When Orlando Rising spoke to Len Testa, founder and president of Touring Plans, in March about how Walt Disney World will manage crowds when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens in August, he expected that Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway would be open by that time to take some of the pressure off the new land.

“However, if it’s not, I’d pray for the cast members,” Testa said. “Because at that point, there’d be 50,000 people in a park with only 7 rides. And of those 7 rides, only 2 of them would be without height restrictions and thus appropriate for small children.”

It’s now time to start praying.

In a blog post announcing the attraction would be added to Disneyland in Anaheim in 2022, Disney confirmed rumors first reported by BlogMickey.com that the ride’s opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is being delayed. Originally scheduled to open this fall, its debut is now been pushed back to spring 2020.

“It’s not uncommon for us to see the construction timelines shift,” a Disney spokesperson told Orlando Rising.

Testa said Touring Plans had already gotten word of the delay and has begun updating its wait time estimate models for its popular subscription service, which offers customizable itineraries to help avoid long lines at Disney and Universal parks.

Without a new attraction at the front of the park to divert some guests from Galaxy’s Edge — which itself is opening with only one of its two rides — Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have significant capacity issues. Excluding Galaxy’s Edge, Testa said the rest of the park’s attractions can handle “maybe 15,000 people per hour, tops.”

“So that actually reduces how many people can get in the park, because Disney doesn’t want three hour lines for Voyage of the Little Mermaid,” he said.

There also may not be enough places for guests to eat in the park, Testa said, further exacerbating the crowd issues.

For Disney, this is a problem without an easy solution. The quick fixes — like additional showtimes for the park’s stage productions or adding more character meet-and-greets — can’t make up for the loss of a high-capacity ride starring Walt Disney’s most famous creation.

“I’m not sure what the plan is at this point,” Testa said. “Disney opened that Lightning McQueen show, but it has failed to attract crowds and looks dead in the water.”

One option would be to implement a reservation system for Galaxy’s Edge, like the one required at Disneyland for the weeks following the land’s May 31 opening in Anaheim.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will likely to be a major draw when it does open — and the fact that it’s being duplicated in Disneyland shows the company is high on the concept. Disneyland Resort editorial content director Michael Ramirez said the ride, based off the newer Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts seen on the Disney Channel, utilizes “state-of-the-art technologies and dazzling visual effects to transform the cartoon world into an incredible and immersive multi-dimensional experience.”

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15 Responses

  1. Laura

    disney is making a huge mistake. they should have kept everything to the originally announced timeline with railway summer 2019 and star wars late fall 2019. instead, they’ve swapped them, and guests lose out all the way around. star wars will only be half open, and railway won’t be there to absorb crowds.

    i simply cannot fathom a reality where disney doesn’t implement some sort of reservation system or separate lines for star wars at hollywood studios. the real people who lose are the people who had trips planned to avoid star wars who might not even be able to get into hollywood studios now. completely unfair to them.

    • JM

      I get frustrated by delays and all that too. But you do realize this isn’t some willy-nilly “let’s do it here instead” decision.

      Construction of new attractions is complex. Try building a new house sometime. Now try building one with wall-to-displays of some great moment in human history. Now add a moving car track to take guests through it. Hundreds of systems have to be in place AND WORKING before you can even test that thing. This is where problems occur in this industry.

      The building already exists, and a track already exists, but the new attraction will need to change some of those two systems somewhat. It’s not as simple as putting a new vehicle and a new paint job on what is there. Delaying the opening gives engineers more time to make sure they have it right – which is something Disney as a company is fiercely proud of.

      Keeping to an original timeline is not always possible in this business. But it is not nefarious or even desired necessarily. It is simply something that happens.

  2. Dallas

    Disney needs to admit it to themselves and their customers and make AK, HS and EPCOT one ticket. Suddenly Hollywood Studios goes from 7 attractions to 30+ and capacity problems disappear.

