This news may not come as a shock to guests who visited either park this summer

By Hannah Chubb
August 09, 2019 01:25 PM
Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

Mickey Mouse and the gang were a little lonelier than usual this summer, according to a new report from Disney. 

The company revealed via their Q3 2019 earnings call that attendance dropped three percent at Disneyland and Walt Disney World from April through June — despite the opening of a highly anticipated new attraction.

In fact, the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a new 14-acre land themed around the film franchise that debuted on May 31 at Disneyland, could be the reason attendance dipped. 

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According to Disney, the unveiling of Galaxy’s Edge may be to blame for the decrease for a few different reasons, which they outlined in the call. 

For one, they say, it impacted their annual passholders, who usually make up a big portion of visitors to the California theme park.

“The decline in attendance at Disneyland Resort was primarily driven by lower annual passholder visitation as we managed demand for the first few weeks after opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” said Christine M. McCarthy, Disney’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. 

Disney Parks

Many dates were blocked out for passholders surrounding the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, in order to make sure there wasn’t overcrowding, according to McCarthy. This means passholders would have had to pay for a regular ticket to enter the park instead of utilizing the pass they already paid for, leading them to stay home instead. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger also noted the fear of overcrowding around the opening for the decrease, claiming potential guests figured the park would be too busy to enjoy their experience. 

“There was tremendous concern in the marketplace that there were going to be huge crowds,” he said, “so people stayed away.” 

And while that explains why numbers may have been down in California, McCarthy believes the drop in visitors in Florida is due to the fact that Disney World’s own Star Wars land has not yet opened to the public (it has an opening date of August 29, 2019). 

“Our survey data suggest that guests are deferring visitation until after Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens [in Orlando],” McCarthy said.

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Travel experts from The Points Guy also suggested reasons for the decline may include increases in prices at hotels surrounding Disneyland; recent increases in single day ticket and annual pass prices; and the fact that only one ride — Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run — is currently open at Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. The second, Rise of the Resistance, is coming later this year.

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Despite the drops in attendance at both domestic parks, Disney says they are not worried overall, as guest satisfaction — and earnings — are still reportedly high. 

“Long term, we have no concerns,” said Iger. “We feel great about the product we’ve created. But it is going to take some time for things to work themselves out as the marketplace reacts.”

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