Rise of the Resistance, the latest attraction to open at Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, is the land’s pièce de Résistance. Ambitious enough in scope that it wasn’t even ready when Disney opened Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland or Disney World, the “trackless” ride plops guests into an escape from a First Order ship during a mission gone wrong.
Now set to open its doors to the public on Dec. 5, we know why the build took so long: Fast-paced and thrilling, there’s so much going on as riders zoom across a Star Destroyer caught in the heat of battle that even the strongest pair of eyes would need multiple ride-throughs to capture every dizzying detail. Though clearly building off the success of Universal’s Wizarding World and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the anticipated sequel-saga tie-in is like no Disney ride before it.
Ride of the Resistance lasts around 10 minutes, but as with all attractions, riders spend a good chunk of time in line. Disney is very aware, going so far as to integrate long waits into the attractions themselves. And even after Haunted Mansion’s interactive installments and the meticulous production design of Smugglers Run’s waiting areas, Rise of the Resistance’s line stands out as Disney’s cleverest sleight of hand yet. Riders first enter a room to receive a briefing from BB-8 and Rey on the upcoming mission. The queue leads to a ship, and as in Smugglers Run or Star Tours, the craft rumbles as screen displays whisk riders off the outpost planet of Batuu toward space.
The mission hits a snag when a First Order Star Destroyer catches the ship in a tractor beam. There’s even waiting-to-go-on-the-ride time after that, but Disney’s Imagineers up the ante. Riders enter a dock full of stormtroopers that feels right out of a movie, and feels more immersive than the relaxed Smugglers Run setting as in-character cast members bark orders. The highlight is two First Order officers who interrogate those waiting patiently to enter the holding cells. The acting feels right at home with Galaxy’s Edge’s extended role-play experience.
In the holding cell, projected versions of General Hux and Kylo Ren threaten riders before marching off. This is still just in the line for the ride. After they depart, the queue lingers in the cell for a bit more, before one of the walls begins to glow and two Resistance Fighters beckon the group to escape. Passengers load into two cars of eight to jet off through the Star Destroyer.
Finally, the ride begins.
Rise of the Resistance has so many moving parts that keeping track of them all is near impossible in just one run. In the first seconds, my car nyooms across the deck of a First Order ship in an escape vehicle. The untethered cart drives like a high-speed zamboni gliding across ice. The movement of the vehicle alone is fun and fast-paced, while laser blasts, voices crackling over communications networks — which also yell at riders in person — and animatronics acting out vignettes add to the exhilaration.
At one point, the first car leading the pack of two is warned of a probe drone trying to inspect them. From the back car I’m in, I don’t get to see the droid up close, but it leers over the other car. The missed opportunity keeps me craning my neck every time we make a turn, wondering if there is something the other car is seeing that I don’t get. At a few points, the cars end up separated, on either side of the hangar bay or the AT-AT dock. We reunite right after the scene itself is done, but it makes me wonder what I didn’t see this time around.
As the car zips across the ship, there are encounters with stormtroopers, giant AT-ATs, and Oh, Finn is here? But then he’s not? But here’s Kylo and Hux, and now we’re backward, and oh my God, lasers! Giant cannon props swing above the carts, seemingly shooting out into space into an epic battle brought to life by high-resolution projection. The ride, darting left and right and even up in the air, never lets up, and unlike the leisurely Pirates of the Caribbean, Journey Into Imagination With Figment, or other Disney dark rides, it’s also going really fucking fast.
Just as Galaxy’s Edge challenged Universal’s Wizarding World in terms of recreating a fictional world, Rise of the Resistance builds off and matches the excitement of the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction through the use of trackless cars and heightened dark-ride experiences. It’s a departure for Disney — something for older kids and adults who may age out of the traditional Disney experience — but also what the park is all about, tailored for Star Wars: After movies, TV shows, and video games, there’s still something new to experience in this franchise.