As we learn more information, we may make further adjustments to our predictions.

Here are some of the questions we’ve received, along with our responses:

When can we expect an update to the Crowd Calendars?

We are working on it. Crowd Calendar updates will be published on Monday, March 11, 2019.

Will Florida’s Galaxy’s Edge open in phases?

Yes. The press release confirms that both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will open their new lands with only a single attraction: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Dining and shopping venues will also be open, but the second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open on unknown later dates.

Any thoughts on changes to crowd levels or wait time forecasts for the end of August now that the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is announced for August 29 at Walt Disney World in Florida?

Once the land opens on August 29, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be jam-packed with guests. The parking lot will be busy, bag check will take longer than usual, and restaurants will be hectic during meal times. However, wait times at the attractions that are not in Galaxy’s Edge will be manageable. Based on what we saw when Animal Kingdom opened Pandora, I think we can expect a 12% to 20% increase in wait times at existing Hollywood Studios attractions. This sounds like a lot, but if you follow one of our optimized touring plans, you won’t really feel the difference. Most of that increase will be felt in the middle of the day, and the touring plans usually get you through those bottlenecks in the early morning.

How bad do you think it’s going to be across all parks?

I don’t think Magic Kingdom and Epcot will experience a significant bump in wait times as a result of this announcement. So many of the extra guests heading to Walt Disney World will be focused on experiencing the new land that I think there will be a willingness to sacrifice the other parks to get it done. Animal Kingdom will see a bump, I think, because Pandora still has appeal as the previous new land.

Any thoughts as to how this might impact crowds during June and July at Walt Disney World?

I don’t think crowds during June and July will change at Walt Disney World based on this announcement.

Will Disney World crowd levels in late August go down on dates before Star Wars opens?

No. Crowd levels in late August are already low on the Crowd Calendar, and I don’t think it will go down as a result of this announcement. If anything, it may go up, especially if there are special previews before the official opening.

We had a Walt Disney World trip planned for late September or October, and we were trying to avoid crowds by traveling before Galaxy’s Edge opened. Now I have to decide if the crowds are going to be crazy!

If you don’t plan to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on your trip, I think you will be fine. Follow your touring plan, experience the rest of Disney Hollywood Studios, and move on to another park.

How will the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway impact wait times at Disney Hollywood Studios?

We were anticipating that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway would open in late summer and would get a few months of operation under its belt before Galaxy’s Edge opened. Now it may open around the same time (all Disney has said is “Fall 2019”). This is still good news for guests. If the capacity of Runaway Railway is similar to that of Great Movie Ride, it will occupy a lot of guests each hour who might otherwise be standing in line somewhere else.

How will the May 31 opening date impact crowds at Disneyland in California?

Our assumption for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland Park was June 19. We only missed by a couple weeks, so the changes to our Crowd Calendar will be minimal. Obviously, dates between May 31 and June 19 will see a jump in crowd level. However, the fact that Rise of the Resistance will not be open is a factor. I think that will damper the insanity a little.

Got any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Fred Hazelton

Fred Hazelton maintains the crowd calendar, theme park wait time models and does hotel rate analysis for the Unofficial Guides. He's also done the models for the new mobile wait times product Lines. Fred Hazelton is a professional statistician living in Ontario, Canada. His email address is fred@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DisneyStatsWhiz.

30 thoughts on “How Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will Impact the Crowd Calendar

  • March 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm
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    Thanks so much, Fred. Quick Disneyland question—the difference between May 29th (which was projected to be a 5) and June 17th (which was projected to be a 9) makes me feel like I can’t just subtract two days from what was your best guess with an anticipated June opening. School will still be in session in many places in May, so do you think that might keep crowds a bit lower?

    • March 9, 2019 at 1:40 pm
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      It might. I think the control of access to the land will be the biggest factor. If they really keep it to a few thousand guests at a time then the crowds in the new land itself will be reasonable. Although, that doesn’t account for the tens of thousands that could be waiting outside the park.

  • March 9, 2019 at 2:29 pm
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    Thanks for getting updates up so quickly! So nervous about our late September trip now but this made me feel a little better.