    • JM

      Um. They already have that. It’s called the Park Hopper ticket. And the regular one-day tickets do not have assigned parks unless you just buy one ticket for one day (and not many of us who go do). No one really buys a HS ticket. You buy a two, three, or four day pass to the RESORT and decide what park to use each ticket for. It is very open. If you want to start at HS, leave, and then go to AK, you get the Hopper ticket.

      But that really isn’t productive, in my opinion. The one-park-per-day ticket is the best value since there is so much to do at each park. Hopping has never made much sense to me. A day at Epcot is still a very full day and it will get even fuller once all the new attractions are complete. But the Hopper ticket is available if you want it.

      I don’t think what you are describing is realistic or advantageous, and it already exists in some form.

      • Dallas

        That’s what they claim, at least. The fact of the matter is there is one park(Magic Kingdom), a shopping area with upscale restaurants(EPCOT), a shopping area with a zoo(AK) and a shopping area with shows(HS).
        Trying to count EPCOT, AK or HS as separate parks is the equivalent of charging a separate $109 admission to FantasyLand, TomorrowLand and AdventureLand in the MK.
        The point is treating the little 3 as one gate and MK as the other instantly makes the other 3 viable.

  3. Gary Orozco

    It amazed me to learn that disneyland has almost as many attractions as all of Disneyworld in a fraction of the land size. Yet tourists pay for long lines. What happens when the curtain falls away?

    • JM

      Well, for one, it’s not exactly a fraction of the land. Look at the size of the Disneyland PARK compared to the PARKS at Disney World. The land comparison becomes much closer, though still admittedly favoring WDW. The big difference is in the kind of experiences at the Florida location.

      The company has more land than they know what to do with down in Florida. Therefore, they build out. This results in bigger parks. To date, Animal Kingdom is the largest park by land area of any of the parks in the US. But what sits on that land plot? Largely animal husbandry attractions. But people love it.

      Epcot is a smaller track of land for sure, but it is densely packed. Not many rides, of course, but the World Showcase allows you to have the experience of a world traveler. That’s the idea here. It’s not just about the number of attractions – it’s the kinds of experiences. And Disney is also largely committed to keeping its parks somewhat localized – Disneyland is not the same as Disney World, though they do feature many of the same attractions.

  4. JM

    I know I’m late to game commenting. But let me say this.

    Testa and you guys need to consider that you may be exaggerating the Railway’s pull on guests. I have no such confidence. I believe it will be well-ridden ride, but enough to take crowds off Galaxy’s Edge? I am neither sold nor convinced. Railway is not simply a Mickey ride. It’s based on a specific set of Mickey shorts. And not everybody likes those particular ones.

    It would probably help alleviate crowds if and only if folks get frustrated at the line for Galaxy’s Edge. But we also have Toy Story Land and its two rides plus the new restaurant over there opening soon. I’m not sure the Railway had that much pull to begin with, other than simply being “something else.”

    No, I predict Lightning McQueen’s Race Academy will come through here. More signage leading guests to that attraction could help alleviate the crowds – it’s on the opposite end of the park from Galaxy’s Edge.

  5. Snake

    They should have just refurbed The Great Movie ride with the new library they just bought(Fox?) and put the new Mickey Ride in the Launch Bay. Talk about stupid! They have room all over the place to keep building at all the WDW parks, but they keep going cheap and reusing existing ride systems/buildings while demolishing classic attractions, ridiculous! AND they keep raising prices.

    • JM

      The Great Movie Ride was an expensive ride. Yes, they just bought the library from Fox, but Fox wasn’t the only company represented there. AMC did the narration and owns many of the rights to the movies and characters. Warner owns a few more, and MGM owns the rest. That meant every two years or so, park management had to keep renewing the rights ALL of these licenses and characters just to keep the ride open (whether operating or not).

