Rise of the Resistance doesn't have a virtual queue - it's a lottery

January 19, 2020, 2:33 PM · Want to get on Disneyland's new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride? You'd better get up early. And you'd better get lucky, too.

Disneyland is using what it is calling a virtual queue system to manage the crowd for Rise of the Resistance. Park guests must use the official Disneyland app to enter the queue, where they will be assigned a "boarding group" number that will be called via an app notification later in the day.

Guests must be inside the park to join the virtual queue, which opens at the park's published opening time. But guests are slamming the app as soon as the queue opens, resulting in all of the day's boarding groups being claimed within minutes. And it's getting worse each day. This morning, all the groups were gone for the day within just two minutes.

In practice, this isn't a virtual queue if all the day's boarding spots are going that quickly. What Disneyland has for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is really a lottery, instead.

Disneyland is using the same system as its sister park, Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort, adopted soon after Rise of the Resistance opened there last month. Initially, Hollywood Studios was using a more traditional virtual queue, which guests were allowed to join as soon as they entered the park. But that was leading to people crowding the park's entry plaza in the middle of the night, as they tried to get first dibs to enter the park as soon as Disney began admitting guests.

People were forming a physical queue to enter the virtual one. Disney didn't want the hassle of maintaining that physical queue in the pre-dawn hours every morning — or to take complaints from guests who didn't want to have to get up at 2am on their vacation in order to ride the most popular new attraction at the resort. (Even as every jet-lagged British tourist chortled quietly at the advantage the early start provided them.) So Disney changed the system to open the virtual queue only at the park's published opening time.

Disney would continue to allow people to enter the park about an hour or so early, as it always does. But there would no longer be any advantage to showing up in the middle of the night. So long as you were tapped into the park by 7am, you had the same opportunity to get into the virtual queue as anyone else inside the park.

But when thousands of people are trying to enter a virtual queue at once, there's really no "first come, first served" when the difference between first and second can be measured only by microseconds. In that case, what you have is a lottery. It's just random chance where you end up in the boarding group order.

At least at Hollywood Studios at this point, everyone inside the park at its opening has been getting boarding group numbers that allow them to ride Rise of the Resistance. Even those who show up within an hour or so of the park's opening have been getting on the ride more often than not.

That is not yet the case at Disneyland. While the best estimates at this point are that the vast majority of people inside the park at opening are getting Rise of the Resistance boarding groups, it is clear that some Disneyland guests who have made the commitment to be in the park at opening are not getting an assignment. And some who do get boarding group assignments are getting "backup group" assignments that ultimately are not called before the ride closes for the evening.

Our POV video of the full queue and ride experience on Disneyland's Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

Clearly, Disneyland's version of Rise of the Resistance is not yet putting through as many guests as the original installation at Walt Disney World is each day. Disney World is getting through many more boarding groups than Disneyland, where Rise has opened late its first three days and endured extended downtimes and early closures on its first two days. (We're still in day three.)

It's one thing to have a lottery to assign people boarding times during the day, but it's something else to have a lottery to determine whether park guests get on a ride at all. Last month, we asked you, What is the best way for theme parks to manage demand? In our reader vote, you collectively endorsed the virtual queue concept, with 47 percent of respondents preferring a first-come, first-served virtual queue that opens on the day of your visit.

But the option that came in dead last in our vote, with just two percent support, was an in-park lottery on the day of your visit — which, essentially, is the system Disneyland now has for Rise of the Resistance.

Sure, it's the opening weekend. Rides go down when they'e new like this. At least Disneyland isn't making people wait in a 12-hour-plus physical queue to get on Rise of the Resistance. The demand for Rise is so high that it is possible that even if Disneyland had used a traditional physical queue for the ride that some of the people who came to the park at opening would not get on the ride by the end of the day.

But it's also likely that the prospect of standing in a line for 12 hours would dissuade quite a few people who are trying their luck with the virtual queue from getting into a physical one. The discomfort of waiting in a line that long effectively would cut the demand for Rise of the Resistance, perhaps ensuring that everyone who was willing to pay that price, if you will, would get the chance to ride.

It's a nasty way to manage demand, but at least it's fair. Right now, there is no way to guarantee yourself a place to ride Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland. Sure, if you get there early and tap the app right at 8am, the odds are significantly better than 50/50 that you will be riding that day. Our best estimate is that at least 90 percent of people are getting boarding group assignments, though maybe a third or so of them are backup assignments.

But that also means that there is a smaller, but significant, chance that you will not get to ride, too. That's why, at this point, we cannot recommend booking a trip to Disneyland solely to go on Rise of the Resistance. If you must get on the ride ASAP, choose a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort instead, where arriving at Disney's Hollywood Studios first thing in the morning does appear to guarantee you a spot on the ride at some point.

Eventually, we trust that Disneyland will get Rise of the Resistance running at a higher capacity and that the park's legions of annual passholders all will have gotten aboard at some point, reducing the demand for the ride, too. That should bring Disneyland into the same groove that Hollywood Studios is operating within now, where there's essentially a lottery for the day's early boarding spots, followed by a true virtual queue to fill out the rest of the day.

But for now, in California, you show up and you take your chances. Could Disneyland have managed this differently? Sure. Disneyland could have done what it did with the entire Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land last spring, when it assigned advanced reservations online to visit the land during its first month. That system kept anyone from making a trip to the resort in vain, as you knew in advance of your visit if you would be getting in or not.

That system also lead to an overall decline in attendance at the resort as many people chose to visit only when they had a Galaxy's Edge reservation... or not to visit if they could not get one. Disneyland isn't about to chance that happening again, so an advance reservation system for Rise of the Resistance was out of the question.

But Disneyland also isn't about to risk a virtual queue/lottery situation that causes hotel guests to cancel their reservations because there's no guarantee that they will get on Rise of the Resistance, either. If park guests keep wiping out all the boarding groups within a minute every day for next few weeks, that becomes a real risk. In that case, I would not be surprised to see Disneyland publicize that it will offer an Extra Magic Hour on the ride for hotel guests only, or guarantee them a boarding group assignment, or give them a one-time-use Fastpass for the ride.

Ultimately, I love that Disney has been trying something different with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Parks should be looking to innovate and adapt as much with their operations as they have been with their ride systems, placemaking, and storytelling. But innovation does not stop with an attraction's opening. Great operations teams learn and adapt as their cast members watch how the public is using a new attraction. The Disney's Hollywood Studios team made the change they felt necessary to make its system work better for everyone.

Soon, Disneyland's management might have to do the same.

Replies (30)

January 19, 2020 at 10:16 PM

I keep wondering why they only open the requests at Park open. Why force so much app traffic at once? Why not allow people to request a boarding group once inside the park and divvy them up lottery style at opening as they do now? Any remaining groups are then first come first serve once park is open. Would be essentially the same system, but less stressful than everyone jamming the request button at the same exact time.

Likewise I feel for the first, I dunno, year or so that after an AP has ridden it once or twice their boarding group requests should be given lower priority to those who bought single/multi-day tickets. Those paying full price should be given some semblance of priority over those who come often.

January 21, 2020 at 7:37 AM

They just needed to make it an up-charge for the first few weeks. Including passholders. Give the money to charity, but make it an extra $30 for everyone. Better to charge people in advance, tell people they have to be at the park all day, or until their time to ride. Way less hassle than than this. Then after a month or so after the superfans get to ride it, then open it to the public.

January 20, 2020 at 6:29 AM

2019 Observations from Theme Park Insider commentators:
- "The ride (Rise of Resistance) itself appears to be slow-moving in multi-person vehicles reminiscent of the Universe of Energy. I admit that the AT-AT's look cool as heck, but beyond the immersive aspect of the sets themselves, I'm not seeing the potential for E-ticket level thrills."

- "Make a new Star Wars land but don't include the characters of the original iconic trilogy - who came up with that dumb idea?"

- "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."

- "Building a land based on the (Sequel Trilogy) and on an unremarkable location was an unwise move by Disney. I think fans would have been far more intrigued by a Corascant or Tattoine."

- "Disney is not delivering anything the core Star Wars fans actually want to see."

- "Disneyland's Galaxy's Edge looks cold, stark and uninviting."

Okay, I'm just trolling here. But I am just happy that something I was so excited for (Galaxy's Edge), that put up with so much negativity on message boards over the past few months, is getting the positive attention that I hoped it would. Can't wait to visit...once those crowds die down.