  • March 9, 2019 at 2:30 pm
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    Thank you so much for this, I’ve been checking here several times a day to see your input. I’m glad I didn’t follow my knee jerk reaction of canceling my trip immediately after hearing GE’s opening day is during my trip. I’ll wait to see the crowd calendar on the 11th and follow it closely until mid June. While we don’t want to, we’ve decided we’ll do Universal instead this year if WDW is going to be too crowded during our trip. My child has some special needs that make level 6-10 crowds not a good idea for us.

  • March 9, 2019 at 2:46 pm
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    Hello! I see the new predictor will be here Monday. We have our dining booking open Monday at 6am and what you say could impact which park we go to. Is there any tips you can give since the window opens before the calander post likely? (Such as avoid magic hours etc.) I dont want to wait to book dining especially if it could be very busy. Any even little thoughts would be super appreciated.

  • March 9, 2019 at 4:29 pm
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    Do you expect Hollywood studios to increase attendance on Saturdays? We were planning to visit on Sept 28, which is my son’s birthday…. but it’s a Saturday and I suspect it is going to be insane with locals. I’d really love your input. Epcot is also slammed with locals on weekends during the Food and Wine Festival, and I’m guessing that won’t change much. So probably MK and AK are our best bets for Sat and Sun?

  • March 9, 2019 at 6:01 pm
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    what’s the likelihood of DHS filling to capacity, particularly during opening week? we planned a labor day week trip specifically to AVOID that “late fall” window which apparently now includes august. my fear is not even being able to get into the park since people will likely be camping out for days in order to get n and if you aren’t one of them, you’ll be boxed out from enjoying the rest of the park period.

  • March 9, 2019 at 7:02 pm
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    My family goes to great lengths to use Touring Plans to make sure we visit Disney when the crowd levels are their lowest. On every trip we’ve been able to literally walk onto rides without waiting in lines. Most of they time we wait less than 10 minutes per ride during busy periods. Of course we travel off-season. Thank you Touring Plans for being so utterly awesome! That being said, we scheduled our vacation back in November, 2018 for September 7 – 14, 2019. The numbers were looking good until the Star Wars announcement. We’re crossing our fingers that Touring Plans has yet again navigated the mysterious world of data to give us yet another amazing vacation. Heck, I can’t complain about a 4 for mid week crowd levels. I think every vacation we’ve taken has been a 4 or below for resort level crowds. I look forward to seeing how well you all navigate this new data crunch. 🙂

    • March 10, 2019 at 9:01 pm
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      We booked the same week, September 7-14th, on Thursday morning. That evening, I saw that they announced the Star Wars opening! I’m crossing my fingers it doesn’t impact us much. This will be our first Disney trip and settled on that week for the low crowds.

    • March 18, 2019 at 10:03 am
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      I love your positive post! I feel like shouting Noooooooo!!! We travel in the off seasons too and only get to go every 2-3 years. We were really looking forward to a mid-September week of 1 and 2 crowd levels. Now they are all 3-5’s. But you helped me remember that 4 is really still a great day at Disney!

  • March 9, 2019 at 7:07 pm
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    Our plan was to visit to Disney World from 08/22 to 8/31 to avoid crowds. Do you think if we shifted our dates a week earlier we could still have a low crowd trip?

  • March 9, 2019 at 11:23 pm
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    Thanks for the info! We are going a week starting Oct 13. I definitely want to use your service!

  • March 10, 2019 at 8:32 am
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    We are staying at yacht on August 25-30. We plan to avoid HS on the 29th but want to go to MK. I’m worried the traffic will be crazy like it was for the marathon. Should we skip bus and take Lyft?

  • March 10, 2019 at 8:41 am
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    I know Florida usually reduces staff after labor day.. Can we expect a bump in staff and hours to accommodate the influx of people?

  • March 10, 2019 at 12:48 pm
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    How are evening EMH in GE likely to work? I know that offsite guests can usually stay within the Parks during evening EMH, but are not able to go on any rides. On Friday 30th August we’d like to make use of any evening EMH offered at GE, but I’m concerned that it may already be at capacity with onsite & offsite guests (who won’t be required to leave) and we won’t actually be able to get in.

  • March 10, 2019 at 12:55 pm
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    Interesting point Nicki. I didn’t know about that. Thanks for posting.

