Disneyland ResortJason's Thoughts & Observations

Star Wars: Rise of The Resistance Boarding Group Experience @ Disneyland

Note: This post was written before the parks closed and was planned to run the week of the closures.   I decided to run it anyways to share how the experience was.  Once the parks reopen the experience will be different for the foreseeable future.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland on January 17, 2020, following the December 5, 2019 opening of the Walt Disney World version at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The attraction is utilizing a boarding group virtual queue system.   This is due to the high demand and frequent down time of the new attraction.   Disney has not said how long they will be using boarding groups but it appears as though it will be for the foreseeable future.

Boarding Group Basics:

Boarding Groups are currently the only way to experience Rise of the Resistance.  These are virtual queues that you join to wait for your chance to experience the attraction.  Disney has launched an information campaign on their website, official app, handouts and in park announcements.     Below is a handout that is available in the park:

Boarding groups fill up quickly at park opening.   To obtain a boarding group you need to use the official Disneyland App on your mobile device or a kiosk in the park.  All guests you are trying to get a boarding group for must have already entered Disneyland for the day.       Once boarding groups open for the day, which is at official park opening, you go into the app and select to join a boarding group.   Note that it is very common for all boarding groups to be gone in a matter of minutes.   If available you will be assigned to the currently available group.  You then go about your day.  You can check the status and what group number is currently being called on the app or on screens within the park or at the attraction entrance. Once your group is called you will receive a push notification in the app and will be told how long you have to return. The regular window is 2 hours.   When you reach the attraction you show your virtual boarding pass and are allowed to enter the standby queue. In the queue they will scan your boarding pass or park ticket and then let you enter the attraction.

Note:  You are only allowed to join one boarding group per day.   To join a boarding group you need to have already entered Disneyland for the day (DCA does not count) with a valid park ticket.   All members of your group have to do this to join a group.  Once you have your boarding group you do not need to stay in the park.

Boarding Group Tips:

  • Link your entire groups park tickets to the app before entering the park to save yourself the time and possible frustration.  The linking process is usually very smooth but you just never know.
  • Be sure to allow enough time to enter the park.   Remember there will be thousands of other guests trying to do exactly what you are doing so lines for parking, security, tram/bus, and park entrance can all back up near park opening.
  • Initial boarding groups are usually gone in the first minute the park is open.  Each day they assign a certain number of regular groups then backup groups.  Backup groups are available as soon as regular groups are gone. Many days there is a good chance that most backup groups are called but it really depends on how the attraction does that day.  Backup group availability can vary greatly from day to day with them disappearing in a mater of minutes or lasting several hours.
  • There is a debate on which is best, wi-fi or cell data.  Also on where to stand.  It really seems more like luck to me so far.  When we went the first time we had one person try each route and the first to get in was the cell network but not sure if that was the user or the network.
  • We have seen and experienced problems with the app button becoming active.  One tip that is circulating is not to open the app until the exact time the park opens to have the best chance at a low group number.
  • The attraction does offer a child swap option. When you return to ride you tell the cast members.  They will scan the boarding passes for those not riding first.  The first half of your  group is directed to the stand by line.  When you are done the second half can return and use the FastPass queue to ride.

My Experiences:

  • Wednesday February 19, 2020 – My first experience with the boarding groups came a little over a month after the attraction opened.  On all previous visits I arrived at the park way too late in the day to receive one.  I was on Main Street USA prior to park opening.  At exactly 8:00am I was able to pick up group 31.  It is an interesting sight to be on Main Street USA with thousands of guests all looking at their phones.  As soon as the system opens you start to hear cheers from groups that were successful.   Regular boarding groups were gone by 8:01am and backup groups by about 8:15am today.  My group was called at 10:00am.   As we went to enter the queue we were informed the attraction was down and  our choice was to wait or come back later.  We opted to wait and entered the queue at 10:38am and were stopped by the exterior waterfall.  Around 11:06am there was a cheer from inside and everyone in front of us stood up. We started moving shortly after. At 11:17am we reached the merge point outside the briefing rooms. The queue moved quickly with no delays. The rest of the attraction flowed normally and we were back in Batuu at 11:39am. So only about an hour total time spent.We utilized a child swap this visit and the second half of the group headed for the attraction after we returned.  They were directed through the FastPass return queue. They road and were back with us in the Marketplace in under 30 minutes.
  • Thursday, March 5, 2020 – Today was a 9:00am park opening. I was in the park just after 8:30am on Main Street USA and waited for the boarding groups to become available.  I was trying for a later boarding group today because I  was going to be gone mid day.  My target was around group 100.  I hesitated a couple minutes then went to join a group and picked up group 83.  Others in my group that were not leaving for the afternoon were having problems with the app so I then joined a group for them and got group 87 .   After about half an hour I saw there were still groups and decided to cancel my boarding group and retry.  This time  I received group 117.    Our group 87 was called at 2:43pm and group 117 around 4:00pm.   For those in group 87 we entered the queue at 3:49pm and were at the briefing rooms at  4:00pm.  I exited the attraction at 4:22pm.   The second group entered the queue at 4:27pm and reached the briefing room at 4:47pm.  The attraction broke down while on the transport shuttle and we were escorted off. I was exiting by 5:10pm.

My Thoughts:

With a high demand, new attraction, that is still working out its operational bugs the boarding group system seems to be an effective way to minimize your wait in line.   Since you do not know when or how long the attraction will be down traditional FastPass that is time based would be a big headache.  A standby only option would mean extremely long waits for guests.   The downside of this system is you have to be at the park for opening and some days need a little luck to get your boarding group.  The boarding group system on busy days is really more of a lottery.  With only so many slots and demand outpacing supply.   You need to be a little lucky to get a low group number then hope the attraction runs smoothly to that group. The good news is the number of good days for the attraction are starting to outnumber the bad.  There are still frequent down times that last over 30 minutes but when running they move through boarding groups at a good pace and there have been several days they have gone through all boarding groups with hours left in the operating day.  Once they have called all the boarding groups and cycled through they have been closing down the attraction, event if there are several hours left before park closing.

If you have any questions on the Boarding Group process or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance feel free to leave a comment below or reach out via email or Twitter and I will share my two cents.


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