Last week, Walt Disney World unveiled Two Big Changes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios, debuting today, November 3, 2020. In this post, we’ll cover “first impressions” of our experience trying to join the virtual queue at 7 am, which unsurprisingly was not problem-free.
To quickly recap, the first modification was to the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction itself, with more plexiglass dividers being installed around the pre-show areas as well as on the ride vehicles themselves. Prior to this, the ride-through portion currently accommodated one party per vehicle, which could mean a single rider, family of 8, or any size group in between. Disney installed plexiglass barriers between the front and back row, roughly doubling ride capacity.
The second previously-announced modifications allow any guests with valid Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios to access the virtual queue system and check for an available boarding group starting at 7 a.m. on the day of their park reservation. This can be done before you leave your Disney resort hotel, or wherever else nearby you might be at that time.
Some good news right off the bat–since the plexiglass barriers were installed last week in the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride vehicles, it has not been a de facto lottery. Boarding passes have not run out at 10 am exactly, instead lasting several minutes or longer.
Of course, last week and this week (thus far) have been unusually quiet at Walt Disney World, so it’s premature to surmise that Walt Disney World has fully addressed the supply shortage for the popular headliner. They just met demand of the rope drop crowd during the off-season. It’s undeniable progress, but still a low bar.
Moving along, as soon as the virtual queue changes were announced, we made Disney Park Pass theme park reservations for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We did so because there were still many unanswered questions we had (as did readers), and wanted to see the process for ourselves.
Being seasoned veterans of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and ‘drop day’ for new Walt Disney World technology, we were confident that everything would work flawlessly. Of course I’m kidding. The best laid plans of mice, men, and Mickey’s IT department often go awry, so I’m sure you’re not shocked that things didn’t work as planned for us…
As usual, we both tried for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding groups, using different strategies.
Above is a look at the approach from the virtual queue page at 6:59 am.
At 7 am on the dot, the blue “Join” button appeared for me.
Working fine thus far!
NOT SO FAST.
(Additionally, Sarah was not auto-selected for me, but I wouldn’t extrapolate a ton from that since My Disney Experience didn’t think she had a boarding pass in the first place. We’d love to hear from other readers who did have success whether everyone in their party with Park Pass reservations was auto-selected. It’s a seemingly little thing, we know, but milliseconds matter with this!)
Before we even had the chance to troubleshoot (not that it would’ve helped), the virtual queue was already full. This was by 7:00:30 am, at the very latest.
I’d also be very reluctant to extrapolate much from the virtual queue filling up in under 30 seconds. Given that boarding groups have not been gone instantly the last several days and that the allotment of Disney Park Pass reservations has not increased since yesterday, the likely scenario here is that Walt Disney World released far fewer boarding groups than normal for the ‘opening day’ of the new system.
Given the circumstances and the company’s many IT fails, this is actually a savvy approach. As we previously noted, it takes time for word of mouth to spread about any policy changes, so there are undoubtedly going to be a lot of guests showing up at ~9 am expecting there to be a 10 am drop.
Between that and the inevitable tech glitches, it would make sense for Walt Disney World to release a very limited number of boarding passes at 7 am on the first day, and gradually ramp up over time. Accordingly, our expectation is that far more spots in the virtual queue will be released at 2 pm than normal.
For what it’s worth, our “snafu” was far from unique. Similar reports are scattered across social media and Disney fan forums, with identical circumstances.
Other more unique wrinkles include My Disney Experience only recognizing some guests in large parties as having Disney Park Pass reservations, despite all having been booked together. It wouldn’t surprise us if other issues existed–please share your experience (good or bad) in the comments below!
We could’ve gone to Disney’s Hollywood Studios anyway to see what the situation was like at rope drop and 2 pm, but figured those are going to be anomalies that are unrepresentative of anything beyond today.
Instead, we opted to cancel our DHS Park Pass reservation and attempt rebooking for EPCOT. There were questions about whether this would work, and it did for us!
In hindsight, this might also be an anomaly. My Disney Experience didn’t recognize us as having Disney Park Pass reservations in the first place, so it might not have “locked” us into DHS when trying to join the virtual queue.
That detail thus probably ends up being about as useful as whatever we would’ve learned by visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios today. Oh well. (For what it’s worth, I’m still betting this will be possible in the future; I don’t see Disney adding even more complexity to a system that barely works in the first place.)
Another thing is what “nearby” means. To our knowledge, Walt Disney World has declined to answer this (and we doubt they will) or clarified what it means. We’re only a few miles from Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but we know people as far as 27 miles away who were successful at joining the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue.
As we said before, the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue has never used geolocation. It has always validated whether guests tapped into the park (or now, have a Disney Park Pass reservation). We think it’s highly unlikely that Walt Disney World changes that now–it would be another complicating factor to a system already not known for its reliability.
It likely won’t matter whether you’re on property at Disney or in Duluth, Minnesota–you should still be able to score a spot in the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Walt Disney World is probably just using the nebulous “nearby” term to discourage residents of Duluth, known for their tomfoolery, from booking Park Pass reservations just to “test” the system from home. There have been problems with far-flung fans scoring boarding passes on test runs before, and this new system would theoretically make that easier for distant Annual Passholders. Disney understandably wants to discourage or at least minimize instances of that happening.
Anyway, that was our first day “experience” with the modified virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We were hoping to bring you a comprehensive report with how this changed the rope drop dynamic, wait times around the park, photos of the queue and ride vehicles, etc. Unfortunately, that will all have to wait.
Unless you’re planning a trip in the next couple of days, it’s probably better that we give it some time for the dust to settle, as the first day is never indicative of the subsequent days and weeks. Walt Disney World’s goal is likely to debut this new system during a lull in crowds, and iron out the kinks by the busy Thanksgiving week. (Not exactly an ambitious timeline for implementing a seemingly simple change, but whatever.) We’ll keep you posted–and look forward to hearing your first hand accounts of how the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue and attraction experience went for you!
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Did you have success scoring a spot in the virtual queue today? If so, how many miles away were you? If not, did you receive the same error as us, or something different? Thoughts on these changes to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Do you think these moves will help, hurt, or have no impact? Do you plan on arriving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios 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!