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AT-AT Walkers, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo: Disney)

Media Event Day Two: Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

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On Wednesday, December 4, I was part of a media group that was hosted by Disney. We spent the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There were two main things that we focused on. Of course one was Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which is now open at the park. The second is something that will open in under four months. That is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

The latter is where my day started. We were given a preview of what the beginning of the ride will be like. I can’t really say that we were given a preview of the ride, because we didn’t get that far. We were not allowed to take pictures or record anything.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Before we entered the building we were given a chance to see some of the new merchandise that will be sold once the attraction is live. There were t-shirts, ears, a hat, a MagicBand, and a few other items. A new character is featured on some, a bird named Chuuby (that’s the correct spelling). There is also a train horn and there are three pins. One pin will be available only on opening day, one pin is for Passholders, and the third is the general pin. An interesting side note about train horns; one of the original horns from Steamboat Willie was used in the new attraction’s soundtrack.

Chuuby

We then walked into the Chinese Theater. It was a bit surreal, because it still felt a bit like The Great Movie Ride, which I rode dozens of times over the years. There are lighted posters on the walls, and these feature pictures from Mickey shorts. The pictures rotated, much like the movie posters did in the last couple years of the former attraction.

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Next we were treated to what the preshow is going to be. There is a brand new song called Nothing Can Stop Us Now. In the preshow, Mickey and Minnie are both happily getting ready for a picnic. The new song is catchy, and we were told that it will run throughout the ride. Once the ride opens you will want to pay attention to the preshow, because it ends with a bang.

We were also able to ride Rise of the Resistance as part of our media day. I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the beginning, and I will admit that I was a little bit nervous about the new attraction. I had heard so much about it, both how it was going to be Disney’s best ride ever and how it was going it allow us to experience Star Wars at a level never possible before. That is a lot of pressure to put onto a new ride, and I thought that there was no way that it could be quite that spectacular. I am pleased to say that I was wrong, Rise of the Resistance is all that and more.

Rise of the Resistance Queue

The story is heavily Star Wars themed. If you’re not a Star Wars fan ride anyway, the story isn’t hard to follow, and the ride is that good. The Resistance has set up camp on Batuu, and they are looking for recruits. The queue is full of little details. It starts as a winding path to an abandoned temple, but the further you go in, the more signs of life you will see. Inside there are several different rooms that you will pass through. You’ll end up in a room that will tell the first part of your story. BB-8 is there, and there are transmissions from Rey, Finn, Poe, Nien Nunb, and Lieutenant Bek. (The original actors reprised their roles, including Kipsang Rotich as Nien Nunb. Rotich was a student when he voiced the character for Return of the Jedi, and he had since returned to Kenya. The team found him in Kenya and asked him to voice the character again, which he gladly did.) You’re a new recruit for the Resistance. The base on Batuu has been compromised, and you need to get information to General Organa, who is setting up a new base.

Rise of the Resistance

You’ll then head outside to board a transport that is supposed to take you to meet Leia. This is the area in which you will see Poe’s X-wing, which is the first of several breathtaking moments. You’ll then board the transport. It’s the first “ride” part, although you won’t yet be in your ride vehicle. You’ll be standing in a transport ship, with a couple of X-wings (including Poe) as escort. There is a screen in the front and another in the back where you can see what is going on “outside”. Things don’t go according to plan, the transport gets caught in a tractor beam, and you’re brought onboard a First Order Star Destroyer.

This is the second breathtaking moment. Your group will exit the transport ship onto the Star Destroyer. A squad of Stormtroopers stands at attention, and you are able to see the battle in space behind them. Imperial officers will remind you that you’re spies and that you need to head to interrogation. You’ll then head into a hallway, where you’ll wait for a while. The prisoners are then sorted into groups. You’ll be given a color to stand on. Remember that color, because you’ll need it a little bit later.

First Order Stormtroopers. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo: Disney)

Next the group is led to a small “prison” area. Both Kylo Ren and General Hux appear to your group, warning you about your fate. You’re then left alone, I guess to think about it. I am not going to go into details about how you escape from the cell, I’ll let that be a surprise. It’s really well done.

Kylo Ren, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo: Disney)

It’s time to board your ride vehicle. These are color coded, where you board depends on what color you were given before. There are two vehicles here, and there’s a mischievous R5 unit who will get you to an escape pod.

The actual ride is one thrill after another. All that you’re doing is trying to get off of the Star Destroyer. There are a couple more breathtaking moments along the way. The ride system is trackless, and it is very smooth. (That is not to say that it won’t bother some people who suffer from motion sickness, so know your limitations.) There are a couple of humorous moments, and it is a good thing that the Stormtroopers still can’t hit anything. There’s a great combination of physical objects and special effects. You’ll also run into Kylo Ren and General Hux again along the way. If you’ve ever wondered where they store AT-ATs on a ship, you’ll find out. (That is another breathtaking moment.) What you see differs slightly, depending on which vehicle you’re in.

AT-AT Walkers, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Photo: Disney)

The goal is to get you into an escape pod. When it finally does happen, there’s a drop. I was a bit worried about this, because I hate drops. This one is fine, it’s not a large drop at all, and it was honestly one of the most thrilling parts of the ride for me. From there you will land back on Batuu, and your ride vehicle leaves the escape pod. You’ll then head to the area where you exit. You’re a hero of the Resistance.

A special round of applause goes to the Cast Members who are working this attraction. They take their roles very seriously. They know that they are not just getting people in line for a ride, they are playing characters. They were all fantastic, whether First Order or Resistance. They definitely added to the experience.

Rise of the Resistance

At the end of the day was the dedication of Rise of the Resistance. There was a show to get people excited about the Resistance, then Bob Chapek, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, officially dedicated the ride. The highlight was when two X-wing fighters flew overhead. They were really drones, but it was a great illusion.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Dedication Ceremony (Photo: Disney)

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is all about creating your own Star Wars story, and Rise of the Resistance will help you to go deeper into the Star Wars universe than ever before. It’s the final puzzle piece of this incredible new land. With the ride now open and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway around the corner, things are more exciting than ever at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.