EDITORIAL: The Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass System Has Failed, Here’s Some Better Ideas

Jason Diffendal

Updated on:

Rise of the Resistance A-Frame 12/21/19 3

EDITORIAL: The Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass System Has Failed, Here’s Some Better Ideas

Jason Diffendal

Updated on:

Rise of the Resistance A-Frame 12/21/19 3

EDITORIAL: The Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass System Has Failed, Here’s Some Better Ideas

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WDWNT LLC.

riseoftheresistance brochure.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&fit=crop&h=1200&ixlib=php 1.2

Last week marked my second experience with the virtual queue boarding group process for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. My first encounter was back in December, under the “old system.” Having experienced both iterations of the virtual queue process, I feel I have the experience to critique both versions and offer suggestions for improvement.

Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue

As background, Rise of the Resistance does not offer FastPass+ and also does not permit guests to wait in a standby line. Instead, the virtual queue system is used to provide guests wishing to experience the attraction with a numbered boarding group. Throughout the day, boarding groups are called and given a two-hour window to return and enter the queue. This is designed to eliminate multi-hour-long queues and allow guests to do other things in the park until their boarding group is called. It’s also in place because the ride doesn’t really work. It has experienced long downtimes which have seemingly only gotten worse as the weeks have gone on.

The boarding group assignments are obtained via the My Disney Experience app, or for those poor souls without a smart device, the Guest Experience Team in the park can also assign boarding groups. Boarding groups can only be obtained after guests enter the park, and only for that day. Once a pre-determined number of boarding groups are distributed, the system switches to distributing “backup” boarding groups that are numbered sequentially from where the regular group numbers left off. These backup groups are not guaranteed admittance into the attraction and will only be called if all of the regular boarding groups are called and the park closing time still permits additional guests to experience the attraction. That being said, it isn’t uncommon for those with guaranteed boarding groups to have theirs cancelled and be issued park tickets and a FastPass to ride the attraction the next day.

This dual boarding group system allows park operations to ensure that the maximum number of guests get to experience the attraction. The number of regular boarding groups distributed on any given day are based on projections of the ride’s uptime and capacity. With the problems that continue to plague the attraction, some amount of downtime is factored in to this estimate. Therefore, if the attraction runs smoothly and experiences little downtime, all the regular boarding groups will be called and the attraction will be able to accommodate more riders, so the backup boarding groups then are called. The only difference between the regular boarding groups and the backup boarding groups is that the holders of backup boarding groups are not compensated if they do not get called.

First Version

When Rise of the Resistance opened in December, the first version of the virtual queue system was in place. Generally, the park opened at 7 a.m., and guests were usually permitted to enter the park starting at 6:30 a.m., if not earlier. Once guests pass through the touchpoints, the My Disney Experience system sees the guest has entered the park, and permits the guest to obtain a boarding group to join the virtual queue via the app.

Because guests could obtain a boarding pass as soon as they entered the park, this system was sort-of a first-come, first-served arrangement, rewarding those who showed up earlier with an earlier boarding group. Although guests showed up hours in advance, it wasn’t necessary to get a boarding group that generally could experience the attraction by noon. I don’t know anyone who relished the prospect of waking up only a few hours after they got to bed, but generally guests thought this first-come, first-served system was fair. Throughout most of human history, a first-come, first-served arrangement has been used for all sorts of events as it is one of the most equitable systems for distribution of high-demand, limited availability items.

As I mentioned, there were some complaints with this system, especially from those guests staying on property without a vehicle, because Disney transportation was not available at 4 a.m. Naturally, guests spending the money to stay at Disney resorts have come to expect preferential treatment when it comes to the parks, having Extra Magic Hours, the ability to book FastPasses earlier, etc. But in this instance, guests at Disney resorts were at a distinct disadvantage. Of course, Disney could simply provide bus transportation to the park early in the morning to ensure their guests are able to join the sleepy-eyed crowd waiting at the park gates. Disney chose not to.

Second Version

However, Disney chose a different alternative. Over the past several years, it seems obvious to me that management doesn’t do anything for the sake of improving the guest experience unless it is also a financial benefit to Disney. Thus, while providing bus transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 3 a.m. is certainly something that could be done, it would cost money. Also, staffing the parking booths and parking lot, and providing security cast members at the park entrance all cost money. So Disney decided to devise an alternative to the first-come, first-served boarding group system that would eliminate the incentive for guests to arrive more than 60 minutes before prior to posted park opening time.

