We're days away from the start of the peak summer travel season, but Disney's (NYSE:DIS) already laying out the timeline for the better year that awaits in 2019. The media giant announced Tuesday that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will open at its original Disneyland park in the summer of 2019. Florida's version opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios will debut in the late fall of next year.
We've known for more than a year that Disneyland will get the 14-acre Star Wars-themed expansion first. We've known for two years that the new lands would open in 2019. However, given Disney's timetable of opening major attractions in Florida in May or June to cash in on peak summer tourism, the assumption seemed to be that Disneyland's galactic addition would open in the spring with Disney World following no later than June. Star Wars fans will have to rethink their travel plans to Florida come next summer, and it's not as bad for Disney as you might think.
Use the Force, Luke
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be a difference maker on both coasts, but the biggest boost will come in Florida. Disney's Hollywood Studios is Disney World's least visited park, and last year it was the only Disney park worldwide to experience a decline in attendance, according to industry tracker Themed Entertainment Association.
Toy Story Land's addition next month will help, and we're already seeing Disney pushing the right buttons to generate buzz for the Pixar-fueled expansion. We'll get another national audience tease of what guests can expect in the new land when Toy Story 3 airs on ABC tonight. Zach Braff and The Middle's Eden Sher will offer up segments during the commercial breaks with new details of the expansion that opens on June 30.
Tuesday's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge announcement can also help. Summer visitors that were holding off coming to Disney World this year -- holding off until next summer to experience the Star Wars realm -- may now reconsider since the first summer that Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will be open in Florida will be in 2020.
This doesn't mean that next summer will be dead at Disney World's least visited park. The late launch of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Florida could be why the transformation of Disney's Hollywood Studios' The Great Movie Ride into Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was given a 2019 opening. It wouldn't be a surprise if the first Disney World ride featuring Mickey Mouse opens in the spring or summer of next year to take some of the sting off the lack of what many are calling Star Wars Land.
Disney's Hollywood Studios saw its attendance shrink 0.5% to 10.722 million guests last year, according to Themed Entertainment Association. Toy Story Land should help turn guest counts higher in 2018, and staggering the debut of Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in 2019 will push attendance levels even higher. Investors may not initially like the timeline update offered on Tuesday, but it should assure that guests will continue to trickle into Disney World in the coming quarters.