It’s time for another try at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios. This Walt Disney World ride report details our success scoring boarding passes, changes in health safety protocol on the attraction, how it’s getting back to normal, and demand on a fully booked day to start the summer season.
As always, if all you care about is strategy, consult our Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance for the ins and outs of the virtual queue–including our tips to improve your speed–rather than reading this report. While there are differences to share about the ride experience, there have not been any recent major changes to that ride guide. The strategy is still 100% accurate. We followed our own “fast finger” strategy, not even pausing briefly to try for a higher boarding group.
This is because demand and competitiveness continues to increase for the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, driven by more awareness of its existence and possibly a higher attendance cap at DHS. For both drops, all boarding passes are consistently gone within seconds. There are guests who are trying at 7 am and 1 pm on the dot who get shut out on a daily basis. Our ride guide sees a bump in traffic at around 7:05 am every morning, which we assume is people who did everything right wondering “what did I do wrong?”
While we’ve been defenders of the virtual queue system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, seeing so many people lose out on the headliner is undeniably sad. Some readers who have been shut out of the virtual queue have indicated that they would’ve preferred the opportunity to wait in the standby line for a few hours to be able to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
As we’ve noted previously, Walt Disney World did not start using a virtual queue with the Galaxy’s Edge headliner due to its popularity. That’s a misconception. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted with a virtual queue during normal operations because it was (and still is) unreliable and prone to prolonged breakdowns. At that time, the normal FastPass+ system was thus not viable because it was not sufficiently dynamic to handle the aforementioned downtime without a backlog of guests in the hours after the ride returned.
Having a standby line would entail guests waiting in line for several hours, potentially enduring one or more ride breakdowns and resets. In the past, our perspective has thus been that the virtual queue and boarding pass system is imperfect, but the best option under the circumstances. When it comes to a standby line, the grass is arguably greener on the other side. With an unreliable attraction like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, a virtual queue is the ‘lemonade out of lemons’ approach that causes the fewest headaches for guests.
However, we do wonder whether that’s still the case. Beginning in mid-December of last year, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’s reliability improved. The nature of the change is unclear, but the attraction has been processing more boarding groups per day on average, so we’re confident it’s an actual upgrade/fix for problems plaguing the attraction. (See above, via Thrill-Data.com.) Further corroborating that is data showing shorter and fewer breakdowns per day for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
As such, it’s no longer unreasonable for Walt Disney World to offer a standby line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Perhaps 25% of the attraction’s daily capacity could be set aside for standby, with the rest going to the virtual queue. With that allocation plus the reality of breakdowns and demand, the minimum posted wait time might be around 180 minutes. Honestly, waiting 3-4 hours for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance wouldn’t be a terrible idea given the lack of shows, other things to do, and operating hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
However, it should go without saying that most guests would not be willing to wait that long. At least having the option might make people feel better about being shut out of the virtual queue–and it would probably increase guest satisfaction scores for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Making the choice to skip a ride because the wait is too long is going to be perceived as superior to having no opportunity at all. As we’ve seen over the course of the last year with health safety protocol, perception is paramount.
This isn’t something that’s immediately viable due to the remnants of physical distancing still being in place, but as you’ll read in this report, that is quickly on the way out. In the coming weeks, it’s likely Walt Disney World as a whole and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in particular will see enough changes that introducing a standby line would likely be possible. Of course, only if Walt Disney World wants to offer a standby line–and there’s no reason to believe that’s the case.
Moving along to the substance of our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride report, we headed to the about 10 minutes before our return window was going to expire, and found the attraction was down. We hadn’t thought to check My Disney Experience prior to that, so I’m not sure how long it had been down. It had to have been less than 40 minutes, though.
We made one lap of the park, checked My Disney Experience, and saw that the ride was loading again. Returning right when an attraction reopens can be a gamble–if you beat the rush, that’s great. We suspected that would be the case here since we were nearby, so we raced over to the entrance.
None of the outdoor queue or overflow queue was being used, which is always a good sign. I’m guessing we arrived right after the surge of guests lingering outside the front had been processed, but before more boarding groups had been called.
