Disney has chosen to bestow exclusive access to the Rise of the Resistance attraction to CNN Business a couple of days ahead of its grand opening to the general public. As outlined in their article, CNN states that Disney is betting heavily on the success of Rise of the Resistance, an attraction that many will likely refer to as the headliner of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. As part of their exclusive access to the creative team and more, CNN offered a breakdown of what they saw during their ride. We’re going to translate that into what is new information, and what we’ve already put out in our own scene-by-scene breakdown.
First, they confirm that the attraction is an 18-minute experience. This generally aligns with the 15-minute time that we quoted Bob Chapek as stating back in August when you figure that CNN was likely able to linger a bit more than the average guest will be able to when operational throughput is the name of the game for the foreseeable future.
Guests are recruited by the Resistance via a pre-show room that will see a holographic Rey and physical BB-8 prepare you for the mission ahead.
From this pre-show room, they then boarded “the first ride vehicle” guests will experience, which will be the Intersystem Transport Ship, or I-TS, that has been on display in scale-model form since June 2018 at Walt Disney Presents. CNN confirmed that this portion of the experience will be standing-room only, something that we’ve written about for weeks, and something that was somewhat obvious when considering leaked images from the construction of the interior of the ship.
Guests will encounter two alien audio-animatronics aboard this ship – Nien Nunb our pilot and Lieutenant Bek, a Mon Calamari communications officer.
Once our ship is captured by the First Order, 50 audio-animatronic Stormtroopers await our arrival in the Star Destroyer hangar. As an aside, previews of this area typically show a Stormtrooper or two turning their heads as guests walk by. It’s interesting to note that CNN lists 50 audio-animatronics in this room, signaling that all of them could have some sort of movement during our interaction, although to what extent that movement may occur remains to be seen.
From this room, guests are placed into a holding cell and interrogated by Kylo Ren and General Hux. These details have been known for some time now, but CNN did reveal that the characters in the holding cell are projection-based characters, and not audio-animatronics. While the author of the piece refuses to give away all of the secrets of the ride, he does call our escape from the holding cell a “great effect”. For what it’s worth, we’ve heard that not all of the walls are a sturdy as the First Order may like to think they are.
Keep in mind that since we disembarked the I-TS, we’ve been on foot through the hangar and into the holding cell. After our escape from the cell, we board a First Order Fleet Transport, which is a trackless vehicle that we’ve seen on display numerous times before this publication.
The ride then continues through the winding hallways and various rooms as we attempt to escape the clutches of Kylo Ren and get back to Batuu. While our first encounter with Kylo Ren is accomplished via projection effects in the holding cell, we’re chased through the ship by an audio-animatronic Kylo Ren once aboard the First Order Fleet Transport. Another aside, we’re told that we are quite literally chased by the Kylo Ren audio-animatronic, an effect that is said to be quite impressive.
While details on the rest of the experience are a bit light, the author does go on to mention dodging blaster fire and eventually being jettisoned off the Star Destroyer in an escape pod via a climactic finale scene where we encounter the drop effect we discussed yesterday.
Beyond the description of the experience, other interesting tidbits were offered by Scott Trowbridge, Studio Leader at Walt Disney Imagineering, and the creative lead for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Trowbridge says that the experience has a “three-act structure to it”, something that is quite clearly defined as an experience in the cave systems of Batuu and pre-show, the ascent into space via the I-TS, and then your escape from the First Order Star Destroyer.
Trowbridge also talked about some of the challenges and opportunities the team encountered, such as the attraction being the largest concrete pour in the history of Disney Parks. The challenges faced in creating a realistic experience included using trackless ride vehicles to make the experience feel unscripted. More than five million lines of code were written to choreograph the entire experience.
Disney partnered with Panasonic to try and blend reality and make the projection Kylo Ren look just as realistic as the audio-animatronic version. All told, there are 65 audio-animatronic figures in the attraction, and some of them are the extremely complex A1000 series figures that Disney is touting as the next generation of audio-animatronic. Conventional motors with enough torque to accelerate an arm or a leg are large and emit a lot of heat. So Walt Disney Imagineering worked alongside a vendor to develop thin “pancake” motors capable of fitting inside the animatronic but still provide the power needed to achieve fluid, human-like movements.
“I often hear people say ‘Is it an actor?'” Trowbridge said.
Disney had to create tech that would properly recreate the effect of a blaster laser traveling through air, even though that’s not how lasers work in non-Star Wars reality.
Overall, while Trowbridge admits that the tech is very impressive, he said it’s best when it’s executed in a way that blends into the background. Disney doesn’t necessarily want guests wondering what patentable technology they invented to create and effect. Trowbridge said that they’re happiest when the tech simply allows the guest to be completely immersed in the story unfolding around them.
Rise of the Resistance opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on December 5th and we’ll be on the ground to cover it all right here at BlogMickey.com!