Disney Park Insider Explains What Went Wrong At Galaxy’s Edge

This comes to us from Al Lutz of micechat.com.

AlLutz

This wasn’t how the summer of 2019 was supposed to go for Disneyland. The TDA suits had been planning for years for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, fighting over budgets and parkwide projects that would help manage the huge crowds that would descend on Anaheim the moment Disneyland’s billion-dollar new land opened. Except huge crowds didn’t show up, not even modest crowds showed up, and TDA and Burbank have been scrambling since June 1st to respond to the light summer demand and underwhelmed customer response to the new land.

In this update we’ll discuss what got cut from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge that probably shouldn’t have, what could be added back by WDI and Anaheim’s Operations teams if Bob Chapek can put down his sharp pencil, what’s ahead for D23 Expo announcements for Anaheim in light of the bizarre customer response to Disneyland’s Star Wars land, and also what big Walt Disney Company secret project probably isn’t ready to be announced on August 22nd.

But then things began to take a turn back to the dark side more recently, with admission prices suddenly heading up too far and soon and the rather underwhelming public response to the Billion dollar Galaxy’s Edge expansion.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was announced four years ago by Bob Iger at the 2015 D23 Expo, just a few months after Bob Chapek took over the Parks Division from Tom Staggs. Staggs had spent several years shepherding the Star Wars mega-project through the corporate approval process, as its budget grew in the wake of Cars Land’s wild success and WDI was told to go really big on Star Wars. Over the next few years, Disney’s own senior executives and Imagineers publicly discussed details that would set this Star Wars land apart from any previous theme park land, practically re-inventing the theme park industry as we know it.

According to Disney executives via their own public statements from 2015 to 2017, Disney’s new Star Wars land would be brimming with interactive technology that would have aliens and bounty hunters and resistance fighters roaming the land and allowing park guests to “live their own Star Wars adventure” through role-play and interactive technology. Roaming droids would zip around the land, while a team at WDI was working diligently with the latest flying drone technology to allow space ships to arrive and depart at this outpost on the edge of the galaxy. CM’s staffing the shops and restaurants would already know whether your allegiance was with the scrappy resistance or the militant First Order. Live-action role-play and “immersive” adventure was to be found around every corner, with rooftop stunt shows pitting Stormtroopers and villains against Jedi’s and resistance fighters, and back alleys filled with aliens and suspicious characters who might want your help or just your Galactic Credits.

But what started happening by late 2017, not long after the last D23 Expo ended, was that almost all of those things got cut. By midway, through fiscal year 2018, the conventional wisdom among the senior executives now leading the Parks Division was that adding a new Star Wars land with two big E Tickets to Disneyland would be more than enough to pack in record crowds at newly elevated ticket prices. None of the immersive entertainment would be needed.

As Parks Chairman Bob Chapek settled into his new role, he began to take a second look at all the interactive stuff that WDI planned for the land, and what he apparently saw were only high labor costs and costly showmanship. One of the first things that Bob Chapek removed from the land was the planned C Ticket.

The C Ticket was going to be a unique animal ride that would send lumbering beasts on an elevated track around the entire land, while riders bounced around on bench seats mounted to the back of the beasts.

It would have been one of the most unique ride systems WDI had ever created, and was designed to remind Disneyland fans of a bizarre combination of the PeopleMover and the Horse Drawn Streetcars, as well as add constant kinetic energy to the land. But its high cost made it an easy target for Bob Chapek, who used the concerns from WDW’s Operations team over its low capacity to cut it permanently from the land’s budget.

Star-Wars-C-Tickets

The abandoned C Ticket areas are noted in orange letter in the composite map above:

A. Queue entrance
B. Queue ramp up to elevated track
C. Load/Unload area.
D. Vehicle maintenance facility

The original dinner theater is shown in blue letters;
A. The lobby bar that became “the Cantina”
B. The main theater dining room.

By early 2017 the planned dinner theater restaurant was moved to an iffy “Phase Two” status because it would have required highly paid AGVA (Union) performers and some animatronics to pull off the hourly show. Instead, Chapek asked Imagineering to focus on just the small Cantina, which was originally supposed to be simply the lobby lounge for the large dinner theater complex.

By 2017, the most cynical execs in Burbank defended the removal of the dinner show by insisting visitors would Instagram photos of their high priced cocktails and thus be entertained just as much as they would have been watching an expensive to operate dinner show. The showy extras of the new land that escaped the cuts were mostly relegated to the upcharge offerings in Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Workshop, although the union actors who were originally supposed to host those two unique experiences were also cut.

Instead of professional performers, by 2018 Chapek’s team had pivoted to an idea that the much lower paid Operations Castmembers who would staff the shops and rides and restaurants could be used to elevate the experience at a cheaper pay scale and would interact with the visitors with themed phrasing and gimmicky greetings. All of the interactive land performers, the roaming droids and drones who would be controlled remotely by higher-paid professional puppeteers, plus the rooftop stunt shows and unique alien characters that would not have come cheap were all cut by early 2018.

Going into the 2019 fiscal year Disneyland’s Entertainment department was left with the simple task of moving some of the preexisting Star Wars staffing and costumes over from the lightly attended Launch Bay facility in Tomorrowland into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Since the popular Jedi Training Academy was cut from Tomorrowland months ago, they didn’t even expand the park’s entertainment staffing to open the new land with a bare-bones entertainment crew. The sparse entertainment offerings in the land this summer are a weak shadow of the original plans WDI had just a couple years ago. The initial response and reviews speak for themselves. The panic in TDA this summer is real.

Disneyland attendance dropped by double-digit percentages this summer compared to last summer. While the increased AP blockouts were part of that as Annual Passholders make up approximately 35% of annual attendance for Anaheim, the aggressive peak pricing calendar is a bigger driver of this summer’s weak attendance. Throughout the spring Disneyland was seeing drops in attendance on weekends that charged the Peak price of $149 per day, compared to the Value and Regular ticket days between $104 and $129. Any Anaheim manager could see that happen as the ticket pricing rose and fell with the days of the week, and it’s widely understood that Disneyland simply got way too aggressive on their ticket prices that are used by a majority of Anaheim’s visitors.

Like the NFL, but even more expensive…

Disneyland’s aggressive ticket pricing is controlled by the Senior Vice President of Commercial Strategy for the Disneyland Resort. That SVP role was brought to Anaheim in early 2017 by Bob Chapek and Michael Colglazier specifically to try to monetize as much of the park experience as possible and carve out every penny of profit imaginable. Based on the belief that crowds would be record-breaking for Star Wars, the Peak ticket price soared to $149 for 2019.

So where does TDA and Burbank go from here and what do they say about it at D23 Expo? Is there enough time to add back at least some of those interactive elements and professional performers by the time the Rise of the Resistance ride is ready to open this winter? The C Ticket ride is gone for good, but the droids and interactive characters could be added back. The land already has the technology and infrastructure designed in to support everything WDI wants to do with interactive entertainment. But it’s going to take creative vision backed by a real budget to pull off. The future entertainment plans for Galaxy’s Edge will be something to listen for at D23 Expo when Bob Chapek gets up on stage on Sunday afternoon for his official Parks presentation.

It’$ Complicated…

The budget for Star Wars land’s signature attraction, the Rise of the Resistance ride was also cut a few years ago, mainly for the exterior elements and architecture the queue and pre-show was supposed to have.

The Rise of the Resistance ride remains very promising but is still rife with problems and endless delays, owing to its cutting edge trackless ride system and ambitious scale. The timetable to get this complicated ride open this winter is going to be very tight, and judging by the current inability to keep the ride running on either coast for more than an hour at a time, when it does open there will be daily hours-long downtimes and likely entire days when the ride is simply unavailable. It would be wise to have at least some of those original performers and interactive elements added to the land by the time Resistance opens this winter, if only to alleviate the disappointment the daily extended downtimes are likely to have on frustrated customers.

The executives at WDW seem to have bitten off more than they can chew by committing to an early December opening, which was driven almost entirely by a desire to keep their 30,000 hotel rooms full during the Christmas season. TDA’s executives successfully lobbied Bob Chapek to wait as long as possible before opening, as they had no desire to open this troubled new ride just before the busiest weeks of the year. It will be interesting to see which strategy worked out best on each coast; being over-optimistic in an attempt to pack hotel rooms at peak Christmas rates, or waiting for the dead of winter to open what promises to be a very unreliable new ride.

