Disneyland’s “Rise of the Resistance” takes Star Wars fans on a ‘captivating’ ride…

Disneyland, 2023

Well, it’d been over three years since I last visited Disneyland, which is not far from where I live. But the ticket price is high, and the recent COVID pandemic put a damper on my personal comfort level with crowd situations.  However, my wife (who’s far braver than I am) had the idea of returning to Disneyland together for our recent wedding anniversary (nearly a quarter century of marriage and we’re still a couple of kids). 

A long time ago, in a Magic Kingdom not very far away (for the author, at least)…

We last visited the park together (with a friend) back in February of 2020, about a month before the COVID lockdown.  At that time, we were eager to see “Galaxy’s Edge” to fulfill our mutual childhood dream of ‘flying’ the Millennium Falcon, which we did, and it was a thrilling experience that I documented here on this site as well. Returning to Disneyland in June of 2023, I found quite a few things had changed, but the overall vibe of the place had remained more or less the same. 

Hey…it’s always gonna be Disneyland, right?

“Still, there’s something familiar about this place…”

Of course, being a Star Wars geek, I had to return to Batuu, the Star Wars planet recreated in a large section of the park.  The level of detail (including full-scale spaceships, maintenance droids, fully in-character ‘cast members’ in roles from the films, and carefully-created Star Wars-ian architecture) is simply astonishing. I doubt even the sets from the Star Wars movies and recent TV shows are so well-appointed. 

Welcome to Batuu, a planet at the “Galaxy’s Edge.”
Lots of shops and even one or two places to grab a blue milk, if fighting the First Order makes you thirsty.

Once there, you are fully immersed in the Star Wars universe, almost as much as a person visiting “Westworld.” There are shops, restaurants and snack areas, all styled in the stony, high-tech ancient futurism of that universe. Yes, the signs are in English, but written in the style of Aurebesh; the ‘standard’ language written and spoken in that fictitious Star Wars galaxy, far far away.

Water-Loo.
Even the architecture of the Galaxy’s Edge restrooms is themed, with appropriately Aurebesh-looking signage.

While I would’ve loved to spend an entire day just roaming the nooks and crannies of this Star Wars ‘spaceport’ town, my wife and I only had a day, so we didn’t want to spend too much time with sites and attractions we’d already seen.  This time, I was here to see “Rise of the Resistance”; a Star Wars ride we didn’t get to see in 2020, as it was booked for the entire day before we even arrived.  This time, we were determined to see it; even getting special booking to accommodate my arthritic old joints (if needed, ask a park employee where to go for “lightning lanes” or other such accommodations when you pick up your pass at the main entrance).

Batuu is also the current port of call for the Millennium Falcon, located deep in Anaheim, Southern California…

And even though we weren’t taking a ride on the Millennium Falcon this time out, I had to stop in the middle of Batuu spaceport to get a few (too many) beauty shots of the magnificently-recreated spaceship.  The full-scale recreation of the Millennium Falcon is simply incredible. As Han Solo says in “The Force Awakens”; “Chewie, we’re home” (a phrase I’ve adopted as the home page refresher of this site). I’ve seen actual props/costumes/miniatures etc. used in the Star Wars movies and TV shows at various conventions and museums, and the easiest way to tell screen-used items from loving fan reproductions is that the reproductions are often more detailed, since they’re not made quick-and-cheap for use in only a single movie or episode.

Who says Disneyland doesn’t have easy parking? You might even spot “Rey” there, keeping an eye on your speeder…

For clarity, my diehard Disneyland fan wife has an annual pass to the park, but I don’t—mainly because it’s not as easy for me to navigate the long lines and crowds with my arthritis (a whole other story).  Even if I wasn’t limited by stiff, sore old joints, I think I’d prefer to keep Disneyland a rare experience anyway, if only because it makes each time I visit all the more special to me.

Anyway, onto the reason for our return to Batuu

“Rise of the Resistance.”

The somewhat discreet (for Batuu) entracnceway to “Rise of the Resistance”; this was the ‘lightning lane’ accessible by special pass or prior handicapped accommodation.

The “Rise of the Resistance” gateway (and ‘Lightning Lane’ entrance) is recognizable by several costumed employees standing under a small prop radio dish and blaster turret, surrounded by trees. Once again, if you have any sort of disability, and have made prior accommodations with park personnel, they will work with you regarding the typically lengthy queue, which can be anywhere from a matter of minutes to well over an hour, depending on the park’s business.  Be prepared and be patient.

After a lengthy line (handicapped accommodations are available for those who need them), you find yourself getting deeper into the secret “Resistance” headquarters…

If you’ve no need for special accommodation, your line wait will be punctuated by some interesting sights, including Resistance flight uniforms, pilot’s helmets, droids and other signs of “Resistance” activity.  Once inside, you’ll see a glowing situation map, which leads to a small room…

Blu-Rey.
Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB-8 welcome you into the Resistance, via hologram…

A good-sized group of ‘recruits’ assembles inside the small, rocky, retrofitted room that makes great use of Star Wars’ ancient-meets-futuristic production design.  You’ll see various monitors, a platform, and a small, rounded BB-8 droid off to the left.  Keep your eyes on the platform, because once the room darkens, that’s where a hologram of “Rey” (Daisy Ridley) appears, thanking you for joining the ranks of the Resistance…

The hologram of Rey is carefully cheated by front-projection onto a glass plate (one of the oldest effects in the book), but the illusion is nearly perfect, as you can see in these pics.

Sharp-eyed observers will quickly realize that the ‘hologram’ is really a clever projection onto a clear glass plate, but alternating lights (changing from blue-to-green) and other distractions will keep your average tourist too engaged to really notice or care. As the above photos show, the illusion of Star Wars-style holography is so flawless it could easily pass for the ‘real’ thing, ready to shoot in-camera for a live-action Star Wars movie or TV show. 

“I’m just a Poe-boy, from a Poe fam-ily…”
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) also takes a moment to welcome you into the ranks of the Resistance.

Also pay attention to the monitors off to the side, where you’ll also receive words of encouragement from ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). These ‘appreances’ of the characters, sprinkled throughout the ride, are recorded by the actual actors used in the Star Wars sequels, which is not surprising, considering Disney has owned Lucasfilm for over a decade now, and has a large stable of (contractual) talent ready for use in such attractions.

A brief moment of fresh air, and a glimpse of a Resistance X-wing fighter, as you’re herded into a transport ship for new recruits…

Once through the parting doors, you’re (temporarily) back outside, where you’ll see a Resistance X-wing fighter off to the right, (with a droid in the topside copilot socket) and your ‘ride’ off to the left; a large, boxy-looking transport ship.

Note: If you’re disappointed that you can’t get a better look at the X-wing, “there is another” (as Yoda would say) on the way to the main Bantu village off to the side of the walkway—you can’t miss it. You can take a good look at that one for as long as you wish.

A Mon Calamari Resistor will fly your transport through a dangerous space battle (my wife said the rockiness of the ride felt toned down a bit from the time she tried it last year).

You then walk by the transport cockpit, where you’ll see your pilot—a fish-faced member of the Mon Calamari species. Once inside the transport, you’ll have a forward view to the cockpit and an aft window, as well.  My wife and I stood by the aft window, which offers a nice-enough view of the action. You’ll then feel the transport ‘lift off’ as you head out for your first assignment with the Resistance…

Through the rear portal of your transport, you can see the battle taking place.
(embarrassed to say I found myself making TIE fighter noises in my head…).

Once in ‘space,’ your luck runs out as your transport comes under attack by TIE fighters from the First Order. Your ship is buffeted from side to side (hold onto something) as the enemy fleet captures your small ship and tractor-beams you directly into the hangar bay of a First Order star destroyer…

Note: You get a nice view of the battle from the aft window. As for the buffeting your ship encounters while under ‘attack’?  It wasn’t so bad when I rode it this time, but my wife said it was more turbulent when she and a friend went back in March of 2022.  It’s possible they tuned the buffeting down, to reduce risk of passenger injuries.

After capture, you’re taken aboard an Imperial–er, “First Order” star destroyer; the scale of this attraction is simply jaw-dropping. You feel fully immersed in the Star Wars universe.

