One of the more confusing parts of recent Disney trip planning has been the addition of the virtual queue. When Rise of the Resistance debuted way back in 2019, approximately 72 years ago it seems, it brought with it the virtual queue. Guests would, and still do, sign up for access to the ride via their phones. At first, many people were left out of the attraction and couldn’t ride. Those issues persist two years later. Today Disney announced that they are pausing the virtual queue at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and introducing a standby line for the attraction starting on September 23rd. In this post, we’ll cover the change while adding why we think it might be happening and giving a new park strategy once the change is implemented.
Here’s what the Disney Parks Blog had to say about the change:
“We know our guests love choice and flexibility when planning their time in a theme park—which is why, starting Sept. 23, we will pause the use of virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios may experience this incredible attraction using a traditional standby queue for the first time since it opened in 2019.
Virtual queues continue to be helpful with attraction access, merchandise launches, grand openings and more, and guests should continue to check the My Disney Experience app for the latest on how we’re using virtual queues across Walt Disney World Resort including its potential use at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at a later date, or from time to time.
In addition to virtual queues, we’ve been investing a lot into the guest experience in other ways, including exciting new attractions on the horizon like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opening soon at EPCOT, and coming this fall, the new Disney Genie complimentary and convenient digital planning service designed to create your best Disney Day.”
As much as I’d like to believe that this move comes completely from a guest satisfaction standpoint, there are other motives at play and it says so right in that third paragraph. The new Genie system will be debuting soon and Rise of the Resistance will be an attraction that guests can pay for to skip the line. That makes the virtual queue obsolete as adding Lightning Lane to an already complex system doesn’t seem feasible. From a business perspective, this makes sense and the timing is too convenient to think that they aren’t at least somewhat connected.
With that out of the way, I do think there’s positive (non money making) motives for Disney, as well. I can’t imagine the amount of guests that come to guest relations every day who are upset about not getting to ride the attraction. As much as blogs like this one, signs inside and outside of the park and Disney’s own website try to tell everybody the process of scoring a spot in the virtual queue, it’s impossible to reach everyone. That’s especially true of first time guests. Getting rid of the virtual queue will save WDW from that and reward guests on a more traditional basis – first come, first serve instead of who has the fastest thumbs and knows how to use the My Disney Experience app.
I liked the virtual queue and think it will have a place in the parks for a long time but that’s coming from someone who is a repeat visitor and knows the system inside and out. For those that don’t, showing up to Hollywood Studios gates and missing out on the flagship attraction of the entire resort because they didn’t know the process would be extremely frustrating. Leveling the playing field is fair, instead of me riding the attraction for the nth time and those in the dark never experiencing it.
With Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure enacting a virtual queue when it opens on October 1st, stripping that away from Rise may alleviate some of the complicated planning at the resort. That’s probably all for the best as Rise is now able to handle more crowds than before thanks to the attraction not breaking down as much.
Rise of the Resistance has also seen a fall off in popularity, likely due to the low crowd levels WDW is facing right now. There have been days in the last month where the virtual queue in the afternoon is still open hours after the initial go. I expect the popularity to go back up as we approach the 50th anniversary but it’s understandable to go with a standby line considering what the last month has brought.
Now, for the bad news, once the standby line is enacted I would expect wait times to be at least a couple of hours long regardless of how busy the parks are each day. The attraction does have a relatively high hourly capacity but not to the point where it will quell the crowds. Expect the wait times, especially in the morning, to be extremely high.
Next week, we will update our Hollywood Studios itinerary to reflect the change to the park. I’ll spill the beans and tell you that we’re going to recommend doing Rise of the Resistance as the last attraction of the night. Showing up early will allow guests to do about half of the park now in the first hour or two, thanks to everyone rushing to Rise. While everyone rope drops that, we do think crowd levels will thin out in Galaxy’s Edge by evening time. Even if they don’t, getting in line and waiting 2 hours right as the park is closing is a more efficient use of time than doing that right at opening. Hollywood Studios is about to become a full on ‘get there at opening, take a break middle of the day at the pool and then come back for the night’ park. Maybe it was that already, but a park with this many big attractions and a lack of small ones (or enough quality shows at the moment) will make the hours at the beginning and end of the day all the more valuable.
Lastly, I have no idea when this change will be made at Disneyland. Usually I have an educated guess on these things and this is something Michaela and I were discussing a few weeks ago while at the park. At the time, we both thought maybe a year from now. Lightning Lane may change that timeframe but making this change makes less sense for Disneyland. So many locals come after work or later in the day that the virtual queue actual rewards first time or out of town visitors there as opposed to repeat visitors at WDW. Maybe this news accelerates the timeline a little bit and standby is offered after the holidays? Heck, maybe it’s offered in a week? I just don’t think the news at Disney World necessarily means we should expect anything to happen immediately at Disneyland.
What do you think of the Rise of the Resistance moving to a standby queue? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! If you are planning a trip to Disney World, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!