Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ” is a delightfully disorienting, swirling mix of animatronics, AT-ATs and off-balance surprises.”
So says The Orlando Sentinel – one of the first to experience the new sensation that has officially opened this week at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
“Disney has touted Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance as its most complicated ride to date. Three distinct ride systems — including one that’s trackless — must play well together and be synced with the ride’s visuals (both on-screen and audio-animatronic) and choreographed to the dramatic score by John Williams.
“Getting all the music to crescendo at the right moments and synchronizing that with all the sound effects, all the blaster effects, all our audio-animatronic figures, getting all choreographed together in a seamless way that the movies come together — but in person for you,” Walt Disney Imagineering’s John Larena, executive creative director of the ride, said Tuesday.
There are also mind games, just short of Jedi-level trickery, where visitors get turned around before they’ve even boarded the six-person ride vehicle.
Rise of the Resistance represents the last piece of the “Star Wars”-inspired land to open. Galaxy’s Edge debuted at Disneyland in California in May, followed by its clone at Hollywood Studios in August. Despite enduring interest in the movie franchise, its characters and its canon, the lands have not prompted dramatic attendance increases at either theme park. After Walt Disney Co.’s quarterly earnings report in November, executives said many vacationers were delaying trips to the resorts until the billion-dollar “Star Wars” lands were completed.
Galaxy’s Edge opened with the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride as a focal point. The land also features a cantina, stores selling droids and lightsabers, restaurants, replica spaceships, walk-around characters and photo opportunities. No other elements have been announced for the lands, although an elaborate “Star Wars” hotel is under construction near Hollywood Studios. Disneyland’s Rise of the Resistance ride comes online in mid-January.
The new attraction’s story line boils down to this: The First Order has captured folks who must escape the ship and go to the planet of Batuu, the base planet of the parks’ Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge areas. There are also urgent instructions, but unlike the nearby Millennium Falcon attraction that opened in August, riders aren’t tasked with duties. They’re along for the ride.
The cars — dubbed “prisoner transport vehicles” — move through multiple scenes that feature close calls with not-so-friendly fire. The tension builds throughout the experience, which includes repeatedly dodging Kylo Ren and gigantic guns firing into a space battle. The action is set between the eighth and ninth movie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” debuts later this month) of the franchise.
“It’s kind of like the Buckingham [Palace] guards, where you’ll see a slight movement between them,” Larena said.
From the time that Hollywood Studios visitors meet up with hologram Rey, it’s about 15 to 20 minutes until the end of the experience, creators say.
“The main thing is to give you the time to have that arc, you know, get the three acts in there,” Larena said. “It’s much like the Star Wars movies, right? It takes time to set up and then looking at adversity — how we’re going to figure a way out of this — and then the big adventure get out of the jam.”
The ride’s climax is surprising in a couple of ways: Vehicles work their way to Batuu — but it’s an outside landing.
And they don’t exit through a gift shop.”