A second Star Wars-themed attraction is opening at Disney World this week and it’s already bringing people to tears. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be unveiled to the public on Dec. 5 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Florida resort and will be operational at Disneyland Park in California on Jan. 17, 2020.
“We wove a fabric of an experience in Galaxy’s Edge overall,...now that we’re about to open the second ride that fabric will be complete,” Jon Georges, executive producer of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, for both Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, told Yahoo Canada this week.
The attraction is focused on the clash between the Resistance and the First Order, including an epic face off with Kylo Ren. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance transports you right into a Star Wars spectacular. It is also the longest attraction experience in Disney history at approximately 15 minutes long.
The Resistance’s temporary encampment is on the outskirts of Black Spire Outpost on Batuu. Guests will explore the forest, getting closer to the base. BB8 appears, along with Rey via holo-transmission, to welcome guests (the new Resistance recruits) and they share a plan to reunite with General Leia Organa, which must not be revealed to the First Order.
Guests start the experience on a transport shuttle alongside Poe Dameron in his Black One. The recruits journey is brought to a halt when they are then captured by a nearby Star Destroyer.
Although there were some technical glitches a day before opening, a particularly impactful moment is when the transport shuttle is pulled into a hanger bay, the doors open and guests are moved onto the Star Destroyer and come face-to-face with 50 stormtroopers.
“People...literally tear up as that door opened,” Georges said. “I watch [their] faces as they come out of the transport ship in awe.”
“That moment, I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it,...we wowed people and that’s what we set out to do.”
Being chased by the Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, the resistance recruits try to find a way to escape the First Order on eight-passenger First Order Fleet Transports piloted by reprogrammed R5-series astromech droids.
“It’s...a surprisingly emotional journey because the John Williams score follows you through the attraction, characters that you know and love are here,” Georges said.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance also introduces a new character, Lieutenant Bek, a Mon Calamari Resistance officer who helps the Resistance recruits.
“We imagined the planet Batuu as today...and it’s an active space port so people can come and go,” Georges said. “We really thought of the land as a flexible content platform that as new characters in the stories are introduced, anybody can visit here at any time.”
Creating a premier attraction with a dedication to storytelling was top of mind for the Walt Disney Imagineering team. They had full access to Luscasfilm Ltd. and the cast of the films, working together while Star Wars movies were being made, allowing the Imagineers to deliver the depth of storytelling present in Rise of the Resistance.
Where it all began
Earlier this year, Galaxy’s Edge, the largest single-themed land in Disney park history, totalling 14 acres, made its debut at Disneyland Park in California. This is the first time a full-size Millennium Falcon has ever been built, which measures over 100 feet (over 30 metres) long, and allows guests to travel on the legendary “hunk of junk.”
Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm wanted to create a world that was entirely new, but still fits within the Star Wars universe. Imagineers travelled to Morocco and Turkey to experience the local markets, which provided the inspiration for the look and feel of the land on the planet of Batuu.
“We begin every new attraction at Walt Disney Imagineering in a faze of development called Blue Sky, where we sit around a table and sort of brainstorm, what are the possibilities, what level of experience can we create,” Georges said.
Each element, from the droid tracks on the ground to the giant structures, were created with such precision, and the replica land at Disney World Hollywood Studios is no different than the one first opened at Disneyland Park.
“I think at the time that we started this project...Force Awakens was coming and we kind of had a look into the future of what was coming, and Bob Iger encouraged our team to lean forward and think about where we’re going,” Georges said.
“I think our nostalgia was kind of pulling us back, personally, but I think very wisely Bob guided us forward and said look, we’re the next generation Star Wars is going to lead in the future.”
The first attraction to open in the land was Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Chewbacca brought the Falcon to Black Spire Outpost for repairs in exchange for some replacement parts. Chewbacca is loaning the Falcon to smuggler Hondo Ohnaka, who is running a “legitimate business” out of the spaceport shipping cargo. When guests meet Hondo, he tells them he needs extra flight crews to make some runs for him.
Different characters, including BB8, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca and Stormtroopers, engage with guests in the land. Cast members, as local citizens of Batuu, talk to everyone as the character or persona they developed for the area.
The character Rey is particularly important in the land, most recently in Rise of the Resistance, highlighting the important role the character has played in the saga.
“A character like Rey has just resonated with young women around the world and I think we really wanted to reinforce that storytelling as her as a major heroine in that role,” Georges said.
For Star Wars fans who are still skeptical that this land and the new attraction can hold up to their beloved series, Georges wants you to know that he’s a fan as well and takes the responsibility seriously.
“I stood in line all night in 1980 to go see Empire Strikes Back,” he said. “If I had asked my 11-year-old self back then, would I ever be part of doing this,...I never could have imagined it.”
Future ‘Star Wars’ projects at Disney Parks
The Star Wars experiences are far from over at Disney Parks. In additional to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Disney has also announced a new two-night resort experience on the Galactic Starcruiser.
Making its debut in 2021, guests will stay on the Halcyon starcruiser, where you will be part of a multi-day narrative that continues throughout the stay, including interactions with Star Wars characters and other guests. It’s being described as similar to the Disney Cruise Line.
One of the most highly anticipated activities includes lightsaber training for both children and adult guests, who will also be transported to the planet of Batuu (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge).