The hot new attraction at Walt Disney World is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios. It’s also the most difficult due to no FastPass+ or standby line. In this ride guide, we’ll answer questions about the virtual queue, boarding groups, and FAQ about the Galaxy’s Edge blockbuster. (Updated December 15, 2020.)
Note that we’ve updated this guide for the Christmas 2020 season at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the new policies and procedures for experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Adding further complication to the process, you’ll now have to reserve a Disney Park Pass reservation before visiting, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the ‘hottest option’ in terms of those.
The good news for those of you who obtain Park Pass reservations is that Walt Disney World is significantly limiting theme park capacity–around 25% of normal attendance. That might sound good, but due to physical distancing on the attraction and shorter hours plus the attraction’s ongoing unreliability means it’s just as challenging as ever…
A comprehensive ‘how to ride’ guide might seem excessive, after all, isn’t it just a matter of “sitting down and buckling up”?! However, protocol and procedure for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is fairly unprecedented in a number of ways. This is confusing even longtime Walt Disney World fans, so our goal here is to help you avoid similar frustrations.
If you simply show up at park opening for Disney’s Hollywood Studios and think you’re going to be able to rope drop Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you’re in for disappointment. To the contrary, your odds are significantly worse if you only do that. It cannot be overstated how different and difficult Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is to experience.
Hence this ride guide and FAQ, so you can plan accordingly, beat the crowds, and have an incredibly efficient day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here’s everything you need to know about the virtual queue, plus the attraction itself. While the second section is largely spoiler-free, it does remove some ‘elements of surprise.’
Before we dig in, one final note: Walt Disney World tinkers with this virtual queue process regularly. Policies change about every other week. We’re diligent in keeping this updated, so be sure to check back for the latest info–or subscribe to our free Walt Disney World email newsletter for instant updates about all of the latest news, when discounts are released, etc.
What is the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance?
The virtual queue is the sole system for accessing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Rather than FastPass or a standby line, you join this virtual line via the My Disney Experience app and are notified when it’s your turn to ride. The process requires a few clicks in-app, but it’s pretty intuitive.
What are boarding groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance?
Boarding groups are the means of organizing guests into groups when it’s their turn to ride.
For example, rather than having a set 3-4 pm return time, you might be in boarding group 55. Your return time is not specified in advance, but rather, based upon how quickly the attraction cycles the guests through who are in front of you in the virtual queue. (Plus how many or few times it breaks down.)
When can we enter the virtual queue?
One new positive change Disney has made since reopening is multiple ‘drop times’ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue boarding passes.
You can join the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue at 7 am or 2 pm via the My Disney Experience app. (The second boarding pass distribution time will change to 1 pm on December 20, 2020.)
How can I enter the virtual queue at 7 am given that Disney’s Hollywood Studios isn’t open then?
This is the latest change to the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue, and allows guests to attempt joining from their hotel room or wherever they may be.
For those successful at the 7 am entry time, this effectively removes the need to be at Disney’s Hollywood Studios by rope drop. There are still some strategic advantages to that, but it allows for a more leisurely start to the day.
What is the process like for joining the virtual queue?
The steps are pretty similar to the FastPass+ selection process (if you used that before Walt Disney World suspended the service).
With that said, there’s no substitute for seeing for yourself. While it won’t let you complete the process, you can go through the first several steps of joining the virtual queue from home. Be on the My Disney Experience app some morning right when Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens and go through the motions. It’s good practice for the real thing!
How should we prepare for joining the virtual queue?
This might sound like overkill, but milliseconds matter.
Make sure your phone is fully updated and force close all apps, including My Disney Experience shortly before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Double-check your phone’s time against time.gov, which is what Disney uses for opening the virtual queue.
Disney WiFi v. Cellular Data?
It really depends on your carrier and where you’re located in the park/resort/etc.
We’d recommend doing a quick speed test with both a few minutes before it’s time to join the virtual queue. Anything at or above 70 Mbps should be sufficient. If necessary, move around to get away from other people or increase your speed to that threshold.
