Disney World’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride opened as an addition to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge after months of anticipation
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is more than a new attraction at Disney World’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It feels and runs like a real Star Wars adventure (complete with the occasional plot hole). Part of the immersion comes from the cast of the current trilogy appearing at various points in the ride, with Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Issac’s Poe Dameron, Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux, and Adam Driver's Kylo Ren all showing up in video or hologram form to guide or threaten the resistance mission. The other part comes from Rise of the Resistance’s unique approach to placing its riders in the center of the action.
There are many Disney Park rides that make the process of waiting in line interesting, but Rise of the Resistance makes the line part of its story. A close-ish analogue would be the stretching room serving as an entry point to the Haunted Mansion, but RotR takes this concept to the next level by starting its plot long before the safety bar clamps down and its transport cars get moving. That plot is helped along by cast members acting out the roles of Resistance and First Order personnel. Even though their out-of-character goal is to get people moving from one stage of the ride to another, their dedication to aiding (or terrorizing) Resistance recruits is light years ahead of what many other attractions offer towards immersion.
By the time the safety bar clamps down and the more traditional elements of the ride begin, park visitors have moved through a gorgeously realized series of sets that include a quick jaunt past Poe Dameron’s X-Wing, a perp walk through a Star Destroyer, and a virtual shuttle launch that gives a ship’s eye view of the Galaxy’s Edge park. From there, the ride shifts to become a daring escape from detention with effects that make Rise of the Resistance’s five-year creation period completely understandable.
The escape vehicles dodge blaster bolts, make wrong turns that bring riders face-to-face with a fully manned AT-AT, and walls explode in sparks as the Resistance fleet jumps into action to free their captured rebels from the First Order. Even though the ride is rife with stormtrooper fire, the real enemy on Rise of the Resistance is Kylo Ren, who at one point crams his lightsaber through the ceiling above the transport vehicles to carve out a hole through which he can attack.
Rise of the Resistance’s most stunning moment comes towards the end of the transport ride, when the vehicles are momentarily caught between firing Star Destroyer cannons. Through the “windows” where the cannons fire, riders glimpse the full scale of the galactic battle their capture has instigated, and the battle’s animation is on par with anything seen in the old and new Star Wars trilogies. It’s something people have only been able to experience looking at a movie or television screen, but on Rise of the Resistance it’s happening to you in real time.