Ahead of Galaxy’s Edge, Disney Destinations Outlines What Travel Partners Should Know

by Jessica Montevago
Ahead of Galaxy’s Edge, Disney Destinations Outlines What Travel Partners Should Know

Photo: Disney

The excitement for Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge isn’t limited to the pages of fan blogs – travel advisors at the Discover the Magic Tour 2019 last week were eager to hear more about the new themed lands coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Disney's largest single-themed land expansion, Galaxy’s Edge is being billed as “the most technologically advanced and immersive attraction” ever. While we know guests can insert themselves into the universe, whether building their own lightsabers or riding in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, many are anxious to learn more.

Disney recently announced they would open both in two phases, likely in hopes to stagger out crowds and improve wait times. Phase one includes the village of shops and eateries as well as one of the two main attractions, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. It opens May 31 at Disneyland Resort in Southern California and August 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

The second ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will open during phase two later this year. 

“We know there is unprecedented demand,” Claire Bilby, Disney Destinations’ senior vice president of sales, services and events, told the room of travel advisors. “We have to have that disclaimer there is going to be capacity,” in order to deliver as great a guest experience as possible.

During the first three weekends of its opening, Galaxy’s Edge will have a reservation system. Guests staying at the three Disneyland hotels (Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Paradise Pier Hotel) will get one reservation per stay, whether it’s for one night or three. At Walt Disney World, there will be Extra Magic Hours for resort guests.

Bilby said the team is working on providing agents with the necessary marketing materials, which will have a disclaimer regarding capacity limits, stressing the importance of getting the right information to clients in order to manage expectations.

While she knows travel advisors still have a lot of questions, as soon as plans are finalized, the trade will know. “Even if you see things on blogs or in newspapers, don’t think that’s right until you hear from me,” Bilby said.

Maybe most importantly, Bilby told advisors not to guarantee access to clients, due to the demand, “it’s where we’re going to need to have a lot of trust and a lot of dialogue.”

Bilby and her team are constantly listening to feedback from advisors, such as giving them marketing materials earlier and providing more social content for them to use on their social media channels. “It’s a journey and we continue to evolve.”

And they’re doing just that. Bilby revealed to agents that Disney's photo package, Memory Maker, will soon be commissionable, an announcement that was met with cheers and applause from the audience. The service gives guests unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads for $169 when purchased ahead of time or $199 at full price. Targeting May 1, advisors will be able to earn 10 percent commission on Memory Maker as both a standalone produce as well as in a package.

Ultimately, as Bilby told advisors, “our goal is to not only to partner with you, but to help you grow your business.”

Other highlights
For non-Star Wars fans, there are plenty of other new and exciting experiences popping up at both parks this year. “We continue to invest in the parks and the experiences, whether it’s from an entertainment show to a new attraction, there’s always new reasons for your guests to come back,” Bilby told Travel Market Report, which in turn, “helps advisors grow their business.”

Here are some other highlights of what’s to come from Disneyland and Walt Disney World, to Disney Cruise Line and Adventures by Disney.

  • Inspired by Walt and Lillian Disney’s travels throughout Europe, Walt Disney World’s Riviera Resort opens in December.
  • Adventures by Disney is expanding European river cruises, including introducing voyages along the Rhone River.
  • Joining the new Pixar Pier at Disneyland’s California Adventure will be Jesse’s Critter Carousel this month, and Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind this summer.
  • Disney Cruise Line will make its long-awaited return to Greece and introduce five new ports of call in Europe.
  • A Marvel superhero-themed land is coming to Disneyland in 2020. The immersive universe will be anchored by the popular Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! ride, which will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers.
  • Based on the classic cartoon shorts, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open later this year at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studio.
  • A new mode of transportation, the Skyliner gondola, will connect Hollywood Studios and Epcot with four Disney resort hotels: Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort, and Disney’s Riviera Resort.
  • The NBA Experience is set to debut in August at Disney Springs.
  • The 500-room Gran Destino Tower opens at Coronado Springs Resort this summer, along with its rooftop restaurant, Toledo.
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