The Opening Day of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios brought huge crowds that arrived at the Park in the very, very early hours of the morning. Disney’s Hollywood Studios was scheduled to open at 6 am today, tomorrow, and Saturday for all guests, even those not staying at a Disney Resort. Guests were on Hollywood Boulevard before 4 am, and not let into Galaxy’s Edge until before 6 am.
The wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run quickly grew, and was at 300 minutes within minutes! Yes, that’s 5 hours! The virtues queue system was also put into place. There were 170 boarding groups assigned on Opening Day, and the land is now open for all guests to explore. (This was as of 4:45 pm ET.)
A 5 hour wait time for an attraction especially on opening day doesn’t seem far fetched. When Toy Story Land opened in late June 2018, there were waits of nearly 2-1/2 hours just to get into the Land itself. The line grew and grew, and even wrapped down Pixar palace and around the plaza in front of the Chinese Theater towards the ABC Commissary. Once allowed inside, guests waited up to 4-1/2 hours for Slinky Dog Dash.
Similar things happened in late May 2017 with the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wait times to enter the land were nearly two hours, while the wait for Flight of Passage was over 4 hours and nearly 2 hours for Na’vi River Journey.
Wait times for all attractions in Toy Story Land and Pandora: The World of Avatar continues to climb to the two hour plus mark, but not nearly as high as an opening week or opening month. However, wait times do increase to the three hour plus mark during busy holiday weekends, and during the peak holiday weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
As we move to the Disneyland Resort, we look back to Opening Day of Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland on May 31. The 24 day reservation period between May 31 and June 23 kept huge crowds away and allowed guests to enjoy the new area comfortably. Each reservation time slot was four hours. There were, of course, times that overlapped, which made the crowd seem a lot bigger than it actually was. Those who had reservation times between 11 am and 3 pm and beyond definitely noticed those busy times at the beginning of their reservation, and well as during the last hour of their reservation.
Once Galaxy’s Edge opened to all guests on June 24, the virtual queue system as put into place about an hour and a half after the Land opened. 99 boarding groups were issued, and by 5:30 pm, the Land was open for all guests to explore. Wait times for Smugglers Run reached the three-hour mark, and have since varied between 45 minutes and 2 hours depending on when you visit.
Now let’s look at the opening day of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in June 2012. Excitement definitely built up for not only the new Cars Land but also the re-imagining of the entrance to Disney California Adventure known as Buena Vista Street. Wait times for Radiator Springs Racers climbed to between 5 and 6 hours, and the line extended to the former Paradise Pier.
In March 1995, the opening of the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland was probably the biggest attraction opening at the time. Waits for the new attraction also exceeded five hours, and the line went through Adventureland and down Main Street, U.S.A. Keep in mind that FastPass was not available for this attraction as FastPass was not introduced until November 1999!
In January 1987, Disneyland held a 60-hour party for the opening of Star Tours, the first Star Wars related attraction at a Disney Park. Disneyland was open continuously from January 9, 1987, at 10 am until January 11, 1987, at 10 pm! Thousands of guests experienced this party and waited over three hours to experience this new partnership between Lucasfilm and the Walt Disney Company.
The openings of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1967 and the Haunted Mansion in 1969 also brought huge crowds and long waits, but nothing like we see nowadays. In fact, Disneyland reached capacity within a week of the opening of Haunted Mansion as over 80,000 people flocked to the Anaheim park to see it for themselves!
So what’s the fascination being there on the opening day of Disney Park attractions?! A lot of it is for someone to say that they have been there on an opening day and that they were among the first to experience it. Some of it also has to do with the somewhat lack of previews or soft openings. And even some of it is to be the first to buy exclusive and/or limited merchandise.
But no matter the reason for huge crowds on opening day, everyone shares the same excitement! New things fascinate so many people, and it’s just not with Disney Parks but with other areas of life in general as well.
So no matter if you experience something on opening day, week, month, or year, the best thing to remember is to have fun because you may have just found your new thing or experience!