That virtual queue for Galaxy’s Edge is finally being put to good use as Disney has been using boarding groups for the new attraction Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance since opening day. In fact if you don’t get a boarding group, you won’t even be allowed to ride!
If used properly, the virtual queue will be a big time saver and help you to maximize your day visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
In this post we are going to explain how to use the boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance, answer all your questions, and give you the best strategy to get into the Virtual Queue to make sure you experience this amazing new ride!
Latest News (12/25/19)
Disneyland Version of Rise of the Resistance Will Use the Virtual Queue
Disney has just announced that the Disneyland version of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will also use the Virtual Queue, just like the Hollywood Studios version does.
Make sure to stay updated here for the latest strategies and what differences there are for Boarding Groups between the two parks.
Boarding Group Time Changed
Starting December 18, 2019, Disney has changed the reservation process once again for boarding groups and the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Disney has stopped letting guests in the park hours before the official listed opening, and now only allow them to enter about 30-45 minutes early. The big difference is that guests are NOT given access to the Rise of the Resistance boarding groups immediately upon entry.
Instead, boarding groups are now made available to ALL GUESTS at the same time. If it’s a 7 am opening, then the boarding groups open at 7 am.
This is a big change as previously guests were allowed to get into a boarding group in the Virtual Queue immediately upon park entry.
So far as this change has continued, it has made it almost pointless to arrive at Hollywood Studios hours before the listed park opening time. As long as you are in the park before the park opening, you have the same chance as anyone else to get a boarding group.
Another change is that now, no other rides or attractions are open either before the listed 7 am opening time.
We’ll continue to monitor this situation for you and it will be reflected in our Virtual Queue and boarding groups strategy below. Stay tuned for more soon…
Backup Boarding Groups
Disney has also recently introduced a “Backup Boarding Groups” system. Boarding groups will fill up as normal in the morning, however, additional guests will be put into backup boarding groups, giving them the opportunity to ride.
If Rise of the Resistance is running efficiently during that day and all the guests in the regular groups ride before the end of park hours in Hollywood Studios, Disney is then queuing up guests from the backup groups. This means that those guests would have the possibility to get to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Again, those riders only get called if the original boarding groups move through the attraction and there is still time left that day.
It seems that Disney is counting boarding groups from 1-120 as “Regular Boarding Groups” and if you get one of those numbers you are guaranteed to ride. The “Backup Boarding Groups” include groups 121 to 126 and up, and are not guaranteed to ride that day.
Or course if you do get called from the backup group to go on Rise of the Resistance, that time would be in the evening. However, distribution of these Backup Groups however still happens early in the morning, so it doesn’t change much, as it’s not guaranteed these backup groups will be available every day.
Our strategy you will read below still stands. If you want to be sure to ride Rise of the Resistance, you need to get there earlier than the listed park opening that day.
However, you won’t need to arrive many hours before opening like in the beginning.
What is the Virtual Queue?
Disney created the Virtual Queue to give guests the opportunity to enter boarding groups without having to wait hours in line for their desired attraction. This means you can save a spot in line, go do something else, then come back when your turn is ready.
Disney started implementing the virtual queue in Disneyland and then later in Hollywood Studios for the openings of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. It was used a little bit, but there was never the tremendous demand for Star Wars Land as originally thought and so it was phased out after a few days of operation.
That however, has changed since the recent opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Crowds for this new ride have been so large, that Disney immediately started using the boarding groups starting on opening day in Hollywood Studios, and it’s been necessary ever since.
Disney has already announced that the Disneyland version of Rise of the Resistance will also use the Virtual Queue when it opens there too. So while the strategy might be slightly different there, the basic rules will apply in both parks.
How Do Boarding Groups Work for Rise of the Resistance?
In order to join a boarding group and the virtual queue, you first need to be inside the Disney park. You can’t join from home, or even outside the park entrance.
Here are the steps you need to enter a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance:
- As soon as you enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, open My Disney Experience and go to: “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group.” (This is available after the official park opening time).
- Click on “Find Out More.” You will then see the boarding status of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and if boarding groups are still available.
