Fans queued well before dawn this morning for the public opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Disney revived its "Boarding Group" virtual queue system for the opening, and by 7am, fans entering the park already were being given estimates of afternoon return times.
Disney World is using its “boarding group” virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance. Estimating now for afternoon return times. pic.twitter.com/x7aP0yFDKy— Theme Park Insider (@ThemePark) December 5, 2019
By 8:30am, the return time estimate moved to "Evening." (Update: And by 9am, all the day's spots were gone.) Unlike Fastpass, the virtual queue system does not provide an assigned return time, only an estimate of when your boarding group will be called. Therefore, Disney is not publishing estimated wait times for Rise of the Resistance, preventing fans from employing one of the more misleading data points for judging a new attraction's popularity. (Remember capacity, people!)
Social media reaction from those who arrived early and rode has been universally positive, matching media reviews from yesterday. Whenever you get on, remember that you now can rate and review Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance here on Theme Park Insider.
(Updated added below at 10pm)
As fans waited their turn to ride, several members of the attraction's creative team met with me and other invited reporters to talk about the ride.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Executive Producer Jon Georges encouraged fans to watch for detail that they might miss on an initial visit, a point that fellow Imagineer Jon Larena emphasized in my interview yesterday.
"Next time you ride pay particular attention to the space battles, because I think you get so distracted by the interior environment," Georges said. "You know there's big guns are in your way as you're going through, and everybody's stares on the guns, but look out the windows. ILM created this beautiful space battle we get right outside the window that a lot of people aren't really focusing on because you're all in on the [interior] experience."
Pay particular attention on the transport vehicle in the queue, too, he said.
"Next time you're in the ship, there's a window in the front, where you're going and there's a window in the back where you've been so you get beautiful views of leaving the planet and coming into the Star Destroyer. It's worth just standing in the back and watching the whole experience."
Then when I asked about all Galaxy's Edge visitors getting to see this...
WOW! Kylo Ren and Rey just had an EPIC lightsaber battle here on Batuu!#GalaxysEdge #StarWars #RiseOfTheResistance #DisneyWorld pic.twitter.com/hBkiz2qPOn— ThrillGeek (@thrillgeek) December 5, 2019
Walt Disney Imagineering's Star Wars Portfolio Creative Executive, Scott Trowbridge, responded,
"We're not going to announce anything right now, but I think we talked about this when we opened Galaxy's Edge, the way we thought about our anticipated crowds when we opened might make us make certain decisions about how much we put out there, if you will," he said. "You have seen some examples of kind of some of the stuff we have. We will make adjustments to our plan as we feel it is in the better interest of everybody's experience in the land."
"We never stop thinking about how do we improve things - technically, operationally, creatively," he said. "It's easy for us to think about Rise of the Resistance as getting to the finish line, but we don't think that way," Trowbridge said. "We are at the starting line right now for how we now run these things and run this land for years and decades to come."Tweet
So what looks more impressive to the public - a ride that reaches capacity at 9am on opening day but effectively manages crowds, or a ride with a ten-hour wait and lines running throughout the park?
Anyone who enters a 10 hour line needs their head examining.....
The rest of the park seems to be eating the crowds waiting for RotR well enough. Wait times are fairly normal as of 11 am, with Millennium Falcon (90 min) and Slinky Dog Dash (80 min) leading the way. They desperately need to eliminate the FP+ tiers at this point for all but maybe Slinky and Rock n' Roller Coaster (I'd just do away with them entirely), but it seems like other than a breakdown early this morning things are running extremely smoothly. Hearing from friends who went that Disney plans to use the virtual queue for the ride going forward, and I'd expect it through at least the Christmas season. Will be rope dropping on Saturday to earn my place!
Meanwhile at a deserted BGT ... ! I can sit at the bakery enjoying my Starbucks and muffin without thinking, crap, I've got to stay another 10 hours just to try and get on a ride, that may not actually be working when I get there.
But also, I can look out and see what potentially is going to be the greatest ever RMC and think ... yep, as long as there are coasters I'm going to be very happy.
Meh .... who needs dark rides :)
Honestly, it sounds like Disney is being really smart about managing the line for RotR, though the Boarding Groups will prevent event the most fanatical guests from experiencing the attraction more than 2-3 times in a day. The procedure allows guests that weren't camping out all night to experience other attractions until their group is called. It's actually a great situation that should work perfectly for an attraction with untested reliability.
It means guests are NOT waiting in 10-hour lines, and instead can enjoy the rest of Galaxy's Edge and DHS while they wait to be summoned back to the queue, where the actual wait in the line is likely to be less than an hour. The real test will be if Disney can reliably operate the attraction so that additional Boarding Group become available throughout the day until eventually they can eliminate the boarding groups altogether.
