Walt Disney World has announced more virtual queue changes for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. In this post, we’ll cover how it’ll work & differ from the previous boarding pass system, and offer some recommendations if you’re planning a visit based on our recent experiences.
In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance virtual queue and boarding pass system has been a divisive issue in the months both before the closure and after the reopening of Walt Disney World. We’ve had a roller coaster relationship with the system, visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios more than any other park from last December through this October.
We won’t rehash all of that here since most of you probably are familiar with it, instead fast-forwarding to the weeks immediately before the closure. At that point, frustration was setting in for us and most Walt Disney World guests, leading us to proclaim “this isn’t working.” Things were better immediately after the parks reopened, but came full circle with our latest update, asking should skip Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
Our latest Disney’s Hollywood Studios photo report concluded with some recommendations. The first, near-term step is increasing the attraction’s hourly throughput. The ride-through portion currently accommodates one party per vehicle, which could mean a single rider or a family of 8. Disney has already begun testing and installing plexiglass barriers between the front and back row, which should help immensely. That move alone could increase capacity by 50%.
Earlier this week, Walt Disney World did exactly that. This has already been a positive development (another full photo report coming soon on that) and has alone helped address many of the lottery woes with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Beyond that, we implored Walt Disney World to consider other solutions to manage expectations and make for a more guest-friendly experience in trying to do Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Our recommendations for that included allowing guests with Park Pass reservations to attempt joining the virtual queue without tapping into Disney’s Hollywood Studios, testing an actual random-drawing lottery that guests can enter throughout the day (a la Tokyo Disney Resort), or a way for on-site guests to attempt pre-booking the virtual queue and allowing them to switch parks if they’re unsuccessful. Given that the status quo was a train wreck, a range of alternatives are worth testing.
Thankfully, they’re going to do exactly that. In a new announcement, Walt Disney World indicated that to better help guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios plan ahead for their day at the park, they’re piloting a new approach to the virtual queue system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Starting November 3, 2020, here’s how the virtual queue will work:
Guests with a valid ticket or annual pass and a Disney Park Pass reservation for Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to access the virtual queue system and check for an available boarding group starting at 7 a.m. on the day of their park reservation. This can be done before you leave your Disney resort hotel, or wherever else nearby you might be at that time.
Just as can be done today, the virtual queue will reopen daily at 2 p.m. for anyone who wasn’t already able to join a boarding group earlier in the day. For this second drop, guests must be inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and access to a boarding group is subject to availability and not guaranteed.
Walt Disney World indicates that it is hoping this new approach will make a day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios more enjoyable and relaxing, as guests no longer need to be inside the park each morning to request a boarding group for the first virtual queue opportunity.
This leaves two big unanswered questions. First, whether guests will be able to book Disney Park Pass reservations for a different park (pending availability) if they are unsuccessful at joining the 7 am virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
If so, that will be a huge improvement for resort guests and theme park ticket holders, who often have same-day availability for other parks. Our guess is that such last-minute changes will be possible. At least, we’re really hoping so!
Second, whether guests will actually have to be inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the 2 pm drop or simply will have to tape into the park at some point during the day prior to then.
We’re aware that Disney’s announcement states the former, but that has literally never been the case in the past with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Up until now, the virtual queue has not used geolocation–it has instead validated whether guests tapped into the park. Our guess is that this remains the case and the announcement is just misworded.
No matter how these questions are answered, this should ultimately result in lower rope drop crowds and a lower-stress day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That should be the eventual outcome, especially over time as word gets out that you don’t have to be in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at rope drop.
Even though this change will be covered far and wide, it always takes time for word of mouth to spread. (It took roughly a month for many guests to realize that Disney’s Hollywood Studios was quietly opening well before the official park hours back last winter when Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance debuted.)
Over time, one unintended consequence of this will be that wait times will no longer peak at Disney’s Hollywood Studios within an hour of park opening. Another likely result is that crowds will not drop off so significantly in the last two hours of the day.
Instead, we’d expect attendance to normalize throughout the day, reflecting the established patterns of every other park at Walt Disney World, including Hollywood Studios prior to last December. Of course, we’ll continue with regular DHS crowd reports to let you know what actually happens, our observations, firsthand experiences, etc.
Ultimately, we’re very pleased with this development and the other steps that Walt Disney World has taken in the last few days to make Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance more accessible, to manage expectations, and redistribute crowds.
With the popular Christmas season right around the corner, it was imperative that Disney changed something, and they’ve stepped up with two big tweaks that should improve things markedly. Of course, this renders obsolete our recent post addressing whether you should skip Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but we are 100% fine with that. Kudos to Walt Disney World on this one!
Thoughts on these changes to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Do you think these moves will help, hurt, or have no impact? Have you visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the last month or so? What was your experience? Thoughts on lines and crowds? Success or failure with the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Do you plan on arriving at rope drop, or will you utilize a late arrival strategy? 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!