Walt Disney World announced there will be no FastPass+ and only standby lines during the phased reopening, but there’s one exception: Disney’s Hollywood Studios will offer a new virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. In this post, we’ll cover how it’ll work & differ from the previous boarding pass system, and offer some recommendations if you’re planning a visit. (Updated July 23, 2020.)
For those just joining us, the virtual queue and boarding pass system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was the most divisive “issue” at Walt Disney World in the months prior to the closure. (Ah, simpler times!) We had a roller coaster relationship with the system, visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios before sunrise at least once per week from early December through early March.
We won’t rehash all of that here since most of you probably are familiar with it, instead fast-forwarding to the weeks immediately before the closure. At that point, frustration was setting in for us and most Walt Disney World guests, leading us to proclaim “this isn’t working.” We offset that with the slightly more upbeat Hollywood Studios: Walt Disney World’s Best Rides & Most Frustrating Park, which will take on new and amplified meaning with many DHS shows being dark upon reopening.
This background isn’t just filler–it’ll be important going forward and we’ll circle back to it in our commentary below. It’s also against this backdrop that Walt Disney World has made the last-minute announcement to use a new (or modified) virtual queue at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Here are the details Walt Disney World has released as to how it’ll work for guests with upcoming Disney Park Pass reservations to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios…
July 23, 2020 Update: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is once again be using virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app, but with a few changes to the process.
Most importantly guests will have an opportunity at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. to attempt to join the virtual queue. This means that, in theory, there is no need to arrive early to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the ‘boarding pass dash’.
Originally when Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened, guests could join the virtual queue at 10 am, 1 pm, or 4 pm. However, the afternoon times seldom had much availability, and often resulted in guest frustration. Those two afternoon boarding pass releases are now being consolidated into a single 2 pm time.
Whether it’s your first trip to Batuu or you have joined the fight against the First Order before, there are a few important details to know before you arrive:
First, make sure you have the My Disney Experience app. Once you enter the park, log in to your account at one of the distribution times (10 a.m. or 2 p.m.). Once you have logged in, select “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue” on the home screen. You will be able to view the current status and next steps for joining the virtual queue.
The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time. Some guests may join backup groups.
As long as your My Disney Experience account is linked to park tickets for you and the others in your group, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time. In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to join the Resistance, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
Make sure push notifications are turned on for My Disney Experience so you will be alerted if your group is called to return. You’ll have up to an hour from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Please note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
If you have any questions or need assistance with joining the virtual queue, Guest Experience Team Cast Members are stationed throughout the park. While you wait for your virtual queue group to be called, you can enjoy other experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including the newest addition, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
The virtual queue is being used at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance due to its mix of popularity and unreliability. For now, all other attractions will use only regular standby queues to manage capacity and to maintain physical distancing.
In terms of commentary, this is one of those “why didn’t they do this sooner?!” ideas that sounds great in theory. And we really hope it’s great in practice, too. However, it still has potential problems and won’t necessarily obviate the problem of large crowds early in the morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
First and most obviously, there’s a limit on joining the virtual queue but not on attempting to join. This means that arriving at rope drop gives you two opportunities to attempt entering the virtual queue, whereas arriving at noon gives you one chance. The more you “play,” the greater your chances of winning.
Second, there are the persistent issues with uptime and reliability for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Given that all construction was paused during the closure, there’s no reason to believe these problems have been resolved.
This means that by the time afternoon rolls around, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance might be already having woes on any given day, and not be in a position to distribute more (or many more) spots in the virtual queue.
There are actually silver linings in this, though. One is that Disney Park Pass capacity for Disney’s Hollywood Studios is almost certainly dramatically lower than the other parks due to its crowd-flow and capacity issues. Another is that most rope drop guests won’t stick around Disney’s Hollywood Studios all day.
This presents a golden opportunity for a late arrival strategy working well at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This was already true prior to the closure of Walt Disney World–it was the one park that had wait times peaking in early morning (as opposed to early afternoon for all other parks). Previously, if you didn’t care about Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, your best option was arriving to DHS in late afternoon.
Now, you’ll potentially be able to arrive in mid-afternoon and do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You actually might have even better luck with this approach, as shorter lines elsewhere (due to limited distribution of Disney Park Passes for DHS) coupled with the lack of shows and other “filler” could cause guests to depart Disney’s Hollywood Studios even earlier than before on average.
Of course, all of this is just speculation at this point. How the multiple drop times for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will work and how they’ll impact crowd patterns in Disney’s Hollywood Studios remains to be seen. We have our theories, but we won’t actually know until observing trends as they play out for a couple of weeks.
With all of that said, we have no intention of rope dropping Disney’s Hollywood Studios to cover this from all angles in excruciating detail as we did in the past. We’re going to bank on that late arrival strategy working well, and will share how to leverage that. Hopefully, this new virtual queue system will make DHS doable as an afternoon park, with pool time, Disney Springs, or something else in the morning.
As we’ve discussed before, our perspective is one of risk mitigation and harm reduction, making reasonably informed and responsible decisions to venture out as safely as possible and avoid the riskiest situations when we do. Our First Day Back in Magic Kingdom experience was flawless, and we’ve been impressed with guest behavior, rule compliance, etc. However, rope drop at DHS is a different beast entirely. Like indoor dining, we view rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a higher-risk situation.
This is because it’s very difficult to unlearn ingrained habits and behavior, and even guests with the absolute best intentions are bound to make ‘missteps’ in terms of physical distancing while waiting outside the turnstiles at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In that anxious and stressful setting, it’s an inevitability.
Ultimately, this is no knock on guests–to the contrary, it’s preparing you for what to expect. People are going to make mistakes during this period of temporary abnormal. So much of what we do happens on an instinctive level or while operating in ‘autopilot’ mode. (How many of you don’t even remember driving to work some days after arriving there? Certain behaviors become routine.)
Nevertheless, your mileage may vary, as might your personal comfort levels. Even if more congested than is ideal, rope drop does occur outdoors, so that’s a plus. Just don’t act surprised or upset when you show up to the park ~30 minutes before opening and things aren’t going perfectly (and as an aside, don’t publicly shame people for honest mistakes). It’s easy to foresee rope drop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios being one of the biggest reopening problem points.
Have you been done the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding pass dash? Will you be attempting to join the new/modified virtual queue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Do you plan on arriving at rope drop, or will you utilize a late arrival strategy? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? 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!