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Disneyland closing at 9 the night before Rise of the Resistance opened was a real benefit to my health. I’m a night owl and there are few places I enjoy more once the sun goes down than that park. If the park had been open until 11 or midnight I can safely say that my will power to go to bed would have been lacking. Instead I was in bed around that time and gearing up for an early morning.
We weren’t sure of what to expect for Disneyland’s Rise of the Resistance opening. Disney had done a good job of getting the word out about the virtual queue system ahead of time, thankfully. Still, there was some thought that opening day might result in opening a standby line or virtual queue early to let some of the congestion through. When Melissa and I showed up to the esplanade just before 5 AM and were closer to California Adventure’s gates than Disneyland’s, I wasn’t especially surprised but it did add to the excitement.
I’d never been to an attraction’s opening day and I was very excited despite the lack of sunrise for a couple of hours. There was a nice buzz in the crowd and an excitement about what was to come. Around 6 AM (a scheduled 8 AM opening), they opened the gates and let everyone on to Main Street. It was all very exciting but then we sat there for quite some time and that was less exciting.
This seems like an optimal time to tell you that we already have a full rundown of the Rise of the Resistance portion of the day in our live thread. That makes this portion of the trip report kind of wonky, as repeating all of that isn’t particularly interesting to me and probably isn’t to you either. In short, we sat at Jolly Holiday Bakery for an hour or so while more and more people filled Main Street. It wasn’t particularly exciting but there was a lot of excitement around, if that makes sense.
About 15 minutes before opening, Disneyland opened and everyone was off. Depending on which way people went, some were off like a herd of wildebeests, others like a herd of turtles. Melissa and I were cold and weren’t in to the long lines for Starbucks on Main Street so we headed to Fantasyland in search of hot chocolate. We found a cart without any line and talked to the cast member for a few minutes about the ride opening.
With another 10 minutes before the virtual queue madness, we headed to Galaxy’s Edge, mainly out of curiosity to see how many people went straight there. Honestly, I was happy with the choice because of how palpable the excitement was. Most people in the land were in line for Smuggler’s Run, so we took a seat away from people by the Millennium Falcon and waited for the clock to strike 8. Once it did, we got into boarding group 46, celebrated and then listened to everyone else cheer their own success.
The validity or morality of the virtual queue system is questionable. It does seem like whoever shows up to the park first should be the first people to ride the attraction but that’s not the case. Instead the system rewards those with experience and fast thumbs. All of that said, it’s really enjoyable to watch all of the reactions at park opening. For the most part, people get really excited and it’s fun to hear everyone celebrate.
We hung around the attraction for a while, hoping to see the first guests get on. Chewie and R2D2 were out, interacting with the crowd. I don’t often act overly excited but something about R2 rolling around really gets me. I was excited to see him that morning and even more excited a little later in the trip (Editor’s Note: Watching Andrew watch R2D2 is an experience everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy). After being told to clear out of the area to ease congestion (the ride didn’t start to load until about an hour after opening) we headed through Critter Country all the way to Jungle Cruise.
Honestly, a lot of the morning was kind of a blur. It was a strange feeling to be so concentrated on one attraction at a Disney Park and then realizing that we’d have a full morning to go do whatever we wanted. Also, lack of sleep played a role in the blurriness.
After Jungle Cruise, we rolled through a number of attractions including Pirates, Indiana Jones Adventure, a few Fantasyland classics and a few others. Even with the chaos of Rise of the Resistance Opening Day, there really weren’t that many people in the park and the wait times were manageable especially in the morning. Throughout the day, we started to hear murmurs of people not getting a boarding group that morning but it didn’t dissuade from the general enthusiasm the crowd seemed to have. Everyone was excited to be there.
Our pace was far from breakneck that morning. Having done a ton of attractions the previous day made everything feel a little less urgent, so we took our time and did things with short waits. Eventually, it was time for lunch and in the name of research we went to Alien Pizza Planet. We weren’t expecting anything great and did not receive anything great. It was a fine meal though – here’s our full review of the restaurant.
I grabbed a seat on Main Street for a few minutes, eventually being joined by Melissa and we tried to wave at this blog’s favorite Disneyland Cast Member unsuccessfully as she passed by during an orientation. How do you recover from not getting a wave in return? By getting your boarding group called! It was time.
I’ve spent thousands of words on this blog talking about Rise of the Resistance. Here is our full review of the attraction. Our first time on the attraction was a mind blowing experience. Some of that came with anticipation after an eventful day and months of build up for this moment. But a larger part was just how incredible the attraction is on first ride through.
Frankly, that first ride through was an emotional experience for me. Modern theme park attractions shoot for wow moments, ones that are made to make your jaw drop. That combined with how excited I was for the ride had me holding back tears. In my defense, I was very tired. Life is full of moments that we build up, just waiting for those expectations to be met. Rarely are those expectations fully realized, offering something short of everything you wanted. Rise of the Resistance, and the whole trip we went on honestly, was full of lofty expectations that were somehow exceeded.
Seeing how a theme park attraction nearly had me crying, we decided it was time for a nap. It was a good choice and we made the quick walk back to the hotel after a brief stroll through the park.
Melissa ended up back in the park a little before I did after napping and rode a few attractions. I got up, met Michaela in Downtown Disney, walked through a store or two while taking photos and then celebrated a very successful day at Trader Sam’s. Not only had we ridden Rise of the Resistance but Michaela found out for sure that she would be a Disneyland Custodian. We went there and had dinner along with a drink, soaking in the atmosphere while being fully content. There were only 2 seats to use between the 3 of us but that didn’t bother us. Trader Sam’s is always a blast but anywhere would have been good after that day.
Once we were done with our meal, we walked back to Downtown Disney. Melissa and I didn’t care about doing many attractions that night, we just wanted to be back in Disneyland for Fantasmic! Michaela was blocked out of Disneyland so we went through a few shops before realizing that we could go into California Adventure. I agreed to a ride on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! (such a pain to type) despite my fear of falling to my death. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little to keep the party going.
The attraction is far from my favorite but it is a good amount of fun. I mean, once you get passed the fear of death. The other two had more fun than I did but it’s unclear if they just like it more than me or enjoy hearing me whimper. Probably both (Editor’s Note: We mostly enjoyed the whimpering). We got off of Guardians and decided to take a quick ride on Monsters Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue. That attraction has now added FastPass and had standby waits at 60 minutes just this weekend. Do not stand in this line for 60 minutes. Do not stand in this line for 10 minutes. It’s not a good attraction, although any ride you can walk on to is solid and that’s what we did on that night.
Melissa and I headed back over to Disneyland shortly after that to watch Fantasmic! Frankly, it was a weird showing that night. The Mark Twain Riverboat was under refurbishment so the finale was with all of the characters on the island. The dragon is also getting some work done so the climactic battle was a little clunky. Fantasmic! is always worth seeing but that wasn’t the best showing we’ve had. Somehow it was the most luck I’ve ever had photographing the show, so I’ll take what I can get. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Once Fantasmic! ended and the crowd cleared out, we strolled through New Orleans Square so I could get some photos for a podcast that may or may not happen someday. Either way, walking through that land at night once the crowds have dissipated is never a bad way to go.
We walked back towards the castle and then ended up in Fantasyland, doing a few rides with short waits. Like the morning, the night turned into a little bit of a blur as exhaustion had set in. Eventually, we ended up back in Galaxy’s Edge and enjoyed a single-rider run on the Millennium Falcon before walking around. It was a nice bookend to a day that began before 5 AM, hoping for a ride on Rise of the Resistance. After a few not-so-good photos, we circled back towards the castle and exited the park. I stayed later for photos on other nights but knowing that we wanted to get on Rise again the next morning had me calling it a night a little earlier than usual.
It was one of those days that ended up being both incredibly memorable and a little foggy. Those morning hours were spent with anticipation and the unknown. The night hours were spent with exhaustion and satisfaction. The middle portion though, I remember as clear as day. They were a few of the best hours of my life.
We’ll pick up the next morning back at Disneyland before the rest of the day at California Adventure. Thank you for following along with this trip report! If you have any questions or comments, including any additions you’d like to see in future trip reports, please let us know in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland Resort? Check out our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Trip Reports