Looking Back on the Opening Week of Rise of the Resistance and Planning for the Future

Today marks a week since the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In this post, we’re going to take a look back at the opening week of Rise of the Resistance as well as looking towards the future to try and help you plan for your upcoming visit.

Waiting for the Sun to Rise

Before we talk about our visit this morning and how it has differed from days previous, let’s take a look at what you have had to do if you wanted a chance to ride Rise of the Resistance in the first week of operation. On opening day, we saw big crowds show up very early in the morning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The parking plaza opened at about 4:30am, with hundreds of cars lined up and ready to ride what has been marketed as an immersive Star Wars experience more than a traditional ride. Thousands of guests waited outside of the park, waiting for the tappoints to open and a mad dash back to the attraction. At least, that was the thought until Disney announced that it would be using a virtual queue for the ride.

The Evolution of the Virtual Queue

The idea of a virtual queue is simple: get a boarding group on the My Disney Experience app and return when it’s your turn to ride. In the opening days of the attraction operation, Disney didn’t have any restrictions on getting a boarding pass for the attraction beyond that you and your entire party have entered the park. That meant that guests who secured an early boarding group and got onto the attraction quickly would be able to get a second boarding pass after exiting the ride for the first time. While it’s unlikely that very many guests were able to take advantage of this policy, Disney eventually only allowed one ride per guest, per day.

Disney has yet to make any further changes to the virtual queue beyond the one ride per guest, per day policy, but we’ll continue to monitor the process.

Rise of the Resistance downtime

Complicating the matter has been some significant downtime for the attraction. From the opening morning and an evacuation from our ride vehicle to downtime every single day of operation so far, there’s no doubt that the experience is a technically complex one that hasn’t been as reliable as Disney likely would have hoped it would be. If Disney can get the ride to be more reliable, perhaps even going a single day without downtime, the boarding group process will run more smoothly, and the eventual introduction of a standby queue will be more predictable.

A Generous Mea Culpa

Due to some of the downtime discussed above, Disney hasn’t been able to get through all of the distributed boarding groups on a few days. As a way to apologize, Disney is offering a FastPass+ good for any attraction (including Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance), AND a 1-Day Park Hopper park ticket. It’s a generous mea culpa and probably above and beyond what would be expected, but it can be pretty frustrating watching the boarding groups slow down during the day and realizing that they won’t make it to your boarding group. As for how many boarding groups Disney has been getting through per day, that depends on how much downtime the attraction experiences. On some days we’ve only seen 80-90 boarding groups get the chance to ride, on others, 120+ boarding groups get on the ride. In short, it’s impossible to tell, but Disney will try to make things right.

The Illusion of Progress

Disney has begun to open the park at 7am. This means that you can technically show up 60-90 minutes before the new 7am park opening time and still be in the same boat as when we advised you to show up 3 or 4 hours before scheduled opening time. So while there is an illusion of progress that guests only have to show up an hour before opening instead of 3 hours before opening, what really has happened is that Disney has just updated the scheduled hours to the reality of an early morning opening. Our advice, as explained in our virtual queue guide, is still to show up around 5:30 or 6am.

That said, the longer operating hours for the park should (in theory) allow Disney to get through more boarding groups in a single day. We have yet to see Disney reopen boarding group distribution throughout the day, but when that day comes, it’ll be real progress.

Forward Looking Statements

At this point, we have a week of operations under our belts and we can make some predictions about the future and attempt to help you plan your upcoming vacation. For a specific look at how to get into a boarding group, check out our virtual queue guide.

Plan to arrive by 6:30am, at the latest. If you want to try and ride Rise of the Resistance early in your day, you might have to move that arrival time to 5:30am. Keep in mind that the only way to get on the ride is with a boarding group.

Enjoy the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and beyond. The boarding group virtual queue process is designed to allow you to enjoy your day and not wait. That means that you can enjoy Toy Story Land, Tower of Terror, or even leave Disney’s Hollywood Studios completely. You have a two hour time window to return when your boarding group is called, go have fun!

Our Experience with the First 7am Opening

To give you an idea of an aggressive arrival time with a 7am opening, here’s what our morning looked like today:

  • Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 5:10am
  • Bag check opened at 5:20am
  • Arrive at the tappoints at 5:30am
  • Park opens at 6:36am, scheduled to open at 7am
  • Boarding Group 17 secured at 6:38am
  • Boarding Group 17 called at 6:50am
  • Rode Rise of the Resistance at 7am
  • Rise of the Resistance experienced downtime at 7:25am

As you can see, our earlier arrival to the park got us on the ride shortly after official park opening. Another guest we saw arrived at 6:45am and secured a boarding group shortly after 7am. While boarding groups didn’t run out until 7:30am, because of their 6:45am arrival they secured a boarding group near 70. In that case, they will have to return later in the day and hope that there isn’t an extended period of downtime. Chances are that they will be able to board the ride this afternoon or evening, but any later of an arrival than 7am will be pushing your luck with these 7am openings.

Of course, as crowds build into the holiday season, we will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with updated advice. For the latest advice and updates, make sure you bookmark our Rise of the Resistance virtual queue boarding group guide (HERE).

If all else fails, you can experience Rise of the Resistance from the comfort of your home with our 4k video below that walks through the entire experience, from first pre-show to end of the ride!

Mike is the owner and writer for BlogMickey.com. Visiting the parks daily allows him to keep up with the latest Disney news, reviews, and photos from around the Disney Parks

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