On December 5th, 2019, Walt Disney World opened one of the most highly anticipated E-ticket rides— Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This is the second attraction within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, an immersive new land themed to a remote outpost at the outer rim of the solar system. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance are now open at both Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Disneyland Park in California. Rise of the Resistance utilizes a host of unique and innovative technology to bring the world of Star Wars to life in a way not seen before in a theme park.
At the start of the year, I made my journey to this much-hyped ride to experience firsthand what all the buzz was about. There is plenty to dive into, so let’s get started. This review will be broken down into three sections: Queue, Ride Experience, and Overall Opinion. I will also discuss some handy tips for those planning to experience this all-new attraction at Hollywood Studios.
The entrance to Rise of the Resistance is rather subtle and can be hard to miss once you walk into the vast land that is Galaxy’s Edge. Just after you walk through the concrete tunnel near Muppet Vision 3D, the natural landscape of the land opens up and the ride’s entry point is to the left, marked by a worn-down laser turret. The queue winds through the beautiful rock work of the land and underneath cascading waterfalls and then eventually into a cavern system. Inside, the hallways appear to have been cut through with lasers and we discover the location of a hidden Resistance base.
Strewn about are tools, supplies, blaster rifle racks, and pilot costumes waiting for personnel to use them. For a Star Wars fan, it is really fun to get a close-up look at these iconic movie props. The queue goes through several switchbacks and then opens up to what I consider the true start of this attraction.
At this point in the queue, we as guests are nowhere near the ride station, so why would I consider this the “start” of the ride? Rise of the Resistance is more than the typical attraction. It is truly unlike anything I have experienced before. Guests are whisked away into one of two rooms where we are greeted by a full-sized animatronic of BB-8, the curious droid from the current trilogy of Star Wars films. Then before our eyes, a hologram transmission of Rey, the infamous Jedi, comes online. This projection effect is very lifelike and almost 3D in appearance. She informs us that we must leave the base because the evil First Order is onto our whereabouts. We as guests need to keep the location of the home base a secret in the event of our capture.
The doors open up and we are taken outside, where a spaceship transport is waiting for takeoff. To the right is a Poe Dameron’s full-size X-wing. Cast members board us onto the transport vessel, and the doors close behind us. Inside, Lieutenant Beck, an alien leader in the Resistance, is ready to ferry us away from the planet surface. Beck is a full-size animatronic who has incredibly lifelike movements. When the shuttle takes off, we can watch the planet surface of Batuu grow smaller and smaller from the front and rear windows. Suddenly, the escorts around us detect movement up ahead and a massive Star Destroyer ship appears in the distance. The Resistance X-wings gear up for action as enemy TIE Fighters close in on our ship. Action swirls all around us as one by one, our heroes are defeated. The ship receives a transmission from General Hux, a high ranking officer of the First Order, informing us that we will be boarded and brought in for questioning. The Star Destroyer pulls our ship in by tractor beam and silence falls onto the environment.
Then, in perhaps the most stunning theme park reveal of all time, the same door we came through from the outside opens up into a new location—the hanger of a Star Destroyer. A live-action officer boards the ship to inform us that we have become prisoners of the First Order. As we walk into this new space, stormtroopers with weapons drawn, stand before us. These characters are stunningly all animatronic and have realistic movements. The room itself is massive beyond words and has a floor-to-ceiling screen that looks into outer space. The walls are adorned with full-scale TIE Fighters, waiting for takeoff. We are then whisked away to a series of long hallways, patrolled by First Order officers (all of which are Disney cast members in character). We are then split into groups and dropped into cramped interrogation chambers. Once inside, we see General Hux appear above us. Then shortly after, the main villain of the new trilogy, Kylo Ren walks up and demands we give up the location of the Resistance base; he even uses the force to do so. Both are hyper-realistic hologram projections that cast shadows when they walk for added realism. After they depart the room, there are a few moments of silence, then a laser cuts through the metal wall and falls open, revealing a team of Resistance members ready to help us escape. Before us lies two ride vehicles, each adorned with its own special droid. Once we are secured in the seats, its time to get off of the Star Destroyer.
