Today brings a report from the Disneyland Resort and what is possibly the most ambitious theme park ride of all time - Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance! Read ahead for our thoughts on this immense attraction, as well as photos from the queue and pre-shows. Be aware that there are major spoilers ahead!
Rise of the Resistance is the second and final ride-through attraction to open at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disneyland in California. When both lands initially opened in mid 2019, much was made out of the unfinished nature of the areas. Some loved the land, while others had more mixed reactions to the single new ride and plethora of shopping, food and beverage locations. In the minds of many, Rise of the Resistance had to "save" Galaxy's Edge in a sense, and truly deliver to make the whole of Galaxy's Edge a success. Expectations were also high thanks to Disney's constant touting of the attraction, calling it the most advanced dark ride to ever come out of Walt Disney Imagineering.
In response to the massive hype, as well as the ride's limited capacity due to technical issues, Disney has opted to use a "virtual queue" for the attraction, issuing boarding groups via the Disneyland app. The groups are called thoughout the day, giving guests a two hour window to return to the ride with minimal standing in line. Although this system makes physically riding the attraction more enjoyable, it comes with a major downside: all boarding groups for the day are distributed at Disneyland's opening, usually 8:00 am, and are nearly always gone within a few minutes.
This means that anyone arriving at Disneyland after opening, or anyone unable to access the boarding group page of the Disneyland app at precisely 8 am, will not be able to ride Rise of the Resistance. While the system is obviously flawed, it is difficult to imagine a better way to manage the situation and avoid the massive lines that would likely result from a traditional ride opening.
Once guests successfully secure a spot in the virtual queue and are notified that their boarding group has been called, they enter Rise of the Resistance next to this unmarked turret structure. This area of Galaxy's Edge, referred to as the Resistance Forest, was largely unutilized and quite empty before the new ride opened; now it is bustling with excited guests.
After having their tickets scanned, guests - now recruits of the Resistance - snake through the ride's outdoor queue, passing the foliage of Batuu and Resistance equipment. Transmissions between Resistance operatives can be heard over the intercom.
Tthe queue passes under a rock outcropping and past a Disneyland classic - the backside of water!
The Resistance base itself appears to be built into the ruins of an ancient civilization. It feels like a cross between the rebel base on Hoth and the Temple of Doom. Transmissions as well as the mechanical sounds of heavy equipment and space ships echo through the base.
Fans of the Star Wars films will recognize these blue space charts...
...as well as thermal detonators! The queue and ride are full of Easter eggs and these are just a few of them.
After traveling deeper and deeper into the base though a maze of seemingly never-ending corridors like the one above, recruits are separated into small groups and led into one of two briefing rooms.
This area serves as the first pre-show and the beginning of the attraction proper. Calling Rise of a Resistance a simple dark ride isn't fully descriptive of the entire attraction; it's really a 20-minute long experience, the third act of which is a trackless dark ride.
As guests enter the room, BB-8 rolls around above in animatronic form, beeping and responding to various transmissions. This is the first of many impressive animatronics in this attraction.
In a cool effect, Rey appears via hologram and briefs us on the situation: due to increased First Order activity, Resistance sympathizers are being relocated to a secure base on another planet.
Recruits briefly journey back outside, passing Poe Dameron's X-wing before being led toward a passenger shuttle craft.
The door to the ship opens and guests board the shuttle.
The shuttle serves as perhaps the attraction's most technologically advanced pre-show, almost a mini-ride in itself. The interior is actually a toned down motion simulator, lightly shaking guests as they are able to freely walk around the cabin and look out two window screens.
Recruits are eventually freed from their cells by Resistance spies, who load guests into transport vehicles to free them from the Star Destroyer. Guests have finally reached the "ride" portion of the attraction. The trackless dark ride vehicles are driven by First Order R5 droids reprogrammed to return the recruits to Batuu.
What follows is a harrowing escape from the enemy ship. Recruits come face to face with Stormtroopers, giant AT-AT walkers, and Kylo Ren himself. The scale of the ride is massive, with some sets towering overhead. The ride perfectly meshes screens, animatronics, and various special effects. Very realistic laser blasts and lightsabers sell the illusion that guests have been transported to a galaxy far, far away. After escaping Kylo Ren, the adventure ends with a ride on an escape pod back to Batuu via a short drop and motion simulator section.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to photograph the ride experience itself, but it is incredible and involves the trackless ride vehicle locking into multiple other ride systems in order to provide a more varied, unpredictable, and satisfying ride experience than any other Disney attraction.
Moreover, Rise of the Resistance makes Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge finally feel whole. It delivers on many of the promises Imagineers made about the land during its construction: real interactivity, functional droids, use of Star Wars' iconic soundtrack, and a wholly immersive experience that truly cannot be found outside of a Disney park. Although it is not quite perfect - operations has a few kinks to work out with the virtual queue and ride capacity - Rise of the Resistance is an incredible addition that entirely lives up to the hype.
Well there you have it, TPO's review of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland! Get out to Anaheim (or Orlando), ride it for yourself, and tell us what you think! Also, be sure to "LIKE" our Facebook page to get Breaking News Updates and Exclusive Content delivered straight to your newsfeed! Facebook.com/ThemeParkOverload My name's Harris, and thanks for reading!