'Resistance' wasn't quite as futile at Disneyland today

March 4, 2020, 2:52 PM · An interesting thing happened back at Disneyland today. For this first time that I can recall, boarding groups to get on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance not only did not "sell out" within moments of the park's opening, spots in the ride's virtual queue remained available into the afternoon.

I'm still on the east coast now, wrapping the Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway media event and getting ready to fly home to Los Angeles. But I have been checking the Disneyland app to see the status of Rise of the Resistance, comparing it to the same ride here at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Yesterday, Disney provided participating media representatives with a one-time line pass to go through the Fastpass entrance to Rise of the Resistance at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Once I had my stories posted for the day, I had an hour left on that ticket, so I gave it a go.

It was by far a smoother experience than any of the times I went on Rise during its two media preview days, here in Orlando last December and at Disneyland in January. I was in and through the attraction in 25 minutes, with no delays at any point in the ride and all its effects appearing to work properly. Disney's Hollywood Studios got past at least boarding group 140 in its 12-hour day yesterday, thanks in part to the relatively hassle-free operation.

At Disneyland today, clearly lower-than-usual attendance is in play. It's the same "off season" here in Orlando, but crowds coming for Runaway Railway helped claim all the backup boarding groups for Rise within an hour of the park's opening. But backup boarding groups remained available by early afternoon in Anaheim, where no major new attraction was bringing extra visitors to the park during a slow Wednesday in early March, and wait times for all other attractions remained low.

The final boarding groups were assigned at Disneyland around 12:30pm... when the wait time for Radiator Springs Racers was posted at just 50 minutes. That's a slow day at Disneyland.

Still, we've seen many days that should have been low attendance between Rise's Disneyland opening in January and now. But the huge demand for this well-reviewed attraction saw the park's Main Street filled each morning, as fans claimed all the day's boarding group assignments within minutes. Some fans might have wondered if this was to become the new normal at Disneyland - an early arriving crowd that filled queues throughout the park at the beginning of the day, unlike the park's recent history of welcoming relatively late-arriving crowds.

That boarding group virtual queue assignments remained available on Rise for more than three hours today suggests that perhaps the "old normal" might not be gone forever at Disneyland. Sure, I'd still recommend a pre-opening arrival for anyone who wants to be certain of getting on Rise - especially if you are visiting on a weekend or holiday week. But also I want to believe that the day will come - and soon - when someone who can't get to Disneyland until after work or school has a shot at riding Rise of the Resistance that evening.

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Replies (13)

March 4, 2020 at 3:06 PM

I would attribute this not only to the factors you've listed, Robert, but also to panic over the coronavirus, particularly in southern California, where cases have been confirmed to have passed without any contact with travelers from another country. People are starting to stay away from places where large crowds congregate, and theme parks, rightly or wrongly, are seen by the general public as germ dens. I would anticipate this continuing, especially in California, but at other theme parks around the country as well.

March 4, 2020 at 3:28 PM

Good point. I didn't include that because I am not in California at the moment and didn't want to make an assumption about the current mood there. But I guess I am about to find out, as I'm on my way to LAX!

March 4, 2020 at 3:42 PM

@ Robert, they just declared a state of emergency in LA County earlier today, so people may be a little on edge.

But I agree that the coronavirus has most likely contributed to a dip in overall attendance. Tourist & locals are most likely monitoring news & updates very closely & that manifest itself in the attendance.

I still think that by summer, ROTR will probably start utilizing a standby line. While the attraction is still the top draw, the media frenzy / promo of the new attraction will start to ease up. Granted we're still probably months away, but the last time I went on MFSR in Galaxy's Edge, we were able to get on twice in a single hour, without using (SR). At one point that attraction had crazy wait times...

So overall, while this might just be a rare incident in terms of ROTR, this could be the start of the eventual journey toward having a standby line.

March 5, 2020 at 11:14 AM

I had friends at DL yesterday. They obtain boarding group 12!! And got the best possible version of a breakdown evacuation. The ride broke down for them right after landing back in Battu. They were given a fast pass to come back and ride the attraction again later in the day. 2 for 1 special. (They also got evacuated from Indy. Their jeep stalled between the darts and boulder rooms)

March 5, 2020 at 2:14 PM

WDW has had backup boarding groups available for 30-45 minutes after opening these past two days. While were are in a lower attendance time for both parks (for now...spring breaks are right around the corner), is it possible that the ride is becoming more stable? Does anyone know the number of riders per hour and not just the number of boarding groups?

And Robert: Really, a Star Trek reference in the title of an article about a Star Wars attraction?

March 5, 2020 at 2:24 PM

The general assumption is that there are @100 guests per Boarding Group. That estimate has been backed up by in park observers watching guests enter and exit the attraction.

It's possible, though unlikely, that the opening of MMRR has shifted some of the crowds. Guests can hold a FP for the new ride and still secure a RotR Boarding Group, which why I think it's unlikely that the new attraction has affected RotR availability. It's more likely that the popularity of RotR has slightly waned and the lower pre-spring break crowds are allowing backup groups to stay available a bit longer. As far as stability of the attraction, it does seem to be regularly clocking in well over 120 Boarding Groups per day, but it's still having its "bad" days. Also Disney is still not releasing as many guaranteed Boarding Groups as it was a month ago, making the cutoff somewhere in the 60s of late when it was routinely in the 80s and 90s in January.

March 5, 2020 at 3:09 PM

Pretty sure the opening of MMRR had zero affect on RoR at Disneyland.

March 5, 2020 at 5:04 PM

Unfortunately, I was there on the "worst" day LOL. We got group 70 and didn't make it. Fortunately, some of the ladies in our group were more persuasive than me and we got put in the recovery group the next morning. It was awesome though.

March 6, 2020 at 9:07 AM

"Pretty sure the opening of MMRR had zero affect on RoR at Disneyland."

That's true MarkSharp, but TwoBits provided evidence that a similar situation was occurring in DHS, so I was providing some potential explanation for that phenomenon in Florida.

Also for TwoBits, I'm not sure if you ever went to Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton before it closed, but there are some striking similarities between the attractions there and RotR/Galaxy's Edge. I wouldn't be surprised if Imagineers would cite that installation as providing some level of inspiration for their landmark additions.

March 6, 2020 at 11:24 AM

There's also some huge convention happening this week. My family had to move our vacation back to last week because all the motels were charging twice as much for rooms. I know Disneyland is more of a locals park, but I would imagine that my family weren't the only out-of-towners who had to avoid this week. But as evanweston mentioned, the coronavirus may be a factor - the members of my family who do live in California seemed to be more mindful of public spaces with large groups of people and I'd think just living in California puts them at a higher risk than us midwesterners who were only there temporarily.

March 6, 2020 at 12:11 PM

I refuse to play the boarding group game (i.e., who`s got the fastest smartphone?) I`ll start planning my next Disney trip when they put ROTR on the fast pass system.

March 6, 2020 at 4:37 PM

It will be substantially more difficult and expensive to get on Rise of the Resistance once it goes to FP+ than it is now.

March 8, 2020 at 8:41 PM

evanweston, that`s true only if you`re making a short WDW trip. At 60+10, it should be available.

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