Once inside the hangar, you are escorted out of the ship and onto an Imperial ground transport, which is piloted by a single Imperial R-4 droid.  The hangar bay set itself is truly jaw-dropping—both in its scale and appointments.  You’ll see rows of First Order stormtroopers (mannequins) assembled to ‘greet’ you, with a glowing white forcefield surrounding the maw of the bay—protecting you from the vacuum of space ‘outside.’  Off to the sides of the bay, you’ll see an enemy TIE fighter being serviced by umbilical hoses.  Looking out into the starfield, you’ll also see ships flying across a massive rear-projection screen that creates a flawless illusion.

Some of the detailing off to the sides of the massive hangar bay, including TIE fighters, and other ships flying by the open maw of the hangar threshold. My only regret is that we didn’t stay here a bit longer, as the ride ushers you along…

You are then whisked away by the ground transport to the prisoner detention area of the ship, where you’ll await interrogation…

Note: If I had any complaint about the ride, it’s that too little time is spent in the lavishly-designed hangar bay, which is the kind of place I could’ve only imagined seeing in person someday when I first saw “Star Wars” theatrically at age 10, in the summer of 1977. This part of the tour—however brief—is truly a childhood fantasy reified.

A squad of stormtroopers at their stations are just some of the ‘atmosphere’ you pass by, as you’re taken deeper in the “ship,” to the interrogation area…

Soon, you and the other Resistance ‘prisoners’ disembark from your transport where you are ushered to a line outside the interrogation room.  You’ll notice a pair of stormtroopers standing watch nearby—to prevent anyone from ‘escaping’, of course.  Save for the occasional legally-mandated ‘Emergency Exit’ signage here and there, you feel 100% fully immersed in a Star Wars star destroyer.

A stormtrooper stands guard as he waits for his superiors to begin your ‘interrogation’…

Once in the darkened interrogation room, a single stormtrooper stands guard overhead—blaster at ready—awaiting the arrival of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). Soon, the two interrogators arrive…

Note: The transition from the lone stormtrooper to the other characters is accomplished through a seamless blend of the set with a 2D projection screen.

Cheated projections of General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (voice of Adam Driver) begin your ‘interrogation’, using Force-extraction techniques (happy to report no aftereffects).

Unable to convince his prisoners to talk by convention means, Kylo Ren reaches out and uses the dark side of the “Force” to extract the information directly from their minds—a subtle blend of low bass ‘rumbling’ sounds and wind-machine effects.  Unable to extract anything useful from the ‘recruits,’ Hux and Kylo Ren are called away, to return for further interrogation later…

Note: And yes, once again, it’s actually Domhnall Gleeson as Hux, with possibly a body double used for Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren (although the voice is definitely Driver).  The prerecorded footage is clearly two-dimensional, but in the dark and from far enough away, it works well enough. Even a casual observer can spot the difference, but only mild suspension of disbelief is required—most kids will fully buy it, I think.

“These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.”
With the interrogation failing to yield results, you’re then whisked away in an R4-piloted transport, past a probe droid.

Resistance operatives then free you from interrogation by searing open a door with a laser torch, as your transport is then commandeered for your escape. Ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) informs you that a rescue plan is underway!  The ride then gets a bit more dizzying as your transport’s speed increases, and you are whisked down dark corridors of the ship, almost running right into a black, metallic, spidery-looking First Order probe droid…

Note: With the original sound FX first heard in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980).

The Walking Dread.
First Order AT-ATs (aka “Walkers”) are seen as you’re whisked away to other parts of the ‘ship’ (the scale of these things is incredible).

From there, your wild ride through the ship continues, as you’re then taken to a massive bay where you see several First Order AT-ATs—giant four-legged walking war machines—being readied for a ground assault on some unlucky planet somewhere…

Note: The scale of the AT-ATs—which are physical props, not projections—is staggering. They are nearly as massive as the AT-ATs seen in the movies, except that they occupy the same space as you!  Once again, one of my only regrets in this ride is that you don’t get more time to linger and take a closer look at these incredible creations. 

