Disney World to Drop Virtual Queue on Star Wars Ride

September 16, 2021, 2:40 PM · Walt Disney World next week will stop requiring guests to use a virtual queue to ride its award-winning Star Wars Rise of the Resistance. Starting September 23, the Disney's Hollywood Studios attraction will begin using a traditional walk-up queue.

Rise of the Resistance had been using a virtual queue since its opening in December 2019. At times, entering that queue felt more like a lottery, as fans swamped the official My Disney Experience app with requests when the queue opened each morning. Eventually, Disney added a second opportunity later in the day to join the queue.

In recent weeks, as demand for the ride has stabilized, the queue sometimes has remained open to new entries hours after opening. On very rare occasions, the virtual queue has emptied before the end of the day, allowing Disney to open the attraction to walk-ups. But at other times, many fans have been frustrated by their inability to get a ride time on Rise, with some complaining that they couldn't experience the attraction at all during their Walt Disney World vacation.

With a standby queue, there no longer will be any question of luck determining your fate on the ride. If you're willing to show up at park opening and wait, you will get to ride. (Assuming that the ride remains operational that day, of course.) What remains to be seen is how the switch to a standby queue at Rise will affect the rest of the park.

A virtual queue effectively allowed people to wait for two attractions at once. Guests could be in the virtual queue for Rise while they waited in a physical queue for something else. Now, they will not be able to do that. All those guests waiting in Rise's queue will draw people from other queues in park, potentially leading to shorter wait times elsewhere.

Or - and I am guessing that Disney is hoping for this - the elimination of Rise's virtual queue may encourage more people to visit Walt Disney World, since they no longer will have to face a risk that they would not be able to get on what has been Disney's most acclaimed ride in years. That would add more people to the park, potentially increasing wait times. So - as usual - we will have to wait to see the ultimate effect of this change.

This is not the end for virtual queues at Disney, however. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure will use a virtual queue once it officially opens to all Epcot visitors on October 1. And Disney is not ruling out a return for the virtual queue on Rise of the Resistance at some point, either.

But for now, the strategy for visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios to experience Star Wars Rise of the Resistance changes, starting September 23. Forget about being on the app at 7am and get yourself to the park itself before opening, instead. Then make a beeline for the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land and prepare to wait for this ride the old fashioned way.

Update: Manny Barron makes an excellent point in the comments, reminding us that Walt Disney World will begin giving its hotel guests 30 minutes early entry at all parks, starting next month. This move therefore gives Disney's hotel guests the advantage at getting on Rise that they have been asking for since the attraction opened.

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Replies (25)

September 16, 2021 at 2:41 PM

Just FYI, at this point there is no word from Disneyland about a change there.

September 16, 2021 at 3:20 PM

This is an odd development to say the least. It sounds much more like an experiment and that this new policy could shift at any time.

The good news is that a long line will likely deter many from trying to ride. Even though this is widely considered the best ride in all of Disney World, I believe the popularity was inflated by boarding groups and not having to wait in a long line.

The bad news is that people are going to have to get to the park super early now. The whole purpose of going to the 7 a.m. opening window for boarding groups was so that people weren't getting to the parks so early and causing a large crowd before sunrise.

The worst news is for people like me who stay offsite. With resorts guests getting a 30 minute head start everyday at every park, I will likely have to pay the upwards of $25 per person to guarantee my party a ride.

September 16, 2021 at 3:40 PM

Pros and cons to both sides lol. TwoBits stated great points but at the same time, people who are determined to get up early and beat out the crowds will be rewarded with having an easier and more stable chance to ride. And hey, if large crowds show up every morning then they'll hopefully open the park an hour early like they did when the ride first opened to manage crowds. It'll be interesting to see how things will play out.


@TwoBits- I'm sure Disney won't do early magic hours for DHS anytime soon. Unless hotel sales are down... then they def will

September 16, 2021 at 3:41 PM

How is the queue for ROTR designed and how will it work with Lightning Lane? Is there already a separate queue that can be used as a Lightning Lane? Or is it just one lane? If so, how will Lightning Lane work? (Thanks in advance for your reply.)

September 16, 2021 at 3:54 PM

@Beacher-

Lightning Lane will just take over the original FastPass queue. The only change is changing the name.

No word on how much it will cost to individually ride with the lightning lane but I've heard rumors of at least $15 on a slow day. Disneyland Shanghai charges anywhere from $17-25 a person per ride. For Disneyland Paris, guests pay from $9-$18 per person per ride.

Also, if I have to pay for a Fastpass, I feel like I should have the option to arrive at any time of the day and not be restricted to a one hour window. If you miss it, you just lost money. Ik the CMs will be nice about it but what if they aren't? Or what if you were in a queue for 2 hours at FOP and your EE pass expired. Just stuff to think about.

