It was to have risen first in Disneyland, a ride so technologically advanced that it would anchor the theme park’s most ambitious project since it opened in 1955.
So it is with great disappointment — to Disneyland fans in general, and to annual pass holders especially — that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will open first not in California but at Disney World in Florida, even though Orlando’s version of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuted three months after Anaheim’s.
When Rise of the Resistance opens Thursday, Dec. 5, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, fans on the West Coast are left to wonder what the heck happened to create this disturbance in the theme-park force.
Had all gone as planned, Rise of the Resistance would have debuted in Disneyland not long after Galaxy’s Edge opened on May 31.
Instead, the first videos of the experience will hit YouTube as soon as Disney bloggers ride it during Wednesday’s media previews in Orlando. By the time Rise of the Resistance opens Jan. 17 at Disneyland, it’ll be old news.
So what happened? Turns out the attraction was a bit more ambitious than anyone expected.
What is Rise of the Resistance?
The story is fairly simple. Visitors board a shuttle, are kidnapped by the bad guys, then escape with the help of the good guys. The attraction uses 3D sets, animatronics, holograms and screens to take guests into space and back.
Why is it so complicated?
Rise of the Resistance employs three ride systems: a motion simulator (like the Star Wars ride in Tomorrowland), trackless vehicles and a drop. Add to that more than 50 stormtroopers in a vast hanger, a couple of life-size AT-ATs (the four-legged tanks) and tons of laser fire, and things get pretty involved.
What went wrong?
Park officials have remained mum, but dozens of reports in the Disney blogosphere indicate that designers ran into unforeseen problems typical when doing something that’s never been done.
The biggest problem, it seems, has been with the trackless ride system that takes guests through the halls of a Star Destroyer. At some point, officials decided to open both versions of Galaxy’s Edge without their star attraction, as no one was sure when Rise of the Resistance might be reliably up and running (and “reliably” is important, Imagineers are known to be meticulous, opening no attraction before its time).
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As creators encountered problems at Disneyland, it became teachable moments for Disney World Imagineers, who made the necessary adjustments to avoid similar problems. As a result, work has progressed more smoothly and even a bit faster.
So is the ride in perfect working order?
It’s far enough along to open during the park’s regular hours, though it won’t be open for the Extra Magic Hours available to guests staying at Disney World hotels.
This may indicate that the attraction isn’t quite at 100%, requiring downtime to make the necessary adjustments to keep everything running.
Will Rise of the Resistance break down?
Disney is not one to open an attraction before its time, explaining the long delay for Rise of the Resistance. But that doesn’t mean it will operate flawlessly, given its technological and mechanical complexities.
Officials are doing everything in their power to make sure the ride runs smoothly, but as everyone knows, stuff breaks down. And since Rise of the Resistance is Disney’s most complex ride ever, it may face complex problems during a shakedown cruise.
While hardly on the same technological scale, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — the only other ride at Galaxy’s Edge — has been dependably moving 1,800 riders per hour since it opened.
Will Disneyland’s version open as scheduled?
That’s extremely likely. Just as Disney World engineers learned from Disneyland’s experience, you can bet Anaheim will be well represented when the ride opens in Orlando. Workers on both coasts will learn much as the first guests are ferried through a Star Destroyer, dodging laser fire as they make their way to an escape pod and safety.
The biggest gripe against Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been a lack of things to do. Building light sabers and droids is expensive, and piloting the Millennium Falcon is fun, but hardly compelling.
Rise of the Resistance is supposed to change that. Disney needs it to transport guests in ways Galaxy’s Edge has yet been able to achieve.
Have any tips on relatively unknown, must-see destinations in Arizona? Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 602-444-8773. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_Craven2.
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