An elevator takes your transport past the AT-AT’s head (and blasters) as you proceed to the bridge…

The runaway transport then hops onto a lift, which speeds you past the head of one of the behemoth AT-ATs, where stormtrooper drivers can be seen in the cockpit head of the metallic monstrosity.  Blaster fire erupts from within the ship, as the Resistance tries to free the transport.  Once docked at the upper level, your wild ride continues…

Note: Near seamless integration of 2D rear/front projection technology within the ‘heads’ of the massive physical props. 

On the command deck, you see Kylo Ren and General Hux anticipating an incoming Resistance attack…

The ground vehicle then passes by the command deck of the star destroyer, as a distracted General Hux and Kylo Ren stare into the starfield outside the windows, anticipating an incoming Resistance fleet—which then bursts out of hyperspace right in front of them.

Note: The characters of Hux and Ren are cheated in this part of the ride with fairly convincing animatronics, which are only seen from the back, as they’re too ‘absorbed’ with the imminent Resistance attack to turn around and break the illusion. The stage-whispered voices heard are delivered by the actors, however. This minor cheating of Hux’s face saves Disney’s “Imagineers” the expense and trouble of creating convincing lip synchronization with Hux’s animatronic mouth.

The Resistance arrives to free you!
Hard to root for the good guys when you’re stuck on the same ship as the bad guys…

Once stormtroopers are alerted to the presence of the escaping prisoners, your ground transport is then shaken by more blaster fire, created by a convincing combination of light, sound and projection effects. In this chaos, the transport is then whisked past large windows where Resistance ships appear to surround the First Order fleet, in order to ensure your ‘escape’…

Note: The blaster fire beams and scorch marks are simulated via projection effects onto parts of the First Order bridge set. Some premade scorch marks also appear to glow, as if impacted by fresh laser bolts.

Kylo Ren is miffed to see his captives being ‘rescued’ before his eyes–er, helmet, and he tries using the Force to stop you.

As the transport makes a break for a nearby escape pod, ‘prisoners’ are once again menaced by the masked Kylo Ren, who attempts to use the dark side of the Force to hold the transport in place, but to no avail. From there, the transport is loaded onto an escape pod, where you and your fellow ‘escapees’ are then fired into space—to be safely recovered back at the Resistance Base where this wild journey began.  Emerging from the escape pod into daylight, you are greeted by the relieved face of a Mon Calamari pilot sitting in a control booth, as you head to the exit…

Note: As with the figure seen on the bridge, the final version of Kylo Ren is another animatronic figure. The mask worn by the character saves artists and engineers from having to create a fully convincing face of actor Adam Driver—which is fitting, since the character wears his metallic mask for much of the Disney Star Wars sequels, anyway. 

The End.

Once ‘freed,’ prisoners who want a better look at an X-wing fighter can continue on to the spaceport city on Batuu, where they can see this X-wing revving up along the walkway, as its serviced by maintenance machinery.

Take the Virtual Tour, via YouTube

To those readers who are unable to travel to the states of California or Florida, or who can’t otherwise afford the expense of Disneyland right now, here is a video of the “Rise of the Resistance” tour, via the “Attractions 360” channel at YouTube. Enjoy!

Disneyland’s “Rise of the Resistance,” via Attractions360, on YouTube.

I’ll also include a link to my own Flickr page, with all of my own personal Disneyland pics from that weekend, (including waaay too may shots of the Millennium Falcon): Disneyland June 22-23rd, 2023.

“We can pay you two thousand now, plus fifteen, when we reach Alderaan…”

Yes, Disneyland (or any Disney resort worldwide) can be very expensive; prices can start at $83 up to $100 or more one day in a single park—Disneyland Anaheim also has the “California Adventure” park, which is a separate experience and a separate price (unless you get a “Park-Hopper” pass).  There are small discounts for California residents, and some off-season days which are priced lower than others.  Far be it for me to even attempt to navigate the labyrinth of Disneyland price rates, so if you’re serious about visiting Disneyland at Anaheim sometime, I’ll leave a link to the Disneyland prices page here:  

Disneyland.Go.com/Admission-tickets.

May the force be with you.

All images: Author, Author’s wife, Attractions360

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