How the Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Attraction Impacts Your Next Visit
While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge blew our minds on day one, everyone knew that the themed land wasn’t finished. Disney originally intended to open Black Spire Outpost with two attractions, but only one was ready on schedule.
On December 5th, Disney finally introduced Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to the public. It’s a mind-blowing achievement in Imagineering. To wit, a few months ago, many theme park fanatics described Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure at Universal’s Islands of Adventure as the best attraction in the world. Virtually nobody is saying that now.
The new Star Wars attraction has established a new standard in technical achievement and ride immersion. It also fundamentally alters a trip to Batuu, as the crowds are massive once again. Here’s an examination of how the new Galaxy’s Edge attraction impacts your next visit.
About the Ride
Star Wars Rise of the Resistance is the second attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. During the earliest reports about the themed land, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run received most of the hype. Disney only revealed about 18 months before the opening of Star Wars Land that Rise of the Resistance is the more significant Imagineering endeavor. It’s the largest, longest ride of its type in theme park history.
I don’t want to spoil the details of a revolutionary attraction that only opened a few days ago. So, I’ll only discuss details that Disney has confirmed on the Parks Blog. Those of you interested in more specifics can search for ride videos on YouTube. Several are posted that display what happens on both sides, which isn’t even a sentence that makes sense. Suffice to say that a lot happens on this attraction.
What I can say is that Rise of the Resistance mirrors Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to a degree, at least in terms of ride structure. On the first ride, guests walk through a ride queue and encounter a detailed Audio-Animatronic of Hondo Ohnaka. After this conversation, the riders proceed to a secondary area that operates as a kind of holding station. Once the ride carts are available, the people in this area enter the attraction’s central region.
While you may feel a bit disoriented on Rise of the Resistance, the process is similar. You’ll enter an indoor area that’s a transport of sorts, at least according to the Audio-Animatronic pilot. Once you leave this area, something significant happens.
You will disembark your ride cart, at least temporarily. Soon afterward, cast members will escort you to a place where you will (eventually) board a new ride cart. It’s this section that’s the “true” ride, although Rise of the Resistance blurs the lines between waiting in the queue and experiencing the attraction. It’s truly revolutionary in this regard. In fact, I just bit my tongue to avoid revealing three different spoiler-ish elements of what’s technically part of the wait.
This Star Wars attraction has done the impossible. It’s somehow forced non-Disney and non-Star Wars fans to praise the attraction as groundbreaking. You can imagine how euphoric Disney/Star Wars fans are about the ride. The phrase “best ever” has been thrown around a lot this week. Meanwhile, the next negative review that I read about Rise of the Resistance will be the first. It’s universally approved, a functional impossibility in the social media era.
Getting to Batuu
That was the good news. Let’s talk about the bad news. Do you remember early this year when everyone (including me) predicted massive lines at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? We were all so shocked when the early days of Batuu at Disneyland weren’t that crowded. Then, the situation appeared to get even stranger when summer crowds were less than the previous year.
At Walt Disney World, Star Wars attendance has proven similarly befuddling. I recently spent two days unsuccessfully attempting to get a reservation at Oga’s Cantina. Then, to my surprise and amusement, when I visited Star Wars Land, the cast member told me that I could walk right into the bar sans reservations. The overriding point is that crowds at Black Spire Outpost are mercurial and difficult to predict.
Here’s what I know so far about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Park traffic has surged mightily since it opened. In fact, the change is so dramatic that I need to modify my previous advice about visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at least slightly.
About the Boarding Group
Disneyland introduced boarding passes with the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. They just didn’t use this kind of digital line queue much due to the lack of crowds. Walt Disney World has also integrated the technology but barely used it…until this week.
As a reminder, the boarding pass is something you acquire on My Disney Experience that grants you access to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You sign up in the Star Wars section of the app and receive a number akin to the one that you’d get in line at the deli (before the age of smartphones). It’s technically a boarding group number that ranges from 1 to ~100.
When your boarding group number is low, you’ll get to ride Rise of the Resistance earlier in the day. When your number approaches 100, you’re unlikely to ride before late in the park day, possibly near closing time. And that timing can lead to additional problems.
Allowing for the Worst
Disney delayed Rise of the Resistance due to the technological innovations on the attraction. It’s such a comprehensive setup that it’s like Imagineering’s Greatest Hits. The downside is that a lot of stuff can break. As I type this, the ride has operated for four days…and it’s broken down at least once on each of those days.
Don’t worry! Disney has a process in place for breakdowns when you’re experiencing the attraction. Should you be one of the “unlucky” ones, you’ll get a FastPass that entitles you to re-entry at the first section of the line. It’s currently the only way to get a FastPass for this attraction.
So, when Rise of the Resistance tears up with you on it, you benefit in an odd way. You get to experience parts of it a second time while being guaranteed a complete ride during your return visit. However, that only applies when you’re past a certain point in the line queue.
When you stand in line for this attraction, you’re pot-committed. If it tears down, you face a difficult dilemma. You either wait in a line that doesn’t move, or you cede your spot to do something else at Hollywood Studios. It’s a tough choice. I know at least one person who waited in line and then had the ride break down. This individual spent 13 hours trying to ride Rise of the Resistance. Now that’s commitment.
Fortunately, this issue becomes less problematic as we move further away from opening day. I expect the lines to become tolerable early in 2020, but those of you visiting over the holidays will need to make a call.
Is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Worth the Aggravation?
Here’s the rub. Only you know how excited you are about Rise of the Resistance. All that I can do is provide the facts as I see them. A fact is that this attraction isn’t available during Extra Magic Hours. Park officials had to make the hard choice here. Since the ride requires so much maintenance to keep it operational, Disney can’t open it early or leave it running late.
Another fact is that Disney isn’t doing Extra, Extra Magic Hours for the same reason. For that matter, Hollywood Studios only recently announced an extension of park hours. From now through January 4th, you can enter at 8 a.m., and Rise of the Resistance will be open during this extra hour.
Even this bonus hour comes with some drawbacks. I’ll use December 7th as an example. Hollywood Studios opened well ahead of schedule on this date, allowing some guests entry at 6:30 a.m. This was an unadvertised decision to siphon off some of the massive early crowds.
Hollywood Studios didn’t technically open until 9 a.m. Despite this fact, My Disney Experience delivered all Rise of the Resistance boarding passes for the day by 8:50 a.m. Yes, anyone who slept that day was out of luck.
To ride Rise of the Resistance over the next four weeks, the reality is this. You’ll need to arrive at the park early and have My Disney Experience loaded on your phone. You’ll need to check the Star Wars section and grab a boarding pass for the attraction at first opportunity. Even then, you could feasibly wait eight hours or more before your boarding group’s reservation window opens.
Look, the situation is less than ideal right now. At the moment, Galaxy’s Edge is what everyone had expected it to be last year. It’s incredibly crowded, and the wait-time for the most popular ride is insane. However, that particular attraction is also arguably the best one in the history of Disney.
As a DVC member, you know how often you visit and how excited you are about Rise of the Resistance. If you’re not in a hurry, show up a bit before the park opening like you usually do. If you can get a boarding pass, take it. If not, there’s always next time.
If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, the aggravation is totally worth what you’ll receive in exchange. I would suggest that you arrive at least an hour before the park opens. Then, plan to spend all day at Hollywood Studios. There’s so much to do on Batuu that you’ll have plenty of ways to stay entertained. And the ride will blow your mind so much that Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will seem like Star Tours by comparison.