Drake Wilson

Members of the Resistance are greeted by a heard of Storm Troopers upon entering the Star Destroyer.

The immersive new addition to Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge opened Jan. 17 attempting to not only impress seasoned fans, but create new ones

Drake Wilson  – January 22, 2020 | Updated February 11, 2020

True fanatics, please don’t come for me, but I never understood the Star Wars hype. Perhaps it’s because I was more into Barbies than action figures growing up, but the iconic franchise just was never my cup of tea. Cut to me, last week, experiencing Disneyland’s newest attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance—I think I get it now. 

Prior to the attraction’s media preview, I couldn’t help but get chills listening to Margaret Kerrison, the managing story editor, recommend at a panel discussion that we “be prepared to be a part of Star Wars history.” As it turned out, it was more like being a part of Star Wars in the present, as the experience is as immersive as it gets. Before I knew it, I was receiving a transmission from a holographic Rey, requesting that I join the Resistance and their fight against the First Order. 

Hologram of Rey urges riders to join the Resistance.
A hologram of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, urges riders to join the Resistance at the start of the experience. Photo by Drake Wilson.

I and my fellow riders boarded the transport ship intended to take us off of Batuu to meet with General Organa. The Force did not appear to be with us, however, because our plans were soon foiled by the First Order as we were tractor-beamed into a Star Destroyer. 

Rise of the Resistance riders board a transport ship.
Riders-turned-Resistance recruits board a transport ship headed to meet General Organa. Photo by Drake Wilson.
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Upon exiting our ship, we were greeted by a hangar full of Storm Troopers. The First Order escorted us through the Star Destroyer and placed us in a holding cell with little to hope for. But just like Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewy trapped in the trash compactor, we knew that where there’s the Force, there’s a way. Out of nowhere, trusty members of the Resistance came to the rescue. Soon we were aboard whizzing trackless vehicles, trying to zoom our way out of the massive ship. 

Between coming face to face with Kylo Ren, weaving through the legs of AT-AT Walkers, moving past turbo laser cannons, and witnessing the iconic, glossy Star Destroyer floors, it felt as though I was in fact a part of this world I had never before understood. Getting put into the story ignited my sense of childlike wonder, something that was more readily accomplished on the ride vs. passively watching a film. According to Executive Creative Director John Larena, the space battles that were visible through every window of the Star Destroyer were made possible by effects legends Industrial Light and Magic, ensuring immersive thrills and uncanny reality.

First Order officers escort captured members of the Resistance to their holding cells.
Actors playing First Order officers guard the Star Destroyer while the captured members of the Resistance are escorted to their holding cells. Photo by Drake Wilson.

After eventually escaping the Star Destroyer and crash landing back into Batuu, I went to grab some grub in Black Spire Outpost. As I sipped my sweet but oh-so-refreshing Tatooine Sunset, it was clear that Disney had accomplished their goal. As Kerrison explained of the new attraction, “we want you to fall in love with Star Wars all over again. And for people who are new to Star Wars, we want you to fall in love with Star Wars for the very first time.” Mission accomplished.

Updated on February 11, 2020 to add: To go on the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride, parkgoers must sign up for a boarding group via the Disneyland mobile app. Each morning at Disneyland’s general admission opening time, on the app’s start screen tap the “Find Out More” button below the Star Wars photo; then tap the “Join Boarding Group” button. You’ll then confirm your group members and get assigned a boarding group number. If your number is below 80, you’re very likely to ride Rise of the Resistance on the same day, although group numbers into the low 100’s are getting called on the same day, too.