By Guest Blogger Madeline Renfrow
Spoiler Alert! This post will review details from the new attraction. If you are avoiding details, don’t read past the first three paragraphs.
If you are anything like me, you grew up infatuated with the Star Wars universe. You had toy lightsabers and by some miracle, your father convinced you that he could use the Force to turn on the TV or to drive without hands. And as we grew older, we learned that visiting Tatooine or Alderaan was just a dream, so we begrudgingly traded in the toys and the games for the simple enjoyment of the movies and comics.
As a Disney fanatic, I have always had faith in Disney Magic, but I was not prepared for the wave of awe and childhood-induced euphoria I felt walking through the gates of Batuu. It felt as if Disney had physically picked me up and dropped me in my childhood dreams, and I could not get enough. Batuu was the perfect setting for what my father and I drove eleven hours through the night for: the Rise of the Resistance attraction.
We arrived at the park a little after 6:00 am. With our boarding passes in hand I enjoyed a glass of blue milk and boarded the Millennium Falcon as a gunner. Finally, at 2:00 pm we scanned our boarding passes and joined the queue for Rise of the Resistance.
Rise of the Resistance is not just a ride. It is an experience. The transition from standing in the queue and getting on the physical ride was blurred with cast member interactions and amazing scenery, making a perfectly seamless experience. The line begins as you walk through the underground tunnels of the Resistance. Cast members tip their hat to you and thank you for joining them as you pass through. You are then shuffled into a transport ship. From here you are supposed to travel to a resistance base for training, but in transit your ship is captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. The ship rocks as you take on enemy fire and out the port window you watch as TIE fighters surround you.
Once your vessel is captured the doors you entered open to a completely different room. A wave of awe falls over everyone as you step out into the bay of the Star Destroyer. The bay is complete with a crowd of Stormtroopers, a view out into space, and First Order members commanding you, rebel scum, to move along to processing. While part of you wants to stop for the amazing photo opportunity, the other half is dying to get into the character of rebel scum.
As the First Order lines you up for processing, their glares are stone cold. The cast members lean into their characters, not smiling, and glaring down anyone who tries to crack a joke. Some members even rock thick European accents as they assign you a row for processing. My father even offered a young boy near us $5 if he could make a guard laugh. He did not get that five dollars. After you are assigned to rows, you and your group are filed into an interrogation room. From a balcony above, Kylo Ren and General Hux discuss your fate and Kylo Ren vows to get the location of the Resistance base from you himself. Before the interrogation begins, both leaders are called away to the control deck leaving you and your group alone.
I stood there waiting for the doors to open and for First Order members to direct us to another part of the ship, but that did not happen. Instead the wall to our left started buzzing and glowing, as if it was being burned through. Coming out from the other side, Resistance members aided us in our escape. We loaded up into droid-driven transfer units and were told to keep our heads down. The new goal was to survive long enough to make it to the escape pods.
Unlike most Disney rides there is no obvious track and predicting the next move is nearly impossible as you go through doors that open at a moment’s notice. Your droid hurries you through the Star Destroyer past other transport units and then bumps into Stormtroopers. They open fire on you as you weave through the ship’s lower levels, passing under life-sized AT-ATs.
The doors around you lock down. Alarms go off. More Stormtroopers shoot at you from the level above. Suddenly the two cars that you and the other rebels have been traveling in split off toward different elevators. Once off the elevators, your droid scurries past the command deck and back to a new elevator to reach the escape pods, but Kylo Ren is on your heels. Once you feel safe in the elevator a red light saber jabs right through the ceiling as Kylo Ren attempts to cut his way into the elevator. A communal gasp escapes the group and just as we fear an encounter the doors open and release us to the lower deck.
The danger isn’t over yet! The elevator opens into a corridor blocked with large guns moving back and forward as they shoot. You can almost feel the anxiety flowing from the little droid as he navigates you through, pausing after each blast. The escape pods are just around the corner, and as you get your first taste of freedom the inevitable happens. Kylo Ren blocks your path. Using the Force, he takes control of the transfer unit and it is only by luck that you escape his clutches. Your droid hurries you and your group to the escape pod and as the doors shut you are safe. The only disturbance is the unexpected drop from the Star Destroyer which gives adults and children alike a small surprise.
The escape pod safely lands you on the planet Batuu and you and your fellow, newly-minted Resistance members happily return to the world that is Galaxy’s Edge. I don’t have many words to describe this experience except that it was everything I could have hoped for. Yet again, Disney’s Imagineers have created a world and experience that I did not even know I needed, and I would without a doubt make the eleven hour drive to do it all over again.