Ever since it first opened, Disney had a virtual queue system ready to go for Galaxy's Edge. But, aside from the morning of opening day, it wasn't used again for the land itself.
However, everything changed with the opening of Rise of the Resistance and now, instead of a virtual queue for the entire land, Disney is using a virtual queue for this crown jewel of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
This system is unlike anything else you'll find at Disney World, but you'll need to understand how it works if you want to ride.
Here's 7 things you need to know about the virtual queue and boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance.
Want to ride Rise of the Resistance? The virtual queue is the only option.
Rise of the Resistance (much like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run) does not offer FastPass+.
But, unlike Smugglers Run, Rise of the Resistance does not have a Standby Line.
That's right - no Standby Line and no FastPass+.
That means the only way you can experience this attraction is by snagging a boarding group in the virtual queue system.
You'll need to be early (updated with new procedures)
The crowds flocking to Hollywood Studios for Rise of the Resistance have continued, and because of that Disney is making some changes to how things will operate at park opening.
Here's what you need to know:
- The virtual queue will not open up until the official park opening time. This is a change from how it had been operating. Initially Disney was opening the park way earlier than the posted time (including opening most attractions), and as soon as the park opened up guests were able to snag their spot in the virtual queue. That led to many days where all the available spots were totally gone BEFORE the official park opening time. It appears that this change is in hopes to combat that.
- Guests may still be allowed into the park early and onto Hollywood Boulevard before the official park opening. On most days, guests will then be allowed further in, with guests headed towards Toy Story Land heading to the right of the Chinese Theater (where Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is located) and guests heading towards Galaxy's Edge being directed to the left of the theater. BUT that is as far as people will go and guests will be held there until the official park opening time.
- There will be a couple of spots open on Hollywood Boulevard (the Starbucks which is located inside Trolley Car Cafe and Keystone Clothiers). Note: Trolley Car Cafe can get l-o-n-g lines early in the morning, so you may be better off snagging some coffee before you arrive to Hollywood Studios if you know you'll need a coffee fix.
- Only after the park has officially opened will guests be able to then jump into the My Disney Experience App to snag a spot in a boarding group. AND - this is an important thing to remember: unlike the previous method where guests trickled in and snagged boarding groups, you'll have a giant crowd of people who will be eligible for boarding groups all at once. Even delaying a few minutes could result in you winding up with a much later than anticipated boarding group (or even possibly missing out!). So, as the time clicks closer to park opening BE READY to open the app and snag your spot.
So what time should you plan to arrive if you want to ride Rise of the Resistance?
Plan to ride Slinky Dog at Rope Drop with the shortest waits? We still recommend you arrive 90-120 minutes before the posted opening time.
Yes, we know that is crazy early and that it isn't easy to do with little ones.
But our reasoning is this:
Even though the boarding groups won't open up until the official park opening, lots of people will still be showing up early. So if you want to ride Slinky Dog Dash at park opening (without waiting 45 minutes or more) you'll need to be at the front of that pack. To do that, you'll need to get there early.
If you have a FastPass for Slinky Dog Dash and you just want to hit up the other attractions with minimal waits, you'll be okay showing up 60-75 minutes before park opening.
Is your main goal just snagging a boarding group?
You are probably okay arriving 60-75 minutes before park opening. And, during less busy times of the year you may be able to push that to 60 minutes before park opening.
Want to see how fast boarding groups are disappearing?
If you are trying to see just how fast boarding groups are filled, you can do that from anywhere (you don't have to be in the parks!). This is especially useful in the final days before you plan to go to Hollywood Studios.
Just open the My Disney Experience App and click the "Find Out More" button right below the AT-ATs.
When boarding groups are available, you'll be able to click the "Join a boarding group" button (of course, if you aren't actually in the park it will tell you you can't join). When boarding groups are full for the day, you won't be able to click the button, which is the sign that the groups are full for the day.
Disney has indicated the virtual queue won't be used forever
We don't think this virtual queue system will be used forever.
So, while we don't think this system is here to stay we also don't know exactly how long Disney plans to use it.
That means until we hear something different your best approach is to assume it will be in place and plot out your trip accordingly.
The virtual queue utilizes boarding groups
This whole virtual queue system is kind of like putting your name on a wait list at a restaurant - first come, first served.
For Rise of the Resistance, Disney puts people into what they call "boarding groups," and then they call those groups as the space in the queue allows.
You can't choose your boarding group number; it is assigned when you join the virtual queue, and you don't know an exact return time because all that depends on how fast the groups in front of you move and whether or not the attraction itself goes down (which is pretty common right now).
Remember: there are a limited number of boarding groups available and once they are gone they are gone.
Backup Boarding Groups
As of December 16, 2019, Disney has begun offering "backup boarding groups".
These groups become available after all regular Boarding Groups (typically up to group 120, however, that number can change depending on the day) have been filled.
However, guests with one of these new provisional boarding groups will only be allowed onto the attraction if the capacity allows (once all regular boarding groups have completed their ride).
Everybody must be in the park
One of the most common questions we've received is "does my entire family have to show up 2 hours early in order to get into a boarding group?"
And, unfortunately, that answer is "yes."
In order to join a boarding group you must have scanned your ticket or MagicBand to enter the park, so that means that mom or dad can't get up early to snag a boarding group while the rest of their family sleeps in. Everybody has to be there.
We know this isn't ideal for lots of people in all sorts of situations, but for right now this is how things work.
You can leave and come back
One nice thing about the virtual queue is that your return window is 2 hours long* and you don't have to wait in the park for your boarding group to be called.
*Update: In late January Disney began implementing 1 hour return windows for some (but not all) boarding groups. When your boarding group is called, be sure to double check your return window.
If you have Park Hoppers you could visit a different park OR, if you are super sleepy from showing up at 6 a.m. to snag your boarding group, you can go back to your resort to rest.
You can follow along with where Disney is on boarding groups inside the My Disney Experience App and as long as you have turned on notifications, you'll get a pop up when it is your turn.
Rider Switch and DAS are available
After you have a boarding group, you can see a Cast Member at the attraction for assistance.
How the virtual queue and boarding groups work:
1. Arrive to the park at least 120 minutes before park opening (for the best chance to tour during the morning with minimal waits) or 60-75 minutes (if you aren't interested in riding Slinky Dog Dash or Smugglers Run).
Note: During especially busy times of the year (like the holiday season) we highly recommend you arrive to the gates of Hollywood Studios 2 hours before the park is scheduled to open to maximize your chances of getting a spot in the queue.
2. You'll likely be let onto Hollywood Boulevard early, however, boarding groups will not not be available until after the park officially opens. Once that happens (and once every person in your party has scanned into the park), open up the app and follow the instructions to be assigned a boarding group which then puts you into the virtual queue. Tip: you can have multiple people trying for boarding groups at once. As soon as one person gets in, the app will lock out the others. Using multiple people/phones maximizes your chances and gives you a backup in case something goes wrong.
3. The app should provide you with a push notification to let you know when it is your turn to ride. At that point, you'll have 2 hours to make your way to Rise of the Resistance. You can always check to see exactly what groups are boarding in the app as well as on display boards found throughout the park.
4. When it is time to ride, head to Galaxy's Edge and go directly to Rise of the Resistance. Your tickets or MagicBands will be scanned before you enter the line.
Ready to give it a try? See how we recommend touring Hollywood Studios now that this amazing new attraction is open!