When Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens in Hollywood Studios, it won’t offer FastPass+ or be included in Extra Magic Hours, which are two of the biggest perks Walt Disney World offers to guests staying in on-site hotels. In this post, we cover the details, why this is likely happening, and how to prepare.
That Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will not offer FastPass+ ride reservations should come as little surprise. Disney has been pretty transparent on this point, so it’s really non-news at this point. We’re only mentioning it here because we keep receiving questions about FastPass+ availability (later in the post, we’ll cover when we anticipate it becoming available).
In fact, Disney has clearly indicated for months that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions do not and will not offer FastPass for the foreseeable future. However, both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World FAQs note that they “continually evaluate our operations and services in order to help provide a great Guest experience,” and the attractions were designed with FastPass in mind…
The latest development is a bigger blow, as Walt Disney World has stated that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will not be included in Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This will apply to both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours, and will Disney’s policy for the foreseeable/indefinite future.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance being excluded from Extra Magic Hours will undoubtedly come as a huge disappointment to many guests. Justifiably so, as many people have booked on-site hotel rooms this holiday season specifically with the expectation that it will afford them a competitive advantage with this blockbuster new attraction. (We’re in that boat, and aren’t exactly thrilled by this last minute announcement.)
Cynics might point to this as Walt Disney World setting the stage for an upcharge offering for priority access to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. However, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run will continue to operate during Extra Magic Hours, as has been the case since its opening.
Walt Disney World has developed a penchant for upcharge offerings in the last few years, but we highly doubt this is the case here. (If that were the plan, the events would already be on the calendar.) Rather, we believe this is owing entirely to the reliability and uptime of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
This new attraction is one of the most ambitious, advanced, and immersive attractions ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering. It will feature multiple ride systems (including Walt Disney World’s first trackless dark ride), with an overall time clocking in at around 15 minutes from start to finish.
Disney hasn’t been coy about sharing info about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or hyping it up; if you’re looking for detailed ride descriptions, they are readily available online. You won’t find any here as we prefer going into new experiences with fresh eyes, and have tried to the greatest extent possible to avoid spoilers with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It’s been somewhat of a losing battle for this particular attraction.
While Disney is often overzealous with marketing hype around new additions, everything we’ve heard about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance from more tempered sources suggests that here, the hype is real. Supposedly, this truly is as ambitious and spectacular as the marketing suggests.
Unfortunately, with that ambition also comes operational hiccups. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has a lot of ‘moving parts’ (so to speak), and getting the attraction firing on all cylinders (again, so to speak) is going to take some time. The same sources expressing excitement over the attraction have also express trepidation over its reliability. In other words, don’t be surprised for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to be up and down for its first several months.
A similar scenario played out with Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure over the summer. Many Disney fans mocked Universal over this, contrasting it with the smooth opening operations of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Those same fans will likely find themselves eating crow once Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuts.
In fairness to both Universal and Disney, that mocking was silly and hypocritical even at the time. While Smugglers Run has a solid track record thus far, shaky starts are not uncommon with new theme park attractions. This includes new offerings at Walt Disney World, which has had issues with Avatar Flight of Passage and Frozen Ever After in the recent past, and a whole host of other rides prior to that.
We’re just hopeful the woes with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance are along the lines of Frozen Ever After, which took only a few months to get running smoothly. That’s a lot better than Test Track, which had significant issues for years…even after its initial opening was delayed by years.
Although we have no credible basis for this concern, we’re also worried that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance could end up like Indiana Jones Adventure. That’s another ambitious attraction that is fantastic today, but had several of its effects cut in the first few years after it opened. (The same has happened with Expedition Everest and several other attractions, as well.)
For this reason, we’d encourage fans to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as close to opening as possible. Obviously, long lines and downtime stink, but we’ll endure those if there’s the possibility of the ride experience being diluted to meet uptime goals. Again, our fear here could be entirely baseless–we haven’t heard anything that gives rise to this. We’re merely going off of past precedent.
While the Disneyland opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–which is scheduled to open in Batuu West on January 17, 2020–was delayed due to construction issues (and work needing to be redone), we haven’t heard of such problems with the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version.
To our knowledge, the attraction is on schedule with the land’s original “Late Fall 2019” opening date–everything else is Florida opened ahead of schedule rather than Rise of the Resistance being behind schedule. The problems here are entirely operational, and (frankly) to be expected of something this ambitious.
As for how to plan around this, we don’t have any great advice. If Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance lives up to the hype and generates strong word of mouth reviews, it’s going to have long lines–significantly longer than Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. That’s when things are running smoothly.
Wait times will be exacerbated by downtime, and the unpredictability of that is going to cause a lot of headaches. Our preliminary advice is to “pack your patience” and don’t be surprised if the ride goes down and the queue is dumped at various points throughout the day. That will definitely cause frustration among guests, especially those who potentially wait several hours during the busy holiday weeks for, essentially, nothing.
Our expectation is that Extra Magic Hours will, essentially, amount to an extra hour wait for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We anticipate that on-site guests will simply line up early for the attraction, spending an hour in line before park opening. Hopefully, Disney opens the queue at the start of Extra Magic Hours instead of guests just forming their own, unofficial line.
It’s difficult to offer any sort of conclusive strategy before Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance even debuts, but our initial recommendation would be to visit DHS on an Extra Magic Hours morning and line up towards the end of EMH. Sure, you’ll be behind a ton of other guests at that point, but you’ll still be in front of the general public entering the park at official opening time, and you’ll be able to accomplish other attractions with minimal waits.
This is the most efficient approach in terms of overall time saved, as well as balancing risk. There’s always the possibility that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will have a delayed opening (something that still happens with Test Track to this day), which means that getting in line at the start of Extra Magic Hours is an approach that puts all of your eggs in one basket.
As for when we expect the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions to offer FastPass, it’s hard to say. In large part, that depends upon how crowds materialize once Rise of the Resistance opens. If it proves to be a huge draw, don’t expect FastPass+ to be available for either ride before Summer 2020. As we’ve noted in the past, standby-only effectively increases the capacity of the land, as the physical line helps absorb crowds.
Overall, it’s disappointing that on-site guests won’t have any leg-up with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Regardless of the excuse, this is yet another sign that the On-Site Advantage is Disappearing at Walt Disney World. A little more advance notice would’ve been nice here, or Disney finding some way to assist on-site guests, especially during peak season when rooms are at their most expensive.
Nevertheless, we’re incredibly excited for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and this latest development that it won’t be available during Extra Magic Hours doesn’t dull our enthusiasm in the least. It definitely adds another headache to the mix, but we’d rather see Imagineering swing for the fences and have to endure some growing pains in the process. If this attraction lives up to the hype, we think it’ll vindicate the land as a whole, hopefully winning over many critics in the process. We can’t wait!
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What are your expectations for the opening day, week, and month of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Disappointed that it won’t be included in Extra Magic Hours? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts here? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!