- If boarding groups are available, tap the “Join Boarding Group” button.
- You will then be given a boarding group number. When your number is called, proceed to the entrance of Rise of the Resistance.
How Do I Know When My Boarding Group is Ready?
You can check if it is your boarding group’s turn by looking at the same “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Access by Boarding Group” screen in My Disney Experience. When you see your number, head to the queue to board the ride.
- You have 2 hours to return from when your boarding group gets called.
Unfortunately, the boarding passes don’t tell you the exact time you have to come back. They only give you your number is listed like 62. We suggest you to continue monitoring your status throughout the day to get a feel for how fast the boarding groups are moving. That way you’ll be ready when your turn is called.
If you enable “Push Notifications” for My Disney Experience, you will get a message across your mobile phone screen which will tell you right when your boarding group is ready.
Does Everyone Have to Be in the Park to Join a Boarding Group?
Yes. All members of your party must be inside Hollywood Studios in order for you to add them to the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance. That means they must go through the turnstiles scanning their MagicBand and fingerprints.
Unfortunately, this means you won’t be able to send one member of your party early to get a boarding pass for everyone else, you all need to be there.
How Many Times Can I Ride Rise of the Resistance?
Disney also changed “the rules” after the first couple of days and now guests are limited to one ride per day on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Before this change guests who arrived early were able to ride multiple times, and many other guests were locked out, finding all boarding groups filled for the day.
Now if you try to get a second boarding pass, a notification will show up on My Disney Experience telling you you’ve already been on the ride that day and you will have to try another day if you want to ride again.
This might change in the future, but for now, you can only ride once.
What Time Do Boarding Groups Open?
In the beginning, guests were able to join a Rise of the Resistance boarding group as soon as they entered the park. The virtual queue doesn’t work from outside, but only when you pass through the tap points of the park entrance can you join a boarding group.
However, this has changed recently, and Disney confirmed it is now opening the virtual queue at the park’s listed opening time, even if they open the gates to let guests in earlier than that.
That means if the listed park opening time is 7 am, guests will not be able to enter a boarding group until 7 am. They will be able to enter the park earlier than the listed time, probably around 6:30 am, but will have to wait to enter the virtual queue.
During this initial phase, Disney hasn’t been consistent with when they start letting people in the park. For the most part, Disney has been opening Hollywood Studios much earlier than the listed opening time.
Right now until December 21, 2019, Disney is opening Hollywood Studios at 7 am. However, they have been really letting guests into the park as soon as 6:30 am.
The important takeaways are:
- All members of your group have to be inside the park to enter the virtual queue
- Boarding Groups open up at the same time as the listed park opening
- You have a better chance of riding Rise of the Resistance if you are in the park at opening, rather than showing up later.
What Time Do Boarding Passes Run Out?
First off, it’s important to note that there are two kinds of boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance:
- Regular boarding passes which guarantee a ride on Rise of the Resistance that day
- “Backup” boarding passes which give you the possibility to ride, but are not guaranteed
So far since opening, the guaranteed boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance have run out every day shortly after the official park opening time. That means if the opening time is 7 am, expect passes to run out by 7:30 or 8:00. Yes, we know this is insane!
Now that Hollywood Studios is opening at 6 am during this period, they may last until 6:30 am, but not much later.
Since the Hollywood Studios hours have changed to a 7 am opening, some days boarding groups have even run out at 7:15 am!!
There is also the possibility to get a “Backup Boarding Pass” which only are distributed AFTER all the original boarding groups have been given out. These are typically groups 126 and higher.
While Disney has been good at getting a lot of people through the backup groups every day, it’s important to remember that you aren’t guaranteed to ride if you are in one of those groups. If Rise of the Resistance experiences more downtime than usual, it affects how many people can ride per day.
It’s possible to ride if you are in a backup boarding group, but we still feel it’s safer to be in one of the regular boarding groups, which means arriving early.
Boarding Groups Strategy
We think incorporating the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance has been an overall positive experience and has helped minimize wait times. It isn’t a perfect system, but it’s better than waiting 7 hours in line no doubt.
Here are some more answers to general strategy for using the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance:
What Time Do I have to Arrive at the Park?
The short answer is: Early, but not as early as the first couple weeks of operation.
To ride Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance you have two options:
- Go early, before park opening
- Go slightly later, aiming for one of the backup groups (we’ll talk more about this later).
Each of these options has different positives and negatives, but before we go into more detail, we want to make it clear we still think #1 is the better overall option, and if riding Rise of the Resistance is high on your priority list, that will be the one that ensures you get to ride it.
Seeing as the regular boarding passes have sold out every day before 9 am, if you wait to show up until the official opening time or shortly after, there is a good chance you won’t get one and might end up not riding Rise of the Resistance that day.
Things are still in motion a bit as Disney continues to change the opening patterns almost daily, and there are many factors to take into consideration.
Up until now, we were suggesting to arrive a solid 2 hours BEFORE the listed park opening time, (1 Hour earlier if Hollywood Studios opens at 7 am).
Now that Disney is opening the virtual queue at the same time as the listed park opening (7 am), and after watching ride patterns over the past few weeks, it probably is not necessary to arrive 2 hours early. We will keep monitoring it, right now we feel 1 hour early is plenty of time to get a boarding pass.
While that may still sound extreme, it will accomplish two things.
- It will ensure you actually get to ride Rise of the Resistance that day.
- It will save you a tremendous amount of time while experiencing the other Hollywood Studios attractions. Showing up this early allows you to do the majority of the Hollywood Studios attractions before the long lines start.
Some will tell you this is not the case and you can still show up a lot closer to the listed opening time and still get a boarding pass for that day.
While this might be true, you have to remember you need to pass through the security bag check and the tap points, so we recommend giving yourself enough time.
Before this latest change, it was more important because the earlier you arrived, the sooner you could get into a group and that meant being in one of the first groups in the morning. That meant not having to wait until the afternoon or evening to ride.
Now the benefits of arriving at 4 am have been basically eliminated because everyone already inside the park when it officially opens has the same chance to get a group, and the numbers are randomized. You could end up with group 5 or 50, it’s just the luck of the draw.
As long as you are in the park at that time, that’s all that counts. It doesn’t matter if you enter 1 hour before or 5 minutes, it’s the same.
Recent Ride Capacity and Downtime
One big problem with the ride was its unreliability, with lots of downtime during the morning hours especially. However, the last few days leading up to the holiday period have been the absolute best we’ve seen for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and we are very encouraged at how capacity and guest flow through the ride have been improving.
Disney is getting more and more efficient in recent days, and boarding groups have reached up as high as 192 so far. That means thousands more guests have been riding per day recently than were able to ride during the first week of operations. There have even been a few days where ride downtime in the morning has been eliminated, only going down once or twice in the afternoon.
Disney hasn’t made it public what is causing the improved downtime, but it’s clear Rise of the Resistance has been running smoother, and loading groups quicker than before.
If you go to thrill-data.com you can see the updated wait times and boarding group info for Rise of the Resistance. Looking at the data there is eye-opening and shows this positive trend upward.
When it first opened up it was rumored that Disney was only getting 800 or so people through the attraction per hour. Now that number is probably more in the 1,200+ range or more, with the target being around 1,500 when things are running optimally.
These difficulties and improvements are normal as Cast Members need time to get a handle on running a ride this complex, and as the weeks go by, we should start to see more and more improvement.
Alternatives to Waking Up Early
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to get up before the sunrise when they are on vacation to ride a theme park attraction. While we still stand by our best strategy, which is waking up early and getting a big part of Hollywood Studios done before the crowds, there is another possibility.
You can aim for one of the backup boarding passes which will allow you to get to the park a bit later, but it also means you risk not getting to ride Rise of the Resistance or will have to ride later in the day. This will depend on how late after opening time you arrive at Hollywood Studios.
Right now when Hollywood Studios opens at 7 am, the last backup boarding groups are selling out between 9 am and 10 am. If you arrive at the park at or around 9, chances are you will get a boarding group and still have a good chance to ride Rise of the Resistance.
