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“Is Kylo Ren wide enough?” and other first reactions to Disneyland’s new ‘Star Wars’ ride, Rise of the Resistance

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

While the sequel trilogy is over and done, that doesn’t mean its characters are. Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland’s immersive, sprawling, 14-acre ode to Star Wars, just unveiled its highly anticipated Rise of the Resistance ride where Rey, Finn, Poe and BB-8 recruit you to join the Resistance—sending you on a three-part adventure that’s unlike anything we’ve ever strapped ourselves into at a theme park. 

Clocking in at around 15 minutes long, the attraction is segmented into a seamless adventure that breezes through an Intersystem Transport Ship under attack; capture and an interrogation by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren; a fleet of First Order Stormtroopers; and a jaw-dropping escape from a Star Destroyer—and at every step Rise of the Resistance had us on the edge of our escape-pod seats. The new ride is so immersive, in fact, that between the original performances by Star Wars actors, the trackless vehicle system, the dynamic animatronics and the thousands of special effects—including blaster gunfire and AT-ATs that cause damage to the ship around you—it’s impossible not to feel as if you’re in a galaxy far, far away.

5 things we wish we knew before riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

It's the most amazing ride we've ever been on—but we wish we knew these 5 things beforehand. Find out more about Rise of the Resistance:

Posted by Time Out Los Angeles on Sunday, January 19, 2020

We previewed Rise of the Resistance, which opens today, and recorded our immediate reactions to Disneyland’s new cutting-edge and ultra-hyped ride. Is it worth the wait and the virtual queue system? Is the Adam Driver animatronic wide enough? Read on for our two editors’ thoughts on joining the Resistance, whether you’re a Kylo Ren stan or a Resistance sympathizer.

Some light spoilers ahead.

Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

Michael Juliano: So I was more excited for this ride than for the last movie.

Stephanie Breijo: Why is that?

M: I just wasn’t very excited going into Rise of Skywalker, but I was excited by the potential for this—I think, too, because there were so many headlines that were like, “This is gonna be the most like advanced, amazing ride in the world.”

S: I did the opposite, where I saw those headlines and I was like, “There’s no way this can live up to that.” But then they released a trailer, and I started seeing some of the coverage out of Florida, and yeah, apparently it really was everything everyone had hoped it would be, which is rare.

M: Can we nitpick that trailer though? One, I feel like it spoils every big moment in the ride. And then two, the blaster effects really do look that real, but the Kylo Ren lightsaber part looks like a rough blade of plasma, whereas in the ride, it looks like a prop.

S: But it does kind of vibrate in reality, and in some ways, it actually does look real. I kept looking at it, amazed. There were so many moments in Rise where I wondered how they do things just from a purely mechanical standpoint.

M: I think it says something, too, that we went on it five times and I feel like the magic was never broken.

S: Every time there’s something new, some new detail. There’s a moment where suddenly there’s air rushing through the ship and my hair was blowing everywhere, and the first time I was on the ride I didn’t even notice that wind. It’s amazing to me that something like that, that can physically affect you, is happening and you’re so awestruck that you don’t even notice it.

M: And the whole thing is the ride: When you get on the vehicles you’re not just hurried onto it to escape.

Lieutenant Bek
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

S: As the Stormtroopers are firing at you they’re leaving holes in the in the sides of the ship; it’s an immersive adventure from literally every angle, whether you’re at the front of Lieutenant Bek’s pod watching it being piloted, or whether you’re standing at the back and watching TIE fighters firing at you—the really remarkable thing is that all of those battle sequences were done by Industrial Light & Magic, so it looks like you’re in the movies because it was the same studio.

M: I think there are so many moments in it—and it’s it’s hard for me to think of another ride that has this—that are just purely sublime in an academic sense. It completely upends everything you think you know, and subverts whatever you’re expecting, but then you kind of just like move on from it, so you’re left like, “What? How did that happen?” It really does feel like magic.

S: I think that a lot of that has to do with the usage of multiple mediums to take you on this journey or tell this the story. It’s actually the actors’ voices, it’s actually them on-screen, and they appear in hologram, they appear as animatronics—and then the field of vision is really interesting: how they manipulate the scope of some of these characters, like when they’re looking down at you from a catwalk above your jail cell. These actors have been put into so many different mediums—physical and tangible—that it really creates this well-rounded illusion.

Photograph: Michael Juliano

M: Right! Like when you’re in the prison cell, you know that it’s some sort of screen or projection or something, but they look really convincing and they cast shadows as they walk, so even if you have some inkling of what’s at work there, you’re so awestruck by everything going on that everything feels real.

As the world’s number one Kylo Ren stan, how do you feel about the Kylo Ren animatronics?

S: Oh my god, fantastic. But I did feel sometimes that he could have been a little bit… wider.

M: I was going to say the same thing!

S: He is Wide Boi Adam Driver; I obviously wish that we could have had a glimpse of the widest Adam Driver Kylo Ren scene, where he is shirtless, but that would have been earlier in the timeline.

M: It’s like this animatronic heard the response to the shirtless scene in The Last Jedi and got a little shy over it and stopped hitting the gym. I thought, though, in general, that he still felt menacing. So there’s the part towards the end of the ride where he feels like the boogeyman, right? It felt like he could pop out of any door or hallway and just, I don’t know, slice your vehicle in half.

S: I mean, he definitely does try.

M: It’s cool to hear and see the actual actors, and I think that goes a long way with this really feeling like a chapter in between the two movies.