(In fairness, I came across one of my own previous comments where I observed that low crowds at GE were likely caused by people becoming unwilling to pay Disney's recently inflated prices - I guess I'm not very good at predictions either).

January 20, 2020 at 9:57 AM

@The Multiplex: Disney abandoned the first come-first served model of awarding Boarding Groups becomes guest were showing up at 3:00 a.m. and earlier on a 6 a.m. opening. Extra employees had to be called in and PAID to help with crowd control.

@Goodwin: Love it!

The big difference as I see it between the east and west versions of the ride right now is 4 parks (plus water parks) in the east vs. two in the west. Everyone visiting the much larger and higher crowd capacity Disneyland will try to get a boarding group, whereas at Hollywood Studios the crowds can somewhat get spread out over four parks. I’m sure the capacity of the HS version has increased since opening at this point, too.

January 20, 2020 at 10:05 AM

I do wish it was a system that allowed you to request the boarding pass as soon as you’re in, but then at 8am, the system sends out the boarding passes. This would reduce the load on cell towers, WiFi, and all other systems involved in this mayhem.

I don’t get why first come first serve would even be a good idea. We would have obscene lines of people trying to camp out before hours. Excuse my French but (insert four letter expletive) that. The whole point is so you’re not waiting in line for 10 hours like people did for Hagrid’s at Universal Orlando. Time is more valuable than waiting for a ride especially if a guest doesn’t have an annual pass.

January 20, 2020 at 10:46 AM

For people traveling a long distance to the parks, they have no assurance that they will get on RotR. If they're staying at a Disney resort, they may not have a car, so they can't even get to HS early enough to get a boarding pass.

As an Annual passholder, I can get there early. But is that fair to the people spending thousands of dollars to fly there, get a room, and pay the high prices?

January 20, 2020 at 11:04 AM

Any system they use is going to benefit some and penalize others. Obviously, this slightly benefits locals, pass holders, and multi-day guests (at DL) only. It is a huge risk for people going to WDW from distances that will be there for a short time. This is why I think it is a good idea for the serious SW fan to stay away for a while and not come until the crowds die down a bit. A typical family of four staying on property at WDW can easily spend $10,000 after all the hidden fees are finished, and to go down and miss out on this would be upsetting, not to mention the headache of planning out the FP+ of everything else. At present, I do think it may be the best system for RoR though. It is new and high demand. It is much better than waiting in line for 8-10 hours. The real question is what WDW is going to do with that ‘hotel’. It is assumed that those guests will not stand in line. Will they cut in or will they be part of an after hours time frame? Who knows?

January 20, 2020 at 11:11 AM

I like Randy's idea, making it an up-charge but giving that extra money to charity (Disney gives a lot to charity as it is, but specifically ear-marking this particular up-charge for that purpose would keep the "it's just a greedy money-grab" people at bay -- and this coming from someone who sees some of what Disney does as a greedy money-grab). Or, for non-APs, have two levels of ticket prices: one that includes ROTR and a lower-priced ticket that does not (with refunds on that extra ticket cost available if the person isn't able to ride due to operational issues). See below in this comment for more thoughts on APs and this attraction opening/lottery (don't worry, APs, I'm not gonna bash you).

Some background:

I worked the opening of the Indiana Jones Adventure, and I remember marveling at the 4½-hour queue that stretched out of Adventureland, to Main Street, into Frontierland, and all the way up Big Thunder Trail (and that included endless switchbacks in Adventureland itself, where there were "parade crossings" in the line so they could let guests who were not in line get through the line).

But what the Indy opening also taught me: there is NEVER a guarantee that you're going to be able to ride something new. The attraction opened on Saturday, March 4, 1995. The following weekend (March 11-12), the attraction didn't open at all as Disney remedied some structural/safety issues that arose in that first week. We knew going into that weekend that it wasn't going to be open at all, because until these issues were resolved there was a very real chance of a disaster in the attraction.

