Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the recent Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland had lower attendance than expected.
On Disney’s Q3 2019 Earnings Call, Iger answered a question regarding how the opening of Galaxy’s Edge performed compared to their internal expectations. Iger confirmed the actual attendance was lower than expected and pointed to a number of reasons including fears the park would be overcrowded, increased prices for the park, increased hotel prices in and around Anaheim, and only having one attraction open at the park instead of two. (RELATED: Disney CEO Bob Iger: Star Wars Movies Will Go On “Hiatus” After Episode IX)
Iger first pointed out the fear of a potential bad park experience due to overcrowding:
“On the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge front, to give you some color, I think a number of things happened. First of all, Helped in part by some of our efforts there was tremendous concern in the marketplace that there was going to be huge crowding when we open Galaxy’s Edge. And so some people stayed away just because they expected that it would not be a great guest experience.”
He then pointed to the increase in hotels and the increase in price of a park visit to Disneyland.
“At the same time that was going on all the local hotels in the region, expecting a huge influx of visitation raise their prices. So, it’s simply got more expensive to come stay in Anaheim. In addition to that, we raised our prices we brought our daily price up, so if you think about local visitation we brought the price of a one-day ticket up substantially from a year ago.”
Iger then pointed to the fact that they only opened one attraction instead of two.
“And then we have opened up Galaxy’s Edge with one attraction instead of two, the second attraction is going to open in January.”
He finally confirmed the attendance numbers were lower than expected.
“And so all of those factors contributed to attendance that was below what we would have hoped it would be.”
Iger did add the caveat that guest satisfaction for Galaxy’s Edge is high.
“That said guest satisfaction interest in the attractions in the land is extremely high. They are among the most popular thing at the park and so long-term and look, we build these things for the long term, we have no concerns whatsoever about them, we’re opening Galaxy’s Edge in August in Orlando. The second attraction there will open in December. And as I said, the second attraction in Anaheim will open in January.”
Disney’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy confirmed attendance was down 3%. However, she stated that the decreased attendance was due to lower annual pass holder visitation. (RELATED:Disney CEO Bob Iger Reveals Mistake Made with Star Wars)
“I just want to put more granularity on the Disney Land results for the quarter. As I said, the attendance was down 3% but the paid attendance was up in the quarter and that lower attendance was primarily driven by the annual pass holder visitation and when we look at the, the per cap spend across Disneyland all categories, they were up significantly year-over-year.”
McCarthy stated earlier in the phone call that Disney expects strong growth from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
“Looking ahead to the fourth quarter, we anticipate strong segment operating income growth driven by the benefit from a full quarter of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland and growth at merchandise licensing. So far this quarter, domestic resort reservations are pacing up 4% compared to prior year while booked rates are up 3%.”
What do you make of the confirmation that attendance was down at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland? Do you buy into the reasons given by Iger and McCarthy? Or do you think there might be another reason attendance is down?