We Tested Disney’s New Star Wars Ride — and It’s Unlike Anything You’ve Ever Experienced (Video)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the banner attraction that opened today at Disneyland after opening last month at Walt Disney World Resort, isn’t a ride at all. With four ride systems, two ships, a battalion of Stormtroopers, and multiple Kylo Ren encounters, it’s an experiential journey to space and back; an ace in the hole of Disney storytelling that is as close as any of us will ever come to being inside a Star Wars film.
In other words, if you weren’t planning on making a trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort next year, shift those travel plans into hyperdrive immediately.
This state-of-the-art attraction, which opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Dec. 5, 2019 and Disneyland Park on Jan. 17, 2020, sees passengers recruited to join the Resistance, only to find themselves trapped aboard a Star Destroyer in desperate need of a way out. With the help of Poe Dameron, Finn, and a reprogrammed First Order R5-Series droid, riders will encounter numerous threats along the way — including over 50 Stormtroopers, 60-foot AT-ATs, and frightful First Order officers — as they attempt to reach safety.
By breaking the structure of traditional theme park rides, Disney developed Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance into an extended experience that plays out with a cinematic storyline in lieu of traditional queues, pre-shows, and exits. There is no other attraction like this in Disney parks or beyond, and you’ll feel it from the moment you step aboard the first transport ship, piloted by a bug-eyed creature of the same species as Admiral Ackbar. (And yes — there are more vehicles where that came from.) Rise of the Resistance is a behemoth so massive in scale that you’ll feel delightfully overwhelmed, whether you’re being tractor beamed into a hangar bay or traveling so deep within the depths of a Star Destroyer, you start wondering if you’ll ever make it out. Clocking in around 15 minutes from start to finish, it’s both lengthy and utterly transportive, leaving passengers somewhat bewildered after disembarkation, as though they really, truly may have spent the last quarter-hour in space.
Like the Star Wars film franchise as a whole, it’s not perfect; Rise of the Resistance lacks the high-stakes thrills on par with the life-or-death storylines that often comes within its space operatic storytelling. But, what it’s missing in errant speed or traditional frights it makes up in accessibility, providing a uniquely inclusive experience for thrill-averse guests who can’t ride coasters, 3-D attractions, or drop rides like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, allowing nearly everybody to take part. (There is a short motion simulator portion at the end with a singular drop, but it is significantly less intense than Star Tours, lasting under thirty seconds.)
Delayed a few months into both Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge openings, Rise of the Resistance rounds out every missing component of the theme park land, packing droids, audio-animatronics, and new trilogy stars like Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, and General Hux into its storyline, elevating Batuu as a whole to incredible new heights. A few ride segments appear strangely low-tech, leaving much to the imagination — particularly in a selection of scenes near the end featuring Kylo Ren — but all-in-all, the attraction remains an unparalleled triumph that cements Disney as a must-visit destination for any and all movie fans.
So much of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has never been attempted before, and with an entire face-off between the Resistance and First Order packed into the experience, repeat rides only enhance the attraction. The middle section — a high-tech trackless ride with no discernable direction — whirls you and seven other stowaways through Kylo Ren’s Star Destroyer, providing a different perspective and path depending on where you sit each time.
Encompassing the timeless magic of all three trilogies, each moment of Rise of the Resistance plays out like a classic Star Wars movie, both familiar and ineffably exciting, resulting in relief and jubilation. It’s an experience — one with many components, characters, and storylines — that provides boundless entertainment, and will do so for years, making it an absolute triumph.