I was "lucky" enough to be selling ice cream on a cart right at the attraction entrance that weekend, so I was basically an "honorary Temple of the Forbidden Eye" cast member, explaining to people why they couldn't ride. I didn't sell much ice cream, but I dealt with my fair share of angry guests. And we were pretty much honest -- we didn't give the blanket term "technical difficulties." We actually explained what was going on (the part of the ride vehicles that keeps them on the track was showing stress fractures, and faced the risk of breaking and sending the vehicle careening into a wall -- or, worse, down into the pit after passing the Gates of Doom). But even with it being a very real safety issue, people were mad. And I understood that (I had been a cast member for one year and, despite all my training about such situations, including "repeat the concern back to them in your own words to show you understand, then apologize," this was when I truly learned that this meant that empathy goes a LONG way when dealing with someone who is upset over something I cannot control).

Because, I mean, I GOT it. These people came to see this heavily-marketed new attraction, and weren't the dad I once dealt with who claimed he and his family came all the way from Ohio JUST to ride the Matterhorn, only to miss it because they didn't ride it on the first four days of their Disneyland visit when it was open, and on the fifth day it rested (er, I mean, had closed for its semi-annual refurbishment). They missed out, and...I had a hard time pretending to be sorry for them.

The people I DO feel for are those who booked trips as soon as the opening date of ROTR was announced, well before Disneyland announced the virtual queue/lottery system (they don't use the word "lottery," but I think Robert is accurate in calling it one).

And Robert brings up another good point -- when Galaxy's Edge opened, before we knew that attendance was actually going to drop, Disneyland hotel guests were guaranteed to get in. That seems a fair thing to do for ROTR as well.

I dunno...remember that YouTube video of that guy who sang "I went on Space Mountain 17 times (*clap* *clap*)?" I almost picture some APs doing that but while twisting their evil mustaches (I know many wonderful APs and they are not evil in general but...some of them are a bit much with the entitlement). Maybe limit AP access (after they've ridden it once -- I'm not looking to cut them off, because they are paying for those passes) until after the initial demand dies down, so a family from Ohio who booked a trip when Disney announced the opening date, can get in if the attraction is able to operate.

Sorry, I didn't expect this comment to go on for so long. Hey, Robert, do you need a long-winded person to write verbose and rambling articles? I'm your guy.

January 20, 2020 at 11:14 AM

Can someone verify something for me. 9 of us will be at Disneyland on Saturday the 1st of February. If we all have the Disneyland app on our phones and we all have everyone listed in the app with our tickets, can we all simultaneously attempt to get into the virtual queue at the same time when the park opens? I don't know if that would create an issue and it would be best if only 1 person attempted it?

January 20, 2020 at 11:39 AM

@ servpro,

Honestly speaking, it’s better if all 9 of you try. You increase your chances drastically vs if it’s just 1 person in your group attempting to do it. Maybe have half of your group try it on wifi while the others use data. If one person manages to get through, then you’re set....but if it’s just 1 person trying, your odds are lower.

There will already be thousands trying to log on at that time, so 8 less wont make a difference.

January 20, 2020 at 11:43 AM

I don't understand why this is an issue for Disney. Fast and the Furious Supercharged uses a virtual queue system, and it never runs out of spots for guests. Maybe ROTR needs to upgrade it's ride vehicle to a party bus to help increase capacity. "Dang, where'd you rebel sympathizers learn to ride like that?"

No no. Don't bother to get up. I'll see myself out.

January 20, 2020 at 12:06 PM

Does anyone know whether there's a chance of riding RotR just before closing, even if you didn't get a boarding pass earlier?

January 20, 2020 at 12:40 PM

Distan... What they are doing is giving out boarding passes and letting people know that they should not expect to be called... They are listed as backups. When it's time to close, they close. Sorry for the people whose hopes were raised.

January 20, 2020 at 2:25 PM

@Disfan Was there on Saturday. We were assigned boarding group 123 and thought we maybe had a chance to get on before closing. But around 7pm, they sent out an announcement that there would be no more boarding that night past boarding group 111. The annoying thing IMO about the process is that you spend the day checking your phone, which is distracting from just being there and having fun. I think a reservation system, like they have with Olga's Cantina, makes sense because then people could plan their trip around the day that they were able to get a reservation for the ride. Open up reservations online 60 or 90 days in advance. It would get rid of the virtual queue and the uncertainty of whether even if you get a boarding group if it will mean anything.

January 20, 2020 at 2:31 PM

January 20, 2020 at 2:43 PM

First off after just returning from Disney World last week, I have to say that the GE is Great!!! ROR is epic and Disney did a great job in the area. You don't have to be a huge Star Wars fan to like the area, it was very well done and very immersive. Although charging more for drinks and food inside the land versus other areas is not well received. ROR if you have not ridden it is hard to describe the experience and no video can do it justice. You have to experience the whole of the attraction and not focus on every little part on its own. In terms of getting on it we scored groups 45, 23, 23 and 8 on 4 different days. The app worked fine and everyone had the same chance once the park opened. At 6AM the line outside was bigger than I have seen in 10+ years there and I would not have wanted to be waiting at 2AM to get in. Some people may but I prefer to have the same chance as others at the same time versus a lottery or large groups getting there in the dead of night. When you travel and spend airfare, hotels and food you want a level field to at least ride it. Once you ride once you will know why its such a desired and hot ticket. As Hollywood Studios works out the bugs it seems like they are loading more and more through the day so most people who got in got to ride it when we were there. Disneyland is much different as it's not split into 4 parks so everyone going wants on that ride. Being that Disney is expensive I know I would not want to pay an extra $30 per person to ride this for a family of 4 that's allot of extra to shell out and with what I already spent just too much.

On a final note, nobody is forcing anyone to go to GE or like it so if it does not meet preconcieved ideas of what it should be in your minds, then borrow say 2 billion dollars and build what you want. For me we liked it allot and found it very fun an immersive!

January 20, 2020 at 3:27 PM

I was just watching the chaos on Five Fires (vlog) of parking and entering DL yesterday at opening. Then, the wierdest thing I ever saw in a theme park: hundreds of people streaming OUT of the park at 815 when they didn't get boarding group. Wow!

January 21, 2020 at 9:23 AM

What everyone here needs to understand is that the number of guests RotR can accommodate is vastly fewer than want to ride in any given day. Whatever system Disney comes up with is going to leave guests who want to ride unable to experience the attraction. Certainly, Disney could take the shrewd move to make RotR an upcharge attraction, requiring guests to pay a fee just to get on (or even require guests to purchase MaxPass just to get access to the Boarding Group system), but that has not been Disney's M.O. since they initially conceived FP decades ago. Disney doesn't want to put attraction like this behind a paywall, and I think them trying to do that with RotR (especially with an insanely priced immersive hotel experience coming to DHS in 2021) would make far more enemies than they've created through the current boarding groups system.

Without any sort of caste system giving privileges to wealthy guests, it puts every single park guest on the same footing. Disney learned at DHS that giving early arriving guests even the slightest bit of advantage created an unsustainable system of guests arriving earlier and earlier trying to get a jump on their fellow Jedi/Sith to be the first ones through the gates and thus getting first dibs on Boarding Groups. The current system of releasing all of the Boarding Groups at the same time gives everyone the same chance, and with the ride's ability in a day to accommodate more than half the guests gathered inside the gates at the official park opening time, it's better than a coin flip that a guest will get to ride.

The way I look at it, guests are not entitled to ride anything when they walk through any park's gates. Ride break, they need to be taken down for maintenance, or they are even rented out for groups or special events. Walking into a theme park offers no guarantee that you will get onto any ride of your choosing. I've traveled to theme parks around the world, and have come across dozens of situations where the ride I really really wanted to ride was unavailable for one reason or another. If you sit and pout and dwell on your inability to get on that ride, then that's on you, not the park, and the park, typically with dozens of other rides and attraction available for your entertainment, owes you NOTHING even if you've spent thousands of dollars with the explicit intent to ride a specific ride. I'm traveling to WDW this weekend with the hopes of riding RotR at least twice (if not more), and while it's the driving factor behind this particularly trip, I'm not going to let it affect my enjoyment of the parks if we either can't get on or have to deal with delays and early morning wakeups to give have any chance of riding.

I guess in a certain respect the Boarding Groups system on the busiest of days is essentially a lottery. However, it is a lottery where you have some control over skewing the odds in your favor. The first is to make sure to be at the park well before the "lottery" starts. As they say, you can't win if you don't play, and not showing up to the park gates with enough time to make it through security prior to the official opening time is akin to not buying your lottery ticket. While there's still an off chance you might still get lucky if you're a few minutes late, you're hurting your chances by sleeping in. The other way that you can tilt the odds in your favor is by having a modern mobile device. If you're still walking around with a flip phone, you might as well give up any hope of getting on RotR, because only a handful of guests each day are going to get into a non-backup Boarding Group by interacting with a Disney CM. It's certainly not impossible, but it's kind of like ADA where Disney is accommodating technophobes, but they're not going to give them the exact same level of access as someone who's got the latest iPhone.

I will again reiterate that the biggest issue that Disney is dealing with right now is that the attraction is not running anywhere close to full capacity - by most accounts it sounds like it's barely running at half capacity. Flight of Passage went through these same issues of reduced capacity over its first few months of operation, and without a virtual queue, guests were standing in line for 4+ hours. I don't know about anyone else, but I would much rather know within the first 5-10 minutes that the park was open whether I had a decent chance of getting on the ride than standing in a 4+ hour line for an attraction that may ultimately close for the day before I get on it. That's the reality here as RotR's performance has been incredibly unpredictable, and leaving guests standing in a physical line would further frustrate them.

Call this a "lottery" if you want, but it's better than tens of thousands of guests sprinting to a ride and forming a line the snakes through the park like Hagrid's offering guests no way to leave and no guarantee that they will even get to ride regardless of how long they wait.

January 21, 2020 at 1:42 PM

I agree with what Russel said. I honestly can't see how anyone else's suggestions are better than what Disney implemented. You all are acting like AP holders have an unfair advantage, like you've forgotten that most APs show up at 6 after they've gotten off work and all the passes for the day are long gone.

January 21, 2020 at 3:46 PM

Man, this bickering about ques and lottery and such just makes me turn on my "grumpy old man" bit: "In my day, we had no idea how long a line would be until we got in it! And if it was two hours, three hours, we stuck in there as it could be longer later! We had to stay the entire time in that line and that's the way it was and we liked it!"

January 23, 2020 at 8:52 AM

The advice for Hollywood Studios did not work. On Wednesday, January 22. 2020, I arrived at 0645, paid for premium parking to get in sooner, and did not get in the park until 0710. The queue opened at 0700. Initial attempts to get in the queue did not work for some reason, but by the time I got in (0713), I was in the backup queue at 86. They only made it to 79 at the end of the day. Don’t get your hopes up for the Rise of the Resistance. The other Star Wars rides, shows, and exhibits are awesome though, so it was not a total loss.

January 23, 2020 at 11:19 AM

@Vortex - What advice were you following? Everyone that's reporting on the situation has been clearly stating that being through the gates prior to official park opening (at both Disneyland and DHS) is critical to give yourself the best chance that you get a regular boarding group. If you walked through the gates at 7:10, you were LATE, and were thus placed in a Backup Boarding Group, which is not a guaranteed ride (or justification for being comped if you don't get a ride). You don't have to show up at 4 AM like guests were doing during the first couple of weeks, but you still need to allow time to park, walk/tram to the entrance, get through security, and scan your admission ticket at the gate. Certainly many days DHS has been able to get through a large percentage of the backup groups, but unfortunately, Wednesday wasn't a great day from a ride performance standard (calculated from second hand reports and observers as the second worst day since it opened). On most other days, you probably would have gotten on late in the day, but you were unlucky. However, you could have improved your luck had you arrived at the park with enough time to get through security and into the park BEFORE 7 AM. In the end, you only have yourself to blame, as Disney got through all but one of the regular boarding groups Wednesday (though a lot of guests with lower numbers gave up and left when the ride didn't start running until mid-afternoon). Give yourself some more time to get to the park next time if you want to ride one of the highest demand theme park attractions in the world.

January 23, 2020 at 4:55 PM

Any thoughts on the chances of getting a spot on the ride if we enter the park at 7:00 ish?My daughter and son-in-law are getting us military tickets which means we need to first go to the outside ticket windows to exchange the vouchers for actual tickets then get into the park. I figure if I get there super early so I'm the first at the ticket window when it opens at 7:00 (everyone else in our group can show up just before 7:00) we can get our tickets and be inside in time?...

January 24, 2020 at 6:25 AM

Everyday this week the initial boarding groups were gone within the first 5 minutes of the park opening. If you're willing to accept a back-up boarding group, then "7:00 ish" should work.

It's 7:25am right now and back-ups are still available. Seems to be working well today as they are calling groups 9 thru 20. Not a bad spread.

