1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Park: Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The new anchor E-Ticket of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Rise of the Resistance isn’t just the best trackless dark ride on Earth – it might be the best modern ride on Earth, period. The epic intergalactic journey makes use of no less than three separate ride systems during its runtime, famously blurring the line between queue and ride.
After their Resistance shuttle is abducted by the nefarious First Order, guests are sent for interrogation at the hands of the mysterious Kylo Ren… only for a last minute save to open a fleeting path forward. Guests board reprogrammed First Order prisoner transports in a last ditch effort to make it to an escape pod before the Star Destroyer they’re trapped on is wiped out by the Resistance.
What follows is an attraction so massively scaled, it’s unlike anything Disney (or anyone else) has ever attempted before. The ride melds the trackless technology, a few genuinely surprising twists, and just about every special effect mastered in Disney’s six-decade portfolio (including one of the best Audio-Animatronics on Earth) into one master class on the power of Imagineering.
TBD. Minnie & Mickey’s Runaway Railway
Park: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Since 1989, the unspoken “thesis” attraction of the Disney-MGM Studios had been the Lost Legend: The Great Movie Ride. Located in the park’s iconic Chinese Theater, the epic attraction toured guests through the greatest scenes in cinema history. When it was announced that the ride would be closed to make way for an attraction based on Disney Channel’s new Mickey Mouse shorts, fans debated the decision. Did a cartoon adventure make sense in the elegant Chinese Theater?
One thing we can most definitely agree on, though, is that Disney would’ve preferred to have the new Mickey ride open before Rise of the Resistance as a way to divert crowds away from Galaxy’s Edge. Allegedly, both rides share a nearly-identical ride system, which is why the same technical issues that plagued Rise (forcing it to open nearly a near after the rest of Galaxy’s Edge) also stalled the timeline on Runaway Railway. If that’s true, you can see why Disney opted to divert all its resources toward Star Wars, putting work on the Mickey ride on the backburner.
Still, we expect Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway to be a sleeper hit, instantly rocketing up fans’ must-see lists and becoming a sought-after ride at each Disney Resort. Luckily for Californians, the attraction is already slated for Disneyland’s Toontown in 2022.
TBD. Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast
Park: Tokyo Disneyland
The cultural dominance of Disney’s Renaissance in the ‘90s produced The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, and Mulan – stories that literally saved Disney and defined a generation. That’s what makes it so odd that – but for the Mermaid rides opened in 2012 – none have been the subject of their own dark rides.
That’ll change in a big way with the Enchanted Tale of Beauty and the Beast, opening this year in Tokyo Disneyland’s expanded New Fantasyland. Enchanted Tale looks to be drawn from the same page as Rise of the Resistance, combining a gargantuan scale with staggering technologies (including animatronics so real, they look pulled off the screen) and… 10-person trackless teacups!
While we’ll have to wait a bit to find out all the details, this looks to be a continuation of the epic 21st century dark rides we’ve seen develop.