Now that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we head out to see what we can expect from the opening and rope drop procedures.
We continue our morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, having not made it very far, at least physically, on the morning of Friday, December 6th, 2019. In Part One, we talked all about Park opening times, boarding groups for Rise of the Resistance, the virtual queue, how early you probably want to arrive, and what to potentially expect in the future. The Studios will be moving to official 8am opens beginning Monday, December 9th, and we’ll see how things look again then.
While we’re not exactly in Twilight Zone territory here, it’s 6:15am and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is officially scheduled to open at 9am. As I walked towards the entrance, I heard the tail end of what sounded like a vague announcement about the boarding group process and how it would only be instituted for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, while standby was available at other attractions. This was what I was expecting to happen based on the first day of operation, where Disney surprised us all with the virtual queue system.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance officially opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on December 5th, 2019.
Which means our first visit will come the following day, on December 6th. Opening days, even for much lesser attractions, are never a good indication about how things will actually progress during normal operation. I usually point to the 2+ hour wait just to enter Toy Story Land back when it debuted at Hollywood Studios during the summer of 2018. If you visited that day, then you might expect that there would always be a wait just to see inside Andy’s Backyard. Of course, there has never been a wait to enter Toy Story Land in the 18ish months since it debuted.
Likewise, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened, in part, back in August 2019, with people arriving before 3am to be among the first to enter. Disney used a virtual queuing system on opening day for a few hours, and has never needed to use that system since. If you had visited opening day, then you might expect that a virtual queuing system to enter the Land was always being used. We obviously won’t be able to get all of the answers about how Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will fit into our day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but we can hopefully begin to understand a little bit about how things will work moving forward.
We’ll stop by Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out the Christmastime decorations during the day. Frankly, I’m not sure I’m ready to face Santa Mech under the cover of darkness, but we’ll return for a nighttime visit later this week to catch some of these same scenes lit up for the holidays.
Animal Kingdom has enjoyed a subtle holiday program for some time now with the characters typically donning holiday outfits and the residents of the various lands doing their part to create a festive atmosphere. This year, Disney has taken things a step further, adding decorations to every Land and extending entertainment with new acts.
The Merry Menagerie is brand new this year.
I’m excited to announce that the newest version of the guidebook that I co-write with Dave Shute of yourfirstvisit.net is now available for your consideration. Now in its seventh year, The easy Guide remains Amazon’s highest-rated Walt Disney World guidebook series of all time (of all time). Take a look at the product page to “look inside” at everything the book offers and follow along below. The Kindle version should be available shortly.
The release schedule of this year’s book is a little different than past iterations because of the timing of the opening of the first part of Galaxy’s Edge back in late August, combined with the opening of the Disney Skyliner in late September. Ordinarily, the first version of the guidebook would be released around August, but it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense to us to release a guidebook with 2020 on the cover before Star Wars had an opportunity to not only open, but mature a bit. We also didn’t want to base our thoughts on Disneyland’s version, or, heaven forbid, put a picture of Disneyland on the cover of a Walt Disney World guidebook because we decided to rush out incomplete work based on a smorgasbord of assumptions that obviously haven’t come to fruition. Even the most recent update of our 2019 version of our guidebook would be more up to date than any of the 2020 guidebooks currently on the market.
As with each of the last six years of guidebooks, “The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit” is the culmination of everything that you see covered on this website and over at yourfirstvisit.net. If you’ve ever been reading here, there, or on any other Disney-related site and said to yourself, “I just wish someone would put this all together for me so I can understand it without having to look at another freaking wait times chart,” then here you are. Although I’ve still included some wait times charts.
Together, Dave and I have visited the theme parks
hundreds thousands of times, stayed at every resort, rope-dropped attractions that have no business being visited before 8am, eaten hundreds of things that we wish we hadn’t, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and 20+ combined years of our lives to bring this information to you in the most easily-digestible format possible.
We also revise the book throughout the year as things change and send regular PDF updates to those who have purchased the book. With the last version, book readers received access to exclusive Toy Story Land touring plans, an updated Hollywood Studios map, and consolidated advice on the best way to experience everything that Toy Story Land offers before that information was available online. With this edition, we’ll continue to update on how Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is shaping up, and provide insight into other happenings, including the opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. You can also enjoy those updated PDFs long after you’ve let someone borrow the physical copy of the book.
Let’s see what’s in store in these 300+ jam-packed pages.
Our visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the morning of Friday, November 22nd, 2019, continues outside Expedition Everest in Asia at 11:20am. In Part One, we began the day in Pandora for Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, after getting started a little later than we would have liked. Part Two followed with some big changes to how FastPass+ experiences are booked and changed in the My Disney Experience app, in addition to stops at DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest.
So far, this is what I’ve done:
- Avatar Flight of Passage: 9:06am – 9:38am
- Na’vi River Journey: 9:38am – 10:04am
- DINOSAUR: 10:16am – 10:40am
- TriceraTop Spin: 10:47am – 10:57am
- Expedition Everest with FastPass+: 11:03am – 11:18am
We don’t have a lot of updates on the food front, but Disney is offering these Pumpkin Pretzels at Tasty River Bar and Trek Snacks, immediately to the left of Expedition Everest. The Pretzel looks a little like a creepy child’s face with a bow in its hair to me, but I may be watching too much Watchmen. The sign to the left is a little obfuscated, but it’s advertising a regular Soft Pretzel that’s sort of in the shape of Simba, based on Rafiki’s cave drawings, for $6.79. It may or may not be a little more interesting than your standard Mickey Pretzel for just about the same money.