This will be positive because you will miss the initial wave of guests arriving for park opening, which means slightly lower wait times through security and entering the park.
Keep in mind though, if you arrive this late you will definitely get a backup boarding pass and be put in a group with an evening return time (if you get called).
On the plus side, you don’t have to stay in Hollywood Studios all day to wait. This is a perfect idea if you aren’t really interested in seeing many other Hollywood Studios attractions that day, or want to experience the park at night.
A great option would be to get to Hollywood Studios in time for one of these backup boarding groups, and then head off to do a half-day in another WDW park. Epcot is the perfect place to spend the morning and early afternoon since it’s only a quick jump on the Disney Skyliner and you’re there in 20 minutes.
You could easily head to Epcot after securing your boarding pass, have lunch there, do a bunch of attractions, and wait for your boarding group to be called. Having a backup group means you will be in the 120s or above, which means you won’t get called before 2-3 pm at the earliest.
Plus once you get called you have 2 hours to make it back and ride Rise of the Resistance, which is more than enough time.
This strategy even works well if you want to tour many attractions in Hollywood Studios. Since it can be a half-day park, you can organize experiencing the other attractions in the afternoon and evening when you come back to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Again, this is a touring strategy for someone with a higher risk level tolerance for experience the ride. Our top recommendation is still arriving 1 hour earlier than the park opening because that will ensure you get to ride. We are pretty confident though if you show up after the initial wave of people, you will still have a good chance of riding, as long as you don’t show up too late.
Best Hollywood Studios Transportation for Rise of the Resistance
You have a few choices here: Disney Buses, Car, Uber/Ride Sharing, Walking, Boats or Disney Skyliner.
Since the objective is to get to Hollywood Studios early before opening, I would rule out any Disney World public transportation. That means no buses, boats, or Skyliner. They are just too unreliable when trying to get there early, and even though the Disney Skyliner just modified its hours for Rise of the Resistance, it still doesn’t get you there in time for the opening.
Taking a car or Uber is fine, and will get you there in plenty of time to get a boarding pass. If you show up super early (before 6 am), you might have to wait for the parking lot to open.
The best solution is to stay at a nearby Epcot-area resort and walk over. That way you don’t have to rely on any form of transportation and you will arrive in plenty of time.
Once We Have a Boarding Group, Can We Leave Hollywood Studios and Come Back?
Once you get your boarding pass, you absolutely can leave Hollywood Studios and come back later. For example, if your boarding group is in the 100+ range, you most likely won’t get called until the mid-afternoon.
If you want to leave Hollywood Studios and go back to your resort or another park, feel free to do so. Just make sure you keep an eye on what groups are currently boarding so you can get back in time.
Remember you have 2 hours to enter the ride queue once your boarding group is called, which should give you plenty of time no matter where you are on property.
When Should I Return to Ride?
Once your boarding group gets called to return, you have 2 hours to do so before your boarding pass expires. However, that doesn’t mean you should return immediately right when your group is called?
In our experience, if you have an early boarding time (first 40 groups) you will be called before 11:00 am. You could return to ride Rise of the Resistance right away, which is fine if that’s the only attraction you are interested in doing in Hollywood Studios.
A better strategy, however, would be to wait till your 2 hours is almost up and do the other Hollywood Studios attractions before the lines get too crowded there.
We’ve been able to ride all the major Hollywood Studios attractions (Tower of Terror, Slinky Dog Dash, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) some days before 10:00 am while waiting for our Rise of the Resistance boarding group to be called.
If your group is called and you return to Rise of the Resistance right away however, you will most likely experience much longer wait times for these other rides.
This is a perfect strategy and will allow you to save a whole lot of time in the long run.
How Long Does it Take to Get to the Ride Once Entering the Queue?
Once you actually enter the queue for Rise of the Resistance, it will normally take you about 30-40 minutes to get to the attraction pre-show where the ride begins.
If there are technical problems this could take a bit longer.
