The most anticipated Disney attraction of the decade is finally open. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened to rave reviews at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios on December 5, 2019 and in Disneyland on January 17, 2020. Headliner ride openings at Disney parks mean long lines, some times for years to follow. Rise of the Resistance will almost assuredly fall into this camp.
There are many tricks that guests can use to dodge lines for popular Disney attractions. But basically none of them work on Rise of the Resistance at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland, at least for now! It’s vital to know how Disney is managing the demand for Rise of the Resistance so you don’t miss the chance to ride.
Whether you are headed to Walt Disney World or Disneyland for this attraction, it’s important to have a smart strategy (and probably also a little luck!). Here are all the details you need to know to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on either Disney coast.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Ride Basics (No Spoilers)
Before we dive into the details about how you can best ride Rise of the Resistance, let’s talk ride basics. Don’t worry… there are no spoilers here! Although if you want those, scroll to the end of this post for all the details.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the headline attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s the second and final of two attractions in the land, joining the already-open Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The ride opened at Walt Disney World on December 5, 2019 in Galaxy’s Edge within Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It opened January 17, 2020 in California in Disneyland park in the mostly identical Galaxy’s Edge located there.
The attraction has a 40 inch minimum to ride. This is a height that average kids will probably hit somewhere between their 4th and 5th birthdays. The ride physically is no more intense than a combination of Alien Swirling Saucers and Star Tours. Parents should consider carefully, however, whether younger kids can handle the emotional intensity of a ride that prominently features the Dark Side. The thrill of the attraction won’t scare most kids away. The intensity of being caught in the middle of a conflict between the Resistance and the First Order potentially could.
Depending on who you talk to, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance might just go down in history as the best of Disney Imagineering. The attraction is more than just a thrill ride. It takes guests through multiple scenes all with very difference experiences. Most guests are already proclaiming it even better than Disney’s previous best, Avatar Flight of Passage. That’s high praise.
Tips for Riding Rise of the Resistance at Disney World
Disney World’s Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue: Everything You Need To Know
Since opening and for the indefinite future, the ONLY way to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios in Orlando is by securing a place in a virtual queue. This is not a virtual queue to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge like Disney advertised for the land’s opening earlier this year. This virtual queue is different, as it only operates for Rise of the Resistance. Unlike the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge virtual queue, it is also running out — and pretty fast (more on that later).
Here’s what you need to do to join the virtual queue:
- Before your park day: Link everyone’s tickets in your party to your My Disney Experience (MDE) app and turn on push notifications on your phone for the app.
- Enter Hollywood Studios by scanning your Disney MagicBand or park ticket. Everyone in your party must enter. You cannot send a single runner to get boarding groups for everyone.
- Open your My Disney Experience App. Click on “Find Out More” in the box that says “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group”.
- Click “Join Boarding Group” as soon as you see it become available. (The MDE app has to geolocate you within Hollywood Studios – this may take a few minutes. Keep refreshing the app and move as far into Hollywood Studios as possible until you can click.)
- If you don’t have a smartphone or My Disney Experience, see a member of guest relations to get your boarding group.
- Wait for a push notification on your phone to tell you that you are eligible to return to the attraction and ride (you can also check the status of boarding group progress in the app or on signs posted around Hollywood Studios at any time).
- Return to Rise of the Resistance within the 2 hour return time window given.
Here’s the catch. Boarding groups for this virtual queue have been running out pretty fast. Disney has extended the park hours for Hollywood Studios to adjust to the demand, but crowds are responding accordingly and queuing in the earliest of morning hours.
For nearly two weeks after Rise of the Resistance opened, Disney was unofficially opening the park before the official posted rope drop time – usually about 30-45 minutes before 7am openings. Virtual queue boarding passes were made available during this early opening time. As you might guess, many of them were snagged before the park even officially opened.
On December 18, however, Disney made some changes to discourage earlier and earlier park queuing. Now, Disney is still opening the park gates a bit early and letting guests mill around Sunset Boulevard, but Rise of the Resistance boarding groups are not released on the app until the official park opening time.
So what does this all mean for your morning Rise of the Resistance rope drop strategy? You need to make sure you are in Hollywood Studios and ready to request a boarding group as soon as clock strikes park opening time.
We still highly recommend that anyone serious about riding Rise of the Resistance queues early. How early? We’d recommend at least half an hour before official park opening, but up to an hour is safer. The key is to make sure you are scanned into the park and physically deep onto Sunset Boulevard before boarding groups are released. Tech issues and app problems are common and you want to be best positioned to avoid those. Some days, boarding groups have run out within minutes of park opening so speed is key!
Once you actually get a boarding group and are called to ride, how long will you wait in the real queue for Rise of the Resistance? The answer is that is depends – a lot. Some early morning groups may find the ride close to a walk on if they go as soon as their group is called. Some groups may wait an hour or more, especially if the ride breaks down at all and backs up the queue.
Watch this space for even more updates as both crowd habits and Disney policies evolve. For even more information about the virtual queue you can take on-the-go, be sure to listen to our Disney Deciphered podcast episode all about Rise of the Resistance’s opening and queue at Disney World.
Line Skipping Methods that Will NOT Work for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World
If you are a master of line dodging and skipping at Walt Disney World, you may be curious if methods that work for other rides will work for Rise of the Resistance. Let me put those thoughts to rest – they won’t. At least not for now. The only way to ride Rise of the Resistance is in the virtual queue. The following methods simply are not available:
- Fastpass+: Rise of the Resistance does have a Fastpass+ queue. At some point, Fastpass+ will become available for the attraction. It’s not available in these first few weeks (and probably not for at least several months at least).
- Extra Magic Hours: While Disney’s Hollywood Studios is offering Extra Magic Hours in the next few weeks (mostly Sundays late night), Rise of the Resistance is not scheduled to be open during EMH. Our best guess is that Disney will use this time to accommodate as many boarding groups as possible.
- Single Rider Lines: Rise of the Resistance could eventually have a single rider queue. But there is no single rider option used right now. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run offers single rider the vast majority of the time, so you can at least cut down some wait times in Galaxy’s Edge when flying solo.
- Standby Lines: Even if you are prepared to show up and wait in line for 5 hours for Rise of the Resistance, you can’t. There is no standby line running for the attraction while the virtual queue is operational. This is far from ideal for anyone who can’t get to the parks super-early and who would be willing to wait awhile to be able to arrive at a time of their choosing, but that’s how it works for now.
- VIP Tours: Hiring a pricey VIP tour guide (a.k.a. “plaid”) is an amazing way to cut the lines at Disney parks for most attractions. But even paying the big bucks won’t get you special access to Rise of the Resistance. The ride is currently not included on a VIP tour.
Disney’s Disability Access Pass (DAS) is available for Rise of the Resistance but only to guests that get a boarding pass in the virtual queue. (Note that in order to ride the attraction, guests must be able to transfer.)
Disney is offering Rider Switch for this attraction but also only for guests who have a boarding pass for the virtual queue. For all intents and purposes, it isn’t really needed unless the attraction breaks down for an extended period or guests return very late in their return window to the ride. The 2 hour return window is more than enough time for two different groups of riders to go through the queue.
Insider Tips for Hacking the Disney World Virtual Queue
Although the virtual queue is the only way to ride Rise of the Resistance for now, there are still quite a few tricks and hacks guests can use to cut down on the waits and streamline their logistics. Those include the following:
Monitor when boarding groups are running out. With the attraction’s huge demand and holiday crowds, everything is changing rapidly at Disney World. What worked last week may not work next. We therefore highly recommend that guests with upcoming trips monitor the latest boarding group data to make their plans. Luckily, some of the enterprising posters on DisBoards are tracking the very data you need. Click here to see when boarding are running out for the day so you can make your plans. I recommend checking this 24 hours before your planned park day so you can see how the previous few days went.
Aim for an Early Boarding Group. We highly recommend making an effort to get an early boarding group. Rise of the Resistance has been only operating partial capacity in these first weeks, with more than its fair share of downtimes. The longer the day goes on, the more volatile the virtual queue return times get. For guests who want to make plans in other parks, there is no reason to hold your whole day hostage to an unpredictable return time.
In fact, later boarding groups are at risk of not being able to ride if the attraction goes down for an extended period on a given day. While Disney was very generous with guests when this happened in the first few days after the ride’s opening (giving out next-day “Fastpasses” and free one day park hopper tickets), most guests would probably prefer to just get on the ride.
So, now that the playing field is leveled with the earliest birds no longer able to book a boarding group just by queuing in the pre-dawn hours, the guests with the fastest finger are the ones rewarded with earliest return times. Tech issues with the MDE app abound, so we recommend anyone with two or more smartphones in their travel group make an effort to try on both phones. This is an extra insurance policy in case one app crashes or WiFi is just slower on one phone than the other.
Know about Backup Boarding Groups: Disney also now offers “backup” boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance. These groups are given out after regular boarding groups run out. They expressly warn that guests only have a chance to ride later in the evening. On days when operations work well and ride down times are minimal, Disney is able to put more guests on the ride. But this is a strategy we can’t recommend counting on quite yet. It’s simply too volatile. Some days have accommodated boarding groups well into the 190s, but others have only barely cracked the 120s.
Don’t try to ride twice in a single day. In the first couple of days the attraction was open, savvy Disney guests who arrived very early and got one of the first boarding groups finished the ride in time to snag a second boarding group for the same day. Naturally, this caused some complaints from guests who were not able to get a boarding group at all. This loophole has now been closed, and all tickets are limited to a single boarding group per day. Don’t waste your time chasing this hack any more.
Have a transportation plan. With the parks opening so early, Disney transportation has been a major stumbling block for a lot of guests. The Skyliner is not always reliable form of transportation for the earliest morning guests headed to Hollywood Studios. It’s simply not running early enough. We therefore highly recommend using Uber and Lyft if that works for you (see my guide to Uber Car Seat in Orlando if you have young kids). Other next best options are Minnie Vans (which should run as early as 5am), driving and parking your own car, or taking the bus transportation from your resort.
Go left! There is a place in the inner queue (it will make sense when you’re in the attraction) of Rise of the Resistance where guests have a choice of going left or right. Most guests head right, so go left. It could potentially shave 5-10 minutes off of your wait on the actual attraction when backed up.
How to Ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland
All eyes have been on Walt Disney World these past few weeks, but they have now turned to California. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened January 17, 2020 at Disneyland park. The first two mornings of operation have made the queue situation at Walt Disney World look like child’s play.
Disneyland’s Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue: Everything You Need To Know
Unlike at Disney World, Disneyland announced in advance of the ride’s opening day that it would be using a virtual queue as well so guests were prepared for opening day. The virtual queue functions essentially identically to the one at Walt Disney World. The only difference is how fast the boarding groups run out (more on that below).
Here’s what you need to do to join and use the virtual queue at Disneyland:
- On your park day (long before park opening): Link everyone’s tickets in your party in the Disneyland app. To do this, click on the three horizontal lines in the bottom right corner, select “Tickets and Passes” and then click on the + sign in the top left corner to add tickets one by one. The app can scan the barcode of each ticket. Also be sure to turn on push notifications on your phone for the app.
- Enter Disneyland park by scanning your park ticket. Everyone in your party must enter. You cannot send a single runner to get boarding groups for everyone. Entering Disney California Adventure does not work either.
- Open the Disneyland App at the very second of official park opening. The main home screen prominently features “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group”. Click on the “Find Out More” box.
- Click “Join Boarding Group” as soon as you see it become available. If your app does not refresh at park opening time, clicking on My Status button instead may force it to refresh.
- If you don’t have a smartphone, go to one of the distribution centers at the Fastpass kiosks by Buzz Lightyear or Splash Mountain.
- Wait for a push notification on your phone to tell you that you are eligible to return to the attraction and ride (you can also check the status of boarding group progress in the app or on signs posted around Disneyland at any time).
- Return to Rise of the Resistance within the return time window given.
(Note that you do not have to have Maxpass to join the virtual queue at Disneyland.)
Line Skipping Methods that Will NOT Work for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland
Just like at Walt Disney World, all the usual line-skipping Disney tricks and hacks you might be used to using will not for Rise of the Resistance. The virtual queue is the ONLY option to ride the attraction. There is:
- no Fastpass or Maxpass
- no Single Rider
- no access during Extra Magic Hour or Magic Morning (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays in Disneyland park)
- no regular standby line
- and no special VIP guide access.
Guests who want to use Disney’s Disability Access Pass (DAS) or Rider Switch can still do so but must first get a boarding group in the virtual queue in the app like all other guests.
Insider Tips for Hacking the Disneyland Virtual Queue
Many of the same tips and hacks for Rise of the Resistance for Disney World work at Disneyland too. The big difference, however, is when the virtual queue is filling up.
While at Disney World, guests have had at least 15 minutes before all spots are gone (and often more like 1 hour), Disneyland’s queue is filling in a matter of seconds. On opening day, all spots were gone by 8:03 am on an 8:00 am park opening day. On the second day, all spots were gone by 8:01 am. Backup boarding groups were fully distributed minutes after that.
For now at least, getting a boarding group is a matter of speed and some luck. Here are the tips that can speed you up and improve that luck:
Use Multiple Phones: Guests with the fastest finger (not the ones who enter the park first) are the ones who get the boarding groups. Unfortunately, the Disneyland app isn’t always reliable and can fail to refresh or even crash. We therefore recommend anyone with two or more smartphones in their travel group make an effort to try on both phones. Link all your tickets in both phones so the fastest phone will get through first and prevail.
Disconnect from Disneyland WiFi: Disneyland WiFi is spotty and pretty slow. If you have reliable cell data service in Disneyland park, we recommend disconnecting from the WiFi to speed things up.
Refresh, Refresh, Refresh: You have to wait until the “Join Boarding Group” button turns red on your app to click it and join a boarding group. If your app does not refresh to show this within a couple of seconds after park opening, clicking on My Status button next to it instead may force everything to refresh. You can also pull down on the My Status screen to refresh again.
Keep monitoring when boarding groups are running out. While the first few days have seen massive demand, we do expect this will eventually slow down and become more reasonable in the weeks that follow. We will be updating this post with more data, so keep checking back.
Make time for security, lines, and parking or transportation. Because getting a spot in the virtual queue does not depend on how early you get into the park, there’s no need to arrive super-early to Disneyland. But you do need to arrive early enough to get your car parked (or catch whatever transportation you may be taking if you aren’t walking), get through security, and get through the line and scanned into Disneyland park. I always recommend being in line in the esplanade at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in advance of park opening anyway, so that means parking up to 1.5 hours in advance of park opening.
All the Spoilers for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
*****Spoilers Start Here! Proceed at Your Own Risk! *****
If you just can’t wait to hear all the details about Rise of the Resistance, you don’t have to. Here’s a complete spoiler filled play-by-play from the attraction. We’ve broken the attraction up into sections, starting with the queue.
You enter the “hidden” rebel base via an entrance marked by a large turret, which seems quite conspicuous. The queue winds around outside a bit until you enter a series of caves that feel carved out in a rush. As you wind your way through the caves you pass by familiar looking navigational maps, lockers containing Resistance jumpsuits, and assorted weapons caches (presumably there in case of a sudden First Order attack). The queue is understated in a good way. It feels like you’re entered a lived in but hastily constructed Resistance base.
We should note that when the queue stalls out for any extended period of time (due to the ride’s operational issues), Resistance cast members have been coming through the queue with water and carrot sticks. Occasionally, a Resistance hero like Vi Moradi or even Chewbacca might come through – have your MagicBands ready because when we were there they were accompanied by Resistance Photopass photographers!
The queue ends with a cast member asking you how many in your party. You are then invited to enter the next phase of the attraction, the briefing room.
The Briefing Room
The next room you enter is the briefing room. While it’s technically a pre-show room, it feels much more immersive than that, although describing it doesn’t quite capture the feeling. Again, the room is a cut out cave. A hologram of Rey that looks straight out of the movies briefs you that you need to make a quick escape from Batuu and warns you not to give up the location of the secret Resistance base. But it won’t be easy!
During the briefing you receive some extra intel from Finn, Poe Dameron (who will be escorting your transport), and Lieutenant Bek, a Mon Calamari Resistance fighter who will be with you on your transport. After the briefing is over, you’re rushed outside – and you actually go outside! We felt a huge sense of urgency as we were rushed outside, across a small clearing, and into a fully realized Resistance transport waiting for us.
And just for kicks, Poe’s X-wing is hanging out in the clearing, ready to escort your transport. With good cast members, you really feel a sense of urgency to get into that transport, which really starts ramping up the narrative tension of the attraction.
When you enter the transport, the first thing you’ll notice are two life-size audio animatronics at the front of the transport – the aforementioned Lieutenant Bek and Nien Nunb who you might recognize as having flown the Millennium Falcon with Lando Calrissian in Return of the Jedi.
You quickly take off from Batuu but are attacked by TIE fighters and eventually surrounded and trapped by Star Destroyers. As you are pulled in by a tractor beam, Lieutenant Bek reminds you not to give up the location of the secret Resistance base.
Some people will experience the transport portion of the ride and mistake it for the actual ride. You definitely feel the transport moving and shaking, though obviously it’s nothing too drastic since you don’t need to get strapped in or anything. One tip: if there isn’t room at the front, there is a porthole out the back with a view out the transport window that is as good as the forward view.
After the tractor beam pulls you into the Star Destroyer, your transport is boarded by First Order officers who bark at you to get out and prepare for interrogation!
If you weren’t wowed by the Rey hologram or the Bek animatronic, you’ll be finally wowed when you step into the hangar of a Star Destroyer. Pictures don’t do this room justice – the sheer scale of the hangar bay is mind boggling. You see ships flying outside the hangar and a full platoon of stormtroopers that you’re not quite sure aren’t real. Be sure to take pictures of the TIE fighter and the stormtroopers if the First Order officers don’t bark at you for taking “useless scans.”
This is a good place to note the quality of the First Order officers we experienced when we rode this attraction. They strike the perfect balance of making you feel nervous and doing their actual jobs (moving you along and keeping you safe). They allowed enough time for pictures but still kept the sense of urgency in the attraction alive.
Eventually you are shuttled into a queue to “await processing” and after a few minutes you are lined up to be shot….I mean shuttled into an interrogation room. Again, the quality of the cast members makes it feel like you’re really in trouble – adding to the magic and immersion of the attraction.
When you enter the interrogation room, you’re given a real sense that you’re in trouble. There are stormtroopers looking down on you as if you’re in a cage and eventually General Hux and Kylo Ren himself come and begin demanding the location of the secret Resistance base.
Kylo Ren even begins using the force on you before thankfully he’s called to the bridge. Once he leaves – someone carves a hole in the wall and breaks into your cell – it’s the Resistance! You’re quickly ushered into escape transports that the Resistance has commandeered as Finn himself tells you the escape plan.
It’s all pretty exciting and, again, the sense of urgency to the whole affair is something that has to be experienced. Don’t forget to “supervise your children” as Lieutenant Bek says (how did the kids get caught up in this mess!?).
The escape vehicles are trackless vehicles similar to Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland or Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris (and soon, Epcot). As stated above, the actual movement of the vehicles isn’t super intense, but as you might imagine, the escape gets pretty intense. So let’s get to that escape!
So to make your escape you board a trackless vehicle that can hold up to eight people. Ostensibly, your escape should be simple: you make your way down a turbo lift to some escape pods and you’re home free. But that’d be a pretty boring escape!
So instead of a simple straightforward escape, you run up against everything that could go wrong: stormtroopers, probe droids, even Kylo Ren himself. The pace is frantic and things get pretty intense, but luckily stormtroopers continue to have the worst aim in history. What’s amazing about the ride is how immersive it is – you feel like you’re being chased.
Laser blasts create damage in the walls around you, you dodge and weave everyone who’s chasing you, and you even move vertically to avoid your captors. The effects combined with audio animatronics make you feel like you’re in the middle of a Star Wars battle.
And make no mistake, you are in the middle of a battle. Halfway through the ride you see the Resistance fleet jump out of hyperspace and engage the Star Destroyers and from that point on the ride’s intensity ramps up to a whole new level. Instead of seeing damage from mere blaster fire you now see and feel the damage of this epic space battle going on around you.
Ultimately, you make your way to the escape pods and quickly drop your way back down to Batuu, a combination of Tower of Terror and Star Tours type action that somehow feels both less scary motion wise but more intense thrill wise than either of those individual attractions. Don’t worry, the drop really isn’t in the same ballpark as Tower of Terror, it’s just the easiest way to describe it.
By the time you exit your escape pod on Batuu, you will have experienced one of the most epic attractions ever created. Again, Rise of the Resistance is something that must be experienced firsthand – it’s a culmination of so much of the amazing storytelling that Disney has done throughout its theme parks for decades.
Trust us when we say this – use our tips to get yourself onto this ride. You won’t regret it!
Editor’s Note: This article was co-authored by Joe Cheung and Leslie Harvey. Joe visited Walt Disney World both during the first week of Rise of the Resistance’s opening and again in January 2020. Leslie attended the media preview of Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland. Whenever possible, Trips With Tykes endeavors to bring you first-hand travel accounts and not articles written from press releases, research alone, or exclusively from media event access.
About the co-author: Contributing writer Joe Cheung loves traveling with his wife and three children. He has been writing about using miles and points to reduce the cost of family travel on his blog asthejoeflies since his wife was pregnant with their first child. He loves traveling all around the world with a special place in his heart for travel to Asia and all things Disney. When he’s not writing, you can find Joe chatting about Disney World on the Disney planning podcast Disney Deciphered that he and Leslie co-host or chatting about miles and points on his other podcast the Saverocity Observation Deck.