I agree, Russell. Saturday we’ll be headed there with friends who have kids, and I love knowing that we can do other things with them without having to wait several hours in a physical queue for the ride. I am 100% for virtual queues as the future of theme parks; they have been wildly successful at Volcano Bay and I’m looking forward to other parks adding them. I would not mind this being a permanent solution for busy days at DHS in the least.
This is why [nowadays] new rides at Disney parks need a series of cast, DVC, and AP previews before opening. I'm sure they were desperate to get the ride to open by Christmas but the fact that you can get to a park at 9AM and still be too late to even be allowed to get onto the new ride is definitely not a good look and going to piss off tens of thousands of people.
True Russell... there is no 10hr line like Hagrid's, but considering early this morning the app said now boarding for the evening, that meant potentially people had to stay in the park for 10hrs+ until they were called.
Then come 10am there's no boarding places available for the rest of the day !?!? Then what ??
Tough do-do to all those 1000's of people turning up midday.
Let's be honest, there is no 'fair' system. Somebody, somewhere, sometime will get screwed.
Bring on the Fast Pass ;-)
You don't actually have to stay in the park to keep your reservation, no? You just have to be in the park to get it, and then you can go do whatever you want until you're called, at least that's my understanding.
My guess is that if the attraction runs smoothly throughout the day with limited downtime, additional Boarding Groups will become available. So, if you arrived at the park after all of the Boarding Group spots were taken, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to ride. It would be the same situation if you were standing in a 10-hour long queue for an attraction with unknown reliability, except here you're actually able to leave the line and enjoy the rest of the park while you wait instead of being held hostage in a slow moving queue. If guests had to stand in hours-long lines, you better believe there will be even more complaining than there is right now - it's still an "early bird gets the worm" world.
I'm sorry Mako, I think the virtual queue is a far better solution than FP, especially for high demand attractions. Guests that are physically in the park should get first dibs to ride, and if you want to sleep in and show up at your leisure (or choose to purchase the Mid-day Magic ticket to save a few bucks), you take the chance of not getting on. An attraction can only handle so many people in a given day even running at maximum capacity (even if RotR was gobbling 2,000 pph, we're talking about 24,000 guests in a typical day for a park that averaged almost 31,000 guests per day in 2018), so if you want to ride, you need to show up early just like anything else where demand exceeds supply.
@evanweston - You're right, the word on the ground is that guests (and all Boarding Group party members) must physically be in the park to join a Boarding Group, but can go wherever they want, including leaving the park, until they're called back to the ride. Many guests who joined late-day Boarding Groups have said they've hopped over to EPCOT or Disney Springs to pass the time.
However, I expect that there will be some adjustments made by guests since Disney didn't announce they were doing this (just plopped it on MDE and guests stumbled upon it before the park ever opened this morning). This means that Boarding Group spots are likely to disappear even earlier tomorrow now that word has gotten out. FWIW, you supposedly don't even have to physically be in DHS to join a Boarding Group, just be close enough to the front gate to be picked up by the RFID sensors and MDE geofencing.
It's amazing to remember it was 20 years ago Fast Pass was first introduced. I remember my first time using it for Rock n Roller Coaster (Which was brand new so hugely packed) as had arrived at Studios at opening to try it out. I was delighted at how I could ride it, do Tower of Terror and then return to ride Coaster again. Ditto for Test Track.
Yes, the downsides of having a ticket window four or five hours away for some rides but it was terrific. The issue being that things have shifted and the old system doesn't work as well for many modern attractions. It was a game changer (see how fast Universal and Six Flags copied it) and Disney has been smart adapting it for the virtual ques.
Still takes me back to the Disneyland Jungle Cruise passing by what the guides would call "Indiana Jones and the Four Hour Line" and remembering how it used to be you'd see an hour wait time, just shrug and go with it.
Spoilers in this post, be forewarned.
On the transport that gets captured by the Star Destroyer, the best views are through the back window with much of the space battle seen rather clearly. There are also views through the front of the transport where the two animatronics are located and above through three sky views. Also, when departing and returning to Batuu, the scenes match up to real-time whether it’s daytime or nighttime.
There are two ride tracks that split up the four ride vehicles that travel together through the attraction 2x2 from the first room. In the AT-AT room, there are two lifts that individually move the ride vehicles to the above levels of the attraction. One of the lifts is located in front of the AT-ATs and the other lift is located on the side of the AT-ATs. Finn is seen clearly in the AT-AT room by the lift in front of the AT-ATs. The blue and red groups (sorted out before the interrogation room) use the lift in front of the AT-ATs.
The virtual queue as implemented at the moment is totally unfair. It forces people to arrive at rope drop in the hope they can get a boarding pass. What about those people who don’t mind queuing for 4, maybe 5+ hours and then they arrive an hour after open to find the ride is already locked out for the rest of the day. It’s a disgrace. Use virtual queue and standby, but not just VQ.
And yes, now people know the virtual queue is in use of course they will pour in even earlier.
It’s also wrong that people can obtain the boarding pass from outside the park, and in my opinion if you left the park then you loose your place, and that now open pass goes into a pool that later in the day gets distributed to people in the park for a later boarding time.
Right now it’s groups 79-100 with still no new boarding passes. I wonder what time those people were at DHS to get in at what is now 6pm ??
It’s actually completely fair, it gives everyone an equal shot at getting on the ride. If you want to ride, get there early. It is not great for APs who want to pop in at night for a quick ride, hint hint, but it’s actually the most equitable system they could have gone with outside of locking everyone into a 5+ hour physical wait, which is obviously way worse. “VQ and standby” is just Fastpass, which I know is what you want, but VQ is certainly fairer.
@evanW ... it’s nothing like fast pass to have the virtual queue and standby.
Universal has their virtual queue and standby working side by side so why can’t Disney ?
Hey, if I have to wait until January then so be it, but I think a lot of visitors are going to be very upset finding out on arrival at DHS at, let’s say, an hour after rope drop there is zero chance of them getting on the ride that day. It’s crazy. At least give them the opportunity to stand in line for 6 hours if that’s what they want to do.
Good luck for Saturday at rope drop. It’ll be insane that’s for sure.
There is, as has already been noted, no way that everyone who enters DHS in one day can ride even a huge people-eater like RotR, therefore in the early days of a phenomenally popular attraction such as this there cannot be anything other than lots of visitors 'very upset' because they can't get onto the ride at all. What Disney have done with Boarding Passes is recreate Hagrid's 10 hour line only given those 'standing' within it the freedom to go off and enjoy the rest of the park. As I recall there were plenty of people stood in the line for Hagrids who waited many hours and STILL didn't get to ride it - a total waste of a day and a thoroughly unpleasant experience.
There's no system that can allow everyone to ride it on the same day so in these very early days of opening the attraction a system that rewards the effort of getting there early but doesn't commit you to a day of standing in a line seems to me far more equitable and 'Disney' than the Universal option. Give it a week or two and I'm sure you'll be able to get a ride by turning up later in the day but I honestly can't see why you should have any kind of priority over those who got up early and physically staked out a place at this early stage.
It's a bit like wanting to get a good place around the pool, but when you arrive a minute after opening you find that all of the chairs already have towels on them ........
Interesting to see Disney offered fast passes to guests who had a boarding time but couldn't get on the ride due to it being park close. I wonder how long they will do that for ?
Mako, before FP+ I would steer countless families to Disney who became extreme fans and return customers. Now those same types of families refuse to go back saying it is a miserable experience. It is great for singles or people without families, but a family spending $10,000 to see Star Wars, no way. Disney has done a good job letting people know about the crowds and demand. For at least six months they have been alerting people of this. The last thing in the world they need to do is to put RoR on FP+. You would never get to ride it. Showing up at 7 at opening and you are in a virtual queue? That is extremely reasonable. Better than any of the Potter attractions when they opened. Better than Star Tours at Disneyland since you aren't standing in a four hour line with minimal themeing. Hell, that is better than what I did for Avatar six months ago with my family BECAUSE of FP+. We had to leave the hotel at an ungodly hour. Families want to experience these things together. You try to manage that app with four to six and try to do it without professional help. They are only making people unhappy.
It's 8:30am and the app is already saying "We've reached capacity for the attraction" ....
So some people in that mess, have a boarding pass for 8/9pm ... that's 12+ hours to wait !?!?
How anyone can think that's a fair system is beyond me.
They aren't 'waiting' Makorider. They have a full day to enjoy DHS and the other attractions in the park, even to wander over to Epcot for a while if they want to. I honestly don't see how you can think that's unfair? Replace it with any kind of Fastpass system and you simply transfer those who succeed in riding away from 'those prepared to get up early'to 'those who know their way round the Fastpass system'. Either way people end up not riding it because they weren't first in the line - regardless of whether that line is a physical one on the ground or a virtual Fastpass line.
My arguement is there should be a standby line as well, for anyone who turns up 'late' and is prepared to wait 6-8 hours in a physical line.
It's going to turn into a domino effect from now until after Christmas unless Disney puts a stop to this insanity.
OK, so I'm a tourist and I see the boarding pass was DOA at 8:30 this morning. Tomorrow it could be 8:00am, Sunday maybe 7:30 .... so on and so forth. How early am I now planning to arrive to ensure I get a boarding time before they expire ?? 3, 4am ??
Put in an option for a standby line, and all this goes away. Or, do not allow people to leave the park. If you leave the park you forfeit that boarding pass.
Maybe even a FP+ option .... now there's a thought ... :)
@makerider - What would you prefer Disney do? Would you rather have them force guests to stand in a physical line wrapped around the park? Universal was skewered for doing that when Hogsmeade first opened and for Hagrid's. A physical queue, where people arriving even before the official park opening time might not ever get to ride RotR, is NOT the answer. The Boarding Groups are essentially FP minus the choice of a specific return time and the ability to select your attractions months in advance. What Disney is doing here is essentially how MaxPass works at Disneyland. If you're not physically in the park, you can't access the system. Once all the slots are gone for the day, that's it unless the attraction operates more efficiently than expected. For RotR, Disney has to stay conservative with the number of guests they tease with a Boarding Group - as noted, they are already having to pacify those that have Boarding Groups and never get to ride with anytime FPs and other consolations. If they are not confident that more than 5,000 people can ride in a day, that's all the slots they're going to issue, so if there are 5,000 lined up outside DHS in the morning before the park even opens, then anyone who showed up later in the day (even if it's before official park opening time) is out of luck unless Disney is gets near the end of the day an can fit more people on. They can't operate a standby line, because those people could be standing in it all day with the probability that they're NEVER getting on - so at least if they're in a Boarding Group, there's a reasonable expectation that they'll get on at some point later in the day and can spend the time they would have needed to physically stand in line riding other attractions.
I just don't see any other solution here, and what Disney is doing is about as fair and reasonable as can be. Really, the biggest thing here is that Disney never adequately load tested this attraction, and it is so technically complicated that frequent downtime is almost inevitable. I just don't understand what you want Disney to do makorider aside from closing it down so they can do proper CM/AP previews and an informal soft opening before re-opening it to the masses. The reality is that the cat's out of the bag, so they can't all of a sudden turn tail and limit access more than they already are.
I do think Disney could be a little more forthcoming with information (such as the fact that park gates have been opening HOURS before official opening time the past 2 days, in addition to the fact that you can join a Boarding Group from just outside the entry gates), but this is going to be the reality of an attraction that is currently running at limited capacity with demand that far exceeds it on any given day.
At least anyone showing up early enough to the DHS gates can get on, and those arriving later in the day can see if any additional spots open up. There's not really anything Disney can (or should) do to limit demand, and trying to mesh a standby line (with guests standing around for any entire day with little to no chance of riding) with FP/Boarding Groups is not going to help. We just need to accept that RotR is a HUGE hit, and hope that as the ride goes through its shakedown period quickly, and can get up to its full capacity before the crushing holiday crowds start showing up in a couple of weeks.
There's lessons to be learned here all around, but I think we've come to a point where when Disney opens a big new ride maybe it is better that they just open it without announcing an opening day. I know there were rumors that they were flirting with the idea for Galaxy's Edge but this whole situation is ridiculous. What good does it do anyone if people plan their vacation around a major new attraction opening, spend thousands of dollars and make the time commitment to go to Florida, and they can't even get on it. That's bad for the customer but also bad for Disney.
"OK, so I'm a tourist and I see the boarding pass was DOA at 8:30 this morning. Tomorrow it could be 8:00am, Sunday maybe 7:30 .... so on and so forth. How early am I now planning to arrive to ensure I get a boarding time before they expire ?? 3, 4am ??"
It all comes down to how important riding the new attraction is to you. If you REALLY want to ride it, you will do whatever it takes to get on. If that means showing up at the park gates at 3 AM (which some people did both yesterday AND today), then so be it. This type of phenomenon happens all around the world. Remember those lines that wrapped around the block for the latest iPhone? Have you ever tried to go to a high demand Broadway show or other limited capacity/high demand event (like an SNL taping)? I remember sitting outside 30-Rock on a freezing December night trying to get into a taping of SNL. We got there just after 10 PM (for a show that wasn't happening until 8 PM the NEXT DAY - this was just for the dress rehearsal, not the actual live show that typically only has a handful of seats available), and there were already 40-50 people there. When they eventually distributed tickets the next morning (if you got one, you still had to stay in line the entire day), we were @10 people back from the cutoff. I definitely see where you're coming from, but fair is fair, and if people want to show up at DHS hours before the park opens to ride a ride that might break down for the day before they get on, then more power to them. Disney needs to be FAIR, and let those dedicated people get first shot, and those that arrive later file in behind them until Disney feels that they've reached the number of people they think the ride can handle in a day. Doing the Boarding Groups gives guest the freedom to enjoy the rest of the park while they're waiting (like waiting for a table at a uber popular restaurant), and doesn't tease too many guests with the promise of getting on a ride that has no chance of being able to accommodate the number of guests queued up before the park closes for the night.
I'm always thinking back to Universal with this. They touted the fact that Hagrid's would use a virtual queue as well as the standby line, and yet they have never implemented it. I wonder why ?
The jury is still out on whether it's a HUGE hit. A bit early to jump on that particular bandwagon don't you think ?
What do I want Disney to do .... you already know that answer Russell ... :)
I know you want FP makorider, but these Boarding Groups are essentially FPs just without a designated return time and without having to share capacity with a standby queue.
I think it's clear Disney is using this virtual queue system explicitly because of the issues Universal had with Hagrid's. The virtual queue is a much more customer friendly system than standing in a physical line. Trying to manage a physical queue merging with a virtual queue (akin to how FP works), would add a layer of complexity that Disney probably doesn't want to deal with right now while they're trying to break in the attraction.
The problem is that even if Disney doesn't officially announce an opening date for an attraction, guests will figure out when they start performing "technical rehearsals" and soft openings (FWIW, I consider the first month Galaxy's Edge was open at Disneyland was really an unofficial soft open where guests had to make reservations to visit the land). Guests have been getting wise to Disney's procedures for the past few new attractions that they've opened, and the Internet and multitude of message boards allow word to spread like wildfire. If Disney had tried to "soft open" RotR, you better believe they would still have had guests lined up outside the gates once guests figured out the attraction was being opened for limited park guests. I distinctly remember being in MK a few weeks before New Fantasyland opened, and saw hundreds of guests milling around the main entrance for hours hoping to be tapped by a CM to be allowed in - I already knew that the real soft opening was happening a week later, but people were still there hoping against hope.
There's just no way for Disney to win here, because they either soft open and adequately load test the attraction so that when it's "officially" open it can handle the demand, or they do what they've done here and just pull the curtain back for everyone and deal with the consequences of an attraction that's going to break and not be able to meet the demand. I don't think there's really a right way here, but we're definitely seeing both sides of the coin, and neither one is really a great option.
They should just use both. Virtual queue and the Stand-by line. It isn't fair to people who just want to ride ROTR that show up later and can not even get in the line.
Russell ... you must be happy to not be coming until January .. :) This madness is only going to get worse as the holidays approach.
Maybe opening RotR in January as per Disneyland was really the safe and sensible option ? One WDW should have adopted as well.
I wonder how long it's going to be before Disney says enough is enough and makes the virtual boarding group for the whole land again.
@carademau - What good will having a standby line do? The standby guests will be standing in line ALL DAY hoping that the ride runs efficiently enough over the course of 12+ hours that it can take all of the guests in the virtual queue with capacity to spare at the end of the day for those standing by. Until Disney is confident that the attraction can handle the demand, there's absolutely no reason to have guests standing around hoping that they can squeeze on. I don't understand why ANYONE would want to stand around all day when you can instead get into a Boarding Group and tour the rest of the park while you wait. Also, why in the world would Disney let guests standby and jump ahead of guests that got to the park early and joined a Boarding Group? Now, if Boarding Group guests no-show, and all of the Boarding Group have been paged back to the attraction, then you could start tapping a standby line (or open up more Boarding Groups), but by that point, you're talking about late in the day, so standby guests would have been waiting 6+ hours in a line - that's not the way to treat someone that just spend $100+ just to walk through your gates.
If you show up later in the day, you're SOL, that's the way life works. Certainly, there's a chance more spots will open up later in the day if the ride runs smoothly or people don't show up for their Boarding Groups, but if you want to ride RotR, get to the park EARLY.
@makorider - I don't see why they would establish Boarding Groups for the land as a whole. Why should they limit access to MFSR or other parts of Galaxy's Edge simply because RotR can't consistently run at full capacity?
I'm beginning to think that Disney has an ideal time they want to open a new attraction, but project timelines are so complicated and subject to flux that as the light at the end of the tunnel becomes clear, PMs simply want to get the attraction open as soon as they can regardless of the seasonal timing and expected crowd levels. I actually think the timing of this opening is about as ideal as they could expect. In a perfect world, RotR would have opened at Disneyland in May with the rest of Galaxy's Edge, making DHS's opening easier because of lessons learned in California, but that didn't happen. Instead they're sliding Florida's opening into a slightly slower portion of their schedule between the holidays. Sure, it's not giving Disney a lot of wiggle room to try to work out the kinks before some of the biggest crowds of the year show up, but I think they would be crucified (not only by guests but executives needing to show end of year revenue for all of the costs accrued to build the land) if they held the opening until the beginning of next year. Certainly, trying to shakedown this very complicated attraction in a week or two before the holiday masses show up is a daunting challenge, but I think it's better that RotR limp along for the rest of the year than it to be held until January. Let's not forget that FoP, regarded as the greatest attraction in the world, limped along for nearly 2 months at less than half capacity and 4+ hour lines for nearly the entire summer 2017 and guests eventually adapted until Disney was able to crank up the capacity/efficiency (word is that they STILL can't operate all four theaters simultaneously).
Sorry @Mako, but it looks like you're gonna need to show up early and guarantee your ride on ROTR.
The ride has two cars, they could seperate one car having stand-by and the other side having the boarding passes. It is like FP except you have to go to the park and get it (which is old fp). I am just thinking of people who are only able to go to disney for one day and maybe they are from another country and they can not even get to the park until the afternoon. There should be an option for everyone to ride the ride regardless of whether you can get there before the park officially opens. For me I love the fact we do not have to wait in line and can use it like a fast pass and just come back later in the day. But I still think it is unfair.
@makorider: Yes, there are folks who are willing to stand in line eight hours to get on this. And there are many, many others who are not and would much prefer being able to enjoy the rest of the park rather than kill almost the entire day for one ride. It's really different strokes for different folks and Disney is leaning toward the ones who'd rather not do the long waiting.
Let's not forget, the entire reason for Fast Pass in the first place was DIsney realizing the more folks waited in line for one attraction, the less time they spent in gift shops spending money. That same mentality still exists. Russell is right in that there's no "perfect" system right now and as it is, the hard-core theme park folks willing to spend over four hours in a line aren't as large for Disney as for other parks.
@Nick M ... the further away from DHS I am until after the holidays the better. Even DAK may be too close .... LOL :)
I think the opening of RotR is finally bringing the nightmare scenario we all talked about before the land opened. Speculation was that Rise would be the catalyst for the onslaught, and now it seems our predictions and thoughts have been realised.
Good luck to anybody trying to ride RotR between now and the 1st week of January. You are without doubt hardier and braver soles than me. Most probably a lot younger as well, so that'll help too ..... :)
I'll also offer another piece of empirical evidence to show that Disney is probably going about this as well as can be expected...
Top Thrill Dragster was one of the most anticipated new roller coasters when it was set to debut in 2003. Cedar Point touted all off-season that it would open at the start of the 2003 season, but it was delayed time and time again. As a huge roller coaster fan, I was following the progress and operational status for months from the spring until our planned 3-day trip in July - deliberately schedule to allow for delay and spotty operations. However, the coaster was down more often than it was up, and when the time for our trip came around, riding TTD was a 50/50 prospect. We had 3 full days planed in Cedar Point, and TTD only actually ran on one of the three days - they wouldn't even let guests to get in the queue on the other 2 days because they could never get the coaster started up. The day that it operate, we immediately sprinted to the coaster the second I saw a train clear the top hat. When we reached the queue, it was already completely full to the entrance below the launch track - estimate wait 2+ hours. We got in line since the previous day we saw it never opened at all and didn't want to risk it not running the following day (as I noted it didn't actually run the next day). As we stood in line, the coaster went through multiple technical delays and downtime. People that had already been standing in line for an hour or more bailed (good for us) until we had waited just over 4 hours to finally board the train. Our initial launch failed to generate enough velocity to clear the top hat so we rolled back. Luckily, they launch engine did not go through its shutdown protocol, and was primed to launch us again, so we got a second trip up the tower and finally over the top hat. About 20 minutes after we rode, the coaster broke and never came back up for the rest of the day, meaning anyone who was standing in that line (and probably remained there despite announcements that there was no guarantee that TTD would come back up) wasted their time for NOTHING.
This is what Disney is dealing with right now, not knowing when RotR will break, and how many people will be able to ride in any given hour. It's ludicrous to force guests to stand around in a physical queue when they can simply given them a number and let them roam the rest of the park until it's their time to ride (like a pager at a busy restaurant). I don't understand the anger and frustration about what Disney is doing here, and aside from either taking the ride completely down until they're 100% sure they can run it at full capacity, there's not much they can do to make the experience any better. As someone who has stood in long lines many times in my life (including overnight camp outs and other hours-long ordeals), the Boarding Groups system should be seen as a positive development for RotR.
@caradmeu - I don't understand what you mean by "2 cars" - if you're talking about dark ride vehicles, there are reportedly dozens of them operating on parallel "tracks" inside the heart of the ride. This is a multi-stage attraction where the flow of guests throughout the entire attraction needs to be carefully managed to avoid backups and extended delays to clear staging areas when the ride inevitably breaks down.
If there's a problem in the dark ride part of the attraction (say one of the drop shafts is malfunctioning or throws an error code), it restricts the number of guests that can be dispatched after the interrogation room. The Star Destroyer set only has so much room for guests waiting to get into that final "pre-show" interrogation room, so CMs have to stop the transports (the train-like vehicles that take you from the resistance base to the Star Destroyer) to avoid a pileup of guests (like riding an escalator into a crowd). It is my understanding that the transport loading area is where the FP merge will eventually occur, but at this point, Disney doesn't have enough information or confidence in the ride systems to be able to accurately predict how many guests can go through the ride at any given time. Adding a standby and virtual queue/FP merge to this process (which is what I think you're suggesting) will only complicate matters since Disney doesn't want to hand out more spots in the virtual queue/Boarding Groups than they think they can handle. With such a dynamic yet unreliable attraction, Disney can't simply say, "hey we pushed 1,000 people through the ride this hour", let's allow some standby guests through, because there are probably still another 5k-10k people waiting in Boarding Groups. It's just not fair that someone walking in the park at noon could decide, hey, I'll stand in an 8-hour line to ride, when guests who showed up at 6 AM are still waiting for their Boarding Group to be called. Which guests gets to ride first? The Boarding Groups/virtual queue system distills everything down to a single line that still allows Disney to open up more spots at the end of the day for guests if they can serve everyone that showed up at Zero Dark Thirty, who rightly should be granted access before anyone that showed up later in the day.
Russell I agree with everything your saying regarding fans catching onto it, however I don't care about the fans i'm talking GP. I know the fans will do whatever they have to do to get on the ride but GP get caught in the crosshairs of all of this. It's already hard enough for employees to try and explain the FP system to thousands of confused people every day, now they are adding extra complexity that these thousands of people won't understand and are going to get extremely pissed when they get to the park and have no chance of getting on the ride.
Don't advertise an opening day, do plenty of previews for cast/DVC/AP, and start advertising the attractions once you know people who come to the park will actually get on it. It doesn't even matter if fans know the ride is going to officially open the day after AP previews stop, it's not being advertised, so the GP won't be what is essentially baited and switched.
Yeah I meant the two ride cars/vehicles. I have yet to see the attraction but I have read ROTR has two main "tracks" that are sent out with one ride car each taking a seperate "track". Although it is "trackless", the cars are still programmed to follow a certain pattern/path. Obviosuly without having a second line already in place they can not just all of a sudden start using another line, so it is a dead horse argument. However if the ride is already out of space/full before the official hours of the park that is a problem.
@carademau - I see what you're saying, but that's not possible here. When you reach the individual dark ride vehicles at the "heart" of the attraction, that is essentially the finale of an 18-minute experience. Guests have already walked (or ridden) through other parts of the attraction BEFORE they reach those dark ride vehicles, so separating lines at that point for standby and FP/Boarding Groups/Virtual Queue can't occur, because they don't want guests missing the first 10-12 minutes of the experience just to skip to the dark ride portion. Again, this is a staged attraction utilizing multiple ride platforms and "pre-shows" where guest flow needs to be carefully managed to avoid backups that may break the immersion.
I will be going tomorrow. We plan to arrive around 6 am, I will probably write a discussion board post with a review and thoughts on the boarding group process. FWIW, Russell, I have not seen anything about an ability to get boarding groups outside of the gates. My understanding is you need to be scanned into the park, at which point your MDE will recognize that you have entered and will allow you to book a boarding group. But I'll find out tomorrow.
@evanweston - What I have been reading is that guests have been successful in joining a Boarding Group from just outside the bag check stations, but BEFORE tapping into the park. It's not like you can do it from the Skyliner Station or the parking lot, but it does sound like you can do it without actually being tapped into the park (must utilize geofencing on MDE and/or RFID proximity sensors on MagicBand/Tickets. However, I wouldn't be surprised if this changes since Disney seems to troll fan message boards to find out how guests are finding loopholes in their systems so they can be closed quickly.
I would be concerned that 6 AM may not be early enough to guarantee yourself a spot in a Boarding Group. All of the Boarding Groups were reportedly full this morning at 6:30 AM, and that's on a weekday on just the second day of the ride's operation. I would expect guests to arrive even earlier tomorrow since it's a Saturday and as more and more find out about the need to arrive hours before official park opening.
I kept checking the app this morning and the option to join was available until just after 8 am. The park opened at 6:10, with the boarding groups unavailable until then. CMs were moved to begin work at 6 am for an anticipated early opening. I think 6 is the absolute latest I'd feel safe arriving, but we're coming with children and any earlier will make the day a nightmare.
This is the nice part of being a local, though, if it doesn't work, I can just try again!
I agree with Russell. From what I've been reading on the pass holder blogs, the park's been opening at 6, so to think you'd get a boarding group if you didn't actually get there until that time, I think is pushing it way to close. Of course if you get one of the last groups of the day ('i.e. between 8-9pm) you may get 'lucky' and not get on the ride, but be handed one of the fast passes ??
If it was me going, and reading what's been going on, I'd be there around 4am, and see what happens. I think it's safe to say, you won't be alone.
On a Debbie-Downer note ........ it's obvious from the app, the ride is experiencing far more problems today than it did yesterday. At time of writing, they are boarding groups 31-48, and that's way down from this time yesterday.
In fact, the way it's going, there's going to be more people with fast passes than those joining the groups. Although I did read Disney is reducing the number of groups per day because of the expected down time, so maybe even more of a reason to get there at 4am instead of 6 ??
Despite my comments of hatred for FP+, can we all come together now and agree that SWGE is and will be a huge success? Clearly there is a massive demand, and the points of people standing in lines for other things, plays, sporting events, etc. are well taken and fully applicable here. I can’t wait to ride it and would be happy to get up early to do so.
I'm a big theme park fan like everybody here and I've been lucky to experience many great theme parks that this country has to offer but I just come to accept that Disney is never going to be the Disney I grew up with. I'm the old school (I'm 45 years Old)guy that believes in first come first serve and everybody has to stand in the long line. Hell, I never complained standing for 3 to 4 hours back in the days! That's just how it was. But now, I'm done trying to figure out what time I need to be at a park, Or keep looking at my phone chasing characters, or standing in longs lines for pictures with characters. I can have a very relaxing day at Knotts or Universal without all the chasing around. Disney wants to charge me more for half broken stuff (I'm looking at you Indy, Cars and Thunder Mountain). I already told my family enough is enough and we can go every 4 years and in the meantime take my 5 year old son to other Awesome theme park this country has to offer. I can't wait to get him onto some of those toddlers wooden coaster I've been seeing build on the east coast!
@JC VanHouten: Can we all come together and agree that SWGE is and will be a huge success?
You clearly have missed a few debates on this site....
Mike, I assure you I have not. I did not post that to incite or inflame anyone. There have been many posts over the past weeks and months about the attendance and wait times, mainly of the other attraction and the overall attendance of Disneyland, where people argued that SWGE was a failure. I had a sneaking suspicion that the delay of RoR may have not only been about technical issues but a purposeful staggering to avoid a massive swarm of people and a way to test this thing longer. When you visited as early as last February the cast members were already prepping visitors at WDW about the crowds. One mentioned to me that they did not want a repeat of Potter. When you called the phone line for anything it warned you about the crowd levels. This was months ago.
Clearly there will be people upset about the creative decisions they made, i. e, not set in the OT timeline, a new planet, but from what I have seen in the more hardcore Star Wars circles (yes, I am one of those), this is a resounding success. I am one that will recognize the nuances, but I do that on other attractions too, like the fortune teller prop on the Twilight Zone, and I love standing in line on Everest, crazy as that may seem (whoever designed the queue for that is my hero).
Very long reply for a short post, I know. Sorry...
@JC Van Houten: I get that. Just a lot of back and forth on other threads with some openly saying "the whole thing has be to be rethemed for OT, that's the only movies folks care about" and somehow holding this whole thing as a huge failure already. Didn't mean to step on toes there.
Mike, you didn't step on my toes at all. I find all of this very interesting. I just can't wait to experience this. And Hagrid's too, by the way.
Looks like a spectacular ride based on an extremely flawed story. For instance why is there even a resistance at all? Where is the New Republic? Where is the New Republic army? Was there no attempt at reunification after the Empire fell? It makes little sense and unfortunately instead of getting that interesting story all were getting is 2D new characters with sloppy or no character arcs and old characters who seem to have completely abandoned their own hard earned character developement in a strange mirror image of the original trilogy.
That being said the OT and PT threw you into the deep water with no backstory of the politics, governments, and what the wars were about either. In the OT you never saw (or even knew the name of) the capital and did not see in Emperor in person until the end. The PT starts out about trade routes...
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Ride hit capacity just before 9 am. I guess I will be going on Saturday instead!