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.
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.
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