Since Walt Disney World made Another Big Change for Star Wars: Rise of Resistance, it’s been smooth sailing over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The flagship ride of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has recorded several of its best operating days yet, breezing through primary boarding groups plus backup groups, and having minimal downtime.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the track record of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance since its last major operational adjustment and offer some speculation about the increased daily throughput/capacity/uptime. We’ll also offer thoughts as we begin the busiest 2-week stretch of the year at Walt Disney World, which will really test Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and the virtual queue.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we have a new SLEEP-IN STRATEGY for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. That’s right, it’s now possible to do this attraction without getting up at the crack of dawn. Although we still recommend the early rising approach…
Before we get going, let’s preemptively address common questions by directing you to our Ride Guide & FAQ for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. That covers almost every conceivable question you could have about ‘best practices’ for experiencing the attraction, and basic info about it.
It’s unclear why Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is suddenly experiencing less downtime and cycling through boarding groups quicker. There are rumblings that the underlying tech has received an update, which I envision as the equivalent of a patch to Cats being pushed out on opening weekend. (Except, regrettably, without Adam Driver or Daisy Ridley in CGI feline form.)
We have zero insight into the veracity of these claims. Test and adjust remains ongoing with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, so we should theoretically be seeing incremental improvements on a regular basis. However, a marked improvement occurred–to the degree of a breakthrough or aha moment with the underlying tech–that coincided with the new protocol.
Since last Thursday (December 19, 2019), Star Wars: Rise of Resistance has breezed through the backup boarding groups, notching several new ‘best operational days’ for the attraction. Above is a graph (courtesy of Thrill-Data.com) looking at the boarding group progress since the day before the new opening/virtual queue policy began.
With the exception of Saturday, when the attraction didn’t open until around 9:45 am, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has shown dramatic improvement in getting through boarding groups, with fewer ride resets and improved capacity. Even on Saturday, the attraction bounced back from the delayed opening and managed to get through most of the backup boarding groups.
On both Friday and Sunday, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance surpassed boarding group 165, with the upper limit primarily restrained by the number of backup boarding groups the attraction distributed. The best we’ve seen yet was on Friday when it reached boarding group 176.
If these trends continue, it’s probable that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will have a day (or multiple days) where it reaches boarding group 200 sometime this week. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this happen before the official 6 am park opening times begin between Christmas and New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Because I’m a dork like that, I’ve been stalking the attraction status in My Disney Experience from afar over the weekend. (I’ve taken 74 screenshots since Thursday…only one of which is an accidental screenshot of my lock screen!) Most days, Rise of the Resistance has been breezing through groups midday, slowing down into the evening hours.
My main observation has been that the best days have largely been attributable to no morning downtime. There was a stretch when it seemed like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was going down like clockwork roughly an hour after it had been running, and that largely has not been occurring of late. In fact, there have been a few recent days with zero downtime until late afternoon or early evening.
December 24, 2019 (9:10 am) Update: Yesterday, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance recorded its best day yet, making it all the way to boarding group 192 by 7:30 pm!
Today, the attraction is once again off to a good start, and didn’t run out of boarding backup passes until 9 am. Here’s hoping Disney distributed enough backup boarding passes and the ride has enough uptime to hit that 200 mark today!
What does all of this mean? The key takeaway really depends upon your rise-aversiveness, how many days you have at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, whether you’re an earlier riser, etc. Consistent throughout all of our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance arrival advice, with every single change, is a recommendation of balancing sleep and sanity against beating the crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Unlike almost every other Walt Disney World planning resource, we’ve never recommended arriving before 6 am, instead aiming for an “optimal” time. Our view has been that waiting is waiting, and if you’re outside the turnstiles for 2 hours before they open, that’s still lost time.
As such, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that we’d now suggest that you consider an arrival time of either ~6:25 am or ~8 am on days when the park opens at 7 am, or ~5:35 am and ~7 am when the park opens at 6 am. These estimated arrival times each offer their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. (We should also note that these times are “valid” through January 1, 2020. After that we’ll adjust once again.)
The advantages of the earlier time are obvious. You’re guaranteed a regular boarding group (probably below 80) and will have a chance to experience other headliner attractions before long wait times build. This is our recommended strategy, especially during peak season at Walt Disney World. (If you weren’t getting to DHS this early, we’d be recommending you get to another park that early.)
However, we understand that not everyone is an early riser–or wants to be up at that hour on what should be a relaxing vacation. (Counterpoint: when you booked a peak season trip, the notion of a “relaxing vacation” was already out the window if you wanted any semblance of efficiency.)
In any case, this is why we’re also tepidly endorsing the second, later arrival to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You could push this even further than our recommended times, that really depends upon your level of risk tolerance for experiencing the attraction.
By arriving nearly an hour after official park opening time, you are missing the initial wave of guests. This should mean less time waiting at bag check and the turnstiles (although lines are possible at both the next two weeks throughout the day given crowds).
You will without a doubt receive a backup boarding group with the later arrival time. That alone isn’t a huge cause for concern. Walt Disney World essentially rebranded the higher number groups as “backup” ones to hedge expectations (and curtail the distribution of free tickets and return FastPasses).
Every single day thus far, at least some of the backup boarding groups have been called. With backup boarding passes lasting until 10 am some mornings (they ran out at ~9:25 am on December 23, 2019), it’s not too difficult to roll up to Disney’s Hollywood Studios well after official park opening and still having a very good shot at experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
The upside to having a backup boarding group is that you can leave Disney’s Hollywood Studios as soon as you enter, and walk or take the Skyliner over to Epcot. The idea with this approach is to have a high enough boarding group that you’ll be called to return after 3 pm.
The goal is to spend the day in Epcot and evening in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, minimizing daytime hours in the latter and avoiding wasted time bouncing back and forth between the two parks.
A 3 pm or later return time means you could roll up to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as late as 5 pm. Even if you sit down for a late lunch in Epcot at exactly the time your boarding group is called, this is still sufficient time to make it back during your boarding window.
Since Rise of the Resistance’s opening week, we have not stayed in Disney’s Hollywood Studios the entire day once, always park hopping after we’ve “rode the wave” of low wait times at the DHS headliners. (In fact, there have been a few times where we’ve spent less than 5 minutes inside DHS and haven’t even walked past the Crossroads of the World!)
As repeat visitors who have little interest in the stage shows, we prefer to do a Half-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance slots into that surprisingly well without modifying the existing plan too much. During the holiday season, we also prefer being in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at night. The Christmas decorations around Echo Lake are gorgeous, and Sunset Seasons Greetings is a nice distraction.
Ultimately, this is another positive development in the ongoing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance saga. It’s a sign that this difficult-to-experience attraction will require less planning and fewer hoops to jump through as we head into 2020. As it becomes more reliable and predictable, we’re now wondering when Walt Disney World will scrap the virtual queue entirely, and operate Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance like a normal attraction.
That’s still probably at least several weeks away. In the meantime, hopefully this is some good news to start your Festivus off on the right foot! There will still be ample time later at dinner to gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they (or Walt Disney World operations, as the case may be) have disappointed you over the past year.
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.
If you’ve done Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance since the most recent policy change, what was your experience? What time did you arrive? Which boarding group number did you receive? When did you get called back? Do you agree or disagree with our recommended strategies? 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!