What’s the best strategic approach for joining a boarding group? Should one person try for everyone, should we each try individually, or what?
Do not try individually–you won’t be in the same boarding groups, meaning you won’t ride together.
We recommend everyone try for everyone in your party. Launch the MDX app about 10 seconds before the official virtual queue entry time and hit the “Join Boarding Group” button. If that doesn’t work, force-refreshing by pulling down “hard.”
Everyone in your party who has a valid Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios should already be pre-selected. The person in your party with the fastest fingers will score the boarding group, while everyone else will receive a “Not So Fast/Already in Boarding Group” message. Just be sure that anyone in your party who tries for boarding passes attempts to add everyone.
Again, it’s good to do a practice run or two at home so you’re comfortable with the process in the My Disney Experience app so you don’t get flustered and mess up. We’ve heard horror stories of readers clicking through too quickly and forgetting to add one of their family members. Don’t freak out if that happens–go to the Guest Experience Team Cast Members stationed at the blue umbrellas.
Can we get more than one boarding pass per day?
Is there a separate virtual queue to enter Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
You can enter the land freely at any time of day.
What happens if we have an Advance Dining Reservation that conflicts with our virtual queue return time?
Ideally, you should see a Cast Member at the Guest Experience Team stands (look for the blue umbrella) located throughout the park. They can assist with scheduling conflicts.
Failing that, see a Cast Member at the attraction entrance–they are typically pretty flexible.
Do reservations for Oga’s Cantina or Droid Depot get us spots in the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance?
Which days of the week are best for visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
For vacation planners who will be visiting every Walt Disney World park, we recommend doing Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Saturday or Sunday.
This is because Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the only park that consistently runs out of Disney Park Pass reservations (or comes close to it) every single day. The rest only run out on weekends, when locals are off work. While Disney’s Hollywood Studios can be slightly busier on weekends, every other park is much busier on weekends.
What time does Disney’s Hollywood Studios allow guests to enter the park?
Recently, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been opening the turnstiles about 45 minutes before official park opening time.
With the new 7 am virtual queue time, we’d expect that to gradually change, with ~30 minutes of early entry becoming the norm. Note that this does not happen at a set time and this early opening of the turnstiles is not published anywhere officially.
What time can off-site guests enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
Everyone can enter at the same time.
What time do other attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios open?
Most attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios open at when the turnstiles open. That can vary from day to day.
When should we get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for rope drop?
If you’re wanting to do park opening, arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios roughly one hour before the official park opening time. It’ll take around 15 minutes to get through bag check and the turnstiles, that should give you at least 30 minutes to do an attraction or two before the official park opening time and crowds arrive. See our updated 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary for morning ride recommendations and step-by-step advice for your entire day.
When you should leave your hotel room in order to arrive by then is a different matter entirely and depends upon where you’re staying and the mode of transportation you use. Don’t cut things too close–Walt Disney World transportation usually takes longer than anticipated.
What about arriving later for the afternoon drop?
We’ve done this many times to great success, often with a morning visit, long midday break, then an afternoon return. Our Disney’s Hollywood Studios Crowd Report: Morning Highs & Evening Lows offers a step-by-step look at our day, including posted v. actual wait times.
With the new 7 am virtual queue entry time for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, we will likely due more late arrivals, skipping the morning component completely since that’s no longer necessary to score a boarding pass. The upside to arriving late is that lines decrease later in the day, with the shortest waits of the day 2 hours before park closing.
How do we time our arrival if we score Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue spots but want to arrive late?
A good rule of thumb is that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance averages about 10 boarding groups per hour. However, due to its reliability woes, sometimes that can be as low as 0 per hour or as high as 15 per hour. Over the course of most days, it averages out to about 10-11 per hour, though.
Accordingly, if you’re boarding group 40, you could plan to arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios around 4 hours after park opening. Boarding group 50 could do 5 hours after park opening (and so on).
When will crowds subside?
During Walt Disney World’s phased reopening, the “feels like” crowds and congestion are generally moderate. Not nearly as bad as early in the year. However, demand still far exceeds supply for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This will only get worse as we enter the heart of the holiday season.
