Well, it’s finally here. Disney needed a home run hit with its new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, and it seems to have one on its hands. Early reviews are already heralding it as one of the greatest and most ambitious theme park attractions ever built: A seamless fusion of high technology, ingenious placemaking, and old-school theatrical performance.
This ride is also, for lack of a better term, exceedingly meaty. There’s simply a ton to see and do throughout the 20-minute-ish experience, making it incredibly re-rideable and rewarding those with a close eye to detail.
Don’t want to go through the trouble of sussing out the best way to experience it for yourself? Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work for you. Here’s where to stand and what to do to get the most out of your ride on Rise of the Resistance.
The Queue: Descend Into Darkness
Your journey begins on the planet Batuu (or as you may know it: the Star War: Galaxy’s Edge section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios), an Outer Rim outpost that has long served as a magnet for the galaxy’s most notorious scum, villainy, and blue milk peddlers. To access the attraction, you must navigate minimal signage (just about everything in this theme park area is in-story) and then enter the queue through a rocky cave—just the kind of place Resistance warriors might hide out to avoid First Order Stormtroopers.
As is typical with blockbuster attractions, you’ll see a Standby and a FastPass+ entrance. If you’ve got a FastPass, good for you! If not, take solace in the knowledge that you’ll get access to a much more detailed queue, filled with Resistance uniforms and artifacts.
At times, the queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance feels like a mineshaft as you descend into … [+]
Keep an eye on the way certain parts of the passageway feel like a mine tunnel dynamited out of a sheer shale (even the lighting feels like the sort of thing you might find in a mineshaft). Disney’s Imagineers also did a fine job of building in lots of places to sit down while you wait, without the story-killing inclusion of basic benches. There are plenty of barrels and chests that presumably hold Resistance gear, but also happen to double as handy seats. And many of the walls are lined with rocks that have been conveniently cast with enough room to rest your rear. When there are basic metal queueing rails, they often feature a ledge at butt height that is angled for perfect leaning. (Again, it’s all about the details.)
BB-8 & Rey Say Hi: Where To Stand
After descending deep into the Resistance base, your first stop is a pre-show scene where an actual rolling BB-8 droid and a lifelike hologram of Rey (that’s Daisy Ridley’s character in the new trilogy, pulling her own version of “Help me, Obi Wan Kenobo” to a room full of excited park guests) give you your marching orders and set you on your mission.
You know how experienced Haunted Mansion and Terror of Terror riders know where to stand for easy egress out of the pre-show scenes? Here’s how you do it here: Walk all the way to the far end of the room, by where the Rey hologram appears. It will position you close to the door for quick exit to the next scene, while giving you a great view of the hologram and droid.
For the best view and easy exit, stand to the far right of this room
The Outdoors X-Wing Comes To Life
This pre-show opens up onto a brief outdoors scene, where a Resistance soldier ushers you into a space transport vehicle. The outdoors scene is short, but features a really cool gigantic full-size X-Wing. If you hustle past, you might miss it, but the X-Wing comes to life every few minutes with space ship-y lights and sounds. In the hubbub of your first ride, it’s not a big deal if you miss this, but definitely keep an eye out during repeat visits.
Space Transport: Get A Good View
From the outdoors area, the Resistance soldier ushers you through the door of a a full-sized space transport vehicle. (The description “full-sized” comes into play a lot on this ride—it really is amazing how realistic it all feels).
At first, this feels like it may be another pre-show scene, but once the door closes, it reveals itself to be an actual simulator ride—and the first Rise’s four discrete ride systems.
The most impressive part of this section is the gigantic Audio-Animatronic of a Mon Calamari officer in the cockpit. When you enter the transport, bee-line to the right side for the best view of the cockpit. It’s actually pretty amazing how close you can get to the robotic figure. Also try to stay close to the door you entered through: That’s where you’ll exit into the next scene.
To get close to the action, stand to the right side of the Space Transport scene.
If you enter into the left side of the transport, your consolation prize is a view through the rear windshield of the vehicle. On repeat voyages—especially if you don’t feel like fighting crowds to get close to the action—this position offers a totally different experience, though one that isn’t quite the whiz-bang technical showcase of the Audio-Animatronic show on the right. One detail I appreciated: The rear window appeared to be a gunner bay with the cannon ripped out. While 99 percent of guests won’t notice it, you now will.
For comparison, the view out the “rear window” of the Space Transport, accessibleon thee far left … [+]
Star Destroyer Deck: Catch The Perfect Picture
After getting hijacked by the First Order, your transport door opens onto the deck of a Star Destroyer. What’s amazing here is that you exit through the same door that entered. So while the transport vehicle may seem like a typical stationary simulator, it does, in fact, move. When and where and how far exactly? I have no idea. It all sort of feels like (to borrow Disney’s favorite phrase) magic.
Exit the transport vehicle through the same door you entered. Only this time, it brings you onto the … [+]
Exit the transport vehicle and you find yourself at the most iconic and Instagram-able part of the entire experience: A phalanx of Stormtroopers greeting you as you disembark from the transport vehicle. Notice the subtle movements as the Stormtroopers seem to fidget in place. And marvel at the astonishingly enormous Star Destroyer window screen, which displays a vast space vista.
Looking to catch a great photo? Many people will stand directly in front of the Stormtroopers. However, due to the position of the guard rail, the figures will look like they are decidedly in your background. Instead, walk to the left (near the sample ride vehicle) and you’ll see a couple of Stormtroopers that are much, much closer to where guests can actually stand. Shoot these at the right angle, and you can a close-up view of them in the foreground, along with some of the other Stormtroopers in the background. Oh, and and don’t forget to look up at the giant life-sized (there’s that descriptor again!) Tie Fighter embedded in the wall on your right side.
Once you’ve taken in the scenery and gotten your pictures, it’s time to walk through the door to the right.
For a close-up shot of a Stormtrooper, head to the left side of the Star Destroyer scene.
Get Berated By First Order Officers—And Pick The Perfect Seat
At first glance, the next scene looks like a typical, though highly themed, ride-loading room. In truth, it’s actually something closer to a short immersive theater performance.
To get the most out of this room, you really should talk to the Cast Members, who are very much in character as scowling, berating, mean, cruel First Order officers. They don’t just tell you where to stand, they command it.
They will brush you aside, call you Resistance scum, and otherwise make you rue your choices. I tried pleading for my life. I told them I had renounced the Resistance. That I was, in fact, a spy for the First Order the whole time. Needless to say, it was too late for me—they made it clear that I’d cast my lot with the Light Side, and it was time to pay.
If you drink the Kool-Aid and play along, this scene is enormous fun (and features some of the best improvised acting I’ve ever seen in a theme park attraction—they really have earned the title “Cast Member” here). It’s also an ingenious way of handling the necessary work of lining guests up in position for a ride vehicle in a way that doesn’t ruin the immersive experience.
Load Into The Ride
Next up is a jail cell, where projections of Kylo Ren and General Hux basically tell you that you’re finished and that you need to rat out the Resistance’s secret something or another. Of course, before they can lead you to a painful interrogation, a Resistance soldier blows open the side of your jail cell and ushers you out of there and into the main ride vehicle: An droid-driven escape pod.
This is another example of Disney taking a typically mundane part of a ride—vehicle loading and safety check—and making it a part of the story. The Resistance soldier who loads you in and checks your safety belt implores you to hurry into the pod before the First Order comes. Play along with the story (but don’t hold up the loading process) and I promise you’ll have more fun.
The use of trackless vehicles also allows for multiple distinct ride profiles that offer somewhat different experiences. I’m not yet sure if the color-coordinated seat assignments always dictate the same ride profile or if it differs depending on which loading bay you go through, but the Blue placement offered the best experience when I rode. This position put me in the front row of the ride vehicle on the more interesting of the two ride profiles that I experienced. (More on the differences below).
The Ride Itself
Finally, finally you are on the main “ride” part of Rise of the Resistance. There’s a lot going on here, so you’ll definitely want to ride it more than once just to take it all in—especially since there is more than one ride profile, offering somewhat different experiences.
Here’s how you can tell which ride profile you’re on: One of them takes you up close to the Probe droid in the beginning, and also brings you face-to-face with a blaster-blasting AT-AT. The other ride profile features its own unique highlight: In the scene when you race past the gigantic cannons, it puts you in the front position, creating a real sense of tension and surprise as the cannons block your path, only to move aside in the nick of time.
Both ride profiles are fantastic, so ask the First Order officer who places you in the proper spot if you can try a different one on a second ride through. Just don’t be surprised if they berate you and call you Resistance scum.
The droid piloting your escape vehicle is a real character—and may be in a bit over its head.
Lastly, pay attention to the droid that is driving your ride vehicle. In discussions with Imagineers, it’s clear this thing was designed to have a ton of personality as it skittishly tries to find a way out of the Star Destroyer. You may be having a good time, but this thing is absolutely panicking. And it’s glorious.