Did Disneyland Ruin It's Status as a Locals Park?

Low Disneyland Wait Times Early September 2019

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge did not bring the massive crowds to Disneyland that nearly everyone expected, leading people to question what happened all summer long. Now that all the Annual Passes have had their blackouts removed and crowds still haven't returned I think we may be able to figure out what happened. Disneyland may have ruined its status as a park of local visitors.

Now I want to say that the staff here at Theme Parks and Entertainment have been avoiding referencing the low crowds so we didn't come off as one of the numerous people unjustly calling Galaxy's Edge a failure. But at this point, we have to acknowledge it.

So what has been happening? The general logic behind the lack of crowds this past summer has been the AP blackout dates over limiting the number of people visiting the park, combined with people avoiding the park due to the anticipated crowds. It was actually a combination of these two things that got me to cancel my annual pass and plan a trip to Disney World instead.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Disneyland Map Wait Times September 2019

Well, we are now several months out from the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, and past the end of significant blackout dates, and somehow wait times have gotten shorter.

So what happened?

Well, there are two possible explanations, one or a combination of which likely explain the lack of people at the Disneyland Resort.

The first is relatively simple and it is that people are delaying their trip until Rise of the Resistance, the second ride in Galaxy's Edge opens up. This makes sense as it is supposed to be the E-Ticket of the land and at the moment Galaxy's Edge only has its secondary attraction. It's like if Pandora had opened only with Navi River Journey.

The other is that a combination of price increases and other shifts in Disneyland's annual pass holder program have diminished the role of locals in this resort's visitor demographics.

Disneyland has never been the vacation destination Disney World is and nor should it be. It only has two parks and three hotels, and not much room for further expansion beyond that without Disney buying expensive additional land. But with Disney expecting a lot of vacationers to visit the resort for Galaxy's Edge they began to treat it as a vacation destination. When the vacationers didn't replace the pass holders, we got the low crowds of this summer.

Now there is always the chance the pass holders will come back, and the real test will be in December for Christmas, and in January when the last ride in Galaxy's Edge opens to the public, finishing the land. If the low crowds persist then, Disneyland may have permanently changed, and it will be interesting to see what happens.