Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Honest Review: It’s Good But Not Disney’s Best

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Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
This hangar bay is overwhelming but mostly for show since you are quickly ushered out of the room for interrogation.

Star Wars Rise of the Resistance Honest Review

Last year I was among the first members of the public to experience Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland on opening day before heading out to Walt Disney World a couple of months later to do the same thing all over again. In each case the land opened without its flagship attraction Rise of the Resistance. At that time I gave my honest opinion of the land and now that its flagship ride is open on both coasts, I am glad to update you with my Rise of the Resistance Honest review.

Going back, I’m proud that I was one of the first voices to declare that Galaxy’s Edge was not worth going out of your way for (initially media fawned over it but changed their tune) until all attractions were open. It was unique and somewhat immersive, but far from perfect. Additionally, Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run was not a marquee attraction by any means. I liked it a lot, but wasn’t wowed. It’s more like a modern take on Star Tours.

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
Entrance to Star Wars Rise of the Resistance
Hidden Mickey in the Rise of the Resistance queue.

Rise of the Resistance Opens

Fast forward a few months and Rise of the Resistance has now been open for about a month at Walt Disney World and opens today at Disneyland. That surely will change the calculus on the success of this land, but is Rise the awe inspiring attraction that Disney needs it to be? I recently experienced it a couple of times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World and am ready to tell you in this Rise of the Resistance honest review.

Before I start, if you aren’t familiar with my Disney background, I grew up an hour from Disneyland and visited hundreds of times as a kid. As an adult I have visited every single Disney park/resort around the world (Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai) multiple times including visiting all of them within 6 weeks with my daughter and wife last year. There are few people who have experienced all Disney has to offer around the world as much as me. With that in mind, Rise of the Resistance is an experience unlike any Disney has ever created.

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review

SPOILERS AHEAD! SKIP TO “END OF SPOILERS” TEXT IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review – An Epic Experience

Rise of the Resistance is more an experience than a ride considering it has multiple parts. The story starts in one of Disney’s most detailed queues as you begin in the forest and then make your way into the resistance base. Finally you enter the briefing room where an incredibly well done hologram of Rey sets the story of you joining the resistance and boarding a shuttle to meet up with General Leia Organa. The shuttle is the first ride experience and it features simulator screens and an amazing animatronic of Lieutenant Bek who sort of guides you through the journey.

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review

On the shuttle with Lt. Bek

Along the way to the rebel base you are captured by the First Order and brought aboard their ship. The entire group from the shuttle exits into an enormous hangar bay with dozens of stormtroopers and First Order officers barking at you. You’ll only have a few seconds in this room, but there is enough time to snap some pics and hopefully take it all in. You are then shuttled down the hall for “interrogation”.

More Shuttle & First Order Hangar Photos

 

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review – The Interrogation

Eventually you will be broken into groups of 16 with each group of 4 being assigned a color before being put into an interrogation room. Kylo Ren will begin interrogating you to find the location of the Rebel Base before being called to the bridge. At this point resistance fighters on board the First Order ship (we don’t know how or why they got there) help to free you and get you into transport vehicles that will bring you to an escape pod for a journey back to Batuu. (The planet that is home to Galaxy’s Edge.)

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
Another view of the massive hangar bay.
Waiting for interrogation.
Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
Stormtroopers guard the interrogation area.

Two transport vehicles travel through the trackless attraction at once and each one gets a slightly unique perspective on the action. The trackless dark ride portion is the “main ride” and lasts about 4 minutes as you travel through the First Order ship avoiding Kylo Ren and his evil ways. You’ll encounter AT-ATs, stormtroopers, explosions, lightsabers and a bunch more as you try to escape. It is truly epic in scope, so imagine my surprise getting off feeling like something was missing.

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
First Order cannons fire at the Resistance fighters as you travel underneath them.

 

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
Crash landing back on Batuu

Rise of the Resistance Is Not a Perfect Ride

To backup, I have been looking forward to this ride since it was first announced. I knew a lot about the basic premise and ride systems going in, but avoided specific spoilers before I rode. In other words, I expected this to be the very best thing since sliced bread and came off thinking it was one of the best things since sliced bread, but not the best.

