Rise of the Resistance
Caution: Confidential information for the Resistance’s eyes only
Rise of the Resistance opened on December 5, 2019, at WDW’s Hollywood Studios and on January 17, 2020, at Disneyland. Located between the entrance of Galaxy’s Edge by Muppet Vision 3D and the Resistance Supply Shop, this immersive attraction is hidden to the guests passing by. Riders join Rey and BB-8 on a mission to take down the First Order but are, unfortunately, captured and brought aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as prisoners. Resistance fighters, including Finn, come to the rescue to give them a fighting chance to escape, but not before Kylo Ren gives them a scare. Including the pre-shows, this attraction is a 15-20 minute immersive experience that places the guests right into the Star Wars Universe.
In order to ride Rise, guests must obtain a boarding group through the virtual queue due to the absence of a standby queue. This process has changed multiple times since the opening of Rise and will most likely continue to change due to the evolving COVID-19 restrictions. When it first opened, guests were required to be in HS to even be eligible to join a boarding party. Because they were given out on a first-come first-serve basis, guests were lining up outside of the park hours before the park opened, which posed a fire hazard. This caused Disney to open the park even earlier to free the entrance. This resulted in crowds forming between 4-6 a.m. and Disney scanning people in before 7 a.m. All members of your party had to be scanned into the park and be far enough into the park for the My Disney Experience App to recognize you to qualify for a boarding pass. In the beginning, there were many issues with the app identifying guests in the park. While there were many cast members to help at the guest relations kiosk, guests began to learn that this was the easiest way to get a boarding pass as the cast member would be able to scan their MagicBands and place them in a boarding group manually. People began to run straight to the guest relations’ blue umbrella and line up prior to the boarding group release time. Since then, guests now must have a park reservation for HS and can attempt to join a boarding group at 7 a.m. from the comfort of their resort room or anywhere on Disney property. Unsuccessful guests have the opportunity to try to join a boarding group again at 1 p.m. However, to receive a boarding group at 1 p.m., all guests must be in HS.
The attraction consists of 18 show areas and four ride systems that are broken up into a three-act structure: Act 1: The cave systems of Batuu and pre-show, Act 2: Ascent into space aboard the I-TS shuttle, Act 3: Escape from the Star Destroyer. It is considered to be both a simulator and trackless dark ride. It’s not until Act 3, that guests enter the ride vehicle and begin the ride portion of the experience. Each ride vehicle holds eight passengers with two rows of four. Plexi-glass was installed due to COVID-19 safety regulations and allows for two parties to be in one ride car. Each ride car has an R5 droid in the front to be their guide. Disney Imagineers have stated that there are 38 ride cars and 36 can be in the “show space” at one time. Impressively enough, guests only see one other ride car while on their ride.
To enter the queue, guests pass through the turret station outside where a cast member checks their boarding group number and scans their MagicBands. Once through the turnstiles, guests follow the path covered by a canopy of trees to the secluded caverns. Guests will enter the caverns behind a waterfall where the beginning of a Resistance base is immediately present. It has an industrialized look with supply crates and visible wires and vents. The further in the queue the guest gets, the closer to the center of the base they are. The details found in this queue are from another galaxy. From the textures of the wall to the knobs and buttons guests can turn and press, every moment of this queue is part of the experience. Disney Imagineers even designed benches to be built into the wall that camouflage with the rough textures of the wall and curves of the line.
After the caves, guests enter the war rooms and armory portion of the queue. Resistance plans can be seen on large, transparent, light-up boards that look like blueprints and maps. Guests will also see supplies to defend the base including various blasters, Resistance flight suits and helmets. When it comes to detail, no aspect is too small. On the helmets, guests can see symbols that represent how many ships that fighter shot down. Once through the queue, the cast member will place guests in a waiting group of about 45 people to enter the pre-show. This number has been continuously adjusted to reflect COVID-19 safety precautions.
This pre-show is a mission briefing by an animatronic BB-8 that rolls out and a holographic image of Rey who asks the guests to join their cause in fighting the First Order. Guests will also be introduced to Lieutenant Bek and Nien Nunb prior to boarding their shuttle. This is where they learn that Poe Dameron will be joining them on their mission and taking them on his X-Wing. The doors open to a small courtyard where the shuttle has landed to take them on their mission. If guests look to their right, they will see Poe’s black and orange X-Wing. This is the only spot in Galaxy’s Edge that this can be seen.
The shuttle’s official name is an Intersystem Transport Ship, or I-TS, and typically holds 30-50 people. This number has also been continuously adjusted to reflect COVID-19 safety precautions. Guests board the shuttle and stand for the duration of the transport. An animatronic Nien Nunb can be found at the front of the shuttle and views of the galaxy can be seen out all the windows. The shuttle simulates space travel with the use of high-definition screens imitating lightspeed and the ground shaking beneath imitating take-off, although it never leaves the ground. Rather, the shuttle is built on a giant turntable that rotates the vehicle 180 degrees to the next room where the door opens. The animation is consistent with the circular rotation. While guests are on board, the shuttle is intercepted by a First Order Star Destroyer and is taken into custody. General Hux hijacks the screen to inform the passengers to lower their shields and prepare to board the Star Destroyer.
