There is so much right with Star Wars Rise of the Resistance ride, however, all that was negated by all that is wrong with the attraction and Disney’s bungling of the opening of this second anchor to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Them Park at The Walt Disney World Resort.
Let’s start with the simple basics of the attraction queue system which breaks with the current knowledge of every guest’s experience across Disney’s parks. Disney has conditioned all of its guests to understand and leverage the FastPass+ and standby rider system since introduced, decades ago yet abandoned this system in favor of something “new”.
However, Disney leadership did not take into account the operational needs required to succeed nor the impact to guests’ existing behavior, whom they have conditioned how to interact with their rides since debuting FastPass, with this introduction. They performed no Cast or Passholder previews to ensure viability of this new design, so opening day was Test Day 1 for an attraction on which The Disney company’s shareholder performance is relying upon.
Disney did not communicate to guests the enormity of the changes and the requirement to use the Disney Parks app to take advantage of this new queue system which left many people angry and without the ability to ride the attraction. Nor was it every shared that the park would open well before its advertised 9:00 AM opening in this app or elsewhere.
Disney seemingly threw out all of its knowledge of park design ride management, queueing systems, and crowd control in favor of rushing to beat the end of Q4 and propping up the lagging Parks and Resorts division before the end of 2019…and it shows.
In the 8 and-a-half hours we spent waiting to ride the Rise of the Resistance, we heard nothing but complaints, not only from guests, but also cast members themselves. Many of these folks are seasoned professionals who have opened entire parks and their subject matter expertise was overlooked by upper management, leaving these cast members to irate park guests.
This on the heels of a less then stellar opening of the entire land – especially at The Disneyland Theme Park in Anaheim, CA. Another black eye the company did not need and was totally self-inflicted. I fully expect Disney will refactor their errors in the coming months to perfect guest access but this is usually done in those preview days before opening to ensure a smooth guest experience.
Reports from this morning’s opening are seemingly no better, so it seems that there will be some serious growing pains on this attraction that will impact guests travel and experiences through the important holiday season. I would expect some changes to the leadership in the company once the new year breaks.
The bright side, however, is that once you are able to ride the Rise of the Resistance is – if it doesn’t break down – you are rewarded with the best effects in any attraction in the world. The details and scale of this ride is most impressive, as the Sith Lord would say. The ride is a 3-part play where you: join the rebels to travel to their secret base, are captured by the Empire and imprisoned on their star destroyer, finally you are rescued by Finn and the Resistance who return you to Batuu safe and sound.
This video above is a rough-cut from my iPhone and edited quickly in iMovie to share the attraction for those whom might wish to see some spoilers. Despite a miserable day of fits and starts to try to get on the ride, we were ultimately rewarded with the best theme park attraction I have seen in my lifetime.
This raises the level of storytelling and immersion to the highest level and cheers to the Disney cast members and Imagineers who brought this story to life in Rise of the Resistance.
So before you go to the park, call the resort you are staying at or Disney directly (407.WDISNEY – (407) 939-5277) to confirm what you must do before showing up at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge to avoid any missed opportunities to experience the best ride out there.