      At some point, they decided that was too much. I tend to agree. They needed something that did not necessitate having to renew a complex set of licenses every two year (which by the way, the price does not remain static – nothing stops AMC, Warner, or MGM from wanting more for their respective licenses). The problem was not simply solved without doing something else.

      Let me remind you, too, that they had just refurbed the Movie Ride nearly five years before. It had already been done as you suggested.

      The solution was to remove and replace the attraction with something in their own wheelhouse. This makes a lot of sense for a park company wanting to avoid a complex licensing deal.

      Furthermore, there’s no room for a ride in the Launch Bay. You don’t even know what you are suggesting here. In order to place it there, they would have to tear down the existing structure to place ride tracks, a queue entrance, maintenance turn-around, and the space is home to a theater space. It would have to be repurposed and filled in to make the floor level! What you have suggested is far more work than you realize (and remember this space is adjacent to Disney Jr’s attractions. You’re talking about closing off a space very near to where little children will be running around. Not the wisest thing to do!).

      What they chose to do is not stupid. It was a financial decision more than anything.

  6. JM

    Dallas, you have your head in the sand. You really think that the other parks beside MK are not true parks? You are delusional. There are rides AND shows in all those places (and EPCOT is building at least THREE more over the next 3 years – rides, that is).

    You have missed the entire point. ALL of those parks are included in the same ticket price. You are not buying entry into MK, AK, HS, or EPCOT. Buy any ticket, and you may visit ANY of those parks. It’s not separate admission.

    You either do not know what you are talking about, or you and I are not understanding each other here.

    • Dallas

      No. They aren’t even remotely close to fully developed parks…HS has 6 rides, 8 with SR and RotR, AK has 8 if you include ITTbaB, EPCOT has 8…. Tomorrowland has 6 on its own. FUN SPOT has 20, not including go-karts…for $45

      ….and yes, its at least $109 to get into any of those 3 parks…the point is Disney should pull head out of derrier and make that $109 ticket include admission to ALL THREE of EPCOT, AK and Studios. Then the park hopper would add admission to MK, the only other equivalent value…

      • JM

        You have your head in the sand completely. You seem to think Disney’s parks should be like Fun Spot (which follows the typical American state fair type experience). That was never the point. Walt made that clear from the beginning.

        Disney is about creating experiences, not just getting you on rides. The parks will therefore have rides, but the shows, character greetings, and events are really the bread and butter of the experience. Even the rides they have are built to be part of the experience. If you want just a bunch of fast rides or thrills, you are better served elsewhere. Don’t go to Disney. But that’s not why we go.

        You’re the one with your head in your derriere (proper spelling). The $ 109 ticket gets you into any one of those parks. It is the same price. They are already giving you what you want. It’s just you want it in a different package. You want that ticket to be a mini Park Hopper, going to all three of those at once. That’s not productive.

        Those parks are not exactly right next door. EPCOT and HS are for the most part, but it’s not exactly a small walk. Then AK is on the other end of the property. If you wanted to hop between those places, you’ll have to take advantage of the skyliner (when it opens) and drive over to AK. I don’t see how that’s better.

        Plus, ticket prices are not made based on what is offered alone. You realize it costs a lot of money to run even one of those parks? It’s a lot of electricity, water, and insurance in the event of a catastrophe. Not to mention cast member pay (who are getting increases up to 15 an hour over the course of the next 3 years). These factors alone help drive costs.

        No matter how you look at it, what you are proposing simply can’t happen right now. I could see maybe an EPCOT/HS shared ticket. But to make all three of those one is a ludicrous concept. Go to ranting about something else. This is not something worth wasting your mental energies on.

    • Snake

      The real problem is park capacity. The MK has 2x or more the capacity of its other parks, they have to keep adding rides without removing any, but most of the time they reuse existing ones, instead of constantly adding rides and there fore adding park capacity. Have you see all the DVC rooms they have built over the years? Park capacity has barely been increased but they’ve added thousands and thousands of rooms and DVC. That’s the real problem, they are not scaling their park capacity properly to all the rooms they added, now you have wall to wall crowds 365 days a year. I would like to know how many hotels, resorts and total rooms they have added since AK. Yet they have not added a new gate in how long? FYI- DVC encourages people to go off peak to get the most out of their points. They spend a billion dollars to add a land (Avatar, SWGE) and put one ride in those lands, its insanity. (The Avatar boat cruise is not a ride) Why does it cost a billion to make interactive sidewalks? This leadership is clueless when it comes to park development.

      • JM

        I have no opinion of DVC. I know people who love it – I know people who are not impressed. I don’t think it’s for me. I cannot comment on any of that. You are probably right.

        I will disagree that Avatar boat ride is not a ride. You do sit in a vehicle that moves. You are riding. It really depends on how you define “ride.” I agree it’s subtle and low-key, but that was the point. Flight of Passage has a height restriction, meaning that families with children under it have to make decisions about it (either just a few on them going or none at all – we have been there). But the River Journey gives them all something to do together and get the Avatar exposure (it is a well-developed ride – and INSIDE in the A/C).

        You have to remember that Disney did not design thrill parks. They are theme parks for EVERYBODY. Not just children. Not just teenagers. Not just thrill-seeking adults. The vision was a place for everyone to enjoy. That is the real challenge of a park like these. You will need to put some thrills in there for those who like them, but you will need more than that to appeal to everyone else. The solution was to build EXPERIENCES based on the content they produce and have produced. It made for the appeal. Sure. The Pooh ride is not thrilling (or even exciting for many adults), but it’s Winnie-the-Pooh, based on a character and movie their children love, with an attached character meet and a shop themed to it. The detail that went into it is amazing. That’s the real draw.

        As for park capacity, I think you’re on to something. But I would stress that the solution may not be as cut-and-dried as you think. For one, the crowds are not wall-to-wall 365 days a year. In mid-October on the average Tuesday MK is far less than it is on Memorial Day or Thanksgiving. That is the norm for off-season. But capacity is also a reflection of parking. You can’t just expand a park with new space if you don’t expand your lot as well. Those folks will need a place to put their car. Not all of them will be busing from the resort hotels. It’s a complicated solution. I’m not sure removing rooms to make space will solve this. In fact, it might make the place look empty and unappealing, which in turn will cause less people to want to go.

        Let me say this. It is somewhat common for parks to add a land and just put in one ride at the start. That is actually very common. When Kennywood added the Steelers land to their place, it invovled just one ride – the Steel Curtain coaster. There are other minor attractions, but just the one big ride. When Universal added the World of Harry Potter to Studios Florida, it was anchored by just one big ride – Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.

        This is how this type of theming works. You have to put the footprint in place first. Expansion can later follow, as Universal is showing with the future expansion of Wizarding World in Studios (they are closing Fear Factor Live to take over that space and turn it into the Ministry of Magic). With the sheer amount of space that Disney owns in Florida, it is entirely within reality that these new land expansions can be further expanded for more attractions. It is not far-fetched at all.

        I’m not sure a fifth gate would solve capacity either. What Disney has seen since opening AK is that new parks simply have their own form of demand. Many folks love AK (it’s not my favorite of the four though) to the point they would rather go there. This leads to peak crowds at BOTH MK AND AK. Not AK taking some of the MK crowd. Add a fifth park to that mix and it will likely happen again. In other words, you’ll get more people coming, not the folks being spread out. That is one way it could happen.

        The bottom line is that these problems are not simply solved. It doesn’t mean leadership is clueless when they make an interactive sidewalk. It means they are trying to give the crowds something else to look at, something to make their wait worth it. It has panned out for them in some of their locations already. No, this is a company known for its experimentation and innovation. They are not simply trying to produce a thrill experience. If you want that, go to Cedar Point. They are developing experiences based on their productions. It’s how they work.