Rise of the Resistance puts riders in the middle of an epic ‘Star Wars’ battle

LAKE BUENA VISTA – The much-anticipated Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance officially opens Thursday at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

In what’s billed as one of “the most immersive, ambitious and technologically advanced attractions” ever created for a Disney park, guests will get to become part of the Resistance and battle the First Order. The Florida opening comes with much fanfare and coincidentally falls on what would have been Walt Disney’s 118th birthday.

For the Force to be with you, know these 10 things, you will (said in your best inner Yoda voice). Be warned: There are a few spoilers here.

Complete immersive experience

Before ever entering the ride vehicle, guests will be completely immersed in the attraction’s story line. As the story goes, guests become recruits of the Resistance and take part in a battle with the First Order.

They launch into space aboard a transport shuttle only to be captured by a Star Destroyer and pursued by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren.

It feels so real:The force is strong at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Along the way, guests-turned-recruits find themselves in various scenarios.

In one situation, guests stand in a transport vehicle and are told to hold on while flying through space.

Poe Dameron is the pilot, assisted by Nien Nunb.

“Windows” in front and back of the vehicle simulate the outdoor environment while the vehicle moves and shakes, but nothing too intense.

The scene corresponds with the actual time of day, light in the morning and dark at night.

Even the doors are specially designed to not have hinges. Instead, they slide and have that classic “Star Wars” hiss when they open and close.

A droid pilots Resistance fighters as they escape from a holding cell inside the Rise of the Resistance ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Ride vehicle

The ride vehicle seats eight passengers who must be at least 40 inches tall. An R5 droid mounted to the center front of the vehicle reacts with squeals, head-spins and other movement based on the surroundings.

The vehicle seamlessly moves along a trackless route, one of the few attractions of its kind in Walt Disney World. Guests will find themselves moving in all kinds of directions and at various speeds.

Guests race past massive AT-AT walkers aboard a First Order Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the groundbreaking new attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The drop

There’s been lots of hype about the drop on this attraction. This isn’t a roller coaster-type drop. It’s more like a Tower of Terror-type drop, although not as big.

It takes place toward the end of the ride while guests are seated in the ride vehicle on the descent back to Batuu from the Star Destroyer.

Disney officials described it as “a new simulator experience (that) gives the sensation of falling from space.”

Details of exactly how large the drop is have not been released.

Time length of attraction

Actual time in the ride vehicle is about 4½ minutes, but the entire experience, prior to getting in the ride vehicle, is roughly 20 minutes.

While the ride is expected to have long wait times (we’re talking several hours), the nontraditional queue is part of the immersive experience.

It is hard to tell where the “line” ends and the experience begins. A pathway leads deeper into the forest toward towering cliffs and the crumbling remains of an ancient civilization.

Guests weave through low stone walls, timeworn pillars and tight corridors as they progress farther into the base, hearing military communications chatter along the way.

As part of the experience inside Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, guests pass by Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter as they board a Resistance Intersystem Transport Ship.

Resistance leader Rey gives troops a pep talk as guests move through the queue in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Character involvement

You’ll see familiar faces everywhere. Actors from the “Star Wars” movies reprise their roles for new scenes and dialogue, including Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux).

Many scenes were filmed while “The Last Jedi” and “The Rise of Skywalker” were in production.

Nien Nunb, from the film “Return of the Jedi,” plays a major part in the attraction.

A new featured character, Lieutenant Bek, is a Resistance officer who helps guide the recruits. 

A First Order guard gives commands to Resistance prisoners before they are taken to a holding cell inside a Star Destroyers as part of the Rise of the Resistance ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Cast members

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has brought about 15,000 jobs to central Florida and Anaheim, California.

The cast members on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance went through extensive training to play the parts.

Those in the Resistance part of the ride wear different costumes and act differently from those on the First Order part.

When the First Order captures the recruits, don’t expect to encounter your typical Disney-friendly cast members. These guys and gals mean business. They are stone-faced, stern and downright scary.

See the photos:Matt Damon visits Disneyland Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with his family

Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer as part of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

It’s a big one

The scale of this attraction is absolutely massive. It is one of the largest show buildings ever constructed at any Disney park in the world.

It includes multiple levels, two full-size AT-ATs and a replica Tie-fighter. There are more than a dozen show areas.

Fastpass/Single riders

Fastpass will not be implemented when the ride first opens.

However, there is a Fastpass sign posted outside the attraction. Disney officials have not said when that option will be in place.

It also is not known if the attraction will have a single-rider lane. Currently, the other ride in the land, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, does not allow Fastpasses or a single-rider option.

Many other big attractions at Walt Disney World do have these options.

More:Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge crowds smaller than anticipated

Play Disney app

Be sure to download the Play Disney app before experiencing the attraction. As guests make their way through the recruit line of the Resistance encampment, guests can demonstrate where their loyalties lie, the Resistance of the First Order. 

More:Play Disney Parks app relieves boredom in line

What’s next?

Rise of the Resistance opens Jan. 17 in Disneyland. Disney officials would not confirm or deny if the attraction will open at other Disney destinations.

At this point, all that’s being said is they are focused only on the openings at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Spitzer is a Viera-based travel writer. Follow her on Facebook @ByMichelleSpitzer

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