At long last, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is fully open and complete. The second attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened on December 5, 2019. While the first, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, received fairly positive reviews, everyone knew that Rise of the Resistance was intended to be the more epic and ambitious of the two. Did it deliver? Did it break down? Joe took a quick 24 hour trip to Walt Disney World a few days after the attraction opened to test line avoidance strategies and review the ride. Here’s everything you need to know about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
(Note that this post does contain spoilers, but we’ve left them until the end and marked the spot where they start in both this post and in the podcast, so it’s safe to read or listen until you see/hear that warning!)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride Basics
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the newest Disney World attraction in Hollywood Studios. The ride is (unsurprisingly) located in the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land within the park, joining Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run which opened with the land in August 2019. An identical ride will open in Disneyland on January 17, 2020.
Rise of the Resistance has a height minimum of 40 inches. If you are trying to decide whether your young kid is ready for the ride, there are two considerations to keep in mind. Physically, the ride probably isn’t any more thrilling than most of the easier thrill rides in Disney parks. Emotionally, however, it might be intense for younger sensitive kids.
Tips for Navigating the Disney World Virtual Queue
So if your family is ready to ride Rise of the Resistance, how can you do that without interminable waits? Like any new attraction at a Disney park, the ride was insanely popular in its opening week. Given the overwhelmingly positive reviews for this epic experience, Rise of the Resistance may well be the most sought-after ride at Disney World for a very long time (too bad, so sad, Avatar Flight of Passage).
Updated virtual queue strategies in this episode, click play!
Anticipating very long lines, Disney implemented a virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance starting on opening day. Here’s how it works:
- Scan your Disney MagicBand or park ticket to enter Hollywood Studios
- Open your My Disney Experience App
- Click “Join Boarding Group”
- Wait for a push notification on your phone to tell you that you are eligible to return to the attraction and ride (note: be sure to enable push notifications for the MDE app).
- Return to Rise of the Resistance within the time window given (1-2 hours)
Unlike when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened and a virtual queue was implemented to enter the entire land, this virtual queue is for the Rise of the Resistance attraction only. Guests are now limited to one ride on the attraction per day (this was not the case the first few days after the attraction opened).
Note also that you have to have scanned in to the park for the day plus the MDE app has to geolocate you within Hollywood Studios for a boarding group to be available. Since Dec 18, 2019, Disney only opened boarding group sign ups at the official park opening time. So if the park opens at 8:00 AM boarding group sign ups open at 8:00 AM. (Note, there have been scattered datapoints that Disney opened up boarding groups a minute or two early on a few days, so it never hurts to check early).
As of right now, there is no Fastpass+ available for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Single rider is also not being offered. You also cannot wait in a very long standby queue even if you wanted to – there is not one! The only way to ride is by getting into the virtual queue. We expect that both Fastpass and Single Rider will eventually be available, but it may be a while until that happens. It seems fairly safe to predict that the virtual queue will remain in place at least through the holiday season.
Tips for Riding Rise of the Resistance in the Virtual Queue
So how can you best navigate this new virtual queue process to be sure to get in the “line” and get to ride? Here are the essential tips:
- Wake up early: Disney has been opening Hollywood Studios very early, well in advance of published park hours. If you want to get a boarding group before they run out for the day, you need to make sure you’re in the park at official park opening time. (Note that you cannot send a runner to get boarding passes for everyone – everyone in your party must enter the park!). Disney just today announced earlier morning park hours for Hollywood Studios. You must have tapped into the park by the time park opens in order to get a boarding group! We recommend lining up no later than 6:30am on 7am park opening days, and by 7:30am on 8am park opening days to be sure you enter the park before it opens. During the holidays, get to the park a solid hour before the official opening. If you want to rope drop marquee attractions, add an hour to your early arrival time.
- Have MDE fully set up: You don’t want tech issues to slow you down when you enter the park and are ready to grab a boarding group. Make sure your MDE is fully functioning and all members of your party are linked well before you start your Rise of the Resistance day. You might also want to consider deleting MDE friends who won’t be riding just to make things easier.
