TPG gets first look at Disney's new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction
Close your eyes and imagine a theme park attraction. Maybe you conjure up thoughts of a giant roller coaster, or a dark, indoor amusement ride. Maybe you're picturing actors in a stage show, or a virtual reality flying experience.
Disney's brand new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction, located within Galaxy's Edge, is none of that. But it's also all of those things and more.
In the build up to its much-anticipated opening, Galaxy's Edge, a Star Wars-themed land located within both Disneyland in California and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, promised to be an immersive and interactive experience that makes you feel as if you're truly on the far away planet of Batuu.
While the land is visually stunning, there was a strong argument that it wasn't yet a home run. At a minimum, there simply wasn't a ton to do in Galaxy's Edge without spending (lots) of extra money on droid or lightsaber creation; drinking space cocktails in Oga's Cantina; on the rows of available merchandise; or on a roasted sausage wrap. The one previously open ride, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, is pretty fun if you're the pilot and have a crew in the ship that's into the experience. But for all its strengths, it wasn't strong enough to carry the expectations of the land on its own.
Related: TPG guide to Disney World
The main attraction of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was always going to be Rise of the Resistance, which officially opens at Disney World on Thursday, Dec. 5, and on Friday, Jan. 17 at Disneyland. But TPG was invited to attend a media preview ride of the attraction today, and we're here to say ... it's good. Really good. When it works.
Not knowing at all what to expect when I walked into the attraction, I was left fully speechless by the time the ride was over. Only, it wasn't just a ride. It was a multipart experience that follows through on the promise of immersing guests in the world of Star Wars.
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Stop reading here if you want to be as surprised as I was on my first ride.
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OK, for those of you still here, you'll likely start your Rise of the Resistance journey by requesting a boarding position via the My Disney Experience app. At least for now, Disney is utilizing virtual queueing for this attraction instead of creating a very long line.
Be sure and request a boarding position as soon as you enter Hollywood Studios, as slots of the day fill up early. FastPass+, Extra Magic Hours or VIP tour access are not available for this attraction. Also know that the park has been opening in advance of the posted opening times. When your turn arrives, you'll enter the physical queue and first encounter BB-8, Poe and Rey (via hologram) who will recruit you to join the Resistance in its battle against the First Order. This part of the ride is in a room, similar to the first part of many rides you've likely experienced before.
Next, you enter a standing room-only ship that takes you through space (and actually moves). Unfortunately, the ship is intercepted by the bad guys and, via a tractor beam, you're captured by the First Order.
As the doors to the next portion of the ride open, you're greeted by a legion of stormtroopers and other (very bossy) members of the First Order. This is where things get really impressive: The massive scale of the room and the realistic movements of the stormtroopers make you feel as if you're truly on a star ship. Heck, maybe we were. This is Disney after all.
Then, you're marched in a single-file line to your cell. Granted, this is still a media preview, but Disney cast members 100% owned their roles and weren't just ushering you through the ride — they made you feel as if you were truly a prisoner.
Thankfully, the Resistance doesn't leave you to rot in a trash compactor, but instead rescues you on a disguised prisoner transport vehicle. At this point, you're already spent about 15-minutes in the attraction — and you're just getting onto the main ride vehicle.
The fun picks up as the seated trackless ride vehicle barely evades blasters, red-hot lightsabers coming through the walls, Kylo Ren himself and more. I refuse to spoil everything, but you aren't just watching a battle unfold: You're in it, and will only barely escape by flying through space and landing on friendly soil.
The Rise of the Resistance attraction has it all, and to call it a ride is a disservice. It's an experience that will thrill, entertain and take you to a universe far, far away.
Now, the bad news.
Such an action-packed, complex and technologically advanced attraction wasn't without a few hiccups. Our first ride early in the preview day was met with a couple of delays as Disney's Imagineers and cast members continued to work out kinks. In addition to delays going from one scene to the next, we had to disembark our first ride vehicle and experience the attraction from another launch room.
Later in the preview day, the attraction went down for a couple of hours. With the official opening day set for tomorrow, our concern isn't whether people will love Rise of the Resistance — it's simply whether it will work reliably enough to keep the virtual lines moving.