It is the featured attraction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at both Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World in Florida. And it just may be the best park attraction in the world. But here's the thing: As with many rides, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance includes some thrills. Would you be able to handle them? Would you want to?
Unlike a roller coaster or any amusement park ride that is outdoors and easily viewed from the midway, visitors at the Disney parks have no visual cues to observe Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in action and gauge its intensity. That’s because the attraction takes place inside an enormous show building nestled in a wooded area. So, we will do our best to explain what occurs during Rise. That way, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether you (or the people who will be among your theme park posse) would be up to giving it a whirl.
What Kind of Ride Is It?
First of all, it’s important to note that Rise is not a single ride experience. Unlike, say, Mission: Space at Epcot, which uses centrifuge technology to simulate space travel, or Soarin’ Around the World at Disney California Adventure and Epcot, which uses (and pioneered) the concept of a flying theater to take guests on an “airborne” hang gliding journey to famous locales across the globe, the Star Wars attraction uses multiple ride systems and unfolds across a series of acts to engage guests in its narrative. It therefore takes some unpacking to describe what happens.
The entire experience lasts about 17 minutes. The sheer length of Rise, which is considerably longer than the more typical four-minute-or-so theme park attraction, only begins to hint at its epic scale and sheer wow factor. It is a triumph of park and attraction design, technology, and immersive storytelling. That’s why it is worthy of your careful consideration. If ever there was a must-ride Disney attraction, Rise is it.
But if you fall somewhere along the theme park ride wimp spectrum (and you know who you are), you might be nervous about trying the Star Wars attraction. “What the heck goes on in there?” you might wonder. We will do our best to break it down.
By demystifying Rise and divulging what happens during the experience, we run the risk of ruining the element of surprise for you. Ideally, it would be great if you could try the Star Wars attraction cold, without any prior knowledge. But, if you really want to know what to expect, consider this your spoiler warning–though the focus will be on the thrill-inducing aspects of the attraction, not the plot.
Locating Rise of the Resistance
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge lands depict Batuu, a planet created for the parks. Batuu is a trading port that attracts eccentric characters from around the galaxy. At its center is Black Spire Outpost, which includes merchants selling wares in bazaar stalls, a cantina, and some eateries. Oh, and the Millennium Falcon just happens to be docked there. The setting is the time of the final Skywalker trilogy (which wrapped up in 2019 and features Kylo Ren, Rey, Poe Dameron, BB8, and Finn). The Resistance (the good guys) have set up a secret encampment in a forested area on the outskirts of the village. This is where Rise is located.
According to the backstory of Galaxy’s Edge, the First Order arrived on Batuu a few weeks ago. A showdown is brewing between the sworn enemies, and you are about to be plopped into the middle of it.
The First Act of Rise of the Resistance
As you make your way through the encampment, you’ll see equipment cabinets and medical supplies stored by the Resistance. For the pre-show that sets the story in motion, you will be led into a briefing room where you will meet a holographic Rey. She will entrust you with some vital information that you cannot divulge to the First Order, or the fate of the galaxy may be doomed.
For the first act of the attraction, you will board an Intersystem Transport Ship. It is supposed to whisk you away for a short journey to rendezvous on a safe planet. In usual theme park fashion, however, things will go horribly wrong.
This part of the attraction uses motion simulator ride technology, like Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at the Universal Parks, or one of the earliest attractions to use the concept, Star Tours at the Disney parks. Unlike those attractions, however, you stand aboard Rise’s transport vehicle. To give you a sense of the ride intensity, no safety restraints are used. You will experience a sense of space travel as the motion of the vehicle syncs with the action you can see through the viewing windows in the front and rear of the cabin, but it is quite mild.
Throughout this overview, we will use a scale of 0 to 10 to rate the thrills, where 0 means no thrills and 10 means extreme thrills. We give the first act on the Intersystem Transport Ship a thrill rating of 2.5. For comparison, Minion Mayhem rates a 3.5, and Star Tours rates a 4.5. Nearly everybody should be fine with the thrills delivered here. They are equivalent to the sensations you might experience aboard a fast subway car that navigates some hills and turns.
Among the characters on the ship is Lieutenant Bek, one of many impressive animatronic figures you’ll encounter throughout the attraction. On Bek’s command the ship will depart Batuu, but the First Order will quickly discover it. They will use a tractor beam to capture your ship and draw it onto a Star Destroyer at which point you will become unwitting prisoners of the First Order.