  • March 10, 2019 at 2:04 pm
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    FWIW- we have been booked for 8/29-9/2 at the Poly for a couple months now. I was floored when the announcement hit. But I just checked the WDW site, and there are still rooms available of almost every type at the hotel same dates- same at GF, Wilderness, and on and on….

    I think it’s all gonna be OK….

    • March 10, 2019 at 2:09 pm
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      Reply to my own message- keep in mind that this isn’t going to open schools any later. People still will have just put summer to bed and kids st their desks.

      If this were a full blown grand opening during fall breaks- I think all the greatest crowd-fears would be realized. I suspect the partial opening in a slow window fills some beds and softens the impact of the overall opening

      • March 10, 2019 at 2:27 pm
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        i so hope this winds up being the reality. we’ve debating all weekend about totally cancelling our entire trip… we booked labor day week because of lower crowds and not being in that “late fall” window. i’ve been so upset.

        • March 10, 2019 at 4:02 pm
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          We’re going Labor Day week as well. We’re not cancelling, hoping for the best, but also trying to make smart decisions about our trip. Such as moving DHS to midweek and away from the opening day. I’ve been super bummed as well. Specifically chose that week for low crowds, food and wine, and MNSSHP, and extra day off from work. After reading this post and another I think we can manage it. But it’d hard to accept the fact that the low crowd levels are gone.

          • March 11, 2019 at 5:01 pm
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            We are in the same boat. Booked for 8/25 through 9/1. Luckily we have Toy Story Land Early Morning Magic the morning before the grand opening. A part of me is excited to possibly experience it but a bigger part is slightly terrified. Staying at Pop and hoping the gondola’s are operational as I’m sure Disney transportation will be a nightmare.

  • March 10, 2019 at 4:01 pm
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    Hi my husband and son are going that last week in August and we went last year at the same time for our first trip and my husband surprised us with going again this year. We had already planned on going to Hollywood studios that day we even have a 8:15 reservation for Hollywood and vine since my son loves Disney jr before we heard about the opening….is that going to be a problem getting into the park honelsty my son is more excited to see toystory land and the muppets. I know we had booked it for before yhr part had even opened I really just thr thought of having to get in line for hours before the park opens just to get to our reservation….I know from last year they had separate lines for breakfast reservation will that still be thr case? Thank you for any information!!

  • March 11, 2019 at 8:57 am
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    I’m going in mid-May, and I’m curious to see if crowds will be worse with people getting their trips in before the madness.

    • March 11, 2019 at 10:28 am
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      I’m going week of April 28. I’m thinking because ADR window opened months ago and my FO window opened up most good planners won’t want to go without top selection on those things. In your case, FP hasn’t quite opened yet so a slightly higher risk but then there’s the no ADRs issue.

  • March 11, 2019 at 10:02 am
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    Going 10/6 – 10/11, staying off site, single park passes. Trying to decide whether to just skip HS altogether given the GE announcement. Worried with being offsite we won’t even be able to get into the park, and then will have to go to a different park with no fast passes or dining reservations. Any thoughts on the likelihood of getting stuck out altogether? Was planning to go on Thursday, 10/10 if that makes a difference in the answer.

    • March 20, 2019 at 8:40 am
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      I would skip it. If you do decide to go I think it is reasonable to avoid the morning rush and focus on the other lands. An afternoon touring plan for Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Toy Story Land and a couple shows may not actually be that terrible.

  • March 18, 2019 at 2:10 pm
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    Questions in regards to crowd increases at Universal: do you expect an increase in overall crowds to universal? For example, when Pandora first opened, was there an increase to overall crowd levels at Universal,compared with history of crowd levels during the same time frame, months? We are planning for universal in Nov, but may postpone due to crowds.

    • March 20, 2019 at 8:37 am
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      I do not expect a significant increase in crowd level at Universal due to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. We did not see a bump at Universal when Pandora opened.

      • March 20, 2019 at 10:40 am
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        Okay, thank you, I appreciate your time and efforts in keeping us posted!

  • March 20, 2019 at 6:20 pm
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    We are also visiting 7-14 sept, and booked hoping to avoid the late fall window. Having said that – What do you think might be better if we wanted to give smugglers run a try? EMH on a Sunday or rope drop midweek?

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