After a few months of silence, I’m back with another Disneyland post; this time sharing my love of Lunar New Year and spoiler-free hacks regarding the new ride in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: Rise of the Resistance.
All About ROTR
*Disclaimer: because this post is spoiler-free, there will be less photos than I’d typically include. Sorry*
Now that I’ve experienced the ride, I can say with certainty that it’s probably one of the most exciting additions Disney has made to the original Disneyland Park in a long time, apart from Batuu itself.
If you’re entering Galaxy’s Edge from Critter Country, just past Hungry Bear Restaurant, then ROTR greets you on the left. Its currently marked by a space tower, tucked away in Jurassic-esque foliage that disguises the ride queue.
One of the most unique aspects of the ride is the queue itself. It is experiential in a way that no other ride at Disneyland Park is. There are props, interactive elements, moments with characters and traipsing through the Star Wars universe all before you board your ride vehicle.
Once aboard, you and (7) other passengers take a journey to a galaxy far, far away. Rise of the Resistance is trackless, meaning instead of rails, the ride vehicle glides smoothly – I describe it as riding in a bumper car, without the bumping into each other.
The ride itself is quite long, about (5) minutes, but you’ll feel as if its longer considering the wait to board is so interactive. Even so, the entire process from being scanned in to exiting the ride only took (40) minutes. Once you’ve ridden this ride, you’ll definitely want to ride it again and again.
Hacks to Access Rise of the Resistance
If you’re reading this post you probably already know that ROTR has employed a boarding group system, rather than a standard physical line or Fastpass distribution method. I am not sure how this process has gone in Florida, but at our California Disney Park, there have been some challenges for many trying to experience this ride. Here’s how we were able to be successful and I hope this works for you too!
TIP 1: Plan and prepare.
First, we did a bit of research. Learning from our fellow Disney Lifestylers successes and mistakes was critical to our planning. Next, we strategized. As we were visiting Disneyland on the weekend, we expected higher than usual crowds; this is on top of the draw for the new attraction. With that in mind, rather than arrive at our usual 7:30am to make it for 8am rope drop, we wound our arrival back an hour to make it in line for park entry by 6:15am.
Yes, I know, we’re crazy.
The way the boarding groups work is that you have to be scanned into Disneyland by, let’s say 7:59am to have access to a boarding group for the 8am distribution time. Outside of park security, which on a typical day only takes (5-10) minutes, we knew that in order to be scanned into the park on time there would be gnarly lines. By the time we arrived, Magic Morning park guests and ROTR hopefuls were already eagerly lined up; I would estimate a few hundred people were standing in line waiting to gain access to the park. This leads me to my next point.
TIP 2: Arrive early enough that you can be scanned in before 8am.
You’ll have to decide what time is “safe” for you based on the day of the week, but all I can say is that by about 7:15am, the general entry lines were so long that Disney was forced to allow people into the park, as crowds were blocking access to Disney California Adventure. This doesn’t include the line for security, that was likely backed up well into the walkway.
TIP 3: Ensure you are in the right line.
As I mentioned, on certain days Disney offers “Magic Mornings” to hotel guests (and certain tickets), providing them with an extra hour of magic at the parks before park opening. When you line up to enter Disneyland after going through security, check the label boards above the line gates. Some may say Magic Morning, while others will be simply labeled as “Entrance,” and those are the lines you want to be in.
If you are visiting the park with others and you’re all willing to get up at the crack of dawn to get in line, then great. If not, you want to make sure any guests that stayed behind show up to meet you in line by 7am at the latest, keeping in mind that there may be a long line for security at that time. You won’t be able to confirm the time Disneyland starts allowing standard guests in, and you wouldn’t want anyone left behind at the back of the line.
I might also suggest if you have some late arrivals, for them to enter through the hotel/Downtown Disney access. Security will likely be much shorter there, but don’t hold me to that.
TIP 4: Familiarize yourself with the Disneyland app.
This is something that Pauli and I didn’t have to do since it is our go-to for all of our Disney trips. One tip Paulina saw online was to time how long it takes your phone to launch the Disneyland app. Her phone launches the app in just (4) seconds, while mine takes a whopping (10) which led to my failure in obtaining a boarding group – I’ll talk more about this later.
