I usually leave the Star Wars talk to fellow Not Club 33 owner, Pat Neistat because frankly, I don’t give a fuck about Star Wars. I for real in the most literal sense, just don’t fucking care. I’ve never seen a film and never will. You can cool it in the comments section – it’s not up for debate. I’m still not gonna watch the shit so @me if you will, I won’t reply. So why in the hell am I the one tackling this article? Well, for someone who’s an avid fan of Walt Disney World, I did take umbrage when Bobby from Cynical Disney sent me a fully written article to instigate this Spitting Match. I laughed and thought, this man has lost his damn mind.
Star Wars is Disney’s license to print money. You motherfuckers (I’m speaking in generalities here) eat that shit up. Like I mentioned before, I’ve never seen one bit of a Star Wars film outside of an occasional trailer. Hell, if I retweet a Star Wars trailer under our site’s Twitter page I still don’t even watch it. With that said I can name like 8 characters, probably point out 5 of them in a lineup, and even know a couple of movie lines. Now, I don’t know the context of any of it but that’s really not the point. The fact that even I know this shit basically tells you all you need to know about how successful a Theme Park dedicated to this franchise is going to be. Hell, I’m going to go check it out. The rides sound cool and even though I won’t be fully immersed in the place due to my lack of knowledge of the topic, Disney has pulled this off before- see Pandora: The World of Avatar. Fans and non fans of a movie can enjoy the Park all the same.
So, Bobby laid out 8 points in his article, I’ll rebut these one by one below. To see his full write-up, click here.
1. When has anything in your life this hyped completely lived up to expectations?
We’ll here’s a very Disney example, how about Pandora at Animal Kingdom? Seems like that hype train is still full of steam two years later. As for a recent non-Disney example, how about the second half of Superbowl 51? It lived up to the halftime hype quite swimmingly, didn’t it (sorry Falcons fans – Bobby happens to be one of you so I had to do it). Anyways I find Bobby’s point here to be pretty damn funny, because literally the next line he wrote was “Ok, this is obviously subjective and has nothing to do with facts.” But hey, a cynic’s gotta cynic, right? NEXT
2. When has anything completely new worked perfectly from the start?
This is a fair point, if you don’t think about it. Because there’s probably very little that has been perfect right out of the box. But this is a fucking theme park, it’s not a pop-up carnival where if the big ticket ride doesn’t work tonight the entire operation is doomed. Hell, Space Mountain breaks down every other day and last I checked, folks are still lining up for that bitch like clockwork. Do I expect everything to work perfectly from the start or even all the time? Well, no. But it will work very nicely for the most part. Thousands of people ride these rides throughout the course of a day, and shit breaks. The key to success is for the Park to be able to fix things whilst still operating- and if 48 years of doing so isn’t proof that Disney can handle it, I’m not sure what would be the marker of success here. Also, as far as the Walt Disney World iteration of Galaxy’s Edge goes, they’re gonna have a 3+ month cheat sheet on trial runs because Disneyland is the guinea pig for this one.
3. How will it be possible to maintain Star Wars Land when half of Disney World is in disrepair and the other half is under construction?
I basically answered this in the last section, but I’ll also say that the level of effort going into this will be greatly beyond what we’ve seen Disney do in any of its Parks to this date. In fact, I think the opening of Galaxy’s Edge only helps some of the older rides gets some updates done as they will no longer be as relied upon to alleviate park capacity while hoards of people drop in for Star Wars. That said, Disney will also need to be all over Galaxy’s Edge when the park is closed- maintenance of this place should be their top priority as it’s going to drive new revenue.
4. Nothing from the Star Wars franchise has lived up to expectations since Return of the Jedi.
Nothing from the Star Wars franchise has ever been placed in a Theme Park. Do you know how maddening it is to get the “You’ve never seen Star Wars?!?” from every last person that has ever seen the movie. People get BIG MAD at me, like legit fucking upset over this shit. (Fuck you by the way, ’cause I don’t owe you a Star Wars viewing, it’s not that serious). This place is gonna be Star Wars mecca. You’ll not only get Star Wars fans, you get the Disney Parks fans like me coming there. The movies from here on out could all suck/flop or whatever and that isn’t going to take away the allure of driving (or flying, not sure the lingo I need to use) the Millenium Falcon around through the cosmos. Universal Studios put in a Harry Potter land and that shit is packed to the gills. I haven’t heard about any new Harry Potter movies since that opened. There honestly might have been but as you may have guessed, I’ve never seen any of them. (Keep your Twitter-fingers holstered, I don’t fucking care). Rabid fans for that franchise are not nearly as rabid as Star Wars. I’ve never seen either franchise and can tell you way more about Star Wars, so by my gatherings it’s invaded the mainstream. (Again, feel free to @me on this as I really have no way to back this one up other than my own anecdotal evidence). But I digress, this ain’t about what the movies do or don’t do from here on out because it’s about their fans having a home. And Galaxy’s Edge will be it.