Clownfish comments:

24 thoughts on “Disney Park Insider Explains What Went Wrong At Galaxy’s Edge

  1. And here I was: nervous that this whole land would make money for Disney. And here’s Disney: hemorrhaging money; biting off more than they can chew; making arrogant decisions; over-confident. Silly me. “Pride comes before the fall.”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Honestly, Disney’s been hemorrhaging money for quite some time (it’s actually a miracle their 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast managed to do even remotely well despite Bill Condon opening his big fat mouth about LeFou a few months before release, not to mention force him to be homosexual despite the script as Josh Gad pointed out, not even MENTIONING his sexual identity at all). Not just with Star Wars, or heck, even with Marvel. It’s affecting their mainline entertainment, their home base. 2021 can’t come sooner. I wish the shareholders would actually DO something about Iger instead of sitting on their hands, since he’s clearly losing them money. For goodness sakes, Gay Days if anything is driving people AWAY from Disney World and Disney Land. If I were the CEO and I saw prices decreasing as a result of that event, I’d immediately nix Gay Days, not even CARING if it’s unofficial, tell them “Sorry, but this event’s cancelled indefinitely, as you guys are a money loser. Besides, you guys simply aren’t family friendly.”).

      Liked by 2 people

      • But what can shareholders do if the full Disney staff is SJW infected starting with Iger?
        They would have for fire everyone they’ve hired since around 2008, they’d have lawsuits galore.
        And who can they hire in California? Only more SJWs. Disney is in a catch 22 of their own making, and a well deserved one it is.

        Liked by 4 people

        • This is why they straight-up have to go bankrupt. This is the message.

          But NO, lets extend her contract 3 years. They have a licenses to print money and they’re ONLY interested in Harriet Tubman.

          The thinking is they are caught up in this. Nope. They are activists. Willow Bay.

          Like

        • Disney already is in the midst of a lawsuit at the hands of the former IT guys thanks to Iger firing them and then forcing them to train their migrant replacements to keep their severance pay, Plus, not like they can’t hire out of state from someplace like, say, Georgia or Florida, or even Wisconsin.

          Like

  2. This post sure makes it sound like the first Jurassic Park movie except playing out in real life. Good thing they only had to pay their project management team 73 cents on the dollar.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s being reported today that a certain LispyQ has been most likely been fired. (says Tim Pool, NYPost)

    Where as June seemed to be abysmal and depressing, August has given me hope. Comeuppance is a bitch. Tumblr is an amazing one for example. Cover-up of an antifa mass shooting that isn’t very well covered up. Chris Cuomo getting tarred and feathered.

    Disney getting their pants pulled down AND having their financial stress put on display. A protected class trans person ruining the class protection and dragging it all out into the sunlight. 2 texas lawsuits falling apart for the defendants. Member(s?) of cancel culture being cancelled. Canada’s bill c51 being challenged by a saskatchewan judge. Section 230 being looked at for revision. Democratic debates exposing them for being essentially traitors. A “suicide” raising red flags, giving someone incentive to release the hounds maybe? Netflix starving.

    Its been the first good month this year. (i think, anyways) Now if we can only watch Twitter and Google, Facebook et al have the hammer come down on them. But its been a good month. 😎

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, because boys want to learn how to cook.
      And why are the feminists in charge of Star Wars trying to show young girls how to cook? I thought teaching girls to cook was nothing but promoting the female stereotypes of male subservient behavior or some other woke trash?
      Why would a bunch of feminazis want to lure other women and girls by teaching them something traditionally feminine?
      Woke-AssFilms really does not know what they’re doing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Look at the picture:
      *Of course the black family -oh, look, in SJW land the 72% single fatherless black children do not exist!- is front and center and is a father, mother and two kids… but why only two? Is there anything wrong with having three? But, you know, I do agree with this: America does need more black family units; God knows a proper father figure in the home is important to any kid, so that’s the good part of the image.
      But…
      *Of course the white woman on the left is a tiny bit overweight and paired up with an Asian looking dude that surprisingly looks like he sometimes lifts and is only slightly soy.
      *And of course the white woman on the right looks older/cougary and paired up with a Middle Eastern/Latino looking man who obviously lifts.
      No soy-boys for the white feminists, that’s for sure, lolz!
      *Oh, and no evil white straight men or any of those evil and sinister white American families allowed in Galaxy’s Edge! What were you thinking white men and white children? This is not for you! White women are certainly allowed but only if they date minorities! White families? Ick, no! Disgusting whiteness!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was better made and more successful, which Iger’s Disney probably envied and wanted to rival. You can tell fans & passion created the Potter theme park and its very immersive and fun for adults too . It is also familiar while Batuu is something they pulled out’ve KK toilet..

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Galaxy’s Edge: We are desperate #3

    Trying to advertise this shit in the shitty Star Wars Show and click bait with the Russo Brothers.

    The Russo Brothers Love Star Wars 3,000 – yeah the OT, but not your Disney shit. And no, Marvel is not like Disney Star Wars – not yet. They make money, you don’t.

    And Guitarres you look like a *** with you hair cut. Time to drink more Fan Boy Tears:
    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fanboy%20Tears

    Like

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