If you're a Star Wars fan and have a little more than $200 burning a hole in your pocket, Disney (NYSE: DIS) wants to arm you for the revolution. The first phase of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens at Disneyland in California next week, and naturally merchandising is going to play a starring role in the way that the media giant extracts money from your wallet.
The most popular keepsake will undeniably be the hand built lightsabers that guests can customize across various hilts, sleeves, emitters, and pommel caps. Buyers will be guided through the process of piecing together the iconic weaponry, but only after they pay $199.99 (plus tax) for the product and the experience.
It's not cheap. That's more than the price of a single-day ticket, and we know that that isn't cheap, either. However, with the "take my money" aficionados descending into Anaheim next week -- and Florida in three months -- the only thing that's certain is that Disney is going to make a lot of money selling a ton of these things.
Everyone's smiling, but Dad's now out $199.99, plus California tax. Image source: Disney.
Use the force
Souvenirs are a big part of the amusement park model, and that is especially true for Disney. It's the world's leading theme park operator, and it also owns several beloved franchises that it's able to milk extensively through consumer products.
Disneyland and Disney World visitors are no strangers to the House of Mouse selling personalized trinkets, dating back to the original name-stitched mouse-eared caps. Guests have been able to piece together Mr. Potato Head dolls and even cheaper plastic lightsabers for years at self-serve stations. But Disney's raising the bar -- and the price tag -- with these high-end collectibles complete with their own ceremonies and fashionable carrying cases.
Shelling out $200 is a pretty big ask for guests, and even Disney doesn't seem to have a handle on the demand it will get. Disneyland's page for the Savi's Workshop store, where the experience will take place, offers up that reservations may be required.
Disney learned the hard way about underestimating demand two years ago when Pandora: The World of Avatar opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida. The hot keepsake at the time was a shoulder-perching banshee with interactive features. The initial shipment sold out the week after the Avatar-themed land opened. The banshees initially cost just $49.99 -- a quarter of the ransom that next week's handmade lightsabers will fetch -- but the pricey Star Wars merch is going to sell briskly.
Theme parks have been Disney's most resilient segment in recent years. Even in the media behemoth's latest quarter, this was the only major business to improve its year-over-year revenue and operating profit growth. Disney has positioned itself to thrive even in lulls of flat attendance growth given its penchant for annual price hikes and expanding its hotel rooms. And now we'll have new merchandise to drive per-capita spending higher.
Even if just 5% of the guests wind up buying the new lightsabers, we're talking about a $10 spike in average revenue per visitor. The next few quarters will be huge for Disney's theme parks.
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