January 24, 2020 at 8:22 AM

@servpro8912 - Understand that if you arrive at 7 and need to exchange vouchers at the ticket booth, you're almost assuredly not going to get a regular boarding group by the time you enter the park. It's a pretty good chance that you will get a "Backup Boarding Group", which has been a 50/50 prospect of getting on RotR since the ride opened in December. It also will depend on what day you plan on visiting, because crowds over the next couple of weeks should start normalizing, but will pick up again for the days around the Presidents Day holiday weekend. Also, if you do end up with a backup boarding group, that means you're not likely to be summoned back to ride until very late in the day (if you receive that call at all). This has been a problematic issue for a lot of guests who have ADRs or other plans later in the day, because they aren't called back to RotR until 6 or 7 PM and are either eating dinner somewhere else, or in a completely different park. Other guests simply get bored with DHS and the intense crowds (and long lines for other rides) that they've been battling since 7 AM, and are simply leaving the park because their boarding group is nowhere near being called (Disney has been running through dozens of board groups over the last couple of hours of the day, likely because so many guests leave the park and give up on it after 3 or 4 PM).

FYI, the ticket booths typically open about 30 minutes before official park opening time, so if you need to exchange vouchers, you can arrive a little bit early to complete that transaction and enter the park prior to the boarding groups opening. However, I highly doubt you'll be the first one in line for the ticket window. There always seems to be a handful of crazy people that still show up at 4 AM (or earlier) despite Disney changing the procedures that eliminate any advantage for guests arriving that far in advance of park opening.

January 24, 2020 at 10:59 AM

@Russell Meyer
Thanks for the info! If need be I'll get to Disneyland earrrrrrly 4:00 AM and wait at the ticket booth, then be sure everyone else arrives at 6:45 so we can get our tickets as soon as the booth opens (Hopefully at 7:00!) The park opens at 8:00 AM next Saturday the 1st when we're going so here's to hoping we can be "inside" by the time the "digital rope drop" occurs for RotR.

January 24, 2020 at 11:51 AM

The "booth" (where you exchange your vouchers) will likely be open at least by 6:30 AM, if not sooner. If you didn't notice, Disney has already moved up to a 7 AM opening for DHS on Saturday, February 1, 2020 (if you haven't already adjusted your FP+ reservations, you're probably too late to take advantage of the extra inventory, but it's certainly worth a check). The park is opening at 7 AM every single day between now and Sunday, February 2, and is currently scheduled for a 9 AM opening on Monday, February 3. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see them move that next week up to 7 AM sometime early next week.

With a 7 AM opening time, gates will likely open around 6:30 to allow guests to filter into the park, and the "digital rope drop" will likely occur right at 7 AM, at which point you and every person in your party MUST be inside the park in order to attain a Boarding Group. Regular boarding groups have been filling up within 1-2 minutes over the past 4 days, so if you're not in the park at or before 7 AM, expect to only be able to get a backup group, which means you'll be riding at the very end of the day (if at all).

January 24, 2020 at 12:03 PM

DHS? Disney Hollywood Studios? We'll be at Disneyland in Anaheim.

January 24, 2020 at 12:16 PM

Oops...Sorry about that. I'm in WDW mode right now since we'll be there tomorrow, so I read right over that you'll be in DL. Yes, Disneyland is currently scheduled for an 8 AM opening, so I would anticipate the ticket booths would be open between 7 and 7:30 AM for you to exchange your vouchers. However, the process for getting on RotR has been the same on both coasts with guests needing to be physically inside the park at official park opening time (8 AM) and regular boarding groups all claimed within a minute or 2. Weekends tend to see much higher crowds (especially when APs are not blacked out) in California, whereas Florida crowds tend to ebb and flow based on EMH. If you want to optimize your day in the park (and don't plan on spending a lot of time in Galaxy's Edge), I'd highly recommend purchasing MaxPass ($15/person/day). It's totally worth it IMHO, and allows you to pick up FPs on your phone instead of having to walk around to each attraction. MaxPass also includes PhotoPass for the day.

January 24, 2020 at 12:41 PM

Excellent, thanks for the advice. I'll report back once we return from our trip. Trying to convince everyone to just go Superbowl Sunday as I can imagine the crowds would be lower...

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