This is actually our first time doing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in at least a couple months. Obviously, that’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things or for anyone who visits Walt Disney World once per year or less, but we’re at DHS about once per week.
At first, we were passing on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance simply because we didn’t “need” to do it. There were no changes and the process was going fairly smoothly for rope drop arrivals; we thus didn’t want to “take” an entire ride vehicle from other guests, potentially ones who had never done it. More recently, we have needed/wanted to do the attraction again, but have been shut out of the boarding pass drops.
Then the new 7 am virtual queue approach began, and we were shut out due to Snafus with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Fortunately, those all seem to have been remedied (based both on our experience and a lack of reported issues on social media and the comments here).
As such, we both got up bright and early once again, and gave it another try…
Everyone loves the satisfaction of getting the lowest number boarding group possible, but at this point, I’d honestly prefer a higher numbered group. Unfortunately, there’s no good strategy for securing one, as virtual queue spaces are filling up almost instantaneously. Pausing before hitting the “Join” button runs the risk of being shut out entirely.
In any case, we were called back at 12:05 pm with an hour to return. We rolled up to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 12:45 pm, making it inside the park by about 12:55 pm. We got to the attraction pretty much right at 1:05 pm.
Things started out well. None of the outdoor queue or overflow queue was being used, which is always a good sign.
I’m not going to fixate on the indoor queue as literally nothing has changed about it since Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopened. If you want to see the physical distancing and plexiglass barriers, refer back to our previous Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride report. Lots of photos in that.
Thankfully, we ran into no issues with the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance queue backing up or stopping. To the contrary, the entire indoor queue moved smoothly at all points.
The parties both in front of and behind us were very mindful of physical distancing, which also helped. Guests have gotten pretty good about this, especially in actual queues (as opposed to the makeshift, overflow ones).
When getting to the first pre-show, each party is assigned a color that will be relevant in the briefing room and subsequent scenes. Previously, this was a number, but the color system definitely is a thoughtful improvement on that.
WARNING: Photo spoilers of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance INCLUDING the actual ride-through portion of the attraction follow. Sorry, but there’s really no way around it given the nature of the attraction modifications.
We highly recommend you close out this window now if you haven’t experienced Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You don’t need to read this–just do the attraction.
Guests then stand on this same color in the briefing room, outdoor load scene that follows, and aboard the Intersystem Transport Ship.
Previously, Cast Members were not filling all slots because there was not adequate space for physical distancing in some spots and due to the ride vehicles themselves having lower capacity.
That has now been remedied by the installation of physical barriers in both of the pre-shows. This is an imperfect solution, with not all views being equal. (You can see them above and below.)
Unfortunately, there are no perfect solutions to this–they’re all compromises. The alternative is roughly half as many guests experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance per day.
Aboard the Intersystem Transport Ship, each party again has their own space with more than adequate physical distancing.
Unfortunately, not all of these spots aboard the ITS afford stellar views of this magnificent Mon Calamari Communications Officer.
The guests in the far front left and right corners have a really poor view of Lt. Bek, if they can see him at all. This is a shame, as this portion of the attraction is a sleeper highlight.
This proceeds as normal, with the First Order directing each party to exit one by one. There are no changes to the hangar, so we’ll skip past that.
Assignments here are done with physical distancing in mind, but also with thematic integrity. As always, the First Order Cast Members really help make this attraction. They are truly fantastic.
Four parties are assigned to each interrogation room; previously, you were only in this room with one other party.
However, ride vehicle capacity has been effectively doubled. Color markers have been added to the floor to ensure physical distancing. No issues here.
Thanks to a plexiglass barrier installed between the front and back row in each ride vehicle, two parties of four or fewer guests (or one of 5 or more) are now assigned to each First Order Fleet Transport ride vehicle.
Previously, you might’ve had a single rider or couple occupying an entire ride vehicle. Pretty far from ideal for an attraction that had issues with hourly throughput even in normal times.
This comes with a compromise: those in the second row are looking through plexiglass.
There have been complaints about the impact of this on the ride experience, with photos making the rounds on social media illustrating just how bad it is.
Respectfully, I’d push back on a lot of those complaints and also suggest that maybe the crappy photos have less to do with the barrier and more to do with the fact that it’s incredibly difficult to take good photos on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Of course iPhone photos are going to suck–they did before, too. Nothing new there.
Here are my DSLR photos taken from the second row, through the plexiglass barrier. (If you look closely, you can see it in several of the shots.)
To be sure, glare and reflections are visible at various points in the attraction (you can see Sarah in the right corner of the photo above).
From our perspective, these are almost entirely a non-issue when experiencing the attraction in person and not via photos or video. It’s not much different (and certainly not worse) than sitting behind a tall person; you adjust your field of view and focus your vision past them.
There are even some segments with blaster fire and lighting effects that are arguably enhanced by the plexiglass.
Suddenly, there’s a lot more blaster fire in front of you!
These photos still don’t do justice to what this is like in person. It’s really hard to take good photos on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance even if you know what you’re doing.
Our perspective is that this is a relatively minor compromise that does negatively impact the experience to a small degree, but that’s more than offset by the capacity gains.
Stated differently, we’d far prefer getting to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance like this than not at all.
That’s what this tradeoff ultimately comes down to: off-angles in the pre-shows for some people and second-row ride vehicle reflections in exchange for roughly double the number of guests being able to do the attraction.
Ultimately, there are a lot of valid guest gripes with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. A lot. However, you can’t complain about all of those andalso that Walt Disney World made some mostly negligible modifications to address the larger and more legitimate criticisms. It’s one or the other, so pick your battles.
As before, we’d highly recommend making every effort and jumping through every hoop in order to have a chance at riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. If it’s your first time doing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you’re going to be blown away by the attraction. Maybe not as much as those who experienced the attraction in December through March, but literally everything is different now. If you’re unwilling to accept any compromises, I’m not sure what world you’re living in.
As for the impact of the other big change, it’s still early, but our preliminary opinion is that the 7 am virtual queue release is a significant improvement over the old system. It allows for greater flexibility and a more relaxed start to the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which have been guest complaints for almost a year at this point.
The new approach should also help redistribute crowds throughout the day, although it’ll take time for word of mouth to spread on that and the degree to which it’ll occur is debatable. We’re already working on new strategy and itineraries for Disney’s Hollywood Studios to test, so stay tuned for those. In short, we view these as two very positive developments for an attraction and park that have been desperately in need of changes. This doesn’t fix everything with either, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Have you been done the new 7 am Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue release? What were your thoughts on the modifications? Think the new physical distancing barriers and ride vehicle plexiglass negatively impact the attraction? Are they a worthwhile tradeoff for more guests getting a chance to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Will you be attempting to join the new/modified virtual queue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? 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!