Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Opening Day at Disneyland – How I Failed, and Succeeded, At Getting On The Ride (Spoiler Free)
If you haven’t heard, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the giant, new, 15 minute e-ticket attraction that is the real anchor ride for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. The ride opened in Florida last month, and has gone through a few different iterations of virtual queues to get on it, as well as some operational hiccups. Us Californians had to wait until January for our version to open, and this past weekend it did! The ride opened Friday morning, and I was there to try to get aboard it. I failed to do that. Luckily, I had better luck Saturday, and got to experience the massive new attraction. I’m planning to post a spoiler filled write-up about some of my favorite parts of the attraction later this week, but I’m going to keep this spoiler free. Here I’ll focus on how the opening weekend went for Disneyland’s version of the ride, and give some tips to hopefully help you get on the ride!
The Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue
Rise of the Resistance is using what Disney calls a “virtual queue” where guests join a line in the morning, but don’t actually have to actually stand in a line for 10 hours. While this saves you from having to stand it a giant line, it means the queue can get “full” very very quickly in the morning. When you join the virtual queue, you’re assigned a numbered “boarding group”.
The park calls the boarding groups throughout the day, so at some point you get a notification to head to the ride when it’s your groups turn to get in line. You have a window (about 2 hours) to get over to the ride, so it’s OK if you have a fastpass or lunch reservation. Once you get to the ride, you have a moderate wait in the line, 30 to 40 minutes in general, and that’s it. Simple, right? You can have a nice full Disney day while you wait for your boarding group. The trick is actually getting into one of those boarding groups.
My Opening Day Experience
Getting Into the Park
Right now the park uses a method where you can start joining the “line” as soon as the park opened, but not before. You also have to be inside the gates to be able to join. This means you don’t need to be at the park crazy early to get on the ride, but you do NEED to be in the park right at opening hours. Luckily Disneyland opens the turnstiles an hour or so ahead of time, so it’s easy to get into by “opening” if you get there 30-60 minutes before the posted time. But if you show up right at opening time, you’ll be out of luck.
On opening day Disneyland opened the parking lots extra early in the morning for guests who wanted to arrive crazy early. But, remember, you can’t get in the virtual queue until park opening. So while I’m sure getting there early was exciting for many, I rolled up at a more normal time. I aimed to arrive at the parking garage about 6:30AM, for an 8AM opening time.
I arrived roughly on time, and had basically no wait in the garage and security. They opened the turnstiles extra early to allow the crowd into the park easily, so by the time I got up there I didn’t have any wait at all. I was comfortably in the park by 7AM. Main Street was open up to the “hub”, with most of the shops open (and a giant line for the Starbucks in the park). FWIW, Saturday we did about the same thing. They didn’t let guests into the park as early, so we did have a wait at the turnstiles, but were in the park by 7:20. I think allowing an hour to get parked, through security, and into the park would be plenty.
Joining the Queue
At about 7:45, the park opened up the rest of the lands, and guests could scatter from the hub all across the park. Some areas were even open, so I went and grabbed a Space Mountain Fastpass. From there, I followed the tips I’d read elsewhere to get away from the crowds, use cell signal instead of WiFi, and just try to mash the buttons right at 8AM. So began maybe my most stressful minute in a Disney Park ever.
As the clock turns to 8, everyone begins trying to join the group. On Friday, I had the horrible moment of panic where the “join boarding group” button (see the screenshot below) didn’t change from grey to orange. I tried refreshing, I tried clicking “my status” and refreshing that. No dice. I closed the app and reopened it. People around me were cheering as they got their groups. 32. 68. Still nothing for me. Panic set in. I tried closing and reopening again, and finally the button was orange. I clicked it and waited, terrified I’d get a “ride is full” notification. But thankfully, I got a number!
Uhh, so what did that mean?
How Likely It Is You’ll Get On
It turns out that the park issued ~150 boarding groups, but a little notification in the app told me only up to 82 were guaranteed, others were “back-ups”. Still, with no idea how my chances were, I would spend the whole day tracking the progress of the groups on the app (see the screenshot on the top).
At times it seemed like my chances were great. Park was open until midnight, and they were getting through 12ish groups per hour. Even though the ride didn’t open at 8, the first groups were called abht about 9AM, it seemed like I should be OK. But, then the groups stopped going up for stretches. That meant the ride was down for some reason. I also learned later in the night that the ride would be closing early. the last boarding group would be called about 9PM, with a window until 9:45 to get in line.
At the end of the day, I didn’t make it on. They made it up to group 114. The next day they did a little better, getting up to 117. Sunday was much worse, just barely getting through the guaranteed groups. Monday got up to 105. So, in general, for now, it seems like if you can get to group 100, you’re probably OK.
So, Did I Get On?
Lucky for me, I had another shot on Saturday. This time I was with a group of people. When you’ve got a group, you can link your tickets together. When your tickets are linked, you can join a boarding group together. The main benefit here is that only one person from your group has to get through on the app to claim a spot. So when we tried Saturday, one person had the same problem I had Friday, but my other friend and I were both able to get through. He beat me by a split second (better service? better phone? faster thumbs?), and we got group 27, well within the guaranteed window!
Our group was called in the late morning. We ran to get on it, and the ride was down. So we left, got soaked on Splash Mountain, and then came back and it was back up and running. We were in line before noon. It should be noted, if the ride breaks while you’re in line, you can’t leave and come back. You’ve gotta stay in line (for now).
Tips For Getting in a Group
So, here’s what you really care about: How to get into a group?
Tip 1: DON’T BE LATE
Multiple cast members assured me that getting to the park crazy early doesn’t help. I feel terrible for anyone who showed up at midnight opening day and didn’t get on. That sucks. But the takeaway is, you don’t need to be crazy. I’d aim to get to the park an hour before opening. If you’re a nervous person, get there 1.5 hours before. And grab a coffee at the Downtown Disney Starbucks furthest from the park, short lines. Definitely get in before the official opening hour though. Every day Rise of the Resistance has been open, groups are gone by about 8:02AM. No showing up at 8:05 and thinking you’ll get on, at least not yet.
Tip 2: Link your tickets
if you’re with a group, make sure you link all of your tickets. Disney Moms has a good post on how to do that. This is key to making sure that you’ll be in the same group, and has the huge benefit that only one person has to get through to join a group. I think that was a huge part of us getting a good group the second day. It didn’t matter that one or two of us had the app crash, the third person got in.
Tip 3: Find a good spot
Go to a part of the park you want to be in next, and make sure you have a good signal. At about 7:45 both days the park opened up, so you could head anywhere.The first day I stood near the Matterhorn because I knew I wanted to ride that first. The second day we headed towards Adventureland to get Indy Fastpasses, but we stopped on the bridge where we had the best service. At least this way, even if you don’t get a group, you’ll get a good start to your day at Disneyland. (Funny aside, the cast member at the Tiki Room was encouraging guests to go into it for the first show and to book their boarding passes from inside the nice warm attraction. We were tempted to, but didn’t want to risk having poor service. Next time I’m in it, I’ll have to see how the signal is.)
I also recommend grabbing a breakfast ronto wrap after getting your group. Only available until 10AM!
Tip 4: Start on the right page of the app
I think starting on the screen below might be best. As soon as you see your phone cross over to 8AM (or whatever time the park opens), smash find out more to load the screen with the join boarding group button. This saves you from having to try to do any fancy refreshing, and I feel like that worked better. But, I don’t actually know if that’s true.
So there you go, my best guesses for how to get into a boarding group, and my opening day experience. Hopefully as time goes on and kinks are worked out, Rise of the Resistance will both have fewer breakdowns and longer operating hours. If they keep the line open until say 11 instead of 9:45, they could easily get another dozen groups in each day. We’ll cross our fingers for that! And of course, over time the craziness might die down and it’ll be easier to get into a group. May the Force Be With You while you try to get on the ride!
If you were there opening weekend too, share your experience with us in the comments! Also, one other note. It is possible to get a boarding pass without the app. There were a couple spots where you could line up to get them from cast-members. I heard they ran out quickly, but they did distribute a few. If anyone has done it, let us know how it went!
Stay tuned for my full write up on the ride later this week.