Home » Does Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance “Fix” Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Does Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance “Fix” Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

“This will begin to make things right…”

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is undoubtedly Disney’s most ambitious attraction to date, and its opening has had unprecedented effect at Walt Disney World. After a challenging start for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge due to lower-than-expected attendance and negative press, the company’s fortunes changed overnight with the opening of the most technologically complex ride in Disney history. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has successfully broken barriers and drew record-breaking crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios multiple weeks after opening day. The demand has been so high that Disney was forced to adapt ever-changing opening policies and plant Guest Experience teams throughout the parks to mitigate backlash as they figure things out.

It cannot be understated how groundbreaking Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is— this is a ride well-worth the effort it takes to get up early and get a boarding pass (conveniently with the My Disney Experience app). It’s a masterpiece of technology and immersive storytelling with universal appeal, and it’s also something of a love letter for Star Wars fans with tie-ins to both the original films and the new trilogy.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the missing piece Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge needed to truly feel whole, and there are some very specific reasons why its arrival will prove an absolute game changer both for Disney parks and its resident land…

1. It has overcome the biggest problem with new attraction openings

The most significant controversy surrounding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has come from ever-changing policies surrounding its virtual queue—the only way to get onto the ride as of this writing. Demand for the ride has been so great since opening day that guests were arriving as early as 4am to score a coveted boarding pass, a system that favored whoever could get to the parks first since you could get a boarding pass as soon as you were scanned into the park gates. The crowds were so massive, Disney kept having to open the park early (as we saw on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening day at DHS) both for safety reasons and to try to boost the ride’s capacity which had proven lower than they expected due to frequent breakdowns. Unfortunately, the first-come, first-serve boarding pass race also meant lots of unhappy guests just couldn’t get to the parks early enough to get a pass, even if they arrived well before frequently-shifting opening times.

My husband and I struck out twice trying to get onto Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and we definitely experienced some of the intense anticipation and disappointment among guests trying to get onto this ride. On opening day, unforeseen circumstances kept us from being able to get into Orlando before the ride hit capacity. A week later, we arrived well before the park’s published opening on My Disney Experience only to find out that the official opening was moved an hour earlier, and the gates opened even earlier than that—the ride hit capacity minutes before we got into the park. Lines of visitors at Guest Relations were unhappy about the moving-target opening times, and we were among those who received free park hoppers to use on a normally-blacked-out-day after a friendly chat with the Guest Experience Team (seriously, that team is doing an outstanding job).

Changes to the boarding policy worked out in our favor and others who struggled to get to the park early enough. Disney finally decided that even if guests were let into the park early for safety reasons, you couldn’t get a boarding pass until the official opening time. While I was skeptical of My Disney Experience being able to handle the demand of thousands of guests wanting boarding passes at the same time, this system worked out just fine and actually made things a bit more fair—everyone who arrives early enough to get through the gate before official opening has a fair shot (we arrived at a bit after 6:15 and got into the park at 6:56—phew!). This also lines up with the standard for most new attraction openings where guests have a reasonable expectation to arrive before rope drop to try a new attraction, but that they don’t necessarily have to be there multiple hours before. The crowd seemed substantially more chill than we’d seen previously since people no longer felt the need to frantically reach the gate first. It worked, and to our astonishment, we ended up in boarding group 6. By the time we made the walk from the entrance to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, our group was up. We did have a hiccup with my boarding pass disappearing, but fortunately, I had taken a screenshot of it, and a Guest Experience Representative got us through. Screenshot your pass!

The virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has definitely caused some controversy, but in the end, the system is revolutionary. It completely removes the most unpleasant part of visiting a popular new attraction: standing in ridiculously long lines. Our own editor experienced what it’s like to stand in a 14 hour line for the opening of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure , and though the ride was great, the line was a miserable experience. For Disney, they don’t want guests miserable in long lines: they want guests having a good time in the parks while spending money on dining and shopping.

Once you have a boarding pass, even if you do have to wait ten hours to get on the ride, you can spend that time enjoying the rest of the park, riding rides, dining, or even returning to your resort for a nap. It’s a win-win for Disney and guests. The biggest problem with it was the moving opening times (which they have solved) and fixing the ride’s capacity problems. The ride is working at higher capacity now, and they even added a system where guests can jump into a backup boarding group that isn’t guaranteed a spot on the ride but still has a fair shot (these groups have successfully been used, by the way).

The applications for virtual queue technology are endless and may radically change future attraction openings. It also gives guests a reason to stick around and explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, something they may not have been willing to do if they waited in an exhausting line and just wanted to leave afterwards.

2. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge finally has a win to rival Avatar: Flight of Passage

If you saw The Imagineering Story, you may have picked up that bad press is sort of par for the course for new openings at Disney parks. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge got its fair of positive buzz, a combination of the uniquely polarized Star Wars fan base and critical observers resounded shared skepticism—couldn’t it have just been focused on the beloved original films? Why was Star Wars Land opening with only one attraction? Why so much focus on immersion? Negative press continued through both land openings (with Disneyland getting slammed particularly hard due to low attendance levels), despite high praise across the board for the quality of the Black Spire Outpost itself.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has single-handedly altered the public narrative surrounding Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—there is no doubt that this ride is a success, and that means a tangible win for the company. Response to the ride has been generally unanimous: it’s brilliant, a perfect symphony of technology and storytelling. Speaking for myself, I was gripped from beginning to end, and it reminded me of my first ride on the Indiana Jones Adventure in 1995—indeed, I would say Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is almost a spiritual successor to it, taking the same ultra-realistic adventure concept to new levels with another Lucasfilm property. The closest thing I have seen in modern rides is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance goes even a step further than that excellent attraction—it manages to seamlessly weave walkthrough, simulator, and trackless ride technology into a coherent story with mass appeal.

Most everyone anticipated that Galaxy’s Edge would draw massive crowds to rival those we saw at the opening of Avatar: The World of Pandora. That land single-handedly boosted Disney’s Animal Kingdom to one of their most popular parks, and Avatar: Flight of Passage still draws 180 minute waits on busy days. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is a great attraction, but it fell short of this mark, failing to appeal to guests in the same way. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has finally accomplished what Imagineers were hoping to achieve with Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, introducing an attraction that not only completes the land but gives guests who were hesitant to visit a very good reason to buy a ticket.

3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is now a must-visit park again

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has always struggled compared to Walt Disney World’s other gates. The park opened with an over-emphasis on the studio component that ultimately failed, and despite new attractions and developments, it has always been viewed as something of a half-day park by most guests. While the openings of both Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have helped this image, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has finally added something to Disney’s Hollywood Studios that makes the park a worthwhile draw for guests on the fence.

It’s a big change for the most must-see attraction at Walt Disney World to be in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, not Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not only will this ensure the success of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and encourage the company to keep investing in the park, it will also help balance guest levels at the other gates. The ride will undoubtedly act as a huge draw for Disneyland as well, mitigating the low attendance issues they ran into during the first Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opening.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is especially significant for Disney’s Hollywood Studios as it gives demographics usually loyal to Universal Orlando Resort a reason to visit Walt Disney World. Teens, thrill-seekers, and fans of edgier content generally have preferred Universal as a brand, particularly thanks to Islands of Adventure and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. While Disney still can’t hold a candle to Universal in the area of coasters and thrills, Star Wars holds strong appeal with this fan base. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance does a good job scratching the itch for an ultra-immersive thrill ride at Disney parks, even if its thrills aren’t quite on the scare level Universal aims for. As someone who works with teens, I can say with confidence they are buzzing with interest for this new ride, a draw that will definitely benefit Disney.

4. The backstory behind Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge finally makes sense

While casual guests may not care much about the backstories behind attractions, context of story is actually a pretty big deal when it comes to building a truly immersive land. If you want guests to feel emotionally connected to a place to the point it feels real, you need more than just nostalgia—you need a story with both stakes and depth.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has had this, to a point, but it required guests to really pay attention to discern why this particular day somewhere between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker is important. While Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has a number of tie-in comics and novels where guests can really dive into the lore behind Batuu, the average guest should be able to piece together the important parts via observation. Just from standing around in the outpost and playing the Datapad app, we learn that Rey and the Resistance have been taking refuge in a secret Resistance base on Batuu. By the time we reach The Black Spire Outpost, the First Order has also arrived, searching for Rey and her friends—particularly for Leia’s top spy, Vi Moradi. Chewie has worked out some sort of shady deal with the enigmatic pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, allowing Hondo to use the Falcon for his perfectly-legitimate shipping business in exchange for help acquiring some coaxium for the Resistance. Kylo Ren shows up and joins the search, which kicks things into high gear… but then what? Why should guests care? Why is the Resistance even still on Batuu if the First Order has a presence there?

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance fills in the missing pieces of the story. This isn’t just an average day for everyone in the Black Spire Outpost: it’s the last day the Resistance can remain there. We arrive at the outpost on the exact day Rey and her friends have run out of time because of Kylo Ren’s arrival. Suddenly, the cat and mouse games taking place between stormtroopers and the Resistance heroes throughout the day make sense. Even Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run gains some context: the time has come for Hondo to fulfill his part of the bargain, and you’re the crew he picks to get the coaxium the Resistance needs to escape. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance starts the moment the Resistance succeeds in a covert mission to infiltrate a star destroyer and makes the call to get their people off-world… but it just wouldn’t be Star Wars if something didn’t go wrong. You are part of the recruit team that is captured, and your boarding party becomes a key focus for Kylo Ren in his pursuit of Rey.

Do you need to know all of that to enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge? No. However, good world-building relies on depth to make a designed world feel real and engaging, and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance definitely makes the land feel far richer while raising the stakes.

5. It primes guests for the immersive aspects of the land

The level of immersion Disney brought to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is definitely unlike anything we’ve seen in theme parks before. While The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has incredibly rich detail to rival Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney took things a step further by having all cast members remain in character as locals during your visit. Everything in the land from food to merchandise to restrooms are designed to feel as if they belong in the Star Wars universe—even the sodas look like thermal detonators. For Star Wars superfans and those comfortable with environments like theater, LARPing, or Renaissance Festivals, the immersiveness of the land is a dream come true.

For some visitors, however, the immersive elements can make prospective guests a little nervous. Galaxy’s Edge pangs as too alien from the expected theme park experience, even with cast members being pretty careful to keep things subtle. I remember bringing a friend to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge who tried to use a Star Wars line (“Republic credits will be fine”) on a drink vendor. The vendor replied that they only take real money here, totally deadpan. I knew what was going on, but when we walked away, our friend was disturbed—he thought the cast member had been rude. When I explained that the cast members are in character all the time, he had trouble grasping that at first. Fortunately, he caught on and had some fun with it later dropping movie lines with the team at Docking Bay 7.

The mega-immersion level at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can feel like a sudden splash of cold water for guests who aren’t prepared for it—without some background, there’s nothing to indicate everyone is role-playing in a grand story. I even saw a guest walk up to Vi Moradi the other day and start asking for directions. Cast member costumes aren’t enough—after all, cast members everywhere in Walt Disney World wear themed costumes.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance solves this problem, particularly if you manage to get on it before experiencing the rest of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Immersion in a ride is a more familiar concept, and from the moment you enter the queue, you’re slowly primed for the experience ahead. It’s like guests are given time to realize that their role in the ride is as a character in Star Wars. The ride’s pre-show lays out the story in easy to understand terms, and the adventure progresses in a way that allows guests to process the immersion. By the time you leave Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the rest of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge just makes more sense. You’ve been primed to enjoy it, even if you just do so as a tourist from earth. Priming guests for immersion also serves another important purpose for the land…

6. It’s an attraction with appeal to more than just Star Wars fans

One of the biggest points of criticism we saw when discussing Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was that the land seemed to only be made for one type of visitor: Star Wars fans. Even more so, there were many Star Wars fans who felt it was only for the portion of the fanbase who liked the new films. Why should anyone who isn’t into Star Wars care about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance gives guests a reason to care, even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars film.

I am not a particular fan of Avatar or the Harry Potter franchise—they’re just not my thing in terms of fandom. I was extremely skeptical of both The World of Pandora and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when I first visited. Both lands successfully impressed me and proved enjoyable. The World of Pandora doesn’t rely on the Avatar films for its success—it’s  beautiful and offers familiar connections to science fiction tales. It helps that Avatar: Flight of Passage is a great attraction. With The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I may not have been into the story, but I could still admire the land’s incredible detail and the impressive technology behind its rides.

You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance because it relies on the same reliable formula for mass appeal that Star Wars has always been based on: the hero’s journey. On Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you play the role of the unwitting bystander caught up in world-altering events. You don’t have to know the details because the characters fit familiar archetypes: the heroine, the warrior, the sidekicks, and the cruel antagonists. It’s adventure in its purest form, and it is still enjoyable without emotional connection to the Star Wars saga.

There’s another group who benefits from Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. I had a great conversation with a reader recently in regards to the immersive elements of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. For some guests, the role-playing and make-believe elements are a source of discomfort. For these guests, the magic of a Disney vacation surrounds the beauty and awe of spectacle rather than playing make-believe. While Galaxy’s Edge alone may not have held enough appeal for this fanbase originally, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance fills this need. It offers guests the opportunity to just marvel at a brilliantly executed attraction, a piece of storytelling art interweaving animatronics, simulators, mind-boggling effects, and trackless ride technology into one of Disney’s finest achievements yet. If nothing else, every Disney parks fan should at least experience it once.

Are you planning to ride Rise of the Resistance? What other effects do you think this ride will have on Disney parks in the future?