Make sure that everyone in your party is linked on the app! This is super important, and I’d say you want to do this before you even get scanned into the park. If your app looks like mine, first go to the hamburger (three lines) on the bottom right of the screen and then select Tickets & Passes. From there you’ll want to hit the plus sign at the top right of the screen and select Link Tickets & Passes.
You’ll also want to notice where the Rise of the Resistance access button is; on my phone, it’s front and center on the opening screen right after the Disney fireworks animation.
TIP 5: Spread out.
Try not to stand in a crowded area. While you’ll only have access to Main Street prior to 8am, the cast members dropped ropes a bit earlier than we anticipated – around 7:55am. I would say, stick relatively close to your group but not in too crowded of an area. You definitely do not want to be in a store or on a ride! Signal tends to be terrible in those spots.
TIP 6: Open the app before 8am.
Others I’ve seen sharing hacks have not advised to do this. All of the information I heard and read beforehand recommended to time it so the app completes its launch right at 8am. This did not work for me.
Remember that I mentioned my slow launch blasted my chances of a boarding group? Well, on my phone my apps launch faster if I’m reopening them, rather than opening them for the first time. When I launched the Disneyland app right at 8am and hit the “Find Out More” button in reference to Rise of the Resistance, my app glitched and showed that boarding group access was closed – closed as in, not open yet, not as in totally distributed. Because of that error, I had to re-launch the app and by that time, all boarding groups had been assigned.
I should explain that while you can have multiple people in your linked-ticket party trying to obtain a boarding group, only one person in your group will be granted access, and that will be valid for all of the tickets that are linked on that person’s app. In my case, because Pauli and I had linked tickets, we were still able to access ROTR with our boarding group of (73) because she was able to get assigned a boarding group. But of course, we were aiming for the fastest speeds and lowest number boarding group possible.
If you have multiple people in your party, especially if there are different carriers/newer phones/android vs. iPhone, etc, I’d recommend you all try different techniques to up your chances of a lower number boarding group.
My ROTR Experience
Not to worry, there’s no spoilers here! And I’ll be brief, since I covered most of this in the hacks section.
For this trip we stayed at Hotel 414; this was our first time at this hotel, and besides the ghosts that I’m pretty sure visited us, we had a good experience. This hotel is just down a couple blocks from the Disneyland Harbor Boulevard entrance. We chose to save $80 bucks by switching it up, rather than sticking with our usual favorite hotel, which happens to be just across the street.
On Saturday morning we set our alarms for 5:30am, prepared to leave our room by 6 to get to the park as early as possible. We skipped makeup – which takes me an hour TBH on trips like these – and instead hauled our beauty products with us to the parks.
By 6:12am we were getting dropped off and we were surprised to see a growing crowd of guests both coming and going through the dark morning mist. Luckily for us, Disney security was overprepared with more than 6 lanes open, so we breezed right on through before settling in an Entrance line all by 6:25.
To make the most of time, we applied our makeup while waiting in line, but we got off to a late start. I rushed to be scanned in, lip liner in and annual pass in hand; I may have lost an unglued eyelash strip (which I may or may not have found later…in my hair) but we stationed ourselves along the roped border of Tomorrowland just in front of Plaza Inn.
Funny enough, Pauli’s cousin Ashley was visiting Disney with a friend the same weekend, and all four of us anxiously awaited our boarding group results. Me and P landed in boarding group 73, while Ashley was in 82.
We’d learned from our research that groups above 80 are less likely to obtain access to ROTR. This stat comes from park capacity as well as boarding group volume, and Disney even shows a similar disclaimer in the app. Even so, we had observed the day before that ROTR boarding groups had made it well into the 120s by around 5pm the previous day; despite the day before being a weekday, we had high hopes that park crowds would be relatively low for a weekend and that we’d all make it onto the ride.
Fast forward to when our boarding group was called at 2:15pm. We had already headed back into Batuu to make sure we were as close as possible when it came our turn to board ROTR, so we slid over from a shaded seating area near Oga’s in record time.
