Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - Disneyland (Reviewed)

This weekend marks the opening of one of the most ambitious and complex attractions created by the Walt Disney Imagineers in recent history. Rise of the Resistance, in Disney's Galaxy's Edge, is an elaborate experience consisting of a walk-through, a trackless dark ride, motion simulation and drop ride. At 18 minutes, it's length is second only to the Disneyland Railroad which circles the whole park. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I decided to fight the crowds and see if Rise of the Resistance could rise to all the hype. 

Hours before I found myself in the Gonk print speckled tunnels of The Resistance, I was on Disneyland's Main Street at 7:59 am staring at my phone. As a tool for crowd control, Disney created a boarding group system for park goers accessible through their app. Any person who wishes to ride Rise of the Resistance must gain a spot in one of their boarding groups, which max out somewhere over 100. At exactly 8:00 am, Disney opens the boarding group system and attendees quick-to-the-draw can score a seat before it fills up at 8:02 am. The fine print in the boarding group screen reads "Boarding groups 75 and above are not guaranteed a spot on the ride." I was in boarding group 73.

As nerve wracking as this first two minutes of being in Disneyland was for me, the boarding group system is actually a godsend. I was now free to spend the day enjoying the rest of the park without having to worry about missing the main event. Instead of standing in a five plus hour line waiting for a new attraction, I rode six other rides, including Indiana Jones and Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout, watched the Lunar New Year celebrations in Disney California Adventure, stuffed my face full of margaritas and snacks, and had my picture taken with several Disney characters. By the time I received my boarding group notification at 3:30 pm, I had experienced a full Disneyland day.

The line for Rise of the Resistance was maybe 20 minutes long. The wait feels even shorter, because the waiting area is an elaborately decorated tunnel system containing tons of resistance inspired items to touch and play with. The ride begins when you are ushered into a small holding room where a hologram of Rey tells the 'new recruits' a First Order Star Destroyer is headed for Batuu and it is no longer safe. A transport piloted by Lieutenant Beck has been arranged to take you to General Organa's secret base where you will be trained. You are told not to reveal the location of the secret base.  

The doors on the other side of the holding room open to the outside and two cast members dressed as resistance fighters tell you to run to your transport. The transport itself is to the left and serves as the door to the main ride. You are given a moment to look at your surroundings before boarding the ship, which you will want to take advantage of. The detail of your surrounds will grab your attention. 

Once on the transport, an animatronic lieutenant Beck begins taking you to your destination. As the events of your trip unfold, the transport does actually move while you free stand inside of it. If you lose your balance easily, make sure to hold onto something. Once secured, look around, this room has a tremendous amount of activity and detail. It is almost overwhelming. 

Inevitably, your transport ride is interrupted by the First Order, when you get caught in a tractor beam, pulled into their Star Destroyer, and finally boarded by cast members dressed as First Order officers. This is the only ride at Disneyland where the cast members are part of the ride. Throughout Rise of the Resistance it is possible to interact with more than ten cast members, so their performances help sell the experience. I was impressed with the commitment of the cast members to their characters on this day. 

The next and best part of the ride consists of your imprisonment by and escape from the First Order. There is a small walk through portion to this, but most is experienced through the trackless dark ride with a motion simulation at the end. The trackless portion is breathtakingly beautiful and intensely exciting. It contains multiple rooms filled with a combination of screen scenes, animatronics, and highly detailed decorations including, but not limited to, full sized AT-ATs. The two ten year old boys sitting next to me audibly expressed what I felt internally while we were all carted through Kylo Ren's Star Destroyer. The experience is jaw dropping, and filled me with so much elation I wanted to cry. 

Overall, Rise of the Resistance is 10/10 experience. I would give it 20/10 if I could. It's ambitiousness, coupled with the design's attention to detail, fits perfectly into the mood of Galaxy's Edge and gives Star Wars fans what we all want: A chance to live in the fantasy. 

-Dawn Stronski