Extra Magic Hours and the Virtual Queue
Originally Disney said that Rise of the Resistance would not be participating in Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios, at least at the beginning. However, during some Extra Magic Hours that have taken place at Hollywood Studios since opening, guests were allowed onto Rise of the Resistance.
Right now Hollywood Studios isn’t running the Morning Extra Magic Hours, and only doing the Evening version. Disney has maintained that Rise of the Resistance won’t be running during this event, and we think they will use that extra window as a buffer in case the ride goes down during the day and they need to fill it with guests later.
Either way, if you don’t get a boarding pass, you aren’t riding Rise of the Resistance anyway.
It’s possible Disney will start offering this attraction with Extra Magic Hours in the future and that they will start running the Morning Extra Magic Hours again, but right now that’s not an option.
As Disney does more Extra Magic Hours mornings at Hollywood Studios we will continue to update you.
How Long Will Disney Use Virtual Queue for Rise of the Resistance?
While we really love the virtual queue and boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance, the only question left is how long Disney plans on using it.
The official language from Disney says they expect to continue using boarding groups and the virtual queue only through the next few weeks. With the way Disney is improving ride downtime, and the holiday season coming to an end soon, we expect that to be the case.
We expect crowds to continue to be high all throughout December and into early January 2020, and most likely you will continue to see the virtual in use during this whole time. Crowds probably won’t start to slow down until after January 12, 2020, once The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is over.
It’s possible the virtual queue could continue to be in use even after that if crowd levels continue to be high, but we expect significant improvement heading into 2020 as it becomes more and more reliable as time goes on.
If things go right, we could see the end of the Virtual Queue for Rise of the Resistance as early as mid-January. That doesn’t necessarily mean they would start using the regular FastPass+ system right away though. Smuggler’s Run has been open for months now without using the virtual queue, but it still doesn’t use FastPass+ either.
We’ll keep an eye on this for you and let you know when things change and the best strategy to use.
Currently, guests are limited to one ride per day for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. This will eventually change in the future, but for now, enjoy that one ride and come back the next day if you want to go on again.
No, not at this time. Disney has used the virtual queue for Galaxy’s Edge in the past, but currently, guests can come and go freely from the actual land itself, and the virtual queue is only for the Rise of the Resistance ride.
This is the million-dollar question. Disney has listed official opening times for Hollywood Studios, but they have been opening the park MUCH earlier every day since Rise of the Resistance has opened.
Right now Hollywood Studios is opening at 7 am most days until the holidays are over.
If the listed opening time for Hollywood Studios is 7 am, it’s possible for it to open as early as 6:00 or 6:30 am. Basically, if there are people waiting outside, Disney will open the park as soon as Rise of the Resistance is ready.
You are able to get a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance as soon as Disney decides to make that option available on that day. You have to be inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but Disney can choose to not make the virtual queue available immediately, making guests wait.
In either case, the Virtual Queue will open at the listed opening time for Hollywood Studios that day. So if it is 7 am, the queue will be ready at least that early.
This depends on what number boarding group you have. If you have number 1-40 you should get called in the morning at some point. Higher numbers could push you into the afternoon and evening.
Overall we are happy Disney decided to use the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance. We think when used properly it is a huge time saver and a much more convenient way to ride one of the most popular attractions in theme park history, plus all the others in Hollywood Studios.
We hope Disney continues to use this system for other big attractions in the future!
That wraps up our coverage of the Virtual Queue and Boarding Groups for Rise of the Resistance. We’ll update you in the coming days to let you know if any other changes are made, which in our opinion is highly likely.
For more information on how the Virtual Queue works for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, read our guide here.
Check out our Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance post for a complete guide to the attraction including a walkthrough And all your questions answered.
I want to know what you think about the virtual queue in use for Rise of the Resistance…
- Do you think this is a good solution?
- What has been your experience with boarding groups?
Let us know in the comments section below!
If you enjoyed this article, as always I appreciate it if you’d share it with others via social media. I work hard at making this website into a useful resource for you and your family to plan your visit to the Disney Parks and I hope it can help you! Thanks 🙂