- Expect breakdowns: Rise of the Resistance has only been running at about 50% capacity in its first week. Breakdowns are common with its ambitious multiple ride system and may be standard operating procedure for many weeks to come. That means that you don’t know when your boarding group will be called because the ride may go down multiple times for several hours on any given day. Don’t have must-do plans or reservations (especially in other parks) the same day if riding Rise of the Resistance is important to you. You simply have no control over your schedule, even if you get in line very early and get one of the earliest boarding groups.
- Be ready for all of this to change: The virtual queue and all of these rules and practices can and likely will change on a dime. In fact, in the less than 48 hours between the time when we recorded our podcast episode and when this blog post went live, Disney announced brand new earlier park hours and added evening Extra Magic Hours to Hollywood Studios on Sundays for the rest of the year. Monitor the on the ground situation regularly. (We’re doing our best on our Twitter account to retweet all the latest developments, so be sure to follow us on @wdwdeciphered!)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride Review & Impressions
***Spoiler Alert: Here is where the spoilers start. We recommend NOT reading these until you’ve experienced Rise of the Resistance for yourself***
***Really, please turn back if you haven’t read this***
***These are not the spoilers you are looking for***
The reason we really hope you’re not reading this if you haven’t experienced Rise of the Resistance yet is because it is possibly the greatest theme park experience in the world, yet it’s difficult to describe in words. It’s not just a thrill ride or just an attraction or just entertainment, it is a near perfect package that is a sum of many excellent parts.
The best way to describe the ride is it is a chance to experience what it would be like to be inside a Star Wars movie. And really, if you haven’t turned back yet, now is your last chance because we will examine the ride in detail.
After the queue, you enter a briefing room where incredibly a very fluid and moving BB-8 animatronic is not the most impressive part. You receive a briefing from Rey and other Resistance heroes and this is where it starts feeling like the movies – Rey’s hologram has to be seen to be believed. Seriously, pictures do not do it justice.
You’re then rushed outside and into a transport that looks straight out of the movies (while passing Poe Dameron’s X-Wing along the way). I sort of wonder what happens when it rains, but I guess we’ll find out (it’s not a long walk).
The transport is piloted by another two excellent animatronics. You can look at the front or back windows, we recommend wandering around if there’s room to try to take everything in. The middle is probably the worst seat in the house here, stay towards the back or front.
Your transport ends up being captured by a Star Destroyer and you emerge in a hangar filled with storm troopers. Cast members in full First Order uniforms (and completely in character) shuttle you into a detention cell – they do a great job of really making you feel like you’re in trouble.
If the attraction ended here, it’d still be a pretty good experience – but eventually Resistance fighters break you out and you enter trackless ride vehicles and the real ride begins. You make your escape from the Star Destroyer, and while none of the movement is super thrilling, fast, or scary, the scenes that you move through (and there are four or five of them) are thrilling and intense.
You evade storm troopers, droids, and even Kylo Ren himself. It’s a non-stop thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what happens next.
You feel a part of the action – it really feels like you are trying to escape that Star Destroyer. And that’s why Rise of the Resistance might be the best theme park attraction ever (it’s certainly in contention). It makes you forget you are in a theme park.
We didn’t even mention that the Star Destroyer engages in a full on space battle with the Resistance fleet which you see developing out the “windows” of your escape route. This attraction combines ride vehicles, audio animatronics, screens, practical effects, and illusions in ways that we just never knew were possible. Everything works together to create one of the most immersive experiences we’ve ever had.
Again, words don’t really do it justice. It’s an attraction that has to be experienced to be believed, and despite our rampant spoiler warnings we’ve left out some of the best parts. Like Flight of Passage before it, Rise of the Resistance is a game changer for the theme park industry.
Don’t tell yourself the odds – go experience this attraction as soon as possible.
***END OF SPOILERS***Connect with Disney Deciphered!