Our decision to jump in line when we did was later vindicated, as the outdoor queue was full and there was a Cast Member holding a “line starts here” sign when we exited the attraction.
We met up with the line in the indoor queue, which is pretty consistent with our past several experiences doing Rise of the Resistance.
As you can see in these photos, the “Please Wait Here” markers are still in place for now. We would expect that to change within the next week or so, as they’re already being removed elsewhere. Regardless, the vast majority of guests are ignoring these markers.
While we try to keep our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance posts spoiler-free to the greatest extent possible, they’re unavoidable for the remainder of this post. While there won’t be any photo spoilers of the ride experience, there are a few of the pre-shows.
It’s best to go into Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance knowing and seeing as little as possible, so consider closing the browser if you’ve yet to experience the attraction. The salient point you’ll be missing is that plexiglass has been removed from the pre-shows and physical distancing has, essentially, ended.
Last chance. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
In the first load area, the group markers are now gone. Previously, Cast Members directed each individual group to a marker that they’d follow throughout the next stages of the attraction.
Now, Cast Members advise guests to “please proceed all the way forward.” The practical result is that guests cluster around doors prior to loading and then again in the best viewpoints for each pre-show.
This is good or bad, depending entirely upon your perspective. If you’re keen on physical distancing, it’s more of an issue in the line itself, where you have little control over how closely the people behind you stand.
During the pre-shows, it’s actually easier to seek out a spot away from others now. Most people congregate in certain areas, so simply stand in the back or off to the side.
If you’re less worried about physical distancing and more about good show, this is a marked improvement.
Previously, there were plexiglass barriers throughout the pre-shows. Parties were positioned in spots that offered objectively bad–or no–view of the substantive scenes. This is significant because these contain some impressive how’d they do that?! moments.
While all of the circular markers have been removed during the pre-shows, the “Please Wait Here” markers make a return in the hangar bay and final queue area before loading.
One quick tip that I’m not sure we’ve mentioned at all (or at least not recently): don’t be afraid to linger in the hangar as long as the First Order will allow it. There’s no rush to be the first party into the next queue area; it offers little to no advantage. In fact, often everyone else will choose one side of the queue, and you can simply enter later and bypass them by choosing the other side.
In the grouping area, parties are arranged and told to stand on various lines and then on dots ahead of the final pre-show room. One big change here is that it’s no longer one party per row, but rather, one empty seat per party.
In practice, this has minimal impact. Each ride vehicle has 2 rows of 4 seats, so this really only means two solo travelers might be put in the same row or a group of 5 might have one guest from their party in the same row as a couple. There are a lot of parties of 2 right now, which means 4 guests taking up an entire ride vehicle remains common.
Moreover, plexiglass barriers are still installed between the front and back row on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–for now. These aren’t the worst thing–and we were strongly in favor of them when it meant increased ride capacity.
However, they’re no longer “needed” so we’d love to see them go. Same goes with all of the “Please Wait Here” markers. Given the highly immersive nature of the experience and practical reality that most guests are ignoring them, they’re more of a hindrance than a help at this point.
Ultimately, our experience on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was flawless. The pre-show process was timed perfectly, very single effect was working, and the ride’s climax was in A-mode. It’s really nice to have it operating closer to normal, as that dramatically improves the pre-show experience. For those who are able to score a boarding pass, this ride is incredible.
However, efficiency woes and reduced capacity still hamper the attraction’s overall numbers. Setting aside downtime, our guess is that the attraction is only operating at around 75% capacity due to physical distancing. So if you were wondering before where Walt Disney World would get the added capacity for a standby line, dropping physical distancing protocol on the ride-through is your answer. Hopefully that happens in the near future, as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of Imagineering’s greatest achievements ever, and it’s really unfortunate that so many guests have the experience tainted by the stressful virtual queue.
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Have you experienced Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in the last few weeks? Was the ‘protocol’ similar to or different from what happened here? How do you feel about the idea of a standby line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? What about eliminating physical distancing in the ride vehicles? Thoughts on the 7 am and 1 pm virtual queue releases? Will you be attempting to join the new/modified virtual queue on your next trip to Walt Disney World? 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!