September 16, 2021 at 4:10 PM

I'm quite happy I wont have to wake up at 6:55am next month when I visit DHS for the virtual queue type of deal when it used to come "live" at 7am. I'll just have to get my running shoes on to sprint to the queue at rope drop. JK of course but remember folks that come October, Deluxe resort guests will have first dibs at park attractions 30 minutes before park opening. So expect RotR to already have a semi-substantial queue by the time general population gets let in.

September 16, 2021 at 7:10 PM

I think it may have a double porpouse. Drive people into the park with a better chance to ride than the virtual lottery of the boarding groups, and also improves the crowd distribuition in the park, and less people in line for Mickey and Minie ride, the twiligth zone tower, the toy story manía and Slinky coaster.

September 16, 2021 at 7:14 PM

Isn't this just to clear the way for the Lighting Lane? Why give people a virtual que for free when you can make the line three hours long then charge the poor saps another $20 a head to skip the line? I mean, welcome to hell.

September 16, 2021 at 8:08 PM

The coronel.
Yep. Thats also a way to wet your apetite, then see if the ride creates a masive line, then create a necesity for the genie plus app. Clean. Rinse, dry, repeat.

September 17, 2021 at 2:40 AM

I think it's fair to use a virtual queue on a new attraction for the first three to six months, particularly something as temperamental as Rise of the Resistance has been. However, it's long past time for a switch away from the boarding group lottery, and I hope California's version is soon to follow suit. It's going to be interesting to see how long the standby line actually is for Rise, as that more than anything will tell whether it's truly a ridiculous hit or is more on par with a typical E-ticket. I'm expecting 1-2 hour waits to be the norm, but if it really winds up having 3+ hour standby waits on a daily basis, I guess that means the extreme popularity isn't artificial.

September 17, 2021 at 7:35 AM

Let’s not forget the official announcement says the queue system is “paused”. Implying that it will return at some point. This is a big bow down to those people staying on site as they get their 30mins in the park before everyone else is let in.
The lines outside DHS in the morning have the potential of becoming horrendous once again. Which is a shame, as the virtual queue, for the most part, did away with this. Sure it might help to lessen wait times on the other rides, but with 10’s, maybe 100’s, of thousands of new pass holders now visiting the parks, it will be interesting to see if this really happens. I for one will be happy to see SDD at less than 60-80mins !!
Genie+ is obviously a big factor in this decision, with lightening lane signs now going up all around all 4 parks. Roll out of the system isn’t far away, but I’d still put my money on it being after October 1st. Time will tell.

September 17, 2021 at 8:01 AM

i just had to console a good friend of mine this past tuesday who got a boarding time on the 1pm app queue (she missed out on the 7am), only to see the ride go down much of the day so her boarding time that should have been around 4:30pm, was canceled. she tried twice at guest services, pleading that she is from oklahoma and had gotten canceled on her last visit too, all to no avail. she was devastated to the point of tears and just wanted to leave the park and go back to the hotel. i tried to talk her into a little retail therapy using my AP discount but her mood was so grim she didn't want any disney merchandise, just wanted to get out of there . luckily, she bounced back and made up for it wednesday at universal with 2 rides first thing on hagrid's before he broke down for the day. i know her story isn't unique as many guests have experienced the same thing. i am sure DHS guest services is thrilled with this "pause" as i imagine ROTR has been a guest service nightmare for the parks with all of the 50 and 60 year olds who don't understand tech all that well and just want to walk in the park with their ticket and get in line like the good old days.

September 17, 2021 at 9:54 AM

There are definitely different ways of looking at this change. I think this will absolutely lead to shorter lines at other DHS attractions (particularly MFSR and SDD). RotR is a MUST DO attraction, and if guests are forced to stand in line for it, that is a significant number of guests that will not be waiting in other lines around the park. A standby line for RotR will also provide clear demand for the groundbreaking attraction as opposed to the artificial demand created by the Boarding Groups. Guests will regularly get in 3-4 hour lines for FoP and 7DMT, so I would anticipate RotR to attract similar lines, particularly when the ride has technical issues that lead to unexpected downtime. However, the true test will be whether guests will still get in line when the wait exceeds the 240 minute barrier, and how much Disney will charge for Lightning Lane when waits routinely exceed 180 minutes (I'm predicting $25 or more).

For those worried about on-site early entry clogging the line, I don't think there will be a big impact. While on-site guests will get a 30-minute head start, I just don't think it will create massive lines that will significantly increase waits for off-site guests (those on-site guests still have to wake up early and actually choose to visit DHS - remember WDW won't be staggering early entry around the resort, so on-site early entry guests will be spread across all 4 parks). Off-site guests should still get to the parks early to get to RotR as soon as they're able, but on-site guests will probably only have enough time to get on 1 ride during their 30 minutes of early entry. Even if all of the on-site guests race to RotR, the line is unlikely to get beyond 60 minutes during that exclusive period. While off-site guests will never get a walk-on ride on RotR like the first on-site guests can, the wait for the attraction during the first 30-60 minutes of the general operation day should still be rather manageable except during the busiest days of the year (holidays, Spring Break, and early summer).

As others have noted, Disney framed this operational change as a "pause", and it does sound like this is more of an experiment than a permanent change. I think if the standby line stays within reason (less than 180 minutes), Disney will keep it in place except for days where capacity crowds are expected. The only issue will be how Disney will communicate to guests when RotR is using the standby queue and when it shifts to a virtual queue (will it happen in the middle of the day, or will it be implemented days in advance). WDW guests are creatures of habit, and are adverse to change, so Disney will need to be very careful how they change the operational rules for one of the most popular attractions in the world.

@mbrussumco - I can understand your friend's frustration, but that is the way things go in theme parks. I've tried to explain this to my son the last few times we've visited parks where an attraction he's been desperate to ride has been down or had extremely long lines. When you walk into a theme park, you're paying for a total experience, and there are dozens of other rides and attractions to enjoy. Any ride can break down at any time or see untenable lines due to technical issues and/or unusually high demand. Our first day trying to get on RotR involved three different stints in the line due to breakdowns, and we thought we might not actually get on the ride (the 3rd time was the charm on that first day and the next 2 times we rode we had no issues). Similarly, it took my wife and I three days and over 4 hours in line to get on Top Thrill Dragster during its inaugural season in 2003.

No matter how good or anticipated a ride is, things happen, rides break, and parks should not be blamed or expected to offer refunds or accommodations when a top ride has technical difficulties that keep you from riding it on the one day you happen to be there.

September 17, 2021 at 10:20 AM

"However, the true test will be whether guests will still get in line when the wait exceeds the 240 minute barrier, and how much Disney will charge for Lightning Lane when waits routinely exceed 180 minutes (I'm predicting $25 or more)."

I mean, this is the gambit. The longer the line, the higher the obnoxious additional charge, the more hatred the commoners in the line will feel toward the obscenely wealthy who can afford to pay $100 more for their family to ride a single ride. Honestly, if I'm in line three hours in the hot sun with my kids and I watch a bunch of rich people swan past me onto the ride, when I see them later in the park I'm going to hiss at them. If I see Bob Chapek, I'm gonna spit at him.

This whole nonsense is injecting the poisonous venom of classism into the Disney experience. Sure, other parks do it, but then no one has any expectation that those parks are anything but a money grab (and, frankly, "pay-to-skip" is infuriating even at lesser parks). Disneyland is meant to be special, where everyone of every age, color and CLASS can be the same. Now it's the Disney of the haves and have-nots, and instantly sullies the experience. I mean, just thinking about it boils my blood.

I'm not standing in a three hour line for _anything, and I'm not paying $100 a ride above the THOUSAND DOLLARS A DAY I'm already spending to bring my family to Anaheim or Orlando.

Bob Chapek is on his way toward making Michael Eisner look like Walt Disney. Appropriate that he looks like Lex Luthor.

September 17, 2021 at 10:26 AM

@Postcott: Every park will open 30 minutes early for resort guests in the near future. It is something that was announced would happen a few months ago.

@Colonel: Not sure how big your family is, but if you are spending $1000 a day, I'm beginning to think you are in a class higher than me and my family. On my last trip (2018) my family (just me, wife, daughter) spent 3 weeks in Florida, and did it for under $6000 (and I kept track of everything bought...including 51 cents for every pressed penny!). That's about $300 per day, and that trip included 5 days at Disney, 3 at Universal, 2 at Busch Gardens, 3 at Disney Water Parks, and all lodging, food, souvenirs, and transportation (we drove from the midwest). We stay offsite and eat mostly offsite or our own snacks we bring in, so we save a lot of money that many people spend staying and eating on Disney property.

September 17, 2021 at 10:42 AM

But you see thecolonel, that's how queue design will be critical, and how Disney queue design specifically keeps the "commoners" separate from the "royalty". Most modern Disney queues isolate the standby and FP guests so they only see each other at the merge point. In fact, some merge points are designed in such a way where it's impossible to see the FP guests getting priority if pre-show loads are exclusively from a single line (like on RotR).

Let's not forget that Disney had a free queue avoidance system and tried to make it work (with various levels of success) for over 20 years. During that time when Disney was giving everyone the same access to a free system, other theme parks around the country were charging for priority access. Some parks, including rival Universal, charge hundreds of dollars for unlimited FOTL access to attractions, and you don't see anyone complaining about those prices.

I think the problem here is that everyone knows that the Drones will open their wallets as wide as they need to get ahead in the lines, and now that Disney has finally decided to monetize priority ride access (a purely business decision that has been inevitable for over a decade), the power that the Drones wield over the parks will become increasingly evident.

September 17, 2021 at 11:55 AM

Whoops, I forgot about that. Thanks for mentioning it @TwoBits/@Manny Barron

I guess that changes a lot. No matter how early you might arrive at the front gates, you still may wait an exorbitant amount of time to ride it. Either pay up with an on-site hotel room or lightning lane or you gotta wait

September 17, 2021 at 12:39 PM

@Postcott - I don't think it will be as bad as you think. First, the on-site early access is available for all parks, not a specific EMH park as it was before the pandemic. Also, since Disney is still not allowing guests to park hop until the afternoon, on-site guests with park hoppers can't simply start their day at DHS, ride RotR and then immediately hop to another park of their choice. That means it's likely that no more than 1/3 of all on-site guests will actually visit DHS on a given day, and of those guests not all of them will take advantage of the early entry benefit (not everyone took advantage of EMH before). So, even if 2,000 people showed up 30-minutes before official park opening to take advantage of early entry and ran immediately to RotR, that would mean no more than a 45-60 minute wait for the off-site guests showing up when the park opens to them, assuming the attraction is running at optimal capacity (and if they wanted to play contrarian, they could probably have extremely shorty waits for pretty much any other attraction in the park if they wanted). That's what most guests used to find for other top draws (FoP, Soarin'/TestTrack, and 7DMT) if you visited on an EMH day, and that was when on-site guests had a 60-minute head start on off-site guests.

Sure, the new early entry policy means off-site guests are pretty much guaranteed to not walk on to any major attraction ever again, but I don't think this will mean those guests will be faced with insufferable lines the second they're able to walk through the gates.

September 17, 2021 at 8:32 PM

I think this change is mostly about the cost of operating the boarding groups against the low crowds in Florida or wanting to use them for Ratatouille. Personally if I tried to get a boarding group, I would be literally competing for a slot against other people who’ve done it many times. And I don’t think any business wants first time visitors or guests that spend more feeling run over by passholders paying a discounted admission.

September 18, 2021 at 2:20 AM

Leisure vacation time, is the opposite of work time. Or should be ?
If vacation time includes agenda planning, reservations, competition to get a deal (just like it is to win a tender in business), etc etc etc...
then, vacation time EQUALS work time. Equals stress time. You can even get a burn out.
Disney destroyed leisure vacation time. They SELL work time....
That's all there is....
There are still countless real leisure vacation time opportunities out of there.
Greets.

September 18, 2021 at 10:34 AM

@Herwig since " There are still countless real leisure vacation time opportunities out of there", are you saying you will never visit a Disney park? Also how many times have you visited a Disney park?

Just wondering.

September 18, 2021 at 3:51 PM

I agree with Russell that offsite guests won’t have it terrible once enough data is available. I mean, THEORETICALLY, Genie is supposed to create a plan that minimizes your wait times in lines no matter where you stay. I emphasize “theoretically” because Disney will likely misstate wait times for crowd control and to encourage Genie+ and pay-per-ride services.

A service like Touring Plane won’t get any of that extra Disney money, and once they get enough data and testing plans starting 30 minutes after resort guests can get in, they will be able to give their subscribers a the best plan possible.

September 20, 2021 at 11:54 AM

@twobits "Not sure how big your family is, but if you are spending $1000 a day, I'm beginning to think you are in a class higher than me and my family."

Huh? There are three people in my family. Tickets are ~$130 a day each; a room at the Grand Californian is $750 a night (at the P. Pier it's now $550), you've blown the $1000 day before you spend a dime on food, treats, or transportation getting to Anaheim.

September 20, 2021 at 12:34 PM

"Tickets are ~$130 a day each; a room at the Grand Californian is $750 a night (at the P. Pier it's now $550)"

Hence why twobits rightly surmised that you're in a class higher than them and their family. You're complaining about people paying $100 to bypass a line, but you're spending $750/night for a hotel room when there are comparable lodging choices within walking distance of Disneyland at a fraction of that cost. Different strokes for different folks.

September 23, 2021 at 7:56 AM

This is a total mess! We showed up at 8 this morning and they had everyone bunched up together just to get in the Star Wars area and when they opened that up it was like a scene from a movie with everyone pushing to get in before the person in front of them. Than they Hurd you down to a 2 by 2 line to get in a line so you can get in line for the ride. They also appear to let a large group in before the large gathered group…. Not sure where those hundreds of people came from? We were here at 8 and we have another hour in line before the ride… and this is their slower season! They better rethink this quick!!!

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