I left the ride feeling very lucky, not just because I get to go and experience all that Disney has to offer but I was also super grateful that with our one shot to gain access to this new attraction, we were able to make it onto the ride, and with most of our day leftover, too.
Disney California Adventure’s Lunar New Year Celebration
We were also down visiting the park to continue our new(ish) tradition of visiting during the lunar new year festivities. This was the last weekend of the celebration, so we passed up most of our favorite foods (I have a post on that here) in favor of trying the seasonal offerings from the festival marketplaces.
Here are some of the items that I sampled:
*some prices are rounded up
- Black Sesame Mochi Donut – $6 | Longevity Noodle Co.
- Char Siu Pork Bao – $8 | Prosperity Bao & Buns
- Firecracker Three Cup Chicken Wings – $8 | Red Dragon Spice Traders
- Shrimp & Ginger Dumplings – $9 | Red Dragon Spice Traders
- Mango Mousse – $5 |Paradise Garden Grill
Of these, the wings and mousse are repeats from last year. While the wings were tasty but unimpressive, the mousse was even better than I remembered! Flavors of fresh mango and tropical passionfruit explode with textures of cool, creamy mousse and the sweet, fruity jelly-filled center. This was a favorite item from last year and in traditional Disney fashion, they made it even more magical. I hope they make this item a permanent feature somewhere in the parks.
I should mention that Disney offers the Sip & Savor Pass which sells for $42 and includes (6) food vouchers for the festival marketplaces, with a special free lanyard for Annual Passholders. Initially, Pauli and I didn’t think we’d be able to eat that much since we arrived at the park on our first day about 5 hours later than we’d planned, but as you can see I ate quite a few items (plus I bought the donut twice); I ended up spending as much as I would have spent on the pass.
In this case, I’m actually glad I didn’t get the pass because Disney offered a mobile order system for this year’s festival which made getting food way less complicated and much faster than usual. The marketplace lines can get long, so if you plan to visit during Food & Wine Festival or during the Christmas/holiday season, I’d recommend doing most of your eating in the middle part of the day. That’s when lines tend to move the quickest.
Outside of the food – which TBH, is always about 500% of the reason we’re going – we did appreciate the LNY décor and merchandise. Unfortunately, all the specialty merchandise items were basically sold out by the time we arrived, but I may replicate the cherry blossom Mulan ears that Disney released with an inspired version of my own.
How Much Did I Spend?
My last post exposing myself for how much I spend at Disney was super popular, so I thought I’d fold in an element here to give a well-rounded view of what these trips cost year-round. I’ll also try and share a springtime budget as well as Halloween-season to try and get an overall average.
Round Trip Flights: $158
I flew JetBlue (for the last time) and booked through Expedia. I didn’t use any points or utilize any specials. Typical round-trip flights can range from $70-200 depending on local Anaheim conferences and Disney activations, among holidays and other things.
We’ve had several issues with JetBlue over the year+ that we’ve been traveling to Disneyland this way, so I think going forward we’ll commit to flying Southwest. Though the airline has some drawbacks (their boarding for one, and high occupancy of children secondly), flights can be as cheap as $30 dollars, and that’s a price that you just can’t beat.
Hotel Stay: $143 each or $285 total
Like I mentioned, we saved about $80 dollars total by electing to pass on our usual favorite hotel. Since this was a quicker trip, with only a day and a half at the park, the savings made sense.
This includes all Lyfts while we’re in SoCal starting with our airport > hotel Lyft and ending with the last ride I ordered for us from the park back to our room.
Park Admission: $96
Again, I’m replicating the formula I used for my previous post where I divided the total cost of my Disneyland Annual Passport by (12) months.
Total Expenses: $448
This is about $180+ down from the last trip budget I profiled. That park visit was a day longer, and in cost per-day, this trip is actually more expensive. Most people will pay $200+ in park admission alone, though, so with that in mind (not to mention the recent Disney price increase) our Rise of the Resistance/Lunar New Year trip doesn’t feel too bad to my wallet.