Will Disneyland's Rise of the Resistance open early?

December 6, 2019, 12:19 PM · Now that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has opened at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney's next big deadline is the same ride's opening at Disneyland next month.

But is the west coast version of Disney's new Star Wars ride really one month behind its Florida sibling? Walt Disney Imagineering's Scott Trowbridge answered that question in Orlando yesterday, and his response is giving Disneyland fans hope that they might get on what I consider the world's best theme park ride before its official January 17 opening date.

"California is pretty much in the same place that Florida is right now," Trowbridge said. "So we're just testing and adjusting."

Could that mean soft opens in the near future for Disneyland's Rise of the Resistance? Probably not right away. The Florida original continues to suffer frequent downtimes, with Disney working to coordinate the four ride systems and complicated show timing that help make this such an impressive attraction. If Disney's crew can watch and learn from what is happening in Florida, there's no need to suffer any potential PR fallout from Southern California fans seeing Rise - a potential attendance boon for Disneyland - instead as an attraction that's just down much of the time.

Let's consider the indisputable reason why Disney decided to open Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Florida first. It needed to save Christmas at the Walt Disney World Resort. Attendance is always wall-to-wall at Disneyland from the start of Halloween Time through the end of Holidays at the Disneyland Resort. There's simply no good business reason for Disney to open a major new attraction at the Disneyland Resort during the final four months of the year... ever. It'd just be gilding the lily — overloading an already pack-to-the-rafters resort.

But Florida is different. Dependent upon out-of-market visitors instead of locals, Walt Disney World needed its potential guests to stop putting off their Disney vacations while they awaited the full opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Disney did not want to see its recent U.S. attendance slide continue through the especially lucrative holiday season at industry-leading Walt Disney World. So it moved Rise of the Resistance's opening in Florida ahead of the Christmas holidays in Florida while allowing it to slide in after the holidays in California.

That said, even though Disneyland has no need to promote a new attraction opening during the holiday season, it certainly could use all the capacity it can generate in the parks during that time. Remember that there's a hard blockout of all but the Signature Plus annual passes during the two weeks around Christmas and New Year's. That would be a perfect time for Disney to drop in some unannounced, limited-time soft openings for Rise of the Resistance when the vast majority of AP holders are unable to flood the park immediately when they hear that news.

But for the time being I think that it's more likely that Disneyland's Rise of the Resistance remains a test mule for the Florida version, allowing operations and maintenance teams in Anaheim to test a wider variety of adjustments that their colleagues can with the ride open to the public in Florida. If they hit upon a solution that allows both installations to perform more consistently, perhaps then Disneyland will get the green light for a soft opening.

Otherwise, the Resistance will begin accepting recruits at Disneyland on January 17, 2020.

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Replies (2)

December 6, 2019 at 2:20 PM

I don't know - it sounds like a Parks President playing coy in an attempt to drive guests to the gates for a chance that likely never comes.

If the rumors are accurate, the reason the WDW version opened first was because the California version of the attraction required significant tearing down and rebuilding of critical tracking systems that was not discovered until the late stages of initial ride system testing, while the DHS version had not installed those systems yet, and was able to engineer around the problem without the teardown. That means the construction timeline for the Disneyland version of RotR would have been at least a month or two behind the Florida version with potentially some of the lost time made up through the elimination of beta testing that was conducted in Florida.

Everything that I've heard indicates that Disney was pushing hard to get the Florida version of the attraction over the line, and while I don't think they cut any corners to open RotR by the official opening date, you can see from the amount of downtime over the first 2 days of operation that it probably could have used some more load testing before being opened to the masses.

While I wouldn't be surprised if Disney changes tactics in California by quietly performing some soft opening days and CM/VIP previews, which were bypassed in Florida, I don't think they're going to do anything substantial before the end of the year. While I can see the advantage of giving DL guests a ride on RotR as a Christmas present, and that the ride could suck up some park capacity during an already overloaded time of year, it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen and a lot of effort on Disney's part for little reward (and the potential of awful publicity if the ride cannot perform consistently). Fool me once, shame on you...Fool me twice, shame on me.

December 6, 2019 at 3:56 PM

If anything, Disneyland can benefit from some of the bugs ironed out and such that are causing a few delays already for RotR and it can help a lot. I agree with Russell, far more likely they hold off rather than try and rush it too fast.

Of course, sadly, there are already the inevitable "suggestions" to "Just retheme it for the OT" going around. Mostly be people who still fail to grasp just how ridiculously complex actually building a theme park attraction can be.

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