When Walt Disney World closed in March due to the coronavirus, 2019’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was the hottest ticket at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now that the theme park has reawakened with social distancing precautions, you’ll want to know these new virtual queue rules before you rise to claim a coveted boarding group number for Galaxy Edge’s E-Ticket adventure.
Before you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios—or any of the Walt Disney World theme parks—you’ll need a Disney Park Pass reservation. DHS remains the park with the most limited availability, with all of August and weekends in September already sold out for Annual Passholders.
If you did manage to secure admission, as we did for DHS’s second day of public reopening, you’ll find the parking process as blissfully easy as at the other parks.
Show up over an hour before the park’s 10 a.m. opening and you may find your car stopped at the toll plaza. Once the park itself is ready to accommodate guests, cars will be pulsed into the parking lot with empty rows in between filled spaces.
When we pulled up at 35 minutes prior to opening, it was smooth sailing straight into our parking spot. Parking trams aren’t running, but that isn’t a problem because only the closest lots to the entrance are in use.
Temperature checks and security screening were seamless half an hour before the official opening, and there’s no bottleneck at the turnstiles, as guests are immediately permitted to disperse throughout the park.
Before I dig into the nitty-gritty details of DHS’s new virtual queue policy for Rise of the Resistance, get your bearings in the recently reopened park with this complete walking tour, recorded live on July 16, 2020:
Currently, the bulk of pre-opening guests seem to make a beeline for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The new dark ride’s socially distanced standby queue fills the Chinese Theater’s courtyard, and by 25 minutes before opening it was already cut off at an estimated 2-hour wait.
Even if you’re an early bird and land at the very front of the line for Runaway Railway, you may find yourself stuck inside the ride without internet access at the exact time you need to be claiming your spot in the Rise of the Resistance virtual queue.
And if you’re farther back in the crowd, the WiFi bandwidth in that immediate area is liable to be overloaded.
Instead, we suggest saving the Railway for later in the day when wait times will drop and, instead, starting your day in a less-congested area. One option is the Animation Courtyard, which is now a depressing dead end featuring nothing but closed shows and a mask-free relaxation area.
We decided to make Toy Story Land our first stop and hopped in line for a 20-minute wait to ride Slinky Dog Dash. Better yet, 15 of those minutes were before the park even opened, as the ride started running ahead of schedule.
Best of all, we were able to join the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance during the first dispersal of boarding group numbers, which happens precisely at 10 a.m. daily.
The interface inside My Disney Experience looks slightly different than it did before the pandemic, but it still functions much the same. Restart the app (or reboot your phone) a few minutes beforehand, tap “Join Virtual Queues” on the main menu, and as the seconds tick down to 10 a.m., repeatedly pull down to refresh the screen until a “Join” button appears.
Select the other members of your party—who all must also have already entered the park that day—and (if successful) you’ll receive a boarding group number.
If you are unsuccessful at securing a Rise of the Resistance pass at 10 a.m., don’t despair; you’ve got a second opportunity at 2 p.m. daily. (Distribution was initially at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., but this changed as of July 24.) Keep in mind that each distribution period will sell out within seconds, and the later in the day you get your number, the more likely the attraction will close before your turn to enjoy it arrives, especially if it experiences technical difficulties. As always, getting a boarding group number does not guarantee you’ll get to ride.
Keep an eye on the app throughout the day, as it will update with an estimated time remaining until your turn to ride Rise of the Resistance. The app doesn’t display the group numbers currently being called, but once your countdown reaches 15 minutes, go hang around the attraction’s entrance.
Although you’ll have 1 hour to redeem your boarding pass, you want to be ready to go the instant your number arrives, before the rest of your group is alerted by the app’s push notification. That way, you’ll have a minimal wait ahead of you once you redeem your virtual queue number and enter the physical queue.
Using this method, we entered the attraction queue 4 1/2 hours after park opening and waited 14 minutes to reach the first preshow.
All of the ride’s multiple stages were fully operational, with socially distanced dots showing guests where to stand.
Thankfully, we experienced no uncomfortable overcrowding in the mid-show hangar scene (as had been reported during previews).
To be honest, the cast member’s full face shields fit in fairly well with the First Order’s aesthetic in a Spaceballs sort of way…
Experiencing Black Spire Outpost’s other major attraction is a lot easier, with afternoon wait times for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run dipping below 20 minutes. Guests are no longer held in the preshow briefing but are permitted to pause and watch the animatronic Hondo if they wish.
Social distancing means every party (even solo travelers) gets a cockpit all to themselves. Here is Unofficial Guide co-author Len Testa about to pilot the Falcon for his first time.
Batuu’s other big attraction is (as Yogurt would say) “moichandise,” and, while the main marketplace is open, you’ll need to wait for your one-way stroll through its stalls.
High-end collectibles are available without a wait at Dok Ondar, and Savi’s will again let you customize a lightsaber, without the shop’s original actor-driven ceremony or special effects.
Grab your datapad if you want to eat at Docking Bay 7 or Ronto Roaster because Mobile Order is a must at quick-service locations.
Don’t be surprised to find slimmed-down menus; the excellent original Ronto Wrap is back, but the equally yummy chicken version did not return.
Menus have also been pared down and gone digital at reopened table-service restaurants like the Brown Derby, although you can count on classics like the Cobb Salad to be available.
You may feel that a dining reservation is worth arranging, if only for the opportunity to cool off indoors.
The rest of Disney’s Hollywood Studios rides have been reporting wait times that, while longer than the waits currently reported by the other parks, are still historically low.
Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster averaged half-hour waits when operating smoothly, while waits for Toy Story Mania and Star Tours were 10 minutes or less.
Disappointingly, none of Disney’s live shows are back in operation, and the impact of their absence is especially apparent at Hollywood Studios.
A couple of film-based theater attractions are currently open, such as the Mickey Mouse shorts and MuppetVision 4-D.
Without DHS’s lineup of aging yet audience-pleasing stage performances, the park’s limited slate of moving attractions simply isn’t deep enough to fill a full day-long visit. Luckily, they do make an effort to compensate for the absent entertainment with the resort’s most elaborate character cavalcades outside of the Magic Kingdom.
Watch this video to enjoy highlights of the socially distanced character appearances at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.