We anticipate that remaining the case with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance for the entirety of 2020 and 2021. It would not surprise us if the virtual queue system remains in place come 2022.
Is it safe to rely on Walt Disney World transportation for getting to DHS in time for park opening?
It depends. If you’re staying at one of the Crescent Lake resorts, it’s absolutely ‘safe’ to walk to DHS. If you’re staying at a Skyliner resort, it’s not possible to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios by the unofficial park opening time due to Skyliner operating hours. It’s now totally pointless to arrive at official park opening due to the 7 am virtual queue entry time.
Buses at other resorts can be dicey due to the current capacity and physical distancing limitations. Because of this, we highly recommend renting a rental car or Uber if you’re visiting Walt Disney World between now and (at least) Spring 2021.
What about Extra Magic Hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
During its phased reopening, Walt Disney World has temporarily suspended Extra Magic Hours, meaning that’s not currently a relevant consideration.
Should we buy Park Hopper tickets?
If you’ve read our Money-Saving Walt Disney World Ticket Guide, you know that we typically recommend Park Hopper tickets. They allow you to bounce around, which is strategically advantageous.
Park Hopper tickets are temporarily suspended during Walt Disney World’s phased reopening, but will return on January 1, 2021. You will need to Park Hop from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to another park if you want to experience Rise of the Resistance, as the attraction will not be offered to those who Park Hop to DHS.
What time is Rise of the Resistance running out of boarding passes?
There is no set time, but it has been occurring in under 30 seconds of boarding group distribution times.
Going forward, we expect this trend will continue.
What are backup boarding groups?
Higher numbered boarding groups that are not guaranteed access to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Think of these as overflow or a waitlist.
Sometimes the back-up boarding groups are making it onto Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, sometimes they aren’t. Usually both primary and backup boarding groups are gone within seconds or minutes of the virtual queue opening up.
Does everyone have to be present to join the virtual queue, or can we send one ‘runner’ to the park?
For the 7 am entry, the only requirement is a valid Disney Park Pass reservation. Since DHS isn’t open at that hour, entering the park isn’t even possible for that.
For the 2 pm entry, everyone in your party must tap into Disney’s Hollywood Studios before they’re eligible to join the virtual queue. (Again, this will move forward an hour to 1 pm as of December 20, 2020. No other policies are changing on that date.)
What if we’re all near the park?
It’s not based upon proximity–this functionality only unlocks in the My Disney Experience app once you physically tap into the park’s tap/turnstiles. It’s worth noting that you can leave after tapping in and still join during the afternoon entry time from your hotel room or wherever. The system only validates whether you’ve tapped in, not your current location.
Can we leave the park once joining the virtual queue?
Yes. You could go back to your resort and take a nap, eat lunch, etc.
How do we know when we can return?
If your phone has push notifications for My Disney Experience enabled, you’ll receive an alert that your boarding group has been called.
Failing that, the “My Status” screen on the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance screen displays the same information.
The virtual queue sounds like a hassle, can we just wait in a regular standby line?
Does Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance accommodate Disability Access Service (DAS) card?
Yes, but this is still truly first come, first served.
That means everyone must join the virtual queue first, which means arriving and going through that just like everyone else. To take advantage of DAS, go to the FastPass return line once your boarding group is called.
What about Rider Switch?
Yep, same process as above.
How long is the average wait once in the physical line?
Assuming nothing breaks down and the attraction didn’t just return from being down, around 20-40 minutes.
Boarding groups are fairly small in size, so if you get lucky and return at the “right” time, most of the queue will be empty and you’ll practically walk on the attraction. Time it poorly and things can back up quite a bit, and you might be in a line that’s closer to an hour long. We’ve been in line when the ride breaks down and ended up having to wait over 2 hours.
When will the virtual queue system end?
This is the system that Walt Disney World will use indefinitely, until either demand dies down or the attraction becomes reliable.
We do not anticipate either of those things occurring in the next year-plus. Expect this same system to still be in use come Summer 2021.