5. Because it has a dedicated fan base, Star Wars has high financial expectations.
We will never be able to quantify Galaxy’s Edge’s holdings on the balance sheet because Disney only release Parks and Resorts data as a one line item. You can be damn sure the line item is going to push the needle. Hell, Parks and Resorts just had a 10.15% climb for 2018 and the only thing that happened was little ass Toy Story Land and some new accounting for The World of Avatar. 10% for a revenue segment the size of Disney’s Parks and Resorts is ridiculous already. Disney is usually in the 6-8% growth for this segment so that’s a large jump. Yet the Toy Story franchise doesn’t even involve crazy ass fans dressing up as Woody showing up to Comic-Cons, movie theaters or a random Starbucks on a Wednesday afternoon. But, you can be damn sure at this very fucking moment there’s someone in a Star Wars costume inside a cafe or somewhere completely unconnected to Star Wars, just…well… there and no one is even looking twice at them because it’s kind of expected. So, if Toy Story Land can push a massive budget line item by 2-4% (which is heavy lifting), please explain to me how what Galaxy’s Edge is about to do will somehow pale in comparison once Star Wars fans are unleashed in the Disney Parks?
6. Disney as a company has just as high, if not higher expectations for anything they do.
This expectation is exactly why you should be onboard with this ship taking off. Like I said before, Disney isn’t going at this blindly, they have decades of practice and this is their penultimate project right now. They don’t meet high expectations and low efforts. The amount of detail we’re hearing for this is unprecedented and that is nothing to take lightly considering what Disney has done for theme parks already.
7. Diversifying is the key to any successful business.
I’ll leave Bobby’s full explanation on this one here in italics then rebut it for better contex: General Electric doesn’t just make light bulbs. Even if they were a monopoly of lightbulb maker, there’s only so many lightbulbs to be made. They’ve had their hand in variety of industries, even owning NBC for a time. With Disney, from park design standpoint, there’s a reason why all of their parks are a diverse display of themes and attractions. Even Animal Kingdom, dedicated to the conservation cause like no other entity, doesn’t just have a couple of lions and giraffes. It also has a Dinosaur area and Pandora. Because of Star Wars, Hollywood Studios has turned into a one and a half trick pony. When guests walk into the park, they’re accosted by a parade of Stormtroopers and a crowd of families watching their children bang plastic swords with Cos-Playing adults on a stage. There’s even a projection show accompanied by fireworks set to the music of the franchise to close the night and the park. In poker terms, Disney went all-in with pocket Aces. For those poker players out there, you’ll agree that the River is an unforgiving bitch of a card, and trip-deuces beats a pair every time.
Not sure what the diversity of GE had to do with anything or them owning NBC. Ummm… Disney owns two massive networks and a little thing called BamTech. (Google it kids). If we’re referring to the Disney Hollywood Studios as a Park, I guess that Bobby almost kinda nearly made a point, maybe. Sure, right now DHS is construction heavy. But you’ve got ‘Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway’ coming this fall and Toy Story Land just opened. The Park is going to have plenty to see and do before this year is over. And even if it didn’t, this argument isn’t about DHS – it’s about Galaxy’s Edge. But, I’ll play along anyways for the hell of it: say every other part of the Park fails – it hasn’t and won’t (see the 10% spike in Parks and Resort revenue mentioned earlier). Galaxy’s Edge isn’t going to fail. I’ve laid out the evidence for you to place your bet here. And while you may lose with pocket Aces in Texas Hold ‘Em from time to time if you go all in pre-flop (i.e. without any other information to base it on), Disney is holding the nuts here. Yes they started with the pocket rockets and now are sitting with quads after the turn. (Sorry for the poker analogies – blame Bobby). That’s the difference between Disney and everywhere else, very calculated in theri risk taking. If this wasn’t going to work the idea would have been scrapped before it broke ground.
8. Star Wars Land, therefore, MUST be the biggest financial return in Disney Parks history, or it is a flop.
“I’m talking percentages. By necessity, the park has to rake in 200% of its construction budget within a year or it won’t be solvent.”
Wait, what??? I’m not sure how this nonexistent model business works, but JUST NO. The cost to build SWGE is estimated at around 1 billion dollars. Disney makes roughly $20 billion per year for ALL of its parks and resorts worldwide. To make $2 billion in one year off of one land in one Park is absurd and if it does happen, you better hope you’re holding some $DIS in your portfolio. Their internal projected ROI probably extends for a few years and based on what we’ve seen from other projects like Avatar (cost of $500 million) and Toy Story Land (unknown cost – assume $100 million based on the cost for the slightly smaller version in Paris), these figures can be made up in a few years. Nothing is going to change with SWGE; they don’t all of a sudden start budgeting differently. Again, this isn’t your trailer park carnival. This is Disney, and they build shit bigger because of long term gains. This addition to the Walt Disney World campus is going to bring folks from across the globe who would never have previously dreamt of visiting. Star Wars transcends generations, race, and even people who want nothing to do with a theme park vacation. This project is going to be a raging success. I won’t even say ‘I told you so’ once I’m ultimately proven right, because frankly you already know I am.