Behold, the power of this fully operational theme park land. After opening earlier this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is finally complete with today’s debut of Rise of the Resistance. Well, on the East Coast at least. West Coasters will have to wait until the attraction opens on January 17 at Disneyland.

This landmark attraction has been described as Walt Disney Imagineering’s most ambitious and technically complex attraction to-date, and it stands as the crown jewel of the 14-acre Galaxy’s Edge expansion. With so much anticipation, many wondered if Rise of the Resistance would garner hours-long lines that stretched from here to Coruscant. When massive crowds rushed to Hollywood Studios as early as 4:30 am this morning, they were met with a surprise twist even before approaching the new ride.

Rise of the Resistance is utilizing a virtual queue.

If you’ve been paying attention to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the past 6 months, you’ll remember that Disney created a “Boarding Group” virtual queue for the entire land to manage the massive crowds that were expected. Once inside the theme park, you could use the Disneyland or Disney World app to join a boarding group with a very rough estimate of when you could go in (i.e. morning, afternoon, evening). Later, you would get an alert letting you know that you could enter the land within the next 2 hours. This would allow you to wait in a virtual line while enjoying the rest of the park. It seems that Disney over anticipated the crowds or under anticipated the land’s capacity, as this virtual queue was only really used on the first day the land was open at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Since then, access to Galaxy’s Edge has been exactly like any other land: you can just walk right in.

It makes complete sense that Disney would utilize this technology for the crowds heading to Rise of the Resistance. Instead of having to wait in a 8-10 hour queue, guests could join a boarding group, go enjoy the rest of the park, and then go on the ride with a significantly reduced wait time. That makes for a much better guest experience, and it allows Disney to manage guest flow in case the ride breaks down. Which has already happened once this morning. The ride was evacuated early this morning, down for about an hour, and then reopened. The guests who were evacuated off the ride were given Fastpasses to return later and skip the line.

Rise of the Resistance Boarding GroupsSo far, the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance seems to be working, for the most part. Availability for Boarding Groups ran out early this morning, around 8:30 am. If you aren’t able to get in a Boarding Group via the Disney World app, you cannot ride that day. Granted, this is the attraction’s debut day, so there were more people that arrived at the park by 5 am than normal. But this does show that if you wanted to go on Rise of the Resistance, get to Hollywood Studios first thing and join a boarding group.

There’s no word on how long Disney will utilize this Boarding Group system. Personally, I hope they use this until demand dies down a bit or they can start using regular Fastpasses. If Disney does keep this Boarding Group system, here are a few tips on how to get on Rise of the Resistance:

  • Make sure you have the Disney World app downloaded before you head to Hollywood Studios.
  • Get to Hollywood Studios at least 30 minutes before it opens.
  • Once you enter the park, open the app and tap “Join a Boarding Group.” This will be on the opening screen of the Disney World App.
  • Make sure that everyone in your party who wants to go on the ride has entered the park before you join a boarding group. If they have, you’ll be able to get your whole party in the group.
  • Turn on notifications so you will be alerted when it’s time for your boarding group to go on the ride.
  • Once your boarding group has been called, you will have 2 hours to enter the line.
  • Disney warns that getting in a boarding group does not guarantee that you will be able to ride that day. This is most likely due to the fact that they are anticipating the possibility of downtime or technical difficulties with the new ride system. That having been said, your odds of being able to go on the ride are much improved if you get in an earlier boarding group.

May the Force, and the virtual queue, be with you!