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New Star Wars ride at Disneyland reaches capacity within minutes

A sandwich board sign that reads, in part: “All boarding groups for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance have been distributed for today.”
A sign telling Disneyland visitors that Rise of the Resistance had reached capacity went up only minutes after the ride opened Friday.
(Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times)

On the day it debuted at Disneyland, the Rise of the Resistance ride reached capacity almost immediately Friday morning, sparking celebration by those lucky park visitors who secured spots on the Star Wars-themed attraction and protests from those who were left out.

Expecting huge demand for the high-tech, immersive ride, Disneyland required all visitors to use a virtual queuing system that distributed reservation numbers via the park’s smartphone app, starting at the official opening time of 8 a.m.

But demand was so high that even some who opened the app to get a “boarding group” reservation at exactly 8 a.m. didn’t get a spot on the ride.

“I’m kinda bummed,” said Marvee Ona of Riverside, who was wearing a black Star Wars cap as he stood in front of the entrance to the ride, holding his smartphone. “I was super excited about the ride. I won’t be able to go on today at all.”

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Other Star Wars fans who didn’t know about the online reservation system were frustrated to learn they couldn’t stand in a line to wait for their turn on the ride.

“They don’t give anyone a chance,” said William Olvera of Moreno Valley, who came to the park with seven friends. “We solely came for this ride. We even skipped breakfast to be here early.”

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Rise of the Resistance, a walkthrough

Rise of the Resistance is the second of two attractions to open at Disneyland’s $1-billion Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansion. In the first few days after the land opened May 31, the park distributed colored wrist bands, signifying a four-hour period when visitors could enter the 14-acre land.

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Still, wait times for the first attraction in the land, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, stretched to more than an hour on opening day and a space-themed cantina was so crowded that Disney instituted a time limit on guests. The waits for those attractions were shorter Friday — about 50 minutes to get on the Millennium Falcon at one point in the morning — but Disneyland sported a healthy crowd.

Even though Rise of the Resistance reservations weren’t given until 8 a.m., many fans began arriving to the park in the pre-dawn hours.

Within five minutes after the app began to give out reservations, a message appeared on the app, saying that the ride had reached capacity and that only the first 82 boarding groups were guaranteed to ride the attraction. Signs were placed throughout the park, issuing the same news.

When the Florida version of the ride opened Dec. 5, visitors also complained about the quick distribution of boarding group slots.

The virtual queuing system was designed to let parkgoers visit other parts of the theme park while waiting for their boarding group to be called.

A cast member dressed as Rey kneels between Penny Remaklus, 4, left, and Adelaide Remaklus at Disneyland, all with a hand extended as if using the Force.
A cast member dressed as Rey with Penny Remaklus, 4, left, and Adelaide Remaklus, 7, of Ferndale, Wash., during media preview of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland on Jan. 16, 2020.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

To encourage crowd movement, park employees dressed like residents of Batuu (the fictional planet where Galaxy’s Edge is set) were walking around urging people not to hang out in front of the Rise of the Resistance ride. “Feel free to go off planet,” they repeated; translation, “leave Galaxy’s Edge.”

Disneyland’s assessment Friday: “Guests are having a blast experiencing Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and the virtual queue allows them to enjoy other areas of the park first instead of waiting in line.”

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Cheers rose from the crowds near the entrance of the ride from those who secured the first 82 boarding reservation.

Many wore shirts emblazoned with pictures of Baby Yoda or the Millennium Falcon. Others dressed like resistance fighters, with fake lightsabers hanging from their belts. A park actor dressed as Chewbacca led the crowd in a series of cheers before the ride opened.

There were many theories about how to secure a coveted reservation number.

Skyler O’Cara, 18, and two friends from Orange County, said they got into boarding group 37 by standing near a cell phone tower in the park so that their phones would respond faster when it came time to log into the app.

“We were freaking out for this ride in particular,” she said.

Vincent Ortiz, 19, from Anaheim, said the secret is not to log onto the Disneyland Wi-Fi, which, he said, will slow your phone. That is how he and his two buddies landed in boarding group 74.

“As long as the ride doesn’t break down, I’m excited,” he said.

Visitors exiting the ride said it was all worth the effort.

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“It was the best ride I’ve ever been on,” Kamakafua Wilk, 16, of Huntington Beach, said minutes after exiting the attraction. The ride was so immersive, she said, that “I feel like I was part of the Star Wars galaxy.”


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