Like its counterpart, Disneyland’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will use the virtual queue and boarding system, instead of FastPass/MaxPass and standby lines. Here, we’ll offer info, tips, screenshots, strategy, and everything you need to know. Plus, crowd predictions and how California will handle Annual Passholders and the local audience from Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
In the event that you’re a Disneyland diehard and only read our California content, we have a regularly-updated and very longRide Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. That includes answers to 40+ questions and will probably end up being around 75% accurate for Disneyland, as well. (For opening weekend, at least.)
Of course, the threshold question is whether Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is “worth it” in terms of the time and effort you’ll have to expend in getting up early, braving rush hour traffic on the 5, getting parked, through security, etc. in order to get a boarding pass. For that, you might want to check out our Spoiler-Free Review of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Suffice to say, there’s a reason guests are willingly getting up at the crack of dawn and jumping through hoops to experience the WDW version…
To use the virtual boarding pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, download or update the Disneyland app before arriving. Once you launch the Disneyland app, you’ll see a dedicated module, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group, available from the main page.
The virtual queue will not be available until published park opening hours, meaning that if Disneyland opens the turnstiles early and allows guests onto Main Street (or even deeper into Disneyland) the virtual queue will still not be available until official park opening time.
We anticipate that Disneyland will open well before 8 am on January 17, 2020 (probably more like 5 or 6 am), but the virtual queue will not go live until 8 am. That means either Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be standby only until then, or it won’t operate at all until 8 am. (Or option 3: the virtual queue will start earlier.)
From there, this will show you the status of the land (it’s always open now) and provides options to check “My Status” or “Join Boarding Group.”
If you haven’t already joined one, “Join Boarding Group” is the button you want. From here, you select party members and click confirm. You can only add people if they’ve already entered Disneyland.
After that, when you click on “My Status,” you’ll see this screen. Those green bars do progress, but it’s still pretty much meaningless until you’re actually called.
We highly recommend enabling push notifications on your mobile device for the Disneyland app so you will be notified when it is time to enter the queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
If you don’t enable notifications, you’ll need to incessantly refresh or check the “My Status” screen in the My Disney Experience app or digital signage in the park to see when you’re up.
Once your virtual queue boarding group is called, you’ll have up to two hours to enter the physical line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. To enter, you simply walk up to the Rise of the Resistance entrance, which is just inside the Galaxy’s Edge near the Hungry Bear Restaurant end of the land. There, you’ll find a sea of Cast Members with iPads will scan your park ticket.
Disneyland Virtual Queue Conjecture
In its post announcing the virtual queue for Disneyland, the Disney Parks Blog is careful to state that a “virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance may be implemented to help deliver the best possible guest experience” (emphasis added). Disneyland also points out that this only may be implemented “as needed.”
While those two sets of wiggle words downplay the use of the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, our expectation is that it’s used for at least opening weekend, holidays, peak season, and potentially other weekends thereafter. In fact, our expectation is that it’ll be used exclusively at Disneyland, just as it’s used at WDW.
The big wildcards here are the reliability of Disneyland’s Rise of the Resistance, how Californians react to the virtual queue, and how much overflow queue there is for the attraction at Disneyland. Let’s discuss these each in turn…
First, ride reliability. Imagineers have stated publicly that both versions of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance were at roughly the same point in their testing back in December. Yet, Walt Disney World’s opened over a month earlier. That means Disneyland’s has had another month-plus of test and adjust. We’re hopeful that means it’s ready to roll…or at least operating smoother.
We don’t know what, if any, issues Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has had recently at Disneyland. We know what caused the multi-month delay last year (it’s nothing that would have caused lingering operational problems once remedied) but we haven’t heard anything since. Either way, this is a complex attraction with a lot of moving parts, and some downtime early on is to be expected. Let’s just hope it’s not as much downtime as WDW’s version has experienced.
Second, there’s how Los Angeles and Orange County locals and California Annual Passholders react to the virtual queue. Whatever the guest reaction to it has been in Florida, you can expect a more negative response at Disneyland. This is primarily because the first-come, first-served system disadvantages the local audience that primarily arrives later in the day.
We won’t really see this right away. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuts at Disneyland on the Friday of a holiday weekend. It’s safe to assume that plenty of Disneyland diehards will take off work and turn up at the crack of dawn on Friday. The next three days are weekend and the MLK Day holiday, so it’s probable that locals will arrive early all of those days.
However, the weekdays that follow are a different story. Locals are accustomed to being able to show up after work and do whatever; they often don’t mind waiting in line hours for new attractions. Not being able to line up or obtain a FastPass like normal could lead to a backlash or surplus of complaints by locals.
January and February are California’s chilly off-season, which means far fewer tourists state-wide than other times of the year. However, there will still be enough vacationers visiting Disneyland who show up at rope drop and the hours that follow to fill up the virtual queue for the day well before locals start arriving.
Finally, the amount of physical queue space may necessitate some form of virtual queue, be it this boarding pass system or the quick rollout of FastPass/MaxPass. As we’ve noted, there’s not a ton of physical queue space in the WDW version of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This is fine when FastPass+ is in use there, as the standby to FastPass ratio can be adjusted to manipulate wait times and discourage guests from queueing up.
It’s entirely possible that the physical queue is longer at Disneyland–we’re not sure. This side of Galaxy’s Edge definitely has more “breathing room” in California, so it’d make sense for more of an extended queue. It would also be a savvy move, as Disneyland locals have no problem spending hours in line. Their balking point for new attractions is higher than the average Walt Disney World guest, in large part because their park time is not as scarce.
The other difference here is that Disneyland could switch to FastPass/MaxPass overnight since these same guest demographics (along with vacation planning timeframes) don’t require more advance notice. Nevertheless, our expectation is that the virtual queue will be used at Disneyland for at least a few weeks.
Disneyland Crowd Predictions for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
We’ve already at least partially addressed our attendance expectations in our 2020 Disneyland Crowd Calendars: When to Visit & Avoid post…and we also started to touch upon it in the section above. Given the lack of Annual Passholder blockouts, new SoCal Resident ticket deal, and NAMM convention, it’s safe to say opening holiday weekend will be bonkers. That’s hardly a bold prediction.
With that said, we’ve been reluctant to predict huge crowds for the weeks and months that follow the opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland. We made that mistake last year with the debut of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and summer crowds ended up being below average for the months that followed.
There were a number of reasons that happened, and why history should not repeat itself with Rise of the Resistance’s debut. There’s less hype, fear of overcrowding, and Disneyland hasn’t been proactively sending a message that the park, parking, traffic, etc. will be chaotic.
On top of that, the substance here is really, really good. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is going to have tremendous word of mouth, which plays a huge role with the local fanbase that can “mobilize” much more quickly than the tourist-heavy demographic Florida draws.
Nevertheless, there are also reasons to believe that the sustained impact on crowds may not be tremendous right away. The next 30 days are historically the slowest stretch of the year, with only the Presidents’ Day holiday breaking up the prolonged period of sleepy off-season dates.
That coupled with the possibility (probability?) that locals arriving after work will have no way of experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance could cause weekdays for the next month or so to remain only moderately crowded. That is, if the virtual queue/boarding pass system stays in use and locals get the message that there’s no standby line for their post-work visits.
On the other hand, weekends and holidays should see a continuation of the chaos that begins opening weekend. Between those Southern California resident ticket deals and the ongoing lack of Annual Passholder blockouts, locals will likely arrive at Disneyland in droves on the weekends.
Of course, this is all speculation right now, and much of it depends upon variables that could chance after opening weekend. If you’re a tourist with upcoming travel dates to California, you (hopefully) will be fine one way or the other. If you’re a local with limited opportunities to visit Disneyland, we’d recommend taking a wait and see approach, holding off until the dust settles and more concrete strategy is available. We’ll have follow-up Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance strategy and ride report(s) once we have the chance to experience opening weekend (and thereafter) at Disneyland.
If you’re planning on visiting the new land, you’ll also want to read our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide. This covers a range of topics from basics about the land and its location, to strategically choosing a hotel for your stay, recommended strategy for the land, and how to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition. As for planning the rest of your trip, we have a thorough Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide.
Are you planning on visiting Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge now that Rise of the Resistance is open? Do you agree or disagree with our preliminary predictions for crowds or how the virtual queue will work at Disneyland? Are you a fan of this system, or would you just prefer FastPass/MaxPass and a really long standby line? Any questions? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!