The doors open to the massive First Order Star Destroyer bay that is filled with over 50 Stormtrooper animatronics. These animatronics move their heads ever so slightly to create an eerie feeling amongst the guests as if they're being watched. The view of the galaxy is created by a giant, high-definition screen. Forced perspective is created with limited lighting, ceiling angles and hexagonal shapes to cause the room to feel larger than it really is. From this room, guests are escorted into a long detention hallway that funnels into the detention block where they are held for interrogation by the First Order troops. These cast members are typically actors that play a fantastic role of interrogating guests without breaking character. While they are given lines to read, many will ad lib based on the guests’ mannerisms, appearance or personal belongings.
The groups are split up into smaller groups of 16 and led down another hallway to the detention cells. The detention cells are seemingly dark, triangle shaped rooms with tall ceilings and a balcony where Stormtroopers are keeping guard. Kylo Ren and General Hux walk in, using screen technology, to discuss the prisoners when suddenly a panel of the wall lights up as a lightsaber burns through it. Resistance troops are on the other side of the wall to rescue the riders. They’re quickly moved into the next room to board the ride vehicles.
Once boarded, the trackless ride vehicles swiftly take off to escape. As the vehicle winds through the hallways of the Star Destroyer, they’re barely missing fire from the lasers being shot at them by the First Order troops. The two ride vehicles enter a room with two story-tall AT-ATs where they become separated and Finn shows up to cover for them. Each vehicle goes up a separate 40-foot elevator shaft to the second floor of the attraction. Throughout the ride, the guests are prisoners trying to escape with Kylo Ren chasing them down. The ride vehicles enter a second elevator to go down and Kylo’s lightsaber slices through the elevator ceiling. Back on the ground floor, the ride vehicles race through attempting to escape. Resistance ships, TIE Fighters and X-Wings can be seen outside the windows coming in for battle.
In the next room, guests are greeted by Kylo using the Force to pull in their vehicles. He demands to know the whereabouts of the Resistance base. Suddenly, a hole is blasted through the wall behind him breaking the Force hold. The transports enter the escape pods, which are a motion simulator, with Lieutenant Bek as the pilot. The pods drop about 10-20 feet and become an advanced simulator. The swift motion causes passengers to feel as if the pods are launched out of the Star Destroyer while they are given a view of the battle they just left. The transport makes a crash landing back on Batuu where the passengers are recognized as Resistance heroes for taking down the First Order.
Galaxy’s Edge is set in an outpost on the planet of Batuu created by The Walt Disney Company where the events portrayed take place between the films The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Rise of the Resistance is purposefully hidden from guests walking by to fulfill the need of hiding the Resistance’s base from the First Order.
Cast members in GE are trained to fulfill the role of a Batuu citizen by creating a full backstory for their character. From their responses of where they are from, to their costume and name tags, they are dedicated to keeping the immersion. Disney’s Imagineering designed the wardrobe for GE cast members to be modular so they were able to customize their own look, adding to their character’s story. Each cast member’s name tag is translated into Aurebesh, the written language in Star Wars.
Animatronics and Technological Enhancements
Rise of the Resistance features over 65 state-of-the-art animatronics, including droids and Stormtroopers. This makes it the attraction with the second-most animatronics behind "it’s a small world." All characters seen in the ride are played by the original actors and actresses. Many of the actors recorded this during the filming of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
The Kylo Ren animatronic is part of the new A1000 series model and uses “pancake” motors to emulate more realistic human-like movements. In the event this animatronic is not working, an alternate ending is triggered. Kylo instead appears through the window in front of the transports in his TIE Fighter and threatens to blast the passengers if they don’t reveal the location of the Resistance base. Suddenly, a Resistance X-Wing shoots down Kylo's TIE Fighter and the transport escapes.
While on the transport, guests can see blasters shooting past them. This is created using the persistence of vision effect or rays of LEDs to give the illusion of the beams. Projectors and flipping panels are used to simulate the damage caused by these blasters. Another optical illusion that passengers experience is in the room with the AT-ATs. Only two AT-ATs are in the room, but with the use of mirrors, it appears that there are four. Also, in the elevator scene, when Kylo's lightsaber cuts through the ceiling, it is actually a rapidly spinning light panel that moves on a semicircular track to give the illusion of it cutting through.
Many of these effects were made possible through the partnership Disney formed with Panasonic. They developed custom-made projectors and lenses that increase realism throughout the ride.
Overall, Rise of the Resistance is far from just a thrill ride. As the welcome sign states, “Join us on an exhilarating mission to stop the First Order! This mission includes rapid motion, sudden stops, sharp turns and a swift drop as you evade capture from the First Order.”
It is an immersive experience that can make Star Wars gurus cry and newcomers’ jaws drop. As Bob Chapek once said, “Imagine being chased for 15 minutes by Kylo Ren and the First Order. Lightsabers everywhere, Stormtroopers coming after you. It’s going to be fantastic!”