Trip Report: Rise of the Resistance Launch
⚠️ This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Click to reveal them if you're absolutely sure!
Last month I had the pleasure of taking a short vacation with my fiancée and best friends to Walt Disney World to check out the new Rise of the Resistance ride at Hollywood Studios and to enjoy the annual EPCOT Festival of the Arts. The four of us take a lot of trips to Disney, but this time was special because there was something new and exciting to see. We’re all serious EPCOT fans so the double whammy of the festival and the new ride was irresistible.
This trip was our first time staying at Port Orleans. We chose to stay at French Quarter because it’s a much smaller resort than it’s sister Riverside, which means that no matter what room you’re in you’re never far from the food court or transportation. We ended up in building 7 which was the furthest from the buses, but the walk only took a few minutes. Not bad.
The whole resort is themed like New Orleans, as the name would suggest. Walking down the streets at night almost feels like you’re there. They even serve freshly made beignets (which are absolutely delicious)! Completing the ambiance are horse-drawn carriage rides and car-free streets between hotel buildings.
Overall I loved Port Orleans and I’m glad we chose to stay here this time. I recommend choosing this over a value resort if it’s available. I think I’d even recommend staying here over a couple of deluxe resorts if I’m honest. The value for the money here is unbeatable elsewhere on property.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
This was our third time visiting Galaxy’s Edge. We had the pleasure of visiting first in August for passholder previews before the land opened, and we’ve been back one more time since.
Even having visited so many times it never ever gets old. The feeling you get when walking in through the tunnel near MuppetVision is still so sublime. It really truly does feel like you’ve stepped out of the Florida sun and onto another planet. Every detail is attended to. Everywhere you look there’s something new to catch your eye and delight you. If you haven’t been to either this or Batuu in California I can’t recommend it enough.
Rise of the Resistance
Oh boy. Oh my. Oh my goodness. This ride is the real deal. It’s better than everything you’ve heard about it. There are so many things inside the ride that I’m still thinking about, and despite having watched The Imagineering Story and being an engineer myself I still can’t figure out how they did it. It’s that good. If you have any affection for Star Wars you should ride this ride. It’s worth it.
Rather than describe the ride in detail every scene and feature, I’ll let the pictures I took do the talking. 1
I love this ride. I can’t wait until May when I can go on it again.
One piece of the ride that’s gotten a lot of press is the new boarding group system. Effectively the boarding groups are just a virtual queue. You get to the park well before it opens, tap a few buttons in the Disney app, and then go about your day until it’s your turn. Easy (theoretically).
We caught a Lyft from our hotel at 6 AM. We were in the park (through security and the ticket gate) by around 6:30 AM. Then we waited for park open, which was that day at 7:00 AM. Around 6:58 AM an announcement started that told us how to use the app to get boarding groups. As soon as the announcement started I clicked in to the boarding group section of the app and was able to join one at 6:59 AM while the announcement was still going on. We managed to get boarding group 15 and were on the ride before 8 AM.
A friend of mine was able to use the same method a week later and get boarding group 4. So, my advice is listen for that announcement, and as soon as it starts try to get a group. It’s been used to great success!
Festival of the Arts
The Festival of the Arts is the first festival held at EPCOT each year. This festival celebrates all things art, with art-themed food, entertainment, decorations, and merchandise. During the festival they also have tons of artists booths around the World Showcase where artists sell Disney-inspired posters, paintings, sculptures, and more 2.
One of my favorite things about the Festival of the Arts are these communal paint-by-number murals they have near the entrance to the World Showcase. You get a small container of paint and a paintbrush, then you paint in some squares in the color you were given. It’s really fun!
If you’re there multiple days you can go back and paint a different one each day. Make sure to check it out throughout the day to see how it evolves. It’s really neat!
Another favorite feature of these festivals are the special Passholder magnets. Each different EPCOT festival has a different magnet you can pick up if you’re an annual passholder. This year’s Festival of the Arts magnet is a painted Mickey in my favorite color.
Happily Ever After Dessert Party
On this trip we decided to splurge a little and attend a Happily Ever After after fireworks dessert party. We elected to do the after-fireworks one this time around so that we could enjoy our desserts and snacks without being rushed out of the park while everyone is trying to leave after the fireworks.
The way this works is you arrive around 1 hour before the fireworks start at Tomorrowland Terrace. They give you a wristband, and escort you to a restricted section of the garden in front of the castle where you will stand and enjoy an unobstructed view of the fireworks. You don’t have to fight for space or wait for 2+ hours just to get a good spot. We were even able to sit down for the show and relax 3. The event is a little pricey, but especially if you have antsy little ones I highly recommend this as a stress-free way to see the show.
Bits and Bobs
By far my favorite thing in the Magic Kingdom is the trolley show. The show goes down Main Street a few times a day and is an absolute delight. I love to follow it down from the castle to the train station and see them perform a few different songs.
If you’ve never gotten to the Magic Kingdom early (and I mean early) I recommend doing it at least once. Crowds are always low and there are special delights like the Dapper Dans, trolley show, and special walk-around characters that go away as the crowds grow later in the morning.
We re-visited one of our favorite spots: Jellyrolls. Jellyrolls is a dueling piano bar. There are two players on stage taking requests from the crowd. It’s a great place to go after the fireworks at any of the other parks since they’re open pretty late. Get there early though if you want to get a place to sit!
Another neat thing to check out is Animal Kingdom’s Winged Encounters. You get to be up-close with some amazing parrots. They fly right overhead and you can get a really close look at them. The show happens several times a day, and my favorite way to see it is to be surprised it’s even happening and catch it when coming in to the park.
This was a wonderful trip. I’m so happy I was able to share it with the love of my life and my closest friends. I’m glad I had the privilege to go to my favorite place on earth again. I can’t wait to go back!
Don’t expect to be able to get good pictures on this ride. Aside from a few small parts the whole thing moves so fast that it’s hard to pause and get a good shot of anything. ↩
In true Disney fashion, they’ll even ship your art home for you if it won’t fit in your suitcase! We took advantage of this with a print we bought and it came in under a week after we shipped it. Neat. ↩
This time there were few enough people for us to sit down. The last time we did one of these parties there was standing room only. Attendance is capped, but YMMV. ↩
Arthur Lockman is a .NET Core and web developer based in Massachusetts. He's also an amateur photographer specializing in Walt Disney World and small events photography.