Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a game-changer. Not only is the attraction itself one of the most technologically advanced that Disney has ever created (utilizing FOUR different ride systems!), but Disney also introduced a virtual queue to manage demand (and to control capacity once Disney's Hollywood Studios reopened after the COVID-19 closure). More recently, Disney began testing a new virtual queue process for the ride Nov. 3, and we frogs checked it out! For the first time, guests don't have to be in the park for the virtual queue's first distribution time, provided that they have park reservations for that day. As of Dec. 20, the second distribution time has moved from 2 p.m. to 1 p.m (which will affect guests hoping to ride when park hopping returns Jan. 1, 2021). Additionally, to maximize the number of riders while adhering to current health and safety guidelines, Disney recently added a clear barrier between the two rows of seats on each First Order Fleet Transport vehicle. This is big news, as this ride has frequently reached capacity since its opening and getting reservations has become increasingly difficult. We've got more details on this process below!
Currently, Boarding Groups are only required for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. You do not need one to access Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge (the land itself) or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. The Boarding Group system is subject to change and has been modified a few times in recent weeks as the park reopened — including this recent switch to a 7 a.m. distribution time, which we tested out ourselves! Because you don't have to be inside the park right at its opening time, initial crowds seemed to be much more controlled than they have been in the past. For more info on crowds, check out our reopening guide for Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Now, it's important to set expectations at the outset. Because it's such a popular attraction, there is still a chance you may not get a Boarding Group, even with the park's limited capacity. That said, we want to give you your best chance of success. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about when to arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and how the virtual queue system works, including how to join a Boarding Group. Grab your lightsaber! Here’s our step-by-step process so you can have the best chance at riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Before You Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
In order to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, you’ll need the My Disney Experience app to join a Boarding Group as part of the virtual queue. Be sure to download the app from your smartphone’s app store the night before, so you can have it ready to go first thing in the morning. If you already have the app, update it to the latest version. You don’t want to lose any precious time before the virtual queue opens at 7 a.m.! (Pssst — check out our full guide to using My Disney Experience for even more tips and tricks!)
It’s also very important to add your entire party to your Family and Friends list within the app so that everyone can join the Boarding Group at the same time. Each member of your party must have a My Disney Experience account and be linked in your Family and Friends list, or be a guest (such as small children) that you already manage on your account.
When to Arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Originally, the virtual queue system opened right at the official park opening time, so our advice was to be at Hollywood Studios for rope drop. However, since the park has reopened, the virtual queue system has been slightly modified a few times. As part of the new test, guests with valid admission and a Disney Park Pass for Hollywood Studios are able to access the virtual queue system at 7 a.m. on the day of their reservation. Disney noted in its announcement, "This can be done before you leave your Disney resort hotel, or wherever else nearby you might be at that time." However, for anyone staying off-site, don't fret! We were able to join a Boarding Group successfully from even 20 miles away.
If you don't get a Boarding Group at 7 a.m., you'll still have a second chance at 1 p.m. (as of Dec. 20). Guests must be inside Hollywood Studios to access this second opportunity, which is subject to availability and not guaranteed. It's important to note that when park hopping returns Jan. 1, 2021, you will need a Disney Park Pass reservation for a chance to ride. Park hoppers will not be able to join the virtual queue, as park hopping hours begin at 2 p.m.
There is still no rhyme or reason when it comes to figuring out how long it takes before the virtual queue closes. It depends on a number of factors, such as the crowd level or technical difficulties that the ride has experienced. Lately, Boarding Groups fill up within the first few seconds (even with an increase in ride capacity), so you should be ready on your phone before the clock strikes the hour. Our best tip is to start refreshing the app by pulling down on the screen when it's 6:59 a.m., and keep doing so until you see a blue Join button appear. If there is a significant ride delay and less Boarding Groups go through as a result, the second distribution time may have reduced capacity.
Because of this change, there is no need to race to Hollywood Studios before its opening anymore (during the holiday season, the park is opening at 9 a.m.)! We expect this will relieve a lot of stress for frog families in the morning and lessen the initial crowds at the park. If you have an early Boarding Group number, we suggest arriving at the park early because the first Boarding Groups of the day were being called at 9:45 a.m. (before the park opened that day!). We still recommend arriving early regardless of your Boarding Group number, so you can maximize your time inside the park, but now there shouldn't be a mad rush to beat the clock.
What Is a Boarding Group and How to Join to Ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
A Boarding Group is currently the only way to access Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Unlike a FastPass+ return time, once you've joined a Boarding Group, you’ll be assigned a Boarding Group number. These Boarding Group numbers are then notified in chronological order when it’s time to return to the attraction and enter the queue. You may get an estimated time wait time (such as 20 minutes or 210 minutes) but otherwise, the time depends on how quickly the ride can accommodate the Boarding Groups before you.
In order to join the virtual queue, you'll need to download and access the My Disney Experience app at either 7 a.m. (any location) or 1 p.m. (inside the park). On the homepage of the app, there will be a section named “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance - Request Access with Virtual Queue.” Click on the Join button. This is where you and your selected friends and family members can join a Boarding Group. Thanks to recent app changes, anyone who has a reservation and is currently inside the park with you should be automatically selected. You'll want to confirm quickly and use your speedy fingers to click through the screens. There are no limits to the number of people who can join a Boarding Group. Disney recommends to select one member of your party to access the virtual queue. If multiple people try simultaneously, that may complicate your ability to secure a Boarding Group.
Disney is still implementing backup Boarding Groups. Once the initial Boarding Groups have been filled, you may be notified that you are joining a backup group (this cut-off Boarding Group number changes daily). These backup groups will only be called if all of the initial planned groups have been called and there is capacity for additional riders. Joining these backup groups does not guarantee access to the ride. A push notification will be sent through the app if your backup group is called.
You’ve Joined a Boarding Group! What Happens Now?
Congratulations! Now that you’ve successfully joined a Boarding Group, you can get ready for the rest of your day. If you still want to head to the park early, we'd suggest taking advantage of any rides with low wait times or making a bee-line toward your next priority ride (Slinky Dog, anyone?).
Once you're in the park, you can keep track of your Boarding Group's status through the My Disney Experience app. Be sure to turn your push notifications on so that you’ll receive a notification when your Boarding Group is called! There are also digital boards that display exactly which groups are boarding throughout the park. Once it’s your Boarding Group’s turn, you'll be assigned a one-hour window to return to the attraction’s entrance and check in with the cast members to enter the queue.
Cast members will have to scan your MagicBand or park ticket card, so have those ready to go! We suggest arriving at least 15 minutes before your window closes, as they have added another spot further along inside the queue where they scan your MagicBand a second time. Once you enter the queue, it may be about a 30- to 45-minute wait without any delays until you reach the first pre-show, which kicks off the ride experience. Although, during our most recent visit since they've upped the ride capacity, it only took us 17 minutes! (If you're OK with spoilers before you ride, you can check out the full queue and pre-show in the video Tad shot below!)
If your Boarding Group is a higher number and isn’t expected to be called until later in the day, you may leave the park and return to your hotel to swim in those luxurious heated pools or take a nap. But keep in mind that you'll only have an hour to return once your Boarding Group is called! We suggest staying inside the park so you don't run the risk of missing your arrival window. Also, once park hopping returns Jan. 1, 2021, we aren't sure yet if leaving the park will be recommended, so stay tuned! For reference, we got Boarding Group 58 last time, and we were called around 1:30 p.m., though depending on the day, this same Boarding Group number could be called earlier or later.
If the ride happens to shut down in order to work out some kinks, there is a chance you could experience a delay. Boarding Groups will stop being called, and entry into the queue will be closed if you're not already in line. One time, our Boarding Group was called, but by the time we got to the ride entrance, the ride was experiencing a delay, so we had to wait until it opened back up. Once the ride is up and running again, the order of Boarding Groups will pick up where it was left off. Your return window will be extended if a delay causes you to miss your expiration time, but still keep a close eye on which Boarding Groups are allowed entry.
Joining a Boarding Group does not guarantee that you'll be able to ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Other Important Details and Tips About Riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- If you have a DAS card, you’ll still need to secure a spot in a Boarding Group first. Once your Boarding Group is called, you’ll show your DAS card to the cast members, who will direct you to the FastPass+ line.
- Similarly, you'll need to enter the virtual queue if you wish to use the Rider Switch service, which is available. When your Boarding Group is called, scan in at the ride entrance and look for a Resistance cast member in a mustard and brown vest near the queue for further assistance.
- You cannot get more than one virtual boarding pass for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance per day.
- We've found that turning off Disney's Wi-Fi and using our cellular data works best, along with our speedy fingers, if you wish to get a Boarding Group at the second distribution time. Also, try to find a less crowded spot in the park where there aren't many others around you. If you're off property at 7 a.m., just make sure you have a good signal wherever you are! Move to an area that gives you the most bars.
- In the morning, set an alarm on your phone for 6:55 a.m. and 12:55 p.m. so you don't froget later in the day! We even suggest multiple alarms to remind you, so you can avoid being on a ride when it's time to join a Boarding Group.
- Likewise, if you're visiting with more than one person, we've heard of families designating one person as the "time keeper" and one as the "pass getter." The time keeper will watch the world clock on their phone to be able to give the heads up about twenty seconds before the queue opens to the designated pass getter. The pass getter should then refresh that first page repeatedly until the "join" button turns blue — then tap it!
- Move quickly if you do get past the first "Join" page! Stay speedy as you select your group (which should be automatically selected based on who has a Disney Park Pass to Disney's Hollywood Studios in your party that day). Outside of skimming to select your party, as others in the Frog Pond will tell you, don't waste any precious time reading the text in each step.
- Try not to be discouraged if you don't get a Boarding Group at 7 a.m., as you can try again later! But also, more and more frog families have shared that they didn't get a Boarding Group at either time, so setting realistic expectations is important.
- Be sure to have your push notifications on and keep an eye on the app, as you only have a one-hour return window and may need to jump to the queue quickly.
Are you ready to join a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Do you have any other questions about the virtual queue system? Share in the comments below.