Ride Experience – Part II
This attraction utilizes trackless ride vehicles, meaning they glide effortlessly across the floor with no physical track. They also run in pairs, which allows each group of guests to get slightly different experiences between the two. The vehicles begin their journey off into the first room, which is a grand open space. Here, empty vehicles circle around us; our onboard droid informs them that we are simply a prison transport. Once they believe the story, we proceed down a long hallway where a lift at the end will take us safely off the ship. Our plan is foiled when a security droid drops down in front of us, forcing the vehicle to use an alternate route. As we round the corner, a pair of stormtroopers look down upon us and realize we are trying to escape, firing at us with their blaster rifles. Last bolts land all around us, damaging the walls of the ship with projection effects. Our transport vehicles circle the corner, where we encounter two near life-size AT-AT walkers. Stormtroopers swarm the area and fire in every direction. In frantic desperation, we hide in a corner of the room on an elevator lift and are told to go down to escape. Rather, we are lifted up, leaving us to scramble backward as the front turrets of the walker fire laser bolts directly at us. If you are in the second vehicle, this scene plays out differently in that it splits off onto its own path before reconvening with the other guests.
Eventually, we approach the command bridge of the Star Destroyer, where on a platform above us, Kylo Ren and General Hux (both animatronics) look out into space. Kylo Ren tells Hux to raise the shields as he senses danger. Hux disagrees, seeing nothing but stars in front of them. Then suddenly, a fleet of Resistance ships appear out of hyperspace to save the day. Kylo Ren is then informed that we, the prisoners, have escaped. In response, he turns directly at us uttering “How brave, but ultimately hopeless.” The movement of Kylo Ren turning is perhaps the most realistic movement I’ve ever seen in a ride animatronic; it really sells that you are in the heart of the action. The vehicles swerve out of the room and split off towards a doorway. Kylo Ren drops down in front of us with his lightsaber ignited, but the doors close us off from the hallway, saving us from certain danger. Suddenly, a crackling red lightsaber slices through the ceiling right above our heads and we dart out of the room.
We now face a wall of turrets firing off into the battle taking place in space. Once past this area, alarms blare to inform us that we need to abandon ship. Kylo Ren ultimately faces us again; using the force, he pulls us closer threatening to extract the location of the base from us. A TIE Fighter, however, crashes into the wall of the ship, ripping open a hole into space, causing rubble to fall over Kylo Ren. After our close call with Kylo Ren, the doors to the escape pods fling open, allowing us to board. As other escape pods fall in front of us via a screen, our pod physically drops, creating a great freefall sensation. Our pod rockets past explosions, drops back down into the atmosphere of Batuu, and crash lands just outside of the Black Spire Outpost of Galaxy’s Edge. When we arrive at the exit station, Beck thanks us for keeping the location of the base secret.
Rise of the Resistance is, without a doubt, one of the most technologically advanced theme park attractions ever built. Utilizing a brilliant blend of animatronics, screens, practical effects, trackless ride vehicles, all coupled with the outstanding theming and thrill of being sucked into a Star Wars story makes it not just the best ride in Hollywood Studios, but one of the best rides in any park. I cannot stress enough how this attraction is more than just a ride; it is an experience from start to finish. The added bonus of an incredible queue and the unique touch of live actors further tells the elaborate story. As a Star Wars fan from an early age, this was one of the best dreams come true I could have asked for. Even for those who aren’t fans of the franchise, this ride is truly a marvel to behold in person.
Every few years a ride comes around that not only thrills audiences for generations but also sets the standard for what an attraction can be in its best form. I am here to tell you that just like The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey, Expedition Everest, and others before it, Rise of the Resistance is the new level of theme park perfection that should be the role model for dark rides going forward. I love everything about this ride and definitely suggest you get on it as soon as possible.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the must-do attraction in Orlando right now, so it’s drawing large crowds each and every day. How do you plan your day to get on the ride? The attraction does not have a traditional line that you can wait in, nor does it have FastPass. Instead, the ride uses the My Disney Experience app to issue “boarding passes.” On the app, you and your group pull up the ride and request a pass. Each day, the park issues a certain number of passes by number and call several groups an hour. When it is your time to board, you and your group can make their way to the ride entrance and board with no issue. Because only a certain number of groups are called at a time, the physical line is never long. In my case, I waited about 30 minutes from start to finish.
There are two things to note about this app, however. First, you must physically be in the park on the day you intend to ride in order to reserve a boarding group. It is not like FastPasses where it can be done away from the park and ahead of time. The overwhelming popularity of the ride means that a large crowd gathers in front of the park well before opening. It is best to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled opening of the park to reserve a boarding pass. The passes also run out just about every day, so if there are no more issued then you will most likely not get to board the attraction. Every so often, backup passes are issued, meaning that additional passes become available if, and only if, all of the prior passes are called before the park closes. I recommend you get to the park gate bright and early to avoid any headaches.
Thanks for reading this ride review. As always, WOU will be on the lookout for new ride openings and provide you with reviews. Stay tuned for the latest in the world of theme parks.