Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups and How They Impact your Park Visit

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In today’s blog post, we’re taking a closer look at how Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups came about and how they impact your park visit.

We think Rise of the Resistance is the best ride Disney has produced in decades. It’s the most popular ride in the park, and the most complex ride Disney has ever made. That complexity makes it prone to breakdowns—daily, on average, and sometimes more than once. 

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

In normal circumstances, a headliner ride like Rise of the Resistance would have offered FastPass+ at opening, and its popularity would have led to standby wait times of 6 hours or more. Because FastPass+ gives guests a specific time window to ride, such as 1–2 p.m., attractions that offer FastPass+ must be predictably reliable. When the ride breaks down, riders who couldn’t ride during their FastPass+ window are either stuffed into the ride’s remaining daily capacity (crowding out standby riders at that ride) or are passed off to other rides’ FastPass+ lines (crowding out both FastPass+ and standby riders at those rides). 

Rise of the Resistance

Rise of the Resistance isn’t reliable enough to offer FastPass+, even when Disney offers FastPass+ elsewhere. And because Disney CEO Bob Chapek once criticized long waits at Universal’s popular Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure (the second-highest-rated attraction in any Disney or Universal domestic theme park) by saying, “10-hour lines are not a sign of success, it should be seen as a sign of, frankly, failure.” Disney can’t allow long standby lines at Rise of the Resistance.

Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups

Disney’s solution is something called boarding groups, which function like mandatory FastPass+ reservations without a specific return time. You obtain a boarding group for everyone in your party through the My Disney Experience (MDE) app at exactly 7 a.m. or exactly 1 p.m. on the day of your Studios visit. If you’re successful, you’ll get a boarding group number, typically between 1 and 180. Once you have a boarding group, MDE will tell you which boarding groups are currently eligible to ride (for example, “Groups 40 to 45 now boarding”) or give you a rough estimate of how long your wait will be to ride. If your phone is set up to receive alerts from MDE, you’ll also get one when your group is ready.

The good news is that you don’t have to be in the park (or even in the state) to get a boarding group. And Disney is reasonably flexible if you’re doing something else, such as eating lunch, when your boarding group is called—showing up 30 minutes late shouldn’t be a problem unless the ride is about to close. 

The bad news is that you and everyone in your group must have a park reservation for the Studios on that day. That is, you can’t start at another park, hop to the Studios, and get a boarding group. Further, all boarding groups will be snapped up within a few seconds after 7 a.m. or 1 p.m., so there’s no room for delay or error. And that’s a problem because MDE, and the Wi-Fi at Hollywood Studios, are not completely reliable either.

We tested the network speed and reliability of Disney’s Wi-Fi in locations around Hollywood Studios, as well as via the T-Mobile cellular network, to see how fast we could connect to MDE servers in Oregon. Disney’s Wi-Fi speeds were two to nine times faster than our cellular network, in part because Disney’s Wi-Fi connects to an internal network that includes the MDE servers (in Oregon, we think) that give out boarding groups. In comparison, T-Mobile’s network traffic was routed from Orlando to Tampa; then Miami; and then Mountain View, California, before reaching Disney’s servers on the West Coast. Your cell service provider’s speeds and network routes are probably similar.

Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups

However, Disney’s Wi-Fi was much less reliable than our cell service. Disney’s Wi-Fi lost around 6% of all the requests we tried to send—an error rate about 20 times larger than that of our cell service. See tinyurl.com/rotr-networks for more details on our tests. The fastest, most reliable Wi-Fi spot seems to be in Animation Courtyard near the entrance to Disney Junior Dance Party!

The fast but unreliable nature of Disney’s Wi-Fi means that you should, if possible, have as many people as possible try to obtain boarding groups for your entire party at 7 a.m. and at 1 p.m. If you’re in the park, half of you should be on Disney’s Wi-Fi, and half should be on your cellular network. 

Even if you’re able to submit a boarding group request exactly at 7 a.m. or 1 p.m., the flood of requests from thousands of other people is enough to overwhelm the MDE computers. It’s common to have MDE respond with a message like “Oh no! Something went wrong!” to your request. By the time you’ve received the error and resent your request, all boarding groups are likely to be taken. 

Disney’s implementation of boarding groups is essentially a lottery—some people win, and some people lose, through no fault of their own. And because the process fails for hundreds of people every morning, Disney is unlikely to do anything to make it up to you.

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.

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6 Comments

  1. Momaw Nadon March 5, 2021Reply

    At present, the second boarding group distribution takes place at 1:00pm, not 2:00pm as stated above. This change took effect last December.

    Also (and your mileage may vary on this), I have found it helpful to have an official timekeeping site like time.gov running on a second device as a guide for exactly when to begin the “Join Boarding Group” procedure on MDE. When the time site is just about to hit 7:00 or 1:00, start banging through the Join steps as quickly as you can. Recently the boarding groups have been filling up within 3 seconds or so. However you do it, don’t delay.

    • Liliane Opsomer March 8, 2021Reply

      Thank you so much for pointing out the error in the post. I have changed the distribution time to 1:00 p.m.
      It is because of readers like you that we can deliver the best information possible. Have a magical week. Liliane

  2. MR BEN DALY March 18, 2021Reply

    Do you think they will iron out the glitches and breakdowns as time goes on and increase capacity as a result, to the point where they can do fast pass?

    To be honest from what you describe, when we visit from the UK, I don’t think we will bother. I would rather avoid the stress, phone checking and likely dissapointed and simply make up our minds beforehand, to concentrate on other stuff.

    If you don’t get a ride you are going to feel like a day you spent a lot of money on was a failure.

    • Liliane Opsomer March 18, 2021Reply

      Dear Ben: Thank you for reaching out to us. I don’t think Fastpasses are coming to ROTR anytime soon. But if you are going to the park anyway there’s no reason not to try the 7a.m. and 1 p.m. distributions. It takes 2 minutes out of your day, and if you don’t get it you just enjoy the rest of the park. I wish you a happy and stressless visit and a magical time. Liliane

  3. MR BEN DALY March 19, 2021Reply

    Hi Liliane

    Thanks for the reply and the advice. I think you are right, it is about managing the kids expectations, i.e. “it’s unlikely we will get on this ride, but it’s worth a try”

    I do however think, surely Disney could come up with a better system than this. Maybe a ballot, when you buy a ticket you indicate if you are interested in the ride and you then find out the day before if you have a slot. At least that way you would turn up on the day knowing and be able to plan accordingly.

    I also think they could tie it in for some kind of priority for the Millennium Falcon ride, if you don’t get on ROTR. It would feel better if you got on at least one of the two.

    By the way we have really enjoyed reading your Disneyland guide, we were going to visit California in 2020, but are now replanning for 2022.

    We went to Universal in 2017 and your guide was very handy there, it also helped our friends daughter and new husband plan their honeymoon their the year after!

    When you are travelling from the UK you often only have one chance to get a visit right, so the advice is invaluable.

    Best wishes

    Ben

    • Liliane Opsomer March 19, 2021Reply

      Hi Ben: I am glad and thankful that you enjoy our Disneyland and the Universal guide. We can’t wait for the parks to open so our researcher can safely return and bring us a new edition of Disneyland. Thankfully the Universal Orlando 2021 edition came out earlier this year. I think you are wise to manage the kids expectations. Best, Liliane

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