The alternative Disney chose was to allow guests to enter the park at 6:30 AM as before, but the virtual queue system would not be activated until 7 a.m. Guests now can arrive at the park as late as 6:30 or 6:45 a.m. and still enter the park before the boarding groups become available. What this means is that, at 7 a.m. when the boarding groups become available, there are thousands of people in the park, all attempting to get a boarding group via the My Disney Experience app at the same exact time.

While this does eliminate the incentive for guests to arrive earlier than 6 a.m. or so, it also eliminates the fairness of the first-come, first-served system. Now, getting a boarding group is basically a lottery, but worse. It’s a free-for-all, and to make things worse, not everyone is on an even playing field.

An Uneven Playing Field

How is the playing field uneven? For starters, those without a smartphone or without tickets they can link to the app need to obtain a boarding pass via the Guest Experience Team, as before. But now, with thousands of guests in the park, those Guest Experience Teams are swamped. With boarding groups being fully distributed in just minutes, anyone not first or second in line is not going to get a boarding group. On the morning I visited, regular boarding groups were gone in under three minutes.

But more significantly, the My Disney Experience app is not reliable. Regular users of the app can recount numerous examples of the app crashing, and having the app crash at 7 a.m. on the dot will likely mean that you’ll be getting a backup boarding group. Through no fault of their own, a guest is at a disadvantage due to the poor performance of the My Disney Experience app.

Furthermore, Disney has a pretty bad track record of sizing their servers appropriately for expected demand. Remember the launch day of Disney+? That’s just the most recent example. Having thousands of guests trying to access the app to get a boarding group at the exact same time means that response times will increase and not everyone will be able to click the button to get a boarding group. This exact scenario happened to me. My sister and I were both in the park standing near Echo Lake, furiously refreshing the app and watching for the boarding group button to be enabled. She managed to get boarding group 12, while it took another full minute before the app on my phone even knew boarding groups had become available. This unpredictability is stressful to guests who woke up very early and have been standing in the park in the dark waiting to try to hit the jackpot. Many guests see this system as much less fair than the previous first-come, first-served system. Nowhere was this more obvious than at Disneyland on the attraction’s opening day last week, when one of our reporters arrived early and waited near the front of the line to enter the park, only to lose the lottery and get a backup boarding group that was never called that day due to downtime.

As unfair as the current system is, compared to the previous version, Disney has no impetus to change it because it saves them money. Guests who have planned for months to come to Walt Disney World, and kids who are so excited to ride Rise of the Resistance, have no way to actually ensure they can experience the attraction. It all comes down to your luck with the finicky My Disney Experience app. How are parents supposed to explain to kids that even though they got up at 5 AM, they still can’t ride the attraction because of some app?

Of course, many in the community believe that the Walt Disney Company always does what is in the best interest of the guest and will see all of this criticism and believe our reporting is overly negative. Therefore I will offer several ways that the current system can be adjusted to make it more fair, with no additional labor cost to the Walt Disney Company (and some that would have an additional cost, which I think the company can probably afford, but will increase guest satisfaction tremendously).

Lottery System Without the Hassle of Refreshing the App

The current system is basically a lottery, but as I mentioned above, thousands of people attempting to use an unreliable app at the same time is going to cause issues. If a lottery is what is desired, why not have guests enter the lottery using the app beginning at 6:30 a.m. (or as soon as they enter the park). At 7 a.m., the lottery would be run by computer and boarding groups assigned, with guests notified by push message. This way, the stress of refreshing the app and dealing with app crashes is eliminated, and, just like now, everyone in the park before 7 a.m. has an equal chance of getting a boarding group.

This is almost identical to the system as it is today, but without the unfairness of random app crashes or slow network communication, while also giving those guests without a smartphone equal footing in the lottery.

Evening-Before Lottery

If the lottery above seems like a good idea, how about having the lottery the night before? As with the morning lottery idea above, this would this ensure that everyone who wants to obtain a boarding group has an equal chance to get one. Open the lottery at, say, 5 p.m., and close it at 8 p.m. Then have the system assign boarding groups and send push messages to all guests who entered at 8:30 p.m. This way guests will know whether they have to get to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 7 a.m. or can get some extra sleep and arrive later if they get a higher-numbered boarding pass.

But wouldn’t this lead to lots of guests obtaining boarding passes but then not using them? Well, given that Rise of the Resistance is the most popular attraction at Walt Disney World, I don’t foresee a significant number of guests forgoing the opportunity to ride. And even if it does happen, that just means that more backup boarding groups will be called. Analogous to the FastPass system today, where guests not utilizing their FastPass simply enable the standby line to move faster, those not using their boarding group just means that backup boarding groups will be called sooner.