The Second Act of Rise of the Resistance
For the second act of Rise, you’ll be walking through the Star Destroyer. The size and scope of the massive carrier is impressive. When the door of the ship opens, you will be greeted by a phalanx of armed stormtroopers. Through an enormous window behind the stormtroopers, you’ll be able to see activity in the inky darkness of space, including TIE fighters streaking past and a First Order regimen of ships flying in formation.
First Order officers (Disney cast members dressed in the baddies’ crisp uniforms) will bark out orders and corral you and the other prisoners towards interrogation rooms. While you won’t experience any physical thrills here, the menacing stormtroopers and the humorless First Order officers will ramp up the psychological thrills and, likely, your anxiety levels. In the interrogation room, you will have your first encounter with Supreme Leader Kylo Ren before the Resistance busts you out of the detention cell.
The Third Act of Rise of the Resistance
For the third act, which is the heart of the attraction, you will be whisked onto Star Destroyer Fleet Transports. The eight-passenger vehicles are highly sophisticated and use trackless ride technology. Instead of guide tracks, onboard computers determine the path, speed, and motion of the vehicles. An R5-series astromech droid will be perched in your vehicle. Its mission will be to guide your transport through the Star Destroyer, elude the First Order, and reach safety.
Danger will lurk around every bend as your vehicle navigates corridors, infiltrates the bridge of the Star Destroyer, and gets detoured multiple times. Stormtroopers will rain blaster bolts on you. Kylo Ren will pursue you. At one point, enormous AT-AT walkers will lock you in their sights.
The action aboard the Fleet Transports in the Star Destroyer is frenetic, but not overly wild. The vehicles speed up, come to sudden halts, spin a bit, and execute other evasive maneuvers as they try to avoid detection, dodge fire, or otherwise get out of harm’s way. At one point, your vehicle will board an elevator and rise perhaps 25 feet into the air to the upper levels of the Star Destroyer.
We give the third act a thrill rating of 3. It is not as wild as Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, which uses Disney’s Enhanced Motion Vehicles and rates a 4.5 (or the similar Dinosaur ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom). Like Rise’s first act on the Transport Ship, we think virtually everybody should be able to handle this part of the attraction.
The Finale of Rise of the Resistance
For the fourth and final act of Rise of the Resistance, Disney combines three ride systems. This is where things get a bit hairy. But only a bit.
Alert! Here is a major spoiler: You and your mates aboard the Fleet Transport will, in fact, make it out alive from the Star Destroyer and to safety. But you knew that, right?
Your Fleet Transport will lock down onto an escape pod. The pod is actually a motion base, that, like the Intersystem Transport Ship in the first act, will move in sync with projected action to simulate space travel. Remember how we wrote that you will rise about 25 feet in the air earlier in the attraction? Well, what goes up must come down. To get away from the Star Destroyer, your escape pod will suddenly plummet in space before your droid can regain control and pilot you back to Batuu.
Here is how Disney accomplishes the effect: As we indicated, the trackless ride vehicle is locked down onto a motion base. The motion base is then coupled with a drop tower-like mechanism to deliver a freefall. Think Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, but instead of a 199-foot drop, Rise drops perhaps 25 or 30 feet. It is startling, but not nearly as thrilling as the Tower of Terror. We give that attraction a 7 on the thrill scale.
For the final act in the escape pod, we assign a thrill rating of 4.5. That is the same as the rating for Star Tours. The motion simulator thrills are similar (although the duration of the experience is shorter), and, although it includes a drop, the freefall sensation is not all that intense. If you are okay with Star Tours and similar motion simulator rides, you should be okay with Rise of the Resistance.
Who Can (and Should) Go on Rise of the Resistance?
With a relatively low height restriction of 40 inches (102 centimeters), children as young as 4 might be tall enough to ride. That doesn't necessarily mean they should. The same goes for tweens, teens, and adults. Sure, thrill rides are supposed to be thrilling but regardless of height or age, the thrills that Rise delivers may not be appealing to some people. That should be a personal decision.
Still, Rise is relatively mild when compared to many other park rides and attractions. Some roller coasters, of course, are incredibly extreme. While Disney World does not have any Six Flags-level coasters, it does offer some wild thrills that are considerably more intense than Rise.