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Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Survival Guide – What You Need to Know Before You Arrive

You can now visit a galaxy far, far away at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the highly anticipated new land inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is now open! In the land, you’ll find the most technically advanced attraction Disney has ever built. People are going crazy over this amazing immersive experience. Turns out fighting the First Order isn’t as simple as it seems. You can’t just show up anytime and get in line – you need to join a boarding group. Want to experience Rise of the Resistance? Catch everything you need to know about how you can enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance below.





 

1 – The Basics the Virtual Queue and the Boarding Group

Walt Disney World is utilizing a virtual queue for entry into Star War: Rise of the Resistance. At this time, a boarding group is required to access the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction. A boarding group is not required to access Galaxy’s Edge or Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. This means that rather than allowing people to line up like most other attractions, you get in line virtually through the My Disney Experience App or with the help of the Guest Relations team. Once in the park, you use your My Disney Experience App to join a “Boarding Group.” When your group is called to return to the attraction, you’ll receive a push notification from the app. You’ll have up to two hours from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, so there’s no need to rush right over. Once there, you’ll be able to enter the attraction. Sounds easy. Right? Well, mostly yes. We recently had an opportunity to put our knowledge and tips to test by visiting a very busy Disney’s Hollywood Studios on New Year’s Eve. The following is our guide to give you the best chance to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance during your Walt Disney World vacation.

2 – Download the My Disney Experience App Before You Arrive

The first thing you want to do before your arrival is to make sure you have Walt Disney World apps installed on your phone or “datapad.” If you haven’t already, you’ll want to download the My Disney Experience App. Not only is this app a must for any Walt Disney World vacation, but the app will also give you updates on the current attraction statuses and allow you to join a boarding party for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You’ll want to enable notifications in your settings to receive important updates during your vacation.

Note that if you do not have a smartphone, you can visit a Guest Experience Team kiosk to access the virtual queue and join a boarding party. You can check the app or in-park signs to see which boarding group is currently being admitted. You can also visit any Guest Experience Team kiosk at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for questions and assistance.





 

3 – Finalize Your “Family & Friends” list on the My Disney Experience App

Before your trip, in your My Disney Experience App, make sure that each member of your party has a profile. If guests are over 13 years old, they can set up their own free account and complete a friend request to connect with you so that you can add each other to reservations and plans.  If guests don’t have an interest in an account or aren’t old enough to manage their own, you are able to add them as a friend and manage their profile yourself. Having everyone in your party connected on the app is essential for the virtual queue. You will need to quickly choose your boarding party and you will need everyone to be set up in the app before you arrive. Click here for help on adding Family & Friends in My Disney Experience.  

4 – Choosing Which Your Day to Visit

If you’re like most Walt Disney World guests, you’ll be visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios once or twice during your vacation. You’ll want to think about what day you want to visit. The current boarding group system means you’ll likely need to get up very early to enjoy the attraction. Pick a day when you will not have been out late the night before–like perhaps at a Disney After Hours event. Also, be mindful of any dining reservations you have in place. Since you have to be there before park opening, a breakfast reservation at Chef Mickey’s will not work the day you plan to enjoy Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Also, be mindful of evening plans. Depending on when the park opens, your children (or even you!) may need a nap to get through the day! Finally, be sure to check the park hours for Disney’s Hollywood Studios during your vacation. The park may open anytime between 7:00 am and 9:00 am. If you’re not a morning person, choose the later opening. 

Waiting for Disney’s Hollywood Studios to open on New Year’s Eve.

5 – Arriving Early to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Boarding groups are limited and will run out. The earlier you get there, the better chance you have to join a party. We suggest arriving at the park around 45 minutes before the published opening time. You’ll need plenty of time to go through security, wait for the gate to open, get your ticket scanned, and get inside the park to be ready to join a boarding group.

You’ll need to plan ahead and consider how you will arrive. If you have your own car, driving to the park will be the easiest option early in the morning. For Disney Resort guests, the Disney Skyliner may not be operating. However, Disney buses should be running. Minnie Van Service, an Uber, or a taxi may be options for you. Because Disney transportation hours vary so much, if you are a Disney Resort guest, we suggest you check with the hotel concierge for up to date bus operating hours to Disney’s Hollywood Studios before the morning of your visit. Give yourself plenty of time–at least 30 minutes of travel time–to arrive at the park.

For our visit, the park’s opening time was 6:00 am. We parked at around 5:10 am, walked up, went through security, and was in line to enter the park around 5:25 am. They opened the gates at 5:30 am, and we were inside at 5:38 am. We had a 22-minute wait until the park opened. I was happy with our twenty-minute buffer. I would not have wanted to cut it any closer than that.

6 – Everyone Needs to Be There

The virtual queue will open at the published park opening time. Guests must be in Disney’s Hollywood Studios to access virtual queue in the My Disney Experience app. That means as long as you have had your ticket scanned and you are physically in the park, you can join a boarding group. Also, everyone in your party needs to be with you, so everyone needs to get up early and arrive together!

7 – Waiting for Park Opening

While it’s not guaranteed, Disney will likely welcome guests onto Hollywood Boulevard before opening the rest of the park. This is mostly for security reasons, but it also eliminates the stress of not being in the park when it opens. Limited nearby locations will be open for your convenience such as Trolley Car Café (Starbucks) and Keystone Clothiers. Many people lined up at Starbucks, while others went as far into the park as possible. People will go in three different directions – to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run, to Toy Story Land, or to Sunset Blvd for Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. Decide which attraction you want to enjoy first and line up appropriately.

On the left–what you’ll see when you open the My Disney Experience App. On the right–what you see when you open the app before park opening.

8 – Using the My Disney Experience App at Park Opening

At the park’s published opening time, the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens along with offerings throughout the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We lined up on Hollywood Blvd and waited for the park opening, which in our case was 6:00 am. First, I recommend disconnecting from the park’s WiFi. You’ll likely have the best connection with using your cellular, rather than relying on the park’s WiFi. I had been told by Disney cast members not to have the app open, but to open it exactly at park opening time. I noticed many around me that had their apps open and were just refreshing the page. Honestly, I don’t know which way is best. I had my app closed, and it took four or five times for my app to update to show that the park was open. I opened the app, and it would say “park closed,” and then I would swipe up to kill the app (for iOS) and then try again. At 6:01 am, I was able to select my party, and by 6:02 am, we had been assigned to Group 54. With thousands of people trying to get a boarding group all at once, those two minutes seemed like an eternity. I noticed the people who already had their App open and were refreshing got their boarding group at least one minute before we did. Having now gone through the process, I suggest that everyone in your party try to get to the “select your party” page on the app. Whoever gets there first can make the reservation for everyone. (That’s why it’s so important to have everyone in your party in your “Friends and Family” list.)

Here’s a summary of the process:

  1. Be in the park ready and waiting for park opening.
  2. Disconnect from the park’s WiFi.
  3. Open the app or refresh the app when the park opens.
  4. Have everyone who has a smartphone, and My Disney Experience account, open their apps.
  5. On the homepage of the app, click the “find out more” button. (See photo above)
  6. On the next page, then click the “Join Boarding Group” button. If this page still says “closed,” then close the app and try again. (See photo above)
  7. Once you can “Join Boarding Group,” now you’ll select the people in your party. Whoever gets to the “select your party,” page first should then make the reservation for everyone.
  8. The app will only allow you to pick people who have tickets and are in the park with you.
  9. Receive boarding broup number. Click on “My Status” to see your group number. (See photo below). 
  10. Wait to be called to enjoy the attraction.

Please note that joining a boarding group does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The ride may go down for some time, and not all groups may be called. That’s another reason to get there early to get an early boarding group. 

On the left–this is what you’ll see when you can still join a boarding group. Click the red button to join. On the right–the screen you’ll see when you click “my status,” which shows what group you are in.

9 – Backup Boarding Groups

Due to the incredible popularity of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disney will continue to distribute backup boarding groups after the initial planned groups have been filled. Backup boarding groups will only be called if all of the initial planned boarding groups have been called back, and there is capacity for more riders that evening. If Disney is able to accommodate boarding groups that evening, guests will be notified through the My Disney Experience app by a push notification (if enabled). On the day we visited, the boarding groups were full one hour after opening, and they were assigning backup groups for a few hours after that. Note that backup boarding groups differ from day to day. 

10 – Waiting for Your Boarding Group to be Called

While you’re waiting for your boarding group to be called, you can enjoy the rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Grab some breakfast, ride an attraction, or explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. At Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, you’ll explore Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu. Batuu is a far-flung destination along the galaxy’s Outer Rim, on the frontier of Wild Space – the uncharted region beyond all known star systems. The planet is home to Black Spire Outpost, an infamous port for smugglers, traders, and adventurers wishing to avoid any unnecessary … entanglements with the First Order. When you arrive at Black Spire Outpost, you will come across aliens, droids, and other inhabitants of this planet as you search for rare and unique goods, discover unusual food and drink, or join a crew seeking adventures. Along the way, you may encounter some familiar faces, including Rey, Chewbacca, or even Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and his Stormtroopers.

While waiting for your group to be called, you can check your My Disney Experience App for the current boarding groups being called. There are also signs posted throughout the park that show the current groups. If you have enabled push notifications on your phone, you’ll receive an alert when your group is called. Don’t worry if you are in the middle of something. You have a two-hour window to go to Star War: Rise of the Resistance once your group is called.

Our group number was 54. On the day we visited, our group was called at 9:25 am. We were eating breakfast, so we headed to the attraction about twenty minutes after we were called. The time when a group is called will vary from day to day. We have friends who attended another day who were in group 61 and were called around 11:30 am. Note that you can leave the park if you wish. You don’t have to stay. Just keep in mind the two-hour window to return. You don’t want to miss your boarding group!

On the left–you’ll receive a push notification when your group is called. On the right–your “My Status” page will tell you what time you have to return to the attraction.

11 – Enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

When your boarding group is called and you are ready to ride, head to the attraction. When arriving at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge from the Grand Avenue entrance, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the first thing you’ll come upon on your left-hand side. You’ll see plenty of cast members there to guide you. You’ll need your ticket or Magic Band out to be scanned to enter the queue. Once inside the queue, wait times will vary. Our wait for the first pre-show was about 25 minutes. Because of the length of the attraction, our whole experience, from the moment we stepped into the queue to the time we exited, was about 49 minutes!

Click here for our full review of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

12 – Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Overall, we’re really happy with the virtual queue. While we’re not fans of getting up before 4:00 am, it is nice to know that if you get there at park opening, you have a pretty good chance to ride the attraction. We’ve heard a few complaints about the process. Some say they would rather wait in a 6-8 hour line than have to get up early. I disagree. While we waited about 3 hours and 5 minutes for our boarding group to be called, during that time we rode Slinky Dog Dash, got coffee, rode Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, rode Star Tours, and got breakfast at Ronto Roasters. I would much rather have that time to enjoy the park than wait in a line. Once our group was called, we waited about 25 minutes inside the attraction. Other than a bit of stress over the app not updating to show the park was open, it was a smooth and enjoyable experience.

There is no word on how long Disney will utilize the virtual queue or when they might start to offer FastPasses for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. So for now, may the Force be with you as you enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.



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About Cindy E. Nykamp

After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched DisneyLists.com in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Cindy wears many hats for DisneyLists.com. As a content creator, she has written over six hundred articles providing news, tips, planning and more, for trips to Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line to our followers. She directs a team of authors to bring our fans up to date information so that they can have the best Disney vacation experience. Cindy manages DisneyLists.com's Instagram account, sharing photos and videos to bring some Disney magic into our followers feeds. She is also our chief photographer and has her photos featured on the official Walt Disney World Instagram account. Finally, Cindy regularly represents DisneyLists.com at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, she gets an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World and passes this information and tips to our followers.