A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I sat scrolling casually through my Disney-filled Twitter feed when I noticed a disturbance in the force.
There was outrage, questioning and blame, everyone was talking about the same thing: Disneyland would be charging a separate ticket fee of $95 for the long-awaited Star Wars Land during its first few months open in 2019.
As a die-hard Disney fan who already cries a little bit when I look at the steep price of park admissions, I wanted to add my opinion to all the griping going on but needed to read the information from the source.
I found the article, published on MiceChat, a popular website for fellow Disnerds, and sure enough there it was.
“From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Star Wars Land will open to guests only with a separate ticket for the ‘event’ priced at $95 per day.”
I kept reading, glancing through pictures of the current construction progress and various sneak peeks into what the park is going to look like when I got to the end. And read this:
“April Fools! The part about Star Wars Land being a separate ticket event for the first summer is a prank.”
Now, if I had the space, this would be a pretty good story to demonstrate the dangers of how quickly fake news can become real news when people don’t check their sources carefully before sharing on social media, but I’ll get into that another time.
What I found myself wondering was (1) Why did they post an April fool’s joke a day early? and (2) Why wasn’t I laughing and saying “oh, they got me good!”
I realized I wasn’t laughing because this is totally something that Disney would actually do. Many people in the comments of the article agreed with me. Recently there have been many special “ticketed events” in the park. There’s always been the “Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party”, and there was the “Tower of Terror 13th Hour” event last December. Most recently Disneyland welcomed back the classic Main Street Electrical Parade with a special premier event. These events all claim exclusive perks to those who buy the extra tickets. People who have annual passes must purchase the extra tickets too.
After all of these similar events, it wouldn’t surprise me if Disney decided to do a ticketed entrance to the new Star Wars themed land. Not only would it generate some extra revenue, but it would control crowds. Also, some may argue that just the fact that Disney can do this (so many people are totally willing to fork over any amount of money to see their Star Wars dreams become reality) means that they will do it.
I really hope that this isn’t the case. While I’m not blind to the business value and potential pros of a move like this, here’s why I don’t agree:
“A word may be said in regard to the concept and conduct of Disneyland’s operational tone. Although various sections will have the fun and flavor of a carnival or amusement park, there will be none of the ‘pitches,’ game wheels, sharp practices, and devices designed to milk the visitor’s pocketbook.”
This is a quote from the man himself, Walt Disney. His vision for Disneyland never was to get rich fast, and that’s why the park was so successful. It wasn’t about money, it was about creating a world within our world where parents and kids could have fun together, enjoying each other’s company and exploring things they never thought possible. It was about creating a place that could mold and change with the times, that would continue to bring magic to people for as long as there were people to bring magic to.
The addition of Star Wars Land will make an already great park even greater. As the Star Wars fan base continues to grow every day, this will be the first space they can really be immersed in a detailed, incredibly well-thought out replica of the world they love so much.
The crowds are going to be horrid the first couple of months, probably even the first couple years, and I won’t be surprised if there is a Fast Pass ticket system in place that sells out 30 minutes into park opening like Radiator Springs Racers a few years back. Even if the special cost was implemented, once it expires, the crowds will be just as crazy. There would also be an extra cost Disney will incur to build make-shift gates, and hire people to act as security guards crushing people’s Star Wars dreams when they can’t get in because they couldn’t spare $95 more.
True fans can deal with crowds; it’s part of the experience. And Disney will make plenty of extra revenue when more people purchase tickets to Disneyland just for Star Wars, or indulge themselves in the endless amounts of limited time merchandise and themed food Disney does so well.
While there’s no changing the inevitable rising cost of entry into Disneyland (as Rumpelstiltskin always says, magic comes at a price!) I really believe Disney shouldn’t consider turning Star Wars Land into another gated park inside the one they already have. Let’s hope they continue to keep the spirit of the great Walt Disney alive and let all people experience the galaxy far, far away without stabbing a lightsaber through their wallets.