Guests dodge huge turbolaser cannons as they attempt to escape a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the groundbreaking new attraction opening Dec. 5, 2019, inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida and Jan. 17, 2020, at Disneyland Park in California. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)
When the concept of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge was revealed at D23 back in 2016 it was the beginning of a new evolution for the Disney Parks. Bob Iger and the Disney Imagineers noticed the popularity of Hogwarts and Harry Potter World at Universal Studios and wanted to bring the same concept to the Disney Parks. It was only natural to use Star Wars as its first immersive experience.
Galaxy’s Edge opened at both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios to mixed reviews, mainly because of only having one attraction Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run. Rise of the Resistance was still in production during Galaxy’s Edge opening so the Imagineers were banking that Smugglers Run, Savi’s Lightsaber Workshop, the Cantina, and the Droid Depot would be enough to bring healthy crowds to the park. After the initial opening at both parks the crowds at Galaxy’s Edge lower than expected. Bob Iger admitted that attendance in the initial months did not meet their goals, but he was confident once Rise of the Resistance launched attendance would rise.
Low Attendance At The Beginning
There were multiple theories behind the low attendance. Block Out Dates for Passholders, raises in park ticket prices right before the opening, and guest waiting for Rise of the Resistance to open before making their trip were a couple theories behind the low attendance. I have been multiple times to Galaxy’s Edge and I understood why during the Annual Passholder preview at Hollywood Studios and while I enjoyed myself it did feel like Galaxy’s Edge was missing something.
With Rise of the Resistance not open, the first half of Galaxy’s Edge turned into an area of photo ops. The majority of the experience remained in the back half of the park. This left Smuggler’s Run to attract crowds to come to the park and while it is an entertaining ride casual fans did not think it was enough to go see. Another reason is that Galaxy’s Edge by itself is expensive to experience for majority of attendees. Building a lightsaber, building a droid, drinks at the Cantina, merchandise, and food can set back a family easily a couple hundred dollars that could be used for extra days at the parks.
Rise Of The Resistance Opening
The Disney Imagineers knew that once Rise of the Resistance opened it would change everything and they were right. Rise of the Resistance has been the most daring experience that the Disney Imagineers have accomplished to date. With multiple delays and technical difficulties the experience opened to the public without a soft launch. Something that Disney does not do often. The experience introduced a new virtual queue system that allows visitors to join boarding groups. This system allows visitors to experience other parts of the parks while waiting for their turn to experience the ride.
It has been 2 months since Rise of the Resistance opened at Hollywood Studios and one month at Disneyland. Visitor line up hours before park opening hours so they can get a boarding group with boarding group numbers going into the 120’s. All boarding groups have been handed out within an hour of the parks opening daily. While the ride still experiences technical difficulties that has resulted in multiple shut down times, it has not deterred visitors from waiting. Rise of the Resistance alone has caused Hollywood Studios to extend its hours through traditionally the slower season. I was lucky enough to experience Rise fo the Resistance during its opening week at Hollywood Studios and it is unlike anything that has ever been done. Videos and pictures that people post do not it any justice, it is something you have to experience yourself.
Related- Star Wars – Disney’s Galactic Starcruiser Hotel Looks To Provide Another Incredibly Immersive Experience
What is next?
While it had been announced during the initial Galaxy’s Edge announcement the opening of the Starcruiser Hotel at Hollywood Studios is planned for next year. This will be a two day/two night experience for visitors to be shipped off on an intergalactic journey. Reservations for this experience will be available later this year for 2021.
Are you planning on making a trip to Galaxy’s Edge soon? Remember to always check out the specials that Disney World and Disneyland have to offer by clicking here.
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