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Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Maximize your chances of getting a boarding group

The new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction at Disneyland and Walt Disney World is an amazing experience – but the stress in even just trying to get to experience it is enormous, especially if you only have a limited number of days to even try. So here are some tips to help you out that worked great for us, based on data gathering and some technical knowledge. We made two real-world attempts and we got boarding group 4 on our first attempt, and 2 on our second attempt!

The fine folks over on the DISboards have been experimenting and gathering reports for months, and collected it all in in the first two posts of this thread, and most of what you need to know of is right there but I’ve added a few tricks of my own. Now, bear in mind, things can change all the time so before your trip I’d review those two posts and maybe the last few pages to make sure of the procedures. I’m pretty sure this system is temporary but we don’t know how long it will be in place.

I’ll mostly be talking about the attraction at Walt Disney World, but currently the procedures are much the same for Disneyland.


Rise of the Resistance is not using Fastpass+ or even a Standby line. The only way to experience the attraction is to join the virtual queue system they are using by getting what is called a “boarding group”. With the popularity of the attraction and the busy crowd currently spurred by the whole of the Galaxy’s Edge area, there is a very short window in which to get a boarding group number – as little as a couple of minutes but on average about 35 minutes.

It is important to note also that this system is 100% disconnected from Fastpass+ – having three Fastpass+ selections already does not affect your ability to get a boarding group, and vice versa.

A boarding group (BG) itself is a number that gets “called” for boarding, after which you have a certain amount of time to return to the attraction to experience it, so you can do other things in the meantime. The window to return is typically two hours but sometimes, especially at the end of the day, it may be only one hour. The lower the number, the earlier you will experience the attraction.

There are two types of boarding groups as well. “Regular” groups and “Standby” groups. Regular BGs are somewhat guaranteed – there may be unforeseen circumstances where not all regular BGs get called. If that happens, guests with uncalled regular BGs will typically get some sort of compensation – that usually consists of an “anytime” Fastpass to return the next day, and possibly a one-day ticket in case you didn’t have another day’s admission to return. A standby BG has no compensation, but depending on your number you may still have a good chance of experiencing the attraction. Since February 4th (when they appeared to change how they allocated BG quantities and group sizes) they have not failed to call a regular BG. The big thing is that regular BGs are typically all snatched up in less than 2 minutes.

No one knows how many people exactly are in a boarding group, or how they are handed out. They seem to be fairly sequential based on how quickly people pick them up, but I believe the number of people per group is pretty variable, based on how fast they need to give out the groups and don’t have time to find slots for the group of two in an earlier group, etc. I think they just have a rough number that once filled it goes on to the next, and then the next, etc.

There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that someone canceling a BG they already have frees up anything that people can find later. I believe they just let those slots go unfilled and call standby boarding groups that much sooner.

Some interesting facts: Boarding Groups rarely start with 1. For some strange reason, they usually start at 2 and sometimes start as high as 10 or more – 15 was the highest since Feb 4th. No one knows why, but I suspect they leave some “space” to allow for compensation Fastpasses, etc. by reserving that quantity within the system – but there may be other reasons.

The highest regular BG number also isn’t fixed. It generally varies between 50 and 63. We don’t have a reliable way of knowing how many standby BGs are given out on a given day.

How do I get one? The Basics

You MUST use the Walt Disney World My Disney Experience app on your smart device – typically it’s just called “Disney World” in the app store, depending on which park you are visiting. This is the same app where you can manage your Fastpasses, etc.

You and your entire party also must also be IN Disney’s Hollywood Studios in order to get a boarding group. They are letting people into the park early. You must be fully scanned in to the park by scanning your MagicBand or ticket card at the entrance tapstiles. Sorry, but the rest of your party can’t sleep in while you go to the park for this one. You can, however, practice using the app – if you are willing to get up – and get as far as the party selection screen as shown below.

Currently, the home screen when you run it looks like the first image. Selecting either the picture of the AT-ATs or the Find Out More button will take you to the current status screen.

WDW MDX Home ScreenRotR Status Screen

If there are available boarding groups, the “Join Boarding Group” button will be red. The button will NOT turn red until the actual scheduled opening time of the park, even though they may let people in early. So, if the park opening is scheduled for 8:00am, that’s when you can join a boarding group. Not one second before.

Clicking on that will take you to a screen to select the people in your party. Only you will be selected at first – if everyone on the screen is in your party, just hit the “Select All” button, and select “Join a Boarding Group”.

If everyone is in the park, then all should be well. If not, you might come to a screen that shows one or more people that are not registered as being in the park. If they did and it still rejects them, remove them from the list, continue quickly, and then visit one of the Guest Experience Teams scattered throughout the park to get it checked out. They can add them to your boarding group after they verify.

The next screen will tell you your boarding group number.

That’s really all there is to it – if everything goes right. Because technology is involved, there are various ways in which your device, the app, the network connections, etc. can glitch. So next are some tips to help maximize your chances at not only getting a boarding group, but a low number.

How do I maximize my chances?

Glitch happens. It’s just a fact of technology. So here are some tips on what to do to hopefully minimize the impact of any glitches.

  • Practice. Anyone can practice from home. Follow the procedures as if you were at the park, and you should be able to get through as far as selecting the members of your party, but then it will tell you you are not in the park. That’s fine – it means it worked, and now you know what to expect.
  • If you have more than one person in your party that has a smart device, have them all try. The first one in wins and the others will get locked out after the party selection screen, saying that everyone is already part of a boarding group.
    If they don’t have their own account (say, a child that is controlled by your own account), you can have them log into your account to try. The system is fine with more than one device per account.
  • Get to the park early enough to get scanned into the park. They have been typically letting people in one hour early. You can’t do much other than get into a line for Starbucks, or start queuing in some areas like Toy Story Land or the Galaxy’s Edge entrance, but unless you are trying to rope drop an attraction, you don’t need to be super early. Obviously take into account travel and bag checks/security.
  • Some time before the official park opening, compare the time on your phone to the official time as provided by NIST. There are some apps that do this (some are called “atomic clock” apps), or you can use a browser and go to www.time.gov. Watch the clock on your phone and the app/web site for how it lags between the turnover of a minute. The app usually activates between 0 and 2 seconds after the official park open time. Smart phones are pretty accurate and sync themselves to the same sources, and are usually less than one second off. If it appears to be more, try rebooting your phone, but I would do this at least 30 minutes prior.
  • Find a less crowded area of the park. You may be tempted to get in a line to get on an attraction early, but this puts you in a crowd of people with devices all trying to do the same thing as you, and the more devices there are the more interference and the local infrastructure to handle all the data requests will be taxed.
    Consider hanging out closer to a building, especially the entrance, but not inside or at least not deep inside. Mobile data and Wi-Fi signals will generally be stronger. Obviously don’t block the entrance. Check your signal – it can vary and that’s normal, but you don’t want it to disappear or show you don’t have any data signal at all.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi has problems with lots of devices in a small area. Go with mobile data if possible. If you must use Wi-Fi for some reason, see the recommendation above of being near a building. If you have more than one person trying, you can have some use data and some use Wi-Fi.
  • Close ALL applications at least 5 minutes before, including the My Disney Experience application.
  • At 5 minutes before, run ONLY the My Disney Experience Application, and watch the clock. Do NOT click through to the Rise of the Resistance screen – STAY on the home screen. While normally you could be on the RotR screen the button should turn red, it doesn’t always.
  • After it officially ticks to the park open time, count to one or two before clicking to the RotR screen. When you do, the button should be red but it may take a moment afterwards. If it doesn’t turn red after a couple of seconds, fully close (“force close”) the app as per your particular phone OS’s procedure, then re-open the app. You should get the fireworks screen then the home screen again. Then try again.

Of course, even following these tips glitch happens. Keep trying until it tells you there are no boarding groups available. If the worst case happens and you aren’t able to get a boarding group, have another morning visit planned and try again, maybe trying a different area of the park. If it works for you the first time, then you can come again and possibly ride a second time. You’ll want to.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to bring VR experience to Disney Resorts

A collaboration between Lucasfilm’s ILMxLAB division (which works on immersive entertainment) and VR experience startup THE VOID, will see a VOID Entertainment Center open at both Disneyland’s Downtown Disney and Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, which will feature Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a fully immersive VR experience, which The Void calls “hyper-reality”.

THE VOID already operates locations in New York City (inside Madame Tussaud’s), Toronto, Lindon, Utah and Dubai, where they have Ghostbusters Dimension.

The Void says Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire “will plunge guests directly into the iconic Star Wars galaxy. They will move freely throughout the untethered, social, and multi-sensory Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience in a way that allows them to interact and engage with friends, family and Star Wars characters. This ground-breaking experience will open to the public at two new VOID Experience Centers at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort beginning this holiday season.”

“At The VOID, we combine the magic of illusion, advanced technology and virtual reality to create fully immersive social experiences that take guests to new worlds,” said Curtis Hickman, co-founder and chief creative officer at The VOID. “A truly transformative experience is so much more than what you see with your eyes; it’s what you hear, feel, touch, and even smell. Through the power of The VOID, guests who step into Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire won’t just see this world, they’ll know that they are part of this amazing story.”

Vicki Dobbs Beck, executive in charge of ILMxLab, said, “At ILMxLAB, we want people to step inside the worlds of our stories. Through our collaboration with The VOID, we can make this happen as guests become active participants in an unfolding Star Wars adventure. By combining Lucasfilm’s storytelling expertise with cutting-edge imagery, and immersive sound from the team at Skywalker Sound, while invoking all the senses, we hope to truly transport all those who experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire to a galaxy far, far away.”
Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire marks an important milestone in the continued expansion of The VOID, which also joined the 2017 Disney Accelerator earlier this year,” said Cliff Plumer, CEO of The VOID. “Through the power of The VOID, guests can now experience the magic of Star Wars firsthand.”

Expect to have to make reservations FAR in advance…

Disney scuttles Star Wars Weekends while construction begins for new Star Wars area

[From our sister site, Sci-Fi Storm]

Star Wars Weekends, a multi-weekend event that Disney has hosted for annually for the last 13 years and occasionally before that, is over.

It was announced on the official Disney Parks Blog today, although we believed it already to be the case.

Construction will begin next year in Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, where the Weekends were held, in order to provide a whole new “land” dedicated to Star Wars. Previously, the Star Wars presence was limited to the Star Tours attraction, the Tatooine Traders shop, and more recently the Jedi Training Academy (where children get trained by a Jedi and then face Darth Vader!) With Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 everyone expected a bigger park presence and it’s on the way. A few details were released about that expansion:

  • On December 1st, “Star Wars: Launch Bay” opens, giving fans a look at the franchise and the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, special merchandise and opportunities to encounter Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
  • Star Tours: The Adventure Continues will feature a new scene inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens: a chase following the Millenium Falcon through the ship wreckage on the desert planet of Jakku. Those familiar with the random scenes in the attraction might be glad to know that for a few months, the Jakku scene will be in every ride, and then it “will be up to the will of the Force”.
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple (opening early December) is a re-imagining of the Jedi Training Academy which will take younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they will face Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister – a new villain from the Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels
  • Star Wars: Path of the Jedi will feature scenes from the complete Star Wars saga, also giving anyone new to the Star Wars galaxy an opportunity to get acquainted with the films.

WDW plans Opening Night event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios

Star Wars: The Force Awakens posterOn the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 17th, Walt Disney World Resort will host a special ticketed event at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) and Disney’s Hollywood Studios park for fans who want to be among the first viewers of the movie and celebrate with other fans.

Guests will have a confirmed seat at the AMC Disney Springs 24 theater for a showing between 7pm-8pm, and then celebrate over at Hollywood Studios at a private party afterwards until 2am. The party will include special access to the new Star Wars: Launch Bay exhibit, the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction, a DJ dance party, and a preview of the all new fireworks display set to Star Wars music. Costumes are encouraged! But follow standard Disney guest costume guidelines – if you dress like a Disney character, for instance, you may not pose for pictures with other guests or sign autographs, etc.

Characters will also appear at Launch Bay – it is sounding like a private mini-Star Wars Weekends!

Tickets will go on sale immediately after the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens airs tonight during Monday Night Football. And in fact, tickets for showings at theaters around the country will go on sale at the same time!

Ticket prices will depend on which format you see the movie in: 2D ($94.99), 3D ($98.99) and 3D ETX ($99.99).

Note: Direct transportation between Disney Springs and Hollywood Studios will NOT be provided. Parking is free at Disney Springs, and parking at Hollywood Studios is included in the price of the ticket. Guests staying at a WDW Resort will be able to take transportation from Disney Springs to their resort, and then on to Hollywood Studios.

More FAQs can be found here.

Disney confirms Star Wars land expansions for Hollywood Studios and Disneyland

At the D23 Expo today, Disney confirmed the long expected expansion of Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a land based on Star Wars – and another one at Disneyland Park as well! They report that both are receiving a 14-acre expansion, although the details of how (especially at Disneyland which has limited space available – but recent acquisitions of nearby parcels might be related) and when we’ll see it are still under wraps.

I also wonder whether the 14 acres include reclaimed areas, as was expected in Hollywood Studios.

The land will be based on a remote outpost on a new planet which has not yet been named, but presumably based on the upcoming The Force Awakens movie, but things will be drawn from the original saga as well. A Cantina is expected that will feature the variety of aliens and creatures you’d expect. And two new signature rides will be added, including one featuring the Millennium Falcon nd allow guests to take the controls in a climatic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Bob Iger, Disney’s Chairman and CEO. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

And for the purists, everything done will be officially canon.

Stay tuned for more details, and follow along with The DIS as they provide live coverage from D23!

Disney adds Star Wars Day At Sea on select cruise sailings

It isn’t the long-awaited details of a Star Wars expansion at the parks, or more Star Wars Weekends, but it has me trying to plan another cruise…Disney Cruise Line announced “Star Wars Day At Sea”, on select sailings of the Disney Fantasy from January to April 2016.

All cruises are 7-day Western Caribbean itineraries, during which one day will specifically be a “Star Wars Day”, similar to the Pirate Night. The entire day will include a deck party, meet-and-greet with characters, celebrations, youth activities, exclusive food and beverage options and merchandise, and exclusive screenings of the Star Wars films and Star Wars Rebels.

The specific sailings are (all in 2016):

January 9
January 23
February 6
February 20
March 5
March 19
April 2
April 16

Star Wars theme park presense to take from upcoming movies

Disney has been rather tight-lipped on what their plans are for expanding the Star Wars franchise within its theme parks. And while we still don’t know what the exact plans are, we do know one thing – they were waiting for at least the first of the new movies to be in production so they could take elements from it.

Speaking at a Q&A session at Variety‘s Dealmakers Breakfast earlier today, Disney chief Bob Iger said, “There will be a much larger Star Wars presence in our parks globally. But we want to do this big, which takes time, and to do it right.”

And doing it right meant waiting until they could include elements from the newest installment of the franchise. “I didn’t want someone to say, ‘I just saw the movie and there’s nothing in that movie in this,” he elaborated. “We waited to see what this film would have in it.”

So Iger put the brakes on all the Imagineering work being done to buy time for J.J. Abrams and his team to get through the development work and into production, so there would be designs that Imagineering could include.

“I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future,” he said. “Now we have a sense of what’s in Star Wars 8 and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”

And just how much are they betting on the next movie? All in, baby. “I keep telling J.J. Abrams this is a $4 billion movie. We need to treat this very special. It’s an unbelievable privilege and unbelievable responsibility to take a jewel and treat it in a way that is respectful of its past but brings it into the future.”

He’s got that right.