We’re back at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for more Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance on the morning of Monday, December 9th, 2019.
In Part One of this series, I covered all of the operational changes that we’ve seen at the Studios since Rise of the Resistance opened back on Thursday, December 5th. The number of changes that we’ve seen in just one week’s time is almost unbelievable, but none of it necessarily alters how we’ll end up going about our morning. Over the next month, I’d expect the Studios to officially open at either 7am or 8am, and actually open between 6am and 7am most days. At the moment, we can expect the actual Park opening to be right around 6:30am, but that will likely move closer to 6am during the busy week of Christmas and into the New Year. Actual opens closer to 7am should be more common beginning the second week in January, when crowds are lower than they are now or over Christmas.
Eventually, Disney should do away with the virtual queue boarding system that we’re currently seeing, and move to the standard FastPass+/standby line situation that we see elsewhere. My guess is that we will see that change once Rise of the Resistance proves to be more reliable, with uptime that’s close to 100%. Currently, the attraction is probably operational during about 80% of the day, which is pretty good given the complexity of the ride system and all of the moving parts. The consensus seems to be that the ride opened before it probably should have.
In this post, we won’t be focusing much on Rise of the Resistance, and instead we’ll take a look at everything else that you can do at the Studios with the early opens. Yes, joining an early boarding group, and being able to guarantee an early ride on Rise of the Resistance is a prize in and of itself, but we’re also going to be able to enjoy a couple hours of short wait times on some of Disney World’s best attractions (and Alien Swirling Saucers.)
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance has been open for about a week, and we’re finally starting to see its opening procedures normalize, even as Disney continues to make changes.
It’s 6:08am on the morning of Monday, December 9th, 2019. We’re at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as we find ourselves amidst a rather large number of people waiting to enter a Park that doesn’t officially open for nearly two hours. This is the website’s second recorded rope drop since Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opened less than a week ago, on Thursday, December 5th. Hopefully, you’ve been keeping up to date with the happenings, but you can pull up Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four of the original series covering my first visit at those highlighted links.
At this point, it “feels” like the opening procedure that we’re going to see for at least the next few weeks has normalized for the most part. Each of the last three days, the Studios was officially scheduled to open at 8am. And on each of those days, the Park actually opened right around 6:30am. I think the 6:30am open is what we should go in expecting over the next couple of weeks. Once December 22nd arrives, and the crowds really roll in, the actual opening may move a half hour earlier, depending on how many more people are showing up this early.
Even so, Disney continues to make major changes to the operating schedule, extending hours, moving the official Park openings earlier and earlier, and they’ve even started changing morning Extra Magic Hours to evening Extra Magic Hours on Sundays in December and January.
First, here’s the current operating schedule for the rest of December:
Our first morning visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios after Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance continues just outside of Toy Story Land.
I would refer you back to Part Three of this series in case you missed Parts One and Two. There, you’ll find…Part Three…along with recaps and links to the two previous posts. The picture above was taken at 8:25am back on Friday, December 6th, 2019. So far, this is what I’ve accomplished:
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run: 6:30am – 6:46am
- Rise of the Resistance (We didn’t get to experience the attraction because it went down while we were in line): 6:52am – 7:28am
- Slinky Dog Dash: 7:35am – 7:52am
- Alien Swirling Saucers: 7:54am – 8am
- Toy Story Mania: 8:02am – 8:17am
Considering the Park didn’t officially open until 9am, I was not expecting to be able to move through Smugglers Run and all of the Toy Story Land rides with 45 minutes before we technically should have even been on our way to our first stop of the day. My estimation at the time was that the early opening was a bit of an anomaly, due to the fact that it was only the second day that Galaxy’s Edge was open in its entirety, and heavy crowds were expected as we looked towards the weekend.
The opening of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will continue to alter our touring strategy as Disney updates its opening procedures, eventually introduces FastPass+, and also allows people to wait in the standard standby line instead of relying on the virtual queue.
Our first visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the wake of the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance opening continues. It’s Friday, December 6th, 2019, at 7:23am. Despite the Studios officially opening at 9am, I’ve already been inside the Park for more than hour, with all of the rides operating during that time. Almost 90 minutes into the Park’s actual operation, Slinky Dog Dash is still posting a 5-minute wait, as are the other two Toy Story Land rides.
To recap, in Part One, our emphasis was on how to sign up for the virtual queue boarding group system that is currently required to have a chance to ride Rise of the Resistance. There is currently no standby line and FastPass+ is not offered. All boarding group passes have been distributed before the Park officially opened on each of the first four days that Rise has been available, necessitating an arrival at least one hour before the Park is officially scheduled to open. Everyone who wants to join a boarding group to ride Rise of the Resistance must scan their ticket/MagicBand in order to be eligible.
In order to secure one of the first boarding groups of the day, and be in the best possible position to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, an arrival two hours before the Park opens will likely be required. With the Park now opening at 8am, that means an arrival between 6am and 6:30am is likely necessary to acquire one of the first several boarding groups. The later you arrive, the higher your boarding group will be, and the longer you’ll need to bide your time doing other things.
In Part Two, we focused on how quickly Disney moves through boarding groups, what to do once your boarding group is called, what to expect from the wait once you enter the queue, and a whole lot more. As with all past updates, this will be completely spoiler-free. We won’t even take a look inside the queue, let alone discuss what you might see during the ride itself.
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.