Should we just wait to do Rise of the Resistance until our late 2021 Walt Disney World trip?
We wouldn’t recommend it for both the reasons identified immediately above and below.
Additionally, this is a very complex attraction with a lot of practical effects, some of which may not exist forever. Just ask anyone who rode Expedition Everest or Indiana Jones Adventure the first year those attractions were open how the original rides compare to today.
This is pretty complicated…is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance worth jumping through all of these hoops?
It’s complicated to understand because it’s new and different, but once you experience it in person, it’s really not that difficult.
Moreover, as we write in our spoiler-free Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride Review, this is one of Walt Disney World’s best attractions ever. It’s absolutely worth the effort.
When will this all die down?
Never? Maybe when your kids have kids?
Flight of Passage is just as popular today as it was over three years ago, and still can be a hassle. And that’s for a ride based on Avatar–this is Star Wars. On top of that, crowds are only likely to get worse, with other new additions and Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary around the corner. Don’t wait.
Ride Info for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Will I like this if I’m not a huge Star Wars fan?
Much like you can enjoy Splash Mountain without ever seeing Song of the South or Flight of Passage without ever seeing Avatar, you can enjoy Rise of the Resistance without ever seeing a single Star Wars film.
Fans of the franchise will likely get more out of it, but the ride works on multiple levels and the storyline requires no prior knowledge to understand. In fact, our favorite character in Rise of the Resistance is new for this attraction!
If I have a YouTube channel dedicated to complaining about how Disney destroyed Star Wars with the last movie, will I enjoy this?
I hope not.
What’s the heigh requirement?
You must be at least 40″ tall to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
What rides does Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance compare to?
Not much at Walt Disney World.
It’s a bit like a dark ride, except trackless and mildly exhilarating. Think somewhere between Spaceship Earth and Dinosaur, with some qualities of Tower of Terror. The trackless dark ride element is comparable to the upcoming Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot. (Ride vehicle pictured below.)
Is it family friendly?
Absolutely. There’s the aforementioned height requirement due to a drop and a variety of boilerplate health warnings, but otherwise this is okay for all ages.
Is the drop intense?
No. The drop in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is more like the one in Pirates of the Caribbean than the ones in Tower of Terror. It might catch you by surprise, but it’s more of a “haha” thrill than an “aaaahhhh” thrill.
That still sounds too intense–is there a ‘chicken exit’?
Yes, and we’d highly encourage you to utilize it, as over half of the attraction occurs before boarding a ride vehicle.
If you don’t want to ride, simply notify a Cast Member at the point where they’re assigning colors. They will direct you to the exit at that point.
Any issues for guests with motion sickness?
If you’re fine doing Toy Story Mania, you’ll be fine here. The ride portion utilizes a trackless ride system, and the vehicles have nimble and dynamic ‘dancing’ movements.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is not like motion simulator like Star Tours or even Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
Wait a second…Toy Story Mania…is this 3D?!
Nope. There are some screens, but no 3D.
The Toy Story Mania comparison is most apt because of the way that can spin you around at times.
Is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance better than Smugglers Run, Slinky Dog Dash, Frozen Ever After, or Flight of Passage?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
The only one of those that even belongs in the same conversation as Rise of the Resistance is Flight of Passage, and although they’re very different attractions, we’ll state this without equivocation: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is better than Avatar Flight of Passage.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is one of the top 10 Disney attractions in the world, on an epic scale that’s only rivaled by Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland. Whether it has the same longevity as all-time greats like Haunted Mansion and (regular) Pirates of the Caribbean remains to be seen.
If you’re planning on visiting the new land, you’ll also want to read our Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Guide. This covers a range of topics from basics about the land and its location, to strategically choosing a hotel for your stay, recommended strategy for the land, and how to beat the crowds. It’s a good primer for this huge addition. As for planning the rest of your trip, we have a thorough Walt Disney World Planning Guide.
Do you have any questions this FAQ failed to answer? If you’ve done Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, do you think there’s anything else first-timers should know? Do you agree or disagree with any of our advice or answers? 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!