Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Restrictions and access
40 inches; doesn’t feature FastPass+ access (for now).
December 5, 2019
Two-sentence insider summary
This exhilarating, multi-faceted ride – the most advanced one Disney has ever made in its 65-year history – has guests attempt to join General Leia Organa’s Resistance but instead get captured by the evil First Order. Many twists, turns, and, even, drops(!) ensue, bringing passengers face-to-face with the likes of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, BB-8, Nien Nunb, and, of course, the vile Kylo Ren himself.
What’s this about “phase two”?
In order to satiate fan demand, Disney says, it decided to stagger the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge across two different phases: the first one included all of the theme-park land save for Rise of the Resistance, on August 29; the second one, of course, consists just of the hugely ambitious dark ride, on December 5, 2019.
In-depth: The queue
It is in the otherwise-tranquil Surabat River valley, the ancient site of some of Batuu’s earliest sentient inhabitants, that the Resistance has only recently, within the past few weeks, set up (temporary) shop in the Black Spire region. Guests will be able to spot this surreptitious presence even before they set foot in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’s queue – a full-size X- and A-wing from Blue Squadron are parked among the trees, replete with Resistance members who periodically come out to run maintenance on the battered old fighters. (Much as is the case with the Millennium Falcon outside of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run‘s queue, these ships are full-scale and intricately detailed.)
Across the clearing is a mobile cannon turret, which forms the entrance to the ride proper and which leads to a mud-hardened and tree-lined path, replete with makeshift railings. Running down its length is a series of footprints and droid tread marks that show both just how new and ramshackle the Resistance’s presence in the area is (and they also show just how dedicated Disney was to making Galayx’s Edge as authentic as possible – those tread marks come from one of the very first R2-D2 costumes that actor Kenny Baker wore when filming Episode IV: A New Hope back in 1976. The company was able to digitize and then replicate its “droid feet,” fabricate new wheels, and then crisscross them across the site’s still-wet concrete).
It is this path that deposits visitors into Rise of the Resistance’s queue, which snakes through a series of caves and chambers that were hand-carved millennia ago by that now-extinct civilization; strewn throughout the long-abandoned living quarters, washing areas, and worship spaces now are the Resistance’s various pieces of equipment, weaponry, and comms. (Having General Leia’s forces inhabit these primitive ruins was a deliberate nod to the first Rebel Alliance base that audiences saw, on Yavin IV in A New Hope.) As riders work their way past the makeshift arsenals, Gonk droids (those walking, muttering boxes that double as batteries in the Star Wars galaxy), and, even, a long-dry-aqueduct-turned-bench (Disney realizes that guests may be waiting in here for a long time), they’ll overhear transmissions from Resistance scouts and sympathizers warning of an approaching company of First Orders stormtroopers – the secret base may have already been found out, and everyone will need to pack up (again!) and leave in a hurry.
The preshow scene – where the attraction’s story kicks into high gear, priming you for the on-ride adventure that is about to unfold – is set in the Batuu command center, which has been cut out of the rock with laser torches and which is where guests will encounter an audio-animatronic BB-8, who, in turn, activates holographic versions of Rey and Finn, the two main leads of the Star Wars sequel trilogy of films. They establish that all of you new Resistance recruits will need to undertake a mission that will be spearheaded by none other than Commander Poe Dameron himself: boarding a transport, heading off-world, and meeting up with Leia Organa directly at a secret rendezvous point.
That ship is located on a landing pad just beyond the exit (yes, this space really is set outside), sitting right next to Poe’s idling black X-wing fighter; called the Intersystem Transport Ship, it is the second brand-new vessel designed exclusively for Galaxy’s Edge (the first being the First Order’s TIE Echelon, which is parked out on the other side of the land, by the Toy Story Land entrance/exit). Once passengers board it – you all have to stand, troop transport-style – they’ll discover that it’s being piloted by none other than Nien Nunb, Lando Calrissian’s Sullustan co-pilot in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and one of Leia Organa’s Resistance pilots in the sequel trilogy, who is realized in audio-animatronic form (and who is voiced by the original actor).
