When Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened at California’s Disneyland Resort earlier in 2019, it was an impressive feat. The massive Star Wars land immersed visitors on a distant planet in outer space, with the idea that they’d get to live out their own Star Wars story. And while the land is incredibly impressive, one of the places where it was lacking is important at a theme park.
Upon launch, the only ride available was Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, a motion simulator that let visitors take control of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. It was a novel idea for a ride, but one the attraction didn’t quite stick the landing. If you take that out of the equation, what you’re left with is essentially an incredibly impressive shopping mall. Now, though, Galaxy’s Edge is truly ready to make the impact it should have months ago.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is less of a ride than it is a cinematic experience. In this attraction, you are dropped into the middle of the war between the First Order and the Resistance, with a number of familiar faces–Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, and many others appear throughout–guiding the way. And yes, the cast from the films appears in the roles.
In doing so, Rise of the Resistance tells a compelling Star Wars story with actual stakes. Unlike Smugglers Run, which is about picking up cargo in the Millennium Falcon, this attraction not only tells a fully-realized Star Wars story, but in doing so makes you part of the action.
To achieve this experience, Rise of the Resistance employs a number of ride features, including a motion simulator, a trackless ride system, and even a dramatic drop down a shaft. The multiple ride systems help make Rise of the Resistance stand out, but what puts this particular attraction in a league of its own is the scale of the project. While in the ride you’ll come across a massive hangar packed full of Stormtroopers, full-size AT-AT walkers, holograms, human cast members, projected imagery, and a number of animatronic figures.
There’s also the attention to detail. Rise of the Resistance doesn’t hold back when it comes to maintaining the theme throughout, whether it’s various droids scattered around the ride, alien languages on signage, or the thrilling score that accompanies the ride. This is as authentic a Star Wars experience as you’ll ever get to have. Well, at least until Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser opens in 2021.
As wonderful as this attraction is, it’s not without potential flaws. During the media preview event for Rise of the Resistance, the ride went down for maintenance more than once. In fact, during my first ride, our vehicle broke after we buckled in. The only solution was to exit to another loading bay to ride. Given how ambitious this ride is and the number of ride systems that have to work together to pull it off, technical difficulties seem practically guaranteed in the beginning. Here’s hoping the imagineers can work out the kinks quickly, though.
Still, even with these technical mishaps, it’s hard to view Rise of the Resistance as anything but an undisputed success. When Disney Parks promised an immersive experience like no other in Galaxy’s Edge, this is what they were talking about. There’s no other ride on the planet quite like it. At least, not yet. This is a game-changing attraction that is going to require other parks–and Disney itself–to rethink what the standard for a theme park ride is because Rise of the Resistance is the standard they’ll be held to now.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opens December 5 at Florida’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. The ride will then open at Disneyland on January 17, 2020.