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The new Star Wars experience at Disney World will immerse you in the franchise

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 5 days ago Alistair Foster
© Provided by Evening Standard

A hologram flickers into sight… it’s Rey, the last of the Jedi, and she needs your help.

But this isn’t the latest cinematic episode of the sci-fi franchise. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the newest attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando and puts you at the heart of the action in a galaxy far, far away.

It’s delightfully difficult to describe – it’s a ride, a simulation and an immersive experience all at once. Rise of the Resistance is set during the timeline of the sequel trilogy and features familiar characters played by their original actors. Rey (Daisy Ridley), X-Wing pilot Poe (Oscar Isaac), former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and droid BB-8 are among the good guys who guide you, while danger comes in the form of the First Order’s Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson).

The experience begins when you are ushered into a makeshift briefing room to be filled in by a hologram of Rey, an animatronic model of BB-8 and a video message from Poe. You and a few dozen other new recruits are told that you must keep the location of the rebels’ Bakura base secret or the resistance could be in grave danger. Everyone is then ushered into a waiting shuttle outside, piloted by a new character called Lieutenant Bek – a member of the Mon Calamari race who is a dead ringer for fan-favourite Admiral Ackbar.

If, at this point, you had a bad feeling about this, you’d be right as things soon turn pear-shaped. Shortly after taking off from the planet of Batuu, the shuttle is ambushed by two First Order Star Destroyers who draw you in with a tractor beam. You watch the action from the windows of the spacecraft, which jerks and rocks around as you fly through space. This alone would be an impressive stand-alone simulator – but the adventure is only just getting started.

What happens next genuinely brought a tear to my eye and was the closest I have ever felt to being a part of the Star Wars world. The door to the shuttle opens and you come face to face with the yawning opening of a Star Destroyer’s hangar. I genuinely felt as though I would be sucked out into space if I charged past the waiting platoon of stormtroopers who stand before you.

Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer (Matt Stroshane) © Provided by Evening Standard Fifty menacing First Order Stormtroopers await guests as they arrive in the hangar bay of a Star Destroyer (Matt Stroshane)

All of the Disney staff are dressed as First Order officers and remain in character throughout, chastising anyone who disobeys their orders or lingers too long for selfies. This is a stark contrast to the usual Disney crew members who sport saccharine smiles throughout the rest of the park. You are then taken into an interrogation cell, and taunted by Kylo Ren and General Hux before mounting a daring escape in a pod that hurtles around the inside of the Star Destroyer.

The four-and-a-half minute “ride” portion sees you come face to face with a life-sized AT-AT, a TIE-Fighter and Kylo Ren as he furiously tries to stop you with his lightsabre. The action is brought to life with breath-taking animatronic figures, a goose bump-inducing score, movie-quality practical effects and character projections – a brand-new technology used by Disney.

The exhilarating experience will have you running to rejoin the queue again – but this may be unlikely during busy periods. To avoid huge waiting times, travellers are given a specific time slot in a virtual queueing system through Disney’s app.

a gun on a rock: Guests see Poe Dameron's X-wing starfighter, Black One (foreground), and board an Intersystem Transport Ship (background) (Kent Phillips) © Provided by Evening Standard Guests see Poe Dameron's X-wing starfighter, Black One (foreground), and board an Intersystem Transport Ship (background) (Kent Phillips)

Rise of the Resistance is in the newly opened Galaxy’s Edge section of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which includes the Millennium Falcon ride Smuggler’s Run and Savi’s Workshop, where you can build your own customised lightsaber. Don’t miss the drinks stands which sell limited edition Coke bottles shaped like thermal detonators. Just make sure you take the lid off when you pack them in your suitcase as they have been causing problems at airport security.

Whatever you think about the new Star Wars films, the sci-fi franchise is undoubtedly a superb addition for Disney’s theme parks. No-one has ever been able to bring George Lucas’s world to life like this.

A park-hopper ticket will give you access to Disney’s four theme parks – Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom – and two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

The FastPass+ system allows you to skip the queues on three rides per day and is simple to use through the Disney app. But for that extra something special, Disney’s VIP Tour Guides are full of knowledge and can walk you onto most of the top attractions while zipping you to and from the parks through back entrances. You will also get a prime spot for the sensational fireworks.


Seven nights at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida with Walt Disney Travel Company and accommodation at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort starts from £574 per person. Price based on two adults and two children (aged 3-9) sharing a preferred room, including Seven-Day Ultimate Tickets. Price is based on a departure date of July 12, 2020.


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