The Intersystem Transport Ship is something of a motion-simulator, making guests feel as if they’re leaving Batuu’s surface behind and are entering orbit. Video monitors will also display the journey around them (starting with Poe Dameron leaving the control center that you just exited, boarding his Black One, and taking off alongside you as your wingman) – an important point, as it’ll be the primary means of witnessing the approach of an imposing Resurgent-class Star Destroyer, which chases Poe off, locks your ship into a tractor beam, and then pulls you inside its imposing bulk. (Don’t worry – Commander Dameron promises to return shortly, and with help.)
When the transport’s doors next open, guests walk out into a completely different set – the cavernous landing bay of that First Order Star Destroyer, which represents a seamless transition and a huge jolt of immersion. It’s really hard to convey just how enormous of a room this new setting is – it’s so large, it can hold the entire show building of Pirates of the Caribbean inside it. Approximately 100 animatronic stormtroopers stand in formation nearby. TIE fighters are strung on the walls as far as the eye can see in front of you; behind you is a 100-foot-long video screen that doubles as the forcefield-protected airlock. Various First Order ships of the line are amassed out there, encircling Batuu – an image meant to simultaneously impress and intimidate you raw Resistance recruits.
First Order officers (played by cast members) then divide up your party into smaller groups, lead each down a corridor, and then deposit them into a different detention room, which is a recreation of the set from Episode VII: The Force Awakens where Kylo Ren interrogates and tortures Poe Dameron. It turns out that that’s an apt comparison to make – Darth Vader’s grandson, in audio-animatronic form, will, indeed, pull the same trick on you, attempting to discover where the hidden Resistance base is on the planet below. Your trusty R5 astromech droid, however, tries to save the day, commandeering the ride vehicle you’ve found yourself in and attempting to make a getaway.
And with that, one of the longest, most elaborate, and most immersive dark-ride queues in theme-park history ends (along with ending the first third of the overall Rise of the Resistance ride experience – a mind-boggling stat).
In-depth: The ride
Guests board eight-passenger trackless ride vehicles that represent yet another made-from-scratch piece of the Star Wars mythology: the First Order fleet transport, which shuttles troops and officers all over the massive capital ships that comprise the neo-Imperials’ starfleet. These transports are piloted by astromech droids and come programmed with both ship schematics and security access codes – which explains how the R5 unit controlling your vehicle is able to run rampant throughout the ship. Unfortunately, he really is running rampant, heading left instead of right and taking you through one hugely detailed environment after another, including a hangar that houses two full-size AT-AT walkers (Disney was insistent on not using any 3D effects or other types of video projections for practically anything in the ride – everything had to be physical and, thereby, even more imposing, including, even, the various explosions that ring out around riders).
(Want to know just how detailed and immersive the various sets are? Disney filmed the entire teaser above in Rise of the Resistance’s various show scenes – that is impressive, indeed!)
At some point along the way, however, Poe Dameron returns with an entire Resistance fleet behind him to fulfill his promise of rescuing all of you rookies, and a mad dash is had for the Star Destroyer’s escape pods, which are located towards the bottom of the vessel. At the attraction’s climax, your trackless ride vehicle pulls into one of these pods, which is, in reality, a motion base that comes replete with a large screen. All of this, in turn, is used in conjunction with a third ride system – a physical drop, which simulates the fall from the First Order ship to Batuu and safety far below. As you make that plunge, the screen will show you reentering the planet’s atmosphere, with the motion base providing the extra movements to finish selling the sensation – think of the finale, then, as a combination of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
(We find it somehow appropriate that an experience called Rise of the Resistance only ends with a fall.)
After the ride
Once you safely land on Batuu, not only will the Resistance members there hail you as a hero of the movement, but so will a number of the other citizens of Black Spire Outpost. Although you’re technically off the ride, it won’t feel like it until you wind through the exit and find yourself back in the marketplace.
This is more of a thrilling, exhilarating ride than a fear-inducing one. With a few mild drops and stops, the ride experience overall is more of just that – an experience. It is a must-do for any Star Wars fan, and even if you aren’t a fan of Star Wars, you will be by the end of the ride.
OI fun fact
Not only did a number of the sequel-trilogy cast participate in the creation of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, filming their scenes while on the set of Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, but so did the sequels’ two directors, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, serving in a consulting role.
- Black Spire Outfitters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Creature Stall in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Droid Depot in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- First Order Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Kat Saka’s Kettle in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Milk Stand in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Resistance Supply in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Ronto Roasters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- The Jewels of Bith in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Toydarian Toymaker in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios