It’s time for another ride report on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. This Walt Disney World update details our first attempt at experiencing the attraction via the standby line due to “pausing” of the virtual queue, wait time data for the Galaxy’s Edge attraction since it moved to a traditional queue, and strategy going forward as 50th Anniversary and holiday crowds arrive.
The big news since our last ride report is that Walt Disney World “paused” the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue on September 23. Disney noted that virtual queues continue to be helpful with attraction access–including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure–and guests should monitor the My Disney Experience app for how virtual queues are being used, including at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at a later date, or from time to time.
While the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue has been a source of constant consternation among readers of this blog, many of you were understandably skeptical of this change. The timing ahead of the launch of Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane access for the attraction didn’t seem coincidental, but more like a deliberate move to increase sales of the line skipping service.
Our outlook was more optimistic. We attributed the change to guest complaints, and Walt Disney World wanting to increase satisfaction ratings for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was getting too complex and convoluted, especially for first-timers and infrequent visitors. This is one way to scale back on that ahead of the launch of the Genie system.
We also theorized that this change would advantage tourists and casual guests. That’s because Annual Passholders and other repeat visitors have honed their skills at joining the virtual queue, but would never consider waiting 90 to 120 minutes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Our final prediction was that the this would change the crowd dynamic at DHS. The bulk of guests would once again arrive for rope drop, and more people will leave early after being frustrating by long lines early in the morning. The silver lining would be that Park Hopping to DHS for the last two hours of the day should once again be a great option if you don’t mind not having a real nighttime spectacular.
It’s still very early–the standby line has only existed for a week–but let’s see how those predictions have played out thus far with the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance standby line and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a whole…
The first morning was predictably bad. The attraction peaked at 180 or 220 minutes (there was a discrepancy between the My Disney Experience wait and the posted wait at the attraction entrance) before 10 am.
As with any WDW debut day, there’s always a ton of people who want to be the first to experience something…even if that something is a line. In any case, the wait time settled around 90 minutes in the afternoon, with guests reporting actual wait times that were considerably lower–sometimes less than half of that.
We continued watching wait times over the weekend, thinking that would be a more accurate window into what Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance lines might look like going forward. After all, 50th Anniversary visitors have started to arrive and the prevailing theory is that this week is the start of bad crowds at Walt Disney World.
Additionally, Early Theme Park Entry soft opened for eligible resort guests over the weekend. We haven’t been able to participate in that yet (as you’re likely aware, hotel prices are prohibitively expensive right now), but will in the near future. Social media reports have shown more chaos for on-site and off-site guests alike at their respective park opening times.
However, we noticed something surprising over the weekend: low wait times in the last couple hours of the day for Rise of the Resistance.
Granted, we predicted that DHS crowds would subside later in the day due to early arriving guests running out of things to do. Never did we expect to see 35 minute posted wait times for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during the week of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary.
With that in mind, we headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios the other night just before sunset–one of the most stunning we’ve seen recently–to experience the park for the last two hours of the day.
It’s worth noting that it was a beautiful evening with cool weather (by September standards) only a few days before October 1st. Not to rub it in your face if you’re not here, but rather to point out that conditions were right for a post-work pop-in for locals and that there are likely a lot of fans already in town.
Crowds were low throughout our time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so it doesn’t seem like that was happening. As we arrived, there was a flood of people exiting with only a slow trickle entering.
After I ran around taking sunset and dusk photos, we took advantage of these low crowds.
Aside from Slinky Dog Dash and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, pretty much everything was a walk-on by 7:30 pm.
We did the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, both with essentially no wait. Slinky Dog Dash looked like it had a really short line, but the posted wait was 45 minutes. If its actual wait were above 30 minutes (which I doubt), we would not have been able to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Since that was the whole reason we visited, we opted against Slinky.
At 8:45 pm, we got in line for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
The posted wait time was 35 minutes.
No line in the extended queue or anywhere outside.
Already off to a great start, as we’ve been this far back on a few occasions when using the virtual queue.
We finally met up with the line in this room, which was pretty much the best case scenario with the virtual queue.
Our total wait time ended up being 14 minutes. 14 MINUTES.
Above is a look at daily posted wait times for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance over the course of the last week, courtesy of Thrill-Data.com. As you can see, the attraction peaks around 10 am (!!!) and steadily declines from there. The shortest waits of the day are consistently in the evening, with an average wait under 60 minutes after 6 pm.
This same trend can be observed throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You could literally do every ride in the park with a 5 pm arrival right now. This certainly corroborates our theory that people would rope drop DHS, run out of things to do, and leave early.
At least for now, you’re far better off staying off-site and having Park Hopper tickets than you are staying on-site, taking advantage of Early Theme Park Entry and having one-park per day tickets. This will likely be true until a lot more entertainment returns to DHS (and even then, still true to some extent–it was pre-closure).
Again, it’s still early and you should not expect identical results if you visit in October, November, or December. However, what you probably should expect is that wait times for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will peak in the morning and drop later in the day–you might just encounter higher numbers across the board than we did.
I didn’t expect these results only days before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I would’ve been very happy with an actual wait time 4-5x this high at the end of the night. Given the attraction’s quality and duration, I think a wait time of 90 minutes is entirely reasonable for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. (Even though I’d seldom personally wait in a line that long for it.) I’m guessing most of you would agree with that, and are likewise at least cautiously optimistic about the ‘results’ of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’s standby experiment thus far?
One thing I did notice before the final pre-show was this holding area was moving much more efficiently, and it appeared that more pre-show rooms in use than normal. (Archival photo above.) Sorry for the vagueness, still trying to keep this spoiler free. We’ve done Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance a lot, and I don’t recall ever seeing all of these pre-show rooms in use.
As we’ve noted several times now, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’s reliability improved pretty significantly in mid-December of last year. The attraction started processing more boarding groups per day on average and began having less downtime problems. Anecdotally, we’ve noticed even less downtime in the last week, and now this. It makes me wonder whether another fix occurred with the attraction that made Disney comfortable moving away from the virtual queue. (I have no further insight or rumors to back that up–just speculating.)
Ultimately, I don’t want to get ahead of myself drawing any sweeping conclusions as it’s only been a week. Back in December 2019 when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened, our initial reaction to the virtual queue was resoundingly positive. Within weeks, not only did guest behavior change, but so too did Walt Disney World policies. It went from “awesome” to “awful” in the span of a month or less.
Consequently, I hesitate to make any bold proclamations here. I will say that it’s going way better than I expected thus far–pretty much the best case scenario has played out over the last week. How that’ll change when the 50th Anniversary crowds arrive remains to be seen. Ditto when Genie+ and Lightning Lanes launch. Then there’s the Christmas season and also the strongly-rumored possibility of more entertainment returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is a very good thing, but would also spread crowds throughout the day. We’ll keep you posted on how all of that changes the dynamic and wait time trends with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, so stay tuned!
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What do you think of standby wait times thus far at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Does this change your opinion at all about Walt Disney World’s decision to pause use of the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue? Or, is it still too early to draw any conclusions whatsoever? Do you agree or disagree with anything in this ride report? Any questions we can help you answer? 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!