What are the latest rumors regarding how guests will be allowed access to SWGE? Do we think there will be boarding groups similar to Disneyland? Or just a giant free-for-all?
No official hints other than it would not be by advanced reservations only. “Rumors” are there might be “virtual lines”, same day only. So you line up to get a return time, and if they’re out for the day, they’re out. This is apparently what DL will be doing after the initial reservation only period. But as I said up front, nothing official.
The virtual queue at DL started today. Not sure how things are going!
According to the thread on the DL forum, it’s pretty quiet over there today. The wait got up to 3 hours for Smuggler’s Run at one point, but is back under an hour. The rest of the park is seeing low waits. SWGE has a crowd, but not wall to wall.
I had thought that the WDW system to access SWGE was going to be the same virtual queue system that began yesterday but I defer to the experts above on if that is speculation or certainty.
If it does work as Disneyland’s is working currently, then the land will be available to enter until capacity for the land is reached (FWIW capacity while busy is not gridlock, however, without RotR open it’s hard to say if the capacity that RotR’s queue will add will make it gridlock or not). Once capacity is reached, guests need to obtain a “boarding pass” which is a virtual queue for entry.
Signs throughout the park as well as the mobile app post what the current Land Access is (Open or Access by Boarding Group). If the boarding group process is in place then the signs & app will also list which groups are currently boarding and an “Estimated Land Wait” which is when they estimate a joining a boarding group now will get you into the land.
Joining a boarding group can be done from the app once your ticket/pass has been scanned at the for entry to the park that day (and the ticket must be linked to your account to show up in the app). In addition, certain FP kiosks have been dedicated to providing SWGE boarding passes in the old-fashioned paper way that still exists at DL. Although the paper that spits out is just a confirmation & just loads the applicable boarding group to your ticket/pass and your ticket/pass will be scanned.
After you join a boarding group you’ll get a push notification (or you can check the status on the app) when it is time for your boarding group to enter. You’ll have 2 hours from receiving that notification to make your way to SWGE and in case you don’t want the push notifications or aren’t using the the app, you can either check back on the app for the status of your boarding group as well as watch the signs throughout the park which will be updated with which boarding groups are able to access the land. If your boarding group is up for entry you proceed to whichever entrance of SWGE noted on your boarding pass and a CM there will scan your ticket/pass and yesterday there were managers on hand with iPads to resolve any issues.
The official line is that joining a boarding group doesn’t guarantee you access to the land as it is based on capacity and there are no longer time limits for those in the land. In other words, theoretically, the initial wave of park goers who enter the land before capacity hits are free to spend their entire day there and if no one were to leave after capacity is reached no boarding groups would be able to enter. In truth, with the limited availability of things to do especially without spending money, this doesn’t seem to be a huge concern and yesterday (the first day of boarding passes and of SWGE being open to the public) by 4-5pm the land was open to access and last I checked no boarding groups have been necessary today either.
Lastly, because of the popularity of Oga’s Cantina and Savi’s Light Saber Workshop those experiences required guests to make same-day reservations starting at 7am to participate. A reservation to either would allow you access to the land 1 hr prior and no boarding group would be required even if the land was entry by boarding group only (the capacity figures the reservations as well, at least in Disneyland’s case). As they are same-day reservations only they cannot be cancelled and there are no-show cancellation fees ($10/person for Oga’s on par with other Disney restaurant no-show policies, but a lot steeper for Savi’s as you are charged the $199 cost to build the light saber at the time of booking & that is non-refundable, at least that’s the policy for now).
Anywho, I hope WDW’s operations are taking notes & ready with a similar system that will work for WDW guests because this whole process at Disneyland has been a world of difference from what I expected and I was so sure of the madhouse that parking, lines, crowds to come and am still scratching my head as to where they all are.
Disney’s logistics people are probably scratching their heads right now. They did everything they possibly could to reduce the impact of massive crowds - widening pathways, refurbishing attractions, AP blockouts, cast member blockouts, reservation periods, boarding passes, Cantina reservations, etc. - and the massive crowds didn’t show up! Or at least that’s the way MiceChat is interpreting it.
But Disney can’t assume the same thing will happen at WDW. For some reason, people are still waiting 3 hours for FOP two years after it opened. Similar situation at 7DMT and SDD. It just seems WDW crowds are more ravenous and willing to wait in long lines. (West coast: )
So they can’t back off on any plans - if anything, they will have to be even more prepared for hordes of on-site Hotel guests. In other words, they can’t learn as much from the DLR opening of SWGE as they’d like. But hopefully enough that they can make the Orlando opening as smooth as possible.
The initial statement from Disney (the only one so far) said there would not be reservations or time limits at DHS “at this time”.
Insiders, including one pretty reliable one IMO, have confirmed that a virtual queue is planned but there has been no actual announcement from Disney yet.
My Northern California friends have all said they planned to wait a few months “until it’s calmer, Disenyland’s busy enough already” which makes me wonder if that’s been a common enough strategy that it made the opening this calm. It’s the main reason we’re now probably going on opening day at HS. The wait times at FOP and SDD and 7DMT do make me think it will be different at WDW, as @Jeff_AZ notes, but it also makes me think there’s no advantage to waiting for another trip in a few years, either. The opening day of the Hagrid coaster at Universal is the main deterrent to going to the WDW opening day.
If the same sort of reservation system as Disneyland’s is in place, though, I’ll be happy. It seems a lot clearer and easier to plan for than the 10+ hour queue for the Hagrid ride.
Good article with an interview from Len in the Orlando Sentinel: