First look inside Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

August 27, 2019, 9:24 AM · At this morning’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge media event at Walt Disney World, Imagineer Scott Trowbridge popped a surprise on gathered reporters — we would getting the chance to walk through the upcoming Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride during our stay on Batuu today.

During a preview session, Trowbridge confirmed some details about the new ride system that will power Rise of the Resistance. Uh, make that ride systems. While most of your adventure will take place inside eight-passenger trackless ride vehicles (driven by a often-errant R5 droid, because what could possibly go wrong?), near the ride’s conclusion things will get… complicated.

Stop here if you don’t want spoilers.

The ride’s story is that you are joining the Resistance at its camp on the edges of the Black Spire Outpost. Boarding a transport vehicle to the Resistance Base, you are captured by the First Order and brought aboard one of its Star Destroyers.

Here, an animatronic Kylo Ren will try to get you to talk - to reveal the location of the Resistance Base. But your R5 unit will try to lead you to escape. Unfortunately, the R5 seems to have graduated the Captain Rex School of Navigation and you end up dodging laser fire from Stormtroopers and full-sized AT-AT vehicles as you careen around the Destroyer.

Eventually, you make it to the escape pods. As you enter the escape pod, your trackless ride vehicle is actually driving onto a motion base platform, such as the ones that power the Star Tours ride. The window in front of you is a screen showing space, and you’re ready to jettison from the ship.

That happens because the motion base you’ve driven onto is mounted on a third ride system — a drop element. The motion base will shake your transport vehicle as it physically drops to simulate the launch from the ship to safety.

Update: I have just returned to Batuu from my short trip into space to see the First Order's Star Destroyer. This publicity image, just released by Disney, is not an illustration. It is a photo.

Inside Rise of the Resistance

This Star Destroyer scene is the load point for the trackless ride vehicles that will take you on your journey through the ship. But it is not the entry point to the attraction nor the first ride vehicle you board.

The experience begins with walk-through scenes on Batuu, where you join the Resistance and meet Rey. From there, you head back outside where you see Poe Dameron's X-wing standing next to the ITS troop transport ship that will take you to the Resistance Base. That's where Trowbridge met us today and talked us through the next two scenes.

The ITS is a ride vehicle, piloted by Nien Nunb. You stand for this short ride, during which the ship will be captured by General Hux and the First Order.

As for the ride experience here, think of a Star Wars version of the tram that takes you between the gates and terminal at the Orlando airport. There are multiple vehicles here, basically on a loop taking you around a corner to the Star Destroyer docking bay scene.

When we entered that scene, I heard gasps, and the typically jaded media broke into applause. You stand before dozens of practical, life-sized Stormtroopers, overseen by a full-scale TIE fighter, all in front of a convincing bay opening into space.

This was as far as we got on our visit today, but it was more than enough to whet my appetite for a return visit to experience the whole thing. As impressive as it was to see the Falcon in person for the first time, this moment topped that.

I talked with Greg Johnson, senior project coordinator on Rise of the Resistance, about some of the unique elements fans will discover inside the attraction.



Rise of the Resistance opens December 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and January 17 at Disneyland.

Replies (29)

August 27, 2019 at 9:26 AM

Welp, that explains the delays. Sheesh! This is going to be a pretty epic experience!

August 27, 2019 at 9:44 AM

Mousesteps has released a video of the Disney presentation over the weekend that included some 'on ride' footage of RotR. Awesome doesn't come close.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6uqGtYEl4o&fbclid=IwAR0nTlInfLvgIN6QhKJ6V90owFUL1kDGV-xDJpBlbIjCwktl8-JJJBG19GU

August 27, 2019 at 10:17 AM

Definitely ambitious, but I want to know more about the reported interactions with live actors that will make the attraction truly immersive.

Also, I have to ask that if the fundamental ride system is a trackless ride vehicle (like the ones on Antarctica or Mystic Manor), why in the world do those need to dock into a motion base? The trackless vehicles from Oceaneering are themselves motion bases, and while the the range of movement on the trackless vehicles has not been as extreme as the tracked versions (like Spiderman and Transformers), it seems that it would make more sense to beef up the vehicles to increase the ROM instead of introducing a coupling process to a static motion base just to get a little more movement. It sounds like Disney is trying to make things more complicated for complexity's sake. Drop-track elements on attractions have been propagating everywhere, so I'm not surprised to see Disney apply the concept here. In fact, Imagineering could be considered the godfather of drop ride coupling technology with ToT being the drop ride attraction all others are measured against. However, I again have to wonder why Disney seems to be complicating things here when they have proven technologies and ride systems to execute the basic functions of this attraction.

I always thought Imagineers subscribed to the K.I.S.S. theory (keep it simple, stupid), which would be paramount for an attraction that reportedly will last upwards of a half an hour where one little hiccup could ruin the experience for countless guests. There's a difference between being ambitious and being insane, and it sure sounds like Disney is teetering towards the latter with RotR. I just hope their level of ambition does not lead to insane amounts of downtime for what sounds like an overly complicated attraction.

August 27, 2019 at 10:15 AM

Short answer: You only need the motion base for the escape pod moment, so just build the number of motion bases that will be needed for concurrent use in that moment.

A trackless ride vehicle without a motion base surely costs less than one with, so the cost of coupling with just the two motion bases (or whatever - the line animation Trowbridge showed depicted two drop units side-by-side) presumably was less than the cost of outfitting every vehicle with a motion base.

That's my guess.

August 27, 2019 at 10:20 AM

@ Russell Meyer:
I can't help feeling that had Universal been about to open this attraction with all it's complexity the internet would be whipping themselves into a frenzy of excitement whilst praising that very complexity. In the race to out-shine your rivals 'simple' maybe doesn't cut the mustard anymore......

August 27, 2019 at 10:33 AM

Sure David, but when the opening of an attraction is delayed (or lines become unreasonable) because of the complexity, you have to wonder whether it's all worth it. We can praise a park's creative team for their ambitiousness, but if they can't deliver the attraction on time, or if it's so complex that it suffers from unreasonable amounts of downtime, what good is it.

It looks like Disney is setting a really high bar with RotR, and we just have to hope that it doesn't come back to bite them.

August 27, 2019 at 10:50 AM

Russel, this isn't anything new, we've just lost our patience. HM took forever to open, Splash took forever to open and even longer to perfect, Indy broke down regularly those first few years. We're just more eager and impatient these days with the internet constantly reminding us that the next best thing should already be here.

August 27, 2019 at 11:10 AM

Are people really being impatient, or are they more aware of how things work.

Theme Park fans don't need the internet to tell them that "The more moving parts the higher the risk of failure".

Yeti Breaks - Put a bag over it
Star Tours Pod is faulty - Redirect guests to the 11 other pods
Mission Space causes uncontrollable barfing - Make a less intense option

For most rides then a faulty vehicle or show element will cause delays but it won't cripple the experience. But with RotR then it seems that if one thing goes wrong then the ride (and especially the experience) Is ruined. And thats where the negativity is coming from.

August 27, 2019 at 11:25 AM

Is it true that ROTR is delayed because Disney decided to outsource the trackless vehicles to a different, cheaper company instead of using a proven source that had built vehicles for previous attractions?

August 27, 2019 at 11:52 AM

I don't know how anyone could have animosity toward a ride that hasn't been seen or ridden yet. I am really excited for what looks like a top-of-the-line attraction that is sure to set a new standard for what dark rides can do.

I am actually encouraged by the challenges surrounding the opening of this attraction, as other amazing rides have had pre-opening issues and then gone on to be great. You can't create magic by doing what everyone else has always done.

The initial images of this attraction are breathtaking. Like every other theme park fan, I am excited for that first ride-through where the ride elements all come together to blow me away!

August 27, 2019 at 11:57 AM

@Disfan - There have been numerous rumors about what precisely has caused the delays with RotR. The Disney-company line is that the ride is so ambitious and awesome that it's taking them a little longer than expected to get it working reliably. However, some of the other rumored causes include...

1. Labor cuts to Galaxy's Edge as a whole that forced Imagineering to redo sections of the ride that were supposed to rely predominantly on live actors similar to how Star Trek: The Experience worked.

2. The docking connections between the primary ride vehicle and the drop-track section were questioned by Cal-OSHA, which is why Disney shifted resources to DHS's version of the attraction since addressing comments and getting approval from the regulatory body is notoriously time consuming. The same solution is likely to be put into place on both installations, but because DL's version still requires the blessing of Cal-OSHA before it is certified, Imagineers shifted their efforts to Florida to get that version up first.

3. The complexity of the attraction creates so many failure points that Disney simply hasn't been able to consistently operate the attraction "clean" for any extended period of time. Most attractions that experience this prolonged "break-in" period can still operate, just at a lower capacity (like Hagrid's). However, because each individual ride system builds on the one that comes before it, a single faulty sensor causing an e-stop disrupts the experience for the entire attraction. It's rumored that there could be as many as 1000 people physically on the attraction at any given time, which seems more than reasonable for a ride that reportedly takes nearly 30 minutes to experience and a typical "e-ticket" capacity of 2,000 people per hour. If one minuscule error causes a complete shutdown, affecting the experience of 1,000 guests, it could be catastrophic to Disney's reputation and the overall impression of Galaxy's Edge. In other words, Disney has to be able to operate the attraction at full capacity for long periods of time before they can even consider letting guests ride. MF:SR so far has been a beast of an attraction, suffering little downtown, and proving to be a much better people eater than anyone expected, so it's important that RotR can similarly stand up to the demand, especially since Disney has promoted the attraction to the moon.

There are plenty of other rumors floating around, but they are not nearly as plausible as the ones above. I think it might be a combination of factors (it almost always is), and that Disney doesn't want to deliver an attraction that is anything less than world class when it opens, because the level of anticipation for it is so high.

August 27, 2019 at 11:57 AM

I hope this is indeed going to be an amazing rides and brings down tons of new guests to the park.

August 27, 2019 at 12:13 PM

Wow, no wonder this is taking so long. BTW, Angry Duck is right, if the Internet had existed in the '80s, there would have been huge talk on delays for Captain EO, Star Tours, Splash Mountain and others and "this means they won't be as great."

I think once this opens, the "Galaxy's Edge has been a disaster" crowd are going to be eating crow.

August 27, 2019 at 12:20 PM

Russell, thanks for the explanation, the second explanation would seem to jive with DHS opening before California.

The ride does sound like a massive upgrade to the former Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas, which was awesome and did employ live actors. But if it's true that they cut out some of the live actors, I hope it doesn't lessen the experience.

August 27, 2019 at 1:11 PM

Disfan conservative Disney fans always like to blame it on Cal-OSHA. There is zero evidence that is the case here. It’s just their go-to boogeyman, because it can’t possibly be Disney’s fault right? If Cal-OSHA was so draconian they would have shut-down Disneyland years ago due to overcrowding and aging infrastructure. Heck a chunk of the Matterhorn just fell off. It was probably a mechanical flaw which needed to be addressed and since DHS was behind in construction it was easier to fix it before it was installed there.

August 27, 2019 at 2:25 PM

@ David Brown: I just watched that video without sound, and I still has goosebumps the entire time!

August 27, 2019 at 2:44 PM

Let me get this straight. Disney decided to make an incredible e-ticket ride like nobody's ever seen before, set on, or at least featuring the Death Star, with Stormtroopers. Another ride is based on the Millennium Falcon.

What do these have in common? They've existed in the Star Wars universe since the beginning. Everyone knows what a Stormtrooper is. They know what the Millennium Falcon looks like. They know what the Death Star is.

So these big anchor attractions are appealing, and should generate a lot of interest and excitement, because they're part of Star Wars lore and canon.

....

Yet, they put these in a land/on a planet that nobody has ever heard of.

It doesn't make sense. If they're going to create a new planet and not include characters like Luke, Leia, Han, Yoda, etc, then why use anything that we're familiar with? Why not just make everything new?

Make it all new, or make it all pre-existing. Not this mashup of a muddled mess. People will love the rides, but have no attachment or feeling about the land that the rides are actually in.

I won't say this is a disaster, because it looks like Disney is pushing the envelope with Rise of the Resistance, but they sure missed out on an opportunity to do something truly....out of this world.

August 27, 2019 at 2:49 PM

Anyone else notice from the d23 footage how the vehicle lifts up when Kylo is using the force and his light sabre to cut the roof above the vehicle. If it’s as good as the footage with all the shooting and explosions will be worth the wait.

August 27, 2019 at 3:14 PM

@Gabriel - I can empathize with a lot of the criticisms for the setting of Galaxy's Edge. For the record, there is no Death Star featured on RotR that we've been told, it's a Star Destroyer. Also, to be fair, Star Destroyers (and Death Stars), other ships/craft (including the Falcon), and even Storm Troopers have evolved over the course of the Star Wars Canon, so the look of these constant aspects of life in a Galaxy Far Far Away is not the same as it was back in 1977.

This is not an IP that has been told over the course of a single generation like Harry Potter. This is a franchise that has gone through changes over the course of 40+ years and across 3 generations of trilogies. You can complain about Disney setting Galaxy's Edge during the period of the current Trilogy they've produced, but what were they supposed to do if the goal of the land was to create a fully immersive Star Wars experience where guests can live their own stories?

Setting the land on Tatoine, Mustafar, Naboo, Hoth, or Jakku would have turned a themed experience essentially into a cold movie set, which is something I think Disney wanted to avoid. I will grant you that Disney has so far dropped the ball in terms of the promise that guests can "live their own Star Wars story", but just replicating the sets from those iconic locations would have undermined that basic premise that Imagineers were working under.

Galaxy's Edge is supposed to be a living, breathing place (even if it's currently devoid of a lot of the characters promised by Imagineers). In this world, Han is dead, Luke is dead (or so we think), Yoda is dead (though his spirit does speak to guests at Savi's), and Darth Vader is dead. You can't simply juxtapose all of these dead and living characters together in some Greatest Hits collection and call it a day. The land has to make sense, and I feel very strongly that in trying to create this immersive, role-playing style land, Disney backed themselves into a corner in terms of subjects they could utilize. You can criticize that decision all you want, and you can definitely complain about Disney cutting back on a lot of the promised immersive elements, but you can't have an immersive land and still hearken back to all of the recognizable characters. There has to be a time and a setting, and whatever you choose will force you to discount certain characters (except for R2-D2 and C-3PO, who are the ONLY characters to appear in all 8 - soon to be 9 - of the trilogy films).

I think fans need to see how Galaxy's Edge evolves before declaring that Disney missed an opportunity, because the basic premise behind the land is right on target, it's just the execution that is lacking right now primarily due to Disney general distaste for cosplay in the parks and their scaling back of acting talent in the land.

August 27, 2019 at 4:37 PM

Am I detecting a rise in resistance to this attraction?

August 27, 2019 at 4:43 PM

>>I can't help feeling that had Universal been about to open this attraction with all it's complexity the internet would be whipping themselves into a frenzy of excitement

Are you kidding? Look at that big screen behind the Stormtroopers...

>>Most attractions that experience this prolonged "break-in" period can still operate, just at a lower capacity (like Hagrid's).

Not even an attraction thing, a (star)ship on its shakedown cruise is still a starship.... as long as its features aren't being installed next tuesday (what do you mean its the wrong IP? Star Wars, Star Trek, its all the same thing - SF that wishes it was as good as Babylon 5)

August 27, 2019 at 4:54 PM

Sounds like this will be one amazing attraction, and the "F-ticket" moniker may be well deserved. I just hope Disney is actually able to get it working somewhat reliably, because from what I've heard the thing has less than 100 hours on it due to extremely frequent downtimes. Essentially, this is three complicated ride systems running off a single control system, plus a number of additional elements that have their own points of failure (some of which have incredibly small tolerances). One thing malfunctions, and it could strand a thousand guests. In any case, I'm looking forward to checking this out in the first part of 2020, and if it is as great as it sounds it may finally dethrone Indy as my favorite Disney attraction.

August 28, 2019 at 9:10 AM

Gabriel I completely agree. The smart thing would have been to plan 3 lands, one based on each trilogy and put in separate parks. That is exactly what Universal has done with massive success (assuming a 3rd land is coming to UEU). Instead they tried to build something nonexistant in any trilogy and inadvertantly appealed to noone.

August 28, 2019 at 12:03 AM

"USE??" Guessing that refers to Universal's Epic Universe?

August 28, 2019 at 9:14 AM

Somehow this feels like a desperate attempt to generate excitement for GE. I mean actually letting people into the ride before its even open? Is that normal?

August 28, 2019 at 9:22 AM

@Daniel - The media was already in Orlando for the DHS Galaxy's Edge debut, so it seems natural to give them a glimpse as to what the ride will be like before it's officially open. Theme parks do media hard hat tours all the time, giving glimpses of attractions well before they're ready to take on riders. I do think there's a little bit of PR spin/damage control going on here from Disney in an attempt to refine the overarching narrative regarding Galaxy's Edge, and it sounds like just stepping into that hanger room was enough to awe an already skeptical media. I also think Disney needed to provide some explanation as to why RotR is not opening with the rest of Galaxy's Edge, and the information provided to the media as part of this surprise tour of the attraction helps to give fans an idea of the complexity of RotR and some indication as to why it may take a little longer to open.

August 28, 2019 at 5:32 PM

I skipped all the spoilers, but it`s clear that this one is worth waiting for...

August 28, 2019 at 6:37 PM

Imagine being stalled and having to evac while under the AT-ATs.

August 29, 2019 at 3:46 PM

Robert, thanks for the sneak peak!

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