Ready to join the Resistance?

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

Updated 1/17/2020:

More than a month after the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, California fans can now experience what Bob Chapek. Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, calls "the most ambitious, the most immersive, the most advanced, high-energy attraction we've ever created."

Like Walt Disney World, the Disneyland version of Rise of the Resistance will not offer Fastpass during the first several months of operation, and will instead use a virtual queue to assign boarding groups and manage the wait for hopeful riders. This is similar to the virtual queue that was used to control access to the land itself when Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opened last year at Disneyland.

While Disneyland has posted its own tips for using the virtual queue system, Star Wars super fans are asking how early they should try to arrive, and how early they can line up outside Disneyland’s gates.

Because visitors can't even join the virtual queue until the park's published opening time each morning, there's truly no advantage to lining up hours before the gates open. You simply need to ensure that you're inside the gates by the official published opening time, which should be easily accomplished if you arrive at the main entrance gates an hour or so ahead of time. Even allowing for parking and security screening, arriving in Anaheim hours ahead of opening is overkill.

Still, Disney knows some fans want to arrive extra early, and so will open the Toy Story parking lot earlier than usual throughout the opening weekend. On Friday, January 17, the parking lot will open at midnight. On Saturday and Sunday, January 18 & 19, the Toy Story parking lot will open at 4:30 a.m. Disney has yet yo announce at what time the lot will open beyond opening weekend.

The resort declined to say exactly when the Mickey and Friends and Pixar Pals parking structures would open Friday morning, saying it was "flexible" based on demand. Officially, the parking structures open 90 minutes prior to the earliest Disneyland Resort theme park opening time, including any Magic Morning or Early Entry days. If Disneyland opens at 8:00 a.m. but has 7:00 a.m. Magic Morning, the parking structure should open by 5:30 a.m. Once parked, cast members will direct new arrivals where to go.

Officially, the ticket booths open 60 minutes prior to the earliest Disneyland Resort theme park opening time, but we urge readers to save yourself from another line and purchase your tickets online before you arrive. With very few exceptions, there's no reason to wait until you're at the resort to buy your tickets, and having them in advance allows your travel party to link their tickets in the Disneyland app. This is an important step if you want your entire party in the same boarding group once the virtual queue opens.

Early birds should expect to queue outside Disneyland and wait for the gates to open. Again, there's no reason to get to the park hours before it officially opens, but if you must do so, at least you can get a cup of coffee and a snack at the Downtown Disney Starbucks, which opens at 5:00 a.m. each morning.

It’s uncertain at what time park managers will allow people to actually enter Disneyland park itself each morning, but we expect the park will open the turnstiles well in advance of the actual park opening for the purpose of "loading" as many guests into the park as possible before the virtual queue opens. Once Disneyland's gates open, beverages and snacks will be available for purchase at the Market House (Starbucks), Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe, and the Refreshment Corner.

Even if Main Street opens at 5:00 a.m., arriving that early gives you no advantage in joining the virtual queue. Disneyland officials have confirmed to MousePlanet that they absolutely will not open the virtual queue ahead of the published opening hour each day. Walt Disney World managers did exactly that, opening the virtual queue early, on several days after the ride opened in Florida, and the reaction of park guests who were negatively impacted by the change was swift and brutal.

Based on reports of MousePlanet staff and readers in Orlando, it matters less how early before park opening you arrive than how lucky you are in accessing the virtual queue servers once the park opens. The virtual queue was full within 15 minutes of the park opening on the day the ride debuted to the public, and we expect that trend to continue for quite a few months to come. While there's no need to be hours early, don’t expect to be able to enter the park after opening and be able to get a boarding group assignment.

Once you’re inside the park, here are our tips for using the virtual queue:

1) The easiest way to join the virtual queue is by using the existing Disneyland smartphone application. Download the app before you visit Disneyland, or, if you already have the app, make sure to update to the latest version before you visit. It is also a good idea to authorize the app to send you push notifications.

On opening day, cast members were encouraging visitors to totally close and re-start the app. Does that really do anything to help? We don't know, but it doesn't seem like it could hurt so long as you don't try to do it right at opening time when the virtual queue opens.