So let’s break it all down. First off, this is unlike any theme park attraction that exists. Disney threw every bell and whistle into this ride. Not only did they link multiple ride systems together with a mostly coherent story, but they also really built a 360 degree set to take you through. Additionally the effects are at times stunning. This is the best use of screens in a theme park attraction I have ever seen.

In the final interrogation room before you board the main ride vehicles. The stormtrooper is virtual on a screen but he looks almost real.
Resistance fighters break you out of the interrogation room.
Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
This droid will lead you to escape from the First Order!
Taking the escape pod to Batuu feels a bit familiar.

Not Everyone Loves Rise of the Resistance

But the attraction misses the mark on some level. I spoke with many people about it before riding and people were split about 50/50 on whether it was the “best thing ever”. Some thought it was absolutely the best ride they had ever been on while many many others surprisingly preferred Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

On my second ride through I really tried to figure out what I felt was missing. My wife gave me a hard time about being too harsh on it, but then I asked her the key question. Was this ride as fun as Pirates of the Caribbean in Shanghai? Is it as fun as Guardians of the Galaxy in Disney California Adventure? As fun as Journey to the Center of the Earth in DisneySea? Is it even as fun as Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom? She agreed the answer was no.

But is it fun? Yes, you are in a completely immersive experience traveling into the world of Star Wars like never before! It is a great time, but Disney has created more fun in other attractions. I get off Pirates in Shanghai energized and wanting to ride it again. The story is great and builds up to an incredible finale! It both stuns with its technology and works on every single level.

The Rise of the Resistance queue begins by winding its way through the forest.
Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
Tons of awesome props can be found in the queue. This is a Resistance flight suit.

Another Motion Simulator Through Space?

Rise of the Resistance does not build up to a finale in such a way. In fact, the finale is basically a rehash of Star Tours and/or Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run with your pod flying to land on Batuu. The visuals are shockingly similar to Smugglers Run too. On that same note the shuttle sequence while cool is really just the same thing. You are on a motion simulator through space. Star Tours did that (albeit much more low tech) in 1986.

So let’s zero in on that 4 minute ride experience which is both unique and stunning. It is also unlike any ride in the world. The effects are top notch. The sets are immersive. You really do feel like you are in space. It is truly one of the best theme park rides around, but not the best. One person on Twitter compared it to visiting a Star Wars museum. It’s all there but not as fun as you would hope. Maybe that is too harsh, but it is on the right track.

END OF SPOILERS

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review
BB-8 join the Rey hologram in the briefing room.
We rose and we resisted!

Rise of the Resistance Honest Review – Bottom Line

If you think I have been too harsh, then consider this. I still rank Rise of the Resistance as a top 5 Disney attraction, mostly because of the amazing special effects and the length and scope of the entire experience which comes in at over 15 minutes. Had I not been so well traveled then it might rank up in my top 2 or 3. This is definitely a ride you will want to experience if you are a Star Wars or a Disney fan, but in my opinion it isn’t perfect. It just isn’t as fun as I would like.

For now, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure in Shanghai Disneyland remains for me the single best theme park attraction on the planet. There are others including Rise of the Resistance that sit in that next tier which is still pretty darn amazing. We live in the golden age of themed entertainment and Rise is another great example of Disney storytelling even if it left me wanting something a little more fun.

Have you experienced Rise of the Resistance? Share your thoughts on Disney’s most advanced ride in the comments below!

More Photos from Disney’s Star Wars Rise of the Resistance

4 COMMENTS

  1. In my opinion this is the best attraction Disney has on offer, as it is uniquely immersive, extremely well themed and It combines several attractions.
    Where I still felt a spectator in my other favorites (‘Battle for the sunken treasure’ and ‘Journey to the center of the earth’), in ROTR I played a part.

    • You have to get a boarding pass via virtual queue right when the park opens. As long as it doesn’t break down the wait is about 15 minutes once you are called and enter the queue.

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