“Star Wars” fans have spent years waiting for Disneyland to let them enter a galaxy far, far away.
How then does the Magic Kingdom get them to leave?
Disneyland’s May 31 launch of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will test the park’s efforts to open a highly anticipated expansion without the crushing crowds, frustration and chaos that can accompany a new attraction.
The much-hyped land is expected to attract such a throng that Disneyland engineers and landscapers have been working for months to accommodate more visitors by widening walkways and improving queueing systems.
To maintain some order during the first three weeks after the 14-acre attraction opens, Disneyland will require reservations for each visitor to enter the land, with colored wristbands used to distinguish which four-hour time window corresponds with each visitor.
Once a time window expires, park employees dressed as “Star Wars” characters will politely tell parkgoers that they need to leave the land to make way for new visitors.
Disneyland representatives say they expect that most guests will abide by the courteous directions to move on. But they remain mum about what will happen if guests ignore the requests.
“Four hours is a long time in the land,” said Kris Theiler, vice president of the Disneyland Park. “Most guests are going to find that they’re ready to roll after four hours.”
The new $1-billion land was built in the northwest corner of the park, replacing several attractions in Frontierland, including a petting zoo. It will have three entrances, where employees can control the crowd flow.
The expansion is designed to resemble a remote outpost on the planet Batuu filled with space outlaws, smugglers and rebels battling the evil empire. The land features two rides, four eateries, one space-themed cantina and five retail shops.
Workers on Monday were putting finishing touches on electrical and mechanical features, such as a robot that turns a spit at a barbecue eatery, as media members were allowed a glimpse of the new area.
The buildings look aged and war-ravaged, and the rocky hoodoos that dot the landscape are meant to resemble the remnants of giant petrified trees. The roar of spaceships landing and taking off blasts from hidden speakers.
Several shops and eateries operate out of what resembles a Middle Eastern bazaar.
All the signs on the concrete buildings are in an alien language, but visitors with the Play Disney Parks app will be able to use it to translate the signs into English, park representatives said. Everyone else will have to ask staff for help in identifying the stores and restaurants.
“If it doesn’t work out, we can tweak it later,” Theiler said about the signs.
Only one ride, the interactive Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, will be operational on opening day. The second Galaxy’s Edge attraction — Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — is promised for later in the year.
Park representatives have not disclosed whether they will limit how many times park visitors can ride the Millennium Falcon attraction during each four-hour window.
If the ride breaks down during the three-week reservation period, Disneyland will make amends to the guests, park representatives said, but no details have been provided yet.