2) Link the tickets of everyone in your party within the Disneyland app. This will allow one person to request a boarding group for the entire party. We posted step-by-step instructions for linking tickets:

3) Once inside Disneyland, a visitor can request to join a boarding group as soon as the park officially opens for the day. Even on Magic Morning days, where some visitors gain entry to the park before the published opening time, the virtual queue will not open until the published park opening.

Let me repeat that: no matter what time you get into the park, whether through Early Entry or Magic Morning or just because park managers are trying to clear crowds out of the esplanade, the virtual queue will not open until the published park opening time.

4) Joining a boarding group is very similar to selecting a digital Fastpass. Users first select their party from a list of people to whom they are already linked in the Disneyland smartphone app, then click to add their party to the boarding group. The app will give you your assigned boarding group, and let you monitor the status of boarding groups.

  • It is essential that all the members of the party have scanned into the park before anyone starts selecting the boarding party in the mobile app. As soon as you select a ticket for the group, the application caches the in-park status and if one of the tickets wasn't in-park, it will give an error when trying to submit. The only way to clear it is to totally close and re-start the app.
  • Each person in your party can try to request to join a boarding group; once one person gets in, the others will get a message saying they have already been assigned to a boarding group. It's absolutely worth having everyone try who can.

5) When it's time for your boarding group to ride the attraction, the app will send an alert to your phone. Groups have up to two hours to make their way to the attraction after they are called. This grace period allows visitors plenty of time should they be in the middle of a ride, parade, or meal when they get the alert, and means you do not need to spend your day within a 50-foot radius of the attraction entrance.

6) If you don't use the Disneyland smartphone app, you can also join the virtual queue by going to one of the cast member-assisted stations throughout Disneyland. You will find these in Tomorrowland near Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and near the entrance to Splash Mountain. There, you will scan your admission media and receive a paper pass with your designated boarding group.

7) For those who do not use the Disneyland app, in-park signage at the Guest Relations kiosks will display the current boarding group, so that you'll know if it's time to head back to the attraction with your paper ticket.

8) Now for the bad news: simply having an assigned boarding group does not guarantee you will be called to ride. In the event the attraction breaks down (an expected situation for a brand-new ride during the opening weeks and months), the later boarding groups may not be called to ride.

9) A Disneyland official tells MousePlanet, "Due to the attraction’s incredible popularity, we will be distributing backup boarding groups as needed. Backup boarding groups will only be called if all of the initial planned boarding groups have been called back and there is capacity for more riders. Guests who join a backup boarding group will see “Backup Group” for an estimated wait time on their Disneyland app." On opening day, boarding groups 82 and above were considered "backup," though all groups through 114 were called before the ride closed for the night.

Understanding the app

The Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance status and access page on the Disneyland app displays following information:

  • CURRENT LAND STATUS: Open – this means all entrances to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (the land itself) are open. This s unrelated to the operating status of the Rise of the Resistance attraction itself.
  • NOW BOARDING: A dash ( — ) will be listed before attraction boarding begins, and indicate available groups (e.g. 18 – 30) when Guests can return to ride. The dash ( — ) will also be listed if the attraction is closed for an extended period.
  • VIRTUAL QUEUE STATUS: Once the virtual queue is full, text in the app will explain that the queue has reached capacity, and the park is longer issuing boarding groups for the day. The “Join Boarding Group” button will be gray before boarding groups are available and after they are booked out.

Virtual queuing using the Disability Access Service

Disneyland will use the virtual queue in addition to the Disability Access Service (DAS) to help provide to guests with special needs. All guests should first request to join a boarding group using the virtual queue, regardless of whether they already have a DAS pass, or plan to request one.

Once in the virtual queue, guests can then visit a guest relations kiosk to renew or request a new DAS, but will still board the attraction based on the boarding group assigned by the virtual queue. The DAS does not replace the virtual queue.

The ride has a 40-inch height requirement, and riders who use a wheelchair must transfer to the ride vehicle to experience the entire attraction. Guests who cannot transfer from an ECV or wheelchair may be able to experience a portion of the preshow, but Disney will make accommodations on a case-by-case basis.

The new ride offers descriptive audio and hand-held captioning for riders with visual or hearing impairments.