S: And the great thing about all of these characters and it being 15 minutes long is that it’s a complete journey: You go through so many ups and downs, you meet so many people, and we talk about the different mediums in what you’re seeing, but it’s also different mediums in terms of what you’re riding. You get onto this smaller ship, a kind of shuttle, and then you’re walking through a ride, which also never happens.

M: I remember when the initial news stories started coming out about this ride and it was like, “You’ll be able to walk around it!” and I was like, “That’s bonkers, that can never happen,” and sure enough, it happens. Of those 15 minutes, I would say maybe five of them are you strapped in with a seatbelt—but all the stuff leading up to that is not any lesser. It’s kind of wild that you step into that first shuttle and it’s like being on a subway car: There’s handles you can hold onto and you can walk around on it, and you look ahead and you look behind you and it looks like you’re flying through space. There’s something about the the freedom of just being able to walk around.

Photograph: Michael Juliano

S: I feel like that variance in mobility also stretches that 15 minutes. It feels like it could be a whole day of your life. You know how you have unproductive days where you do nothing, and you’re like, “How did this happen, the day is gone already?” but then you have days where you’re productive for maybe two hours and you’re like, “I’ve had a very full day”? You go through so many objectives on this ride, so much happens, you meet so many of those characters, and by the time that you’re done it feels like you’ve spent an entire day in space.

M: It’s a straightforward story—it took me until about the third ride to actually digest it because I was so excited during the first two—but it really makes the land’s Groundhog Day-like loop make sense now. All of those story threads—as you do each experience—start meshing together.

So what did you think of Smugglers Run, after having been on this ride?

S: I feel like I was so young and innocent before RiseSmugglers is still a really good ride and that was so exciting when that opened, but this is on such another level. Smugglers is a lot of fun and there’s so much detail in replicating the Falcon and the cockpit, and there’s nothing that can really top pulling the hyperdrive lever if you’re in the pilot seat. There’s no activity like that in the new ride, I will say that, but there’s just this amazing confluence of animatronics and screens in Rise, and still I cannot wrap my head around some of these effects that they pull off. And also the AT-ATs! There are so many jaw-dropping moments. I think that the first time we rode through, I went through half of it with my mouth open and my hand covering my mouth in shock. 

M: As a big Star Wars fan, I think Smugglers Run is a lot of fun and wish fulfillment for me, but I would say that you have to be a Star Wars fan to get the most enjoyment out of that. I don’t think you have to have seen a single Star Wars movie to have your mind blown by this ride.

Photograph: Michael Juliano

S: It truly feels like you’re in space, especially when you’re in that hangar. 

M: If there’s one space in the ride that I so want to just soak in the vibes, it’s that hangar. It’s almost heartbreaking to leave that room.

S: How many times in Star Wars lore have we seen open hangars looking out onto the galaxy with ships shooting by? Here you actually live it, and it’s still insane to wrap my head around it. That is a real thing now that we can do.

M: Without any hyperbole, it is like the Grand Canyon: It’s a thing that you’ve seen so many times, but then there’s something about actually being in it. If I had to sum up a thing about this ride, it’s that at every step of the way, everything seems possible.

S: I think that that’s absolutely accurate.

M: You’re zipping from place to place so quickly that you don’t even have time to think, “Is this real?” because in in the moment everything feels real.

S: Right. And we didn’t even talk about the cast members yet! You’ll meet Resistance fighters and you’ll meet First Order guards, and everyone on the Resistance is really nice and happy to have you on the team, but I’ve got to say, those First Order guards who walk around the hallway, they do not break character, and anything less than a good performance from those cast members would shatter the illusion.

M: As I was just grinning like an idiot through half of it, one told me “The First Order is no laughing matter.”

So we were also playing around a little bit with the Play app, where you can basically play a full-blown old-school text RPG. I was talking with Finn and guiding him through the Star Destroyer, but then you were doing First Order stuff.

In-app Resistance gameplay, left, with First Order gameplay, right

S: Right, I was basically doing a lot of recon for the First Order: intercepting Resistance transmissions and unscrambling them, and then getting maps, and when we were in the weapons room in line, I was scanning the different boxes of explosives and sending that to the First Order. You know, essentially ratting out their contacts and inventory. I like that the gameplay objectives are so different, and that we both also ran into the fact that there was too much to do on the game app—though our lines for the ride weren’t as long as they probably will be from here on out.

M: Which raises a good question. Most people are going to be lucky to get on this once in a day because of how the virtual queue works; from the time you’re called back to the time you get on the ride, how long would you wait?

S: I mean, I would wait two hours. I don’t even think there’s anything strange about that because on some of the older rides, you’ll still wait 40 minutes on a good day. This ride is obviously worth much longer than a 40-minute wait if that’s what it comes down to. There’s also a lot to look at and take in, and you can play with the app and keep yourself busy. I think also because it’s such a long ride, the payoff is much greater. It really is unlike anything else I’ve ever ridden.

M: What was your favorite Kylo moment?

S: Oh my god, how do I even pick? I really like it when he says, “You have what I want,” but I think that’s, you know, that’s a little personal.

M: It all makes sense now why Kylo’s ship is on Batuu—because after Rise, he’s heard there are Resistance sympathizers on the planet so that’s why he’s out on the prowl looking for people, right?

S: When the land first opened it was like, oh he just happens to be here at the same time, but yeah, it’s like the final piece of the puzzle is there.

M: It’s not like there’s a specific order you would need to do stuff in, but I do feel like if you were to start the Galaxy’s Edge story somewhere, it’s Rise.

Find our full guide to Galaxy’s Edge here.

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