As a bonus, this system could actually save Disney money, by not requiring the high number of staff at the park at 6:30 a.m., since it is likely that many people with a late boarding group would opt to come to the park later in the day.

Lottery With Limits

Another complaint I commonly hear is that locals go to the park frequently and are taking spots from guests who may be here on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Certainly this was much less of an issue when the first-come, first-served system was in place, as locals would have to invest much more time than they do under the current system (some people refuse to believe this). But, with either the first lottery system (the morning of) or the evening-before lottery, Disney would be able to compare the list of guests who have entered the lottery, and check against a list of people who have ridden in, for example, the past seven days. The system could then prohibit those people from obtaining a boarding pass again.

Remember, when the attraction first opened, those with an early boarding group were able to get another boarding group later in the day. Public outcry forced Disney to quickly close this loophole. This arrangement would just be an extension of that idea.

Furthermore, this could even be extended to those with multi-day passes, such that anyone holding such a ticket would only be able to ride the attraction once during the entire validity period of the ticket, whether it be three days, four days, seven days, or ten days.

Lottery With Priority for Resort Guests

Another option with any of these lottery systems would enable Disney to give priority in the lottery to guests staying at Disney resorts, thus increasing the value of the on-property resorts. Imagine if resort guests were given two entries to the lottery, while offsite guests were given one. This would encourage people to stay onsite at a Disney resort, putting more money in Disney’s pocket. Just like the 60-day FastPass window and Extra Magic Hours, this perk to staying onsite would cost virtually nothing while increasing the value proposition of onsite resorts.

The Old-Fashioned Way

Long before FastPass and smartphones existed, and even after those inventions, every theme park attraction opened with one line for everyone. Universal opted for this arrangement with the opening of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Sure there were ten-hour waits, but that brought news coverage from around the globe and highlighted the new attraction to many that had never even heard about it. Whether you consider this to be a PR debacle or a genius move, the ability for guests to self-select for the attraction gave people the option to wait or do something else. They didn’t have to arrive before dawn without actually knowing if they would get to experience the attraction. If they wanted to wait in line, they did. If they didn’t want to wait in line, they didn’t have to. But at least by waiting in line, you’d know you’re going to get to ride (unless there is extended downtime, which happens anyway even with boarding groups). Yes, this would encourage people to show up early, but again, the first-come, first-served approach is at least fair. And yes, they would probably have to provide resort transportation at 3 a.m., but again, this is in the interest of fairness.

Extend Park Hours

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, the Magic Kingdom routinely stayed open until midnight every day during the summer. Disneyland still does. Why not just keep Disney’s Hollywood Studios open until 10 or 11 p.m. to allow more guests to experience the attraction? Oh yeah, “Because Money”…

A Few Last Thoughts

No matter whether Disney implements any of the above improvements to the current virtual queue system, there are still some aspects of the situation that are not only maddening to me, but a loss of easy revenue for Disney.

With thousands of people in the park at 6:30 a.m., you’d have to figure that most of them rolled out of bed and headed straight for the park, with coffee and breakfast not even entering their mind. So, wouldn’t it make sense to have abundant options for coffee and breakfast in the park, starting at 6:30? The demand sure is there, as evidenced by the ridiculously long lines for Trolley Car Cafe, Ronto Roasters, and Woody’s Lunch Box. Wouldn’t it make sense to open Backlot Express with breakfast service at 6:30 a.m. so people could at least get some nourishment or caffeine while frantically trying to obtain a boarding pass? Or at least provide some additional ways to get coffee besides the overtaxed Starbucks and Joffrey’s. This is obviously a revenue-generating opportunity that Disney has ignored. And as the temperatures in the 50s this morning will remind you, Woody’s Lunch Box, with its inadequate outdoor seating, isn’t a great option, especially as we head into the heart of winter.

Have you come up with any ideas about how to improve the virtual queue system? Post them in the comments below!

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116 thoughts on “EDITORIAL: The Rise of the Resistance Boarding Pass System Has Failed, Here’s Some Better Ideas”

  1. This article was good until you started to penalize guests who are local. A guest is a guest and if you want to start penalizing people who purchase ticket that live locally the completely goes against the fairness that is being conveyed in this article. Most locals don’t go many times. You know who does attend frequently, bloggers and reporters that post pictures every day of the line and crowds. The system is not working and just opening the park earlier is not working. They need to get the ride running consistently and start the stand-by line. Having tickets gone in seconds is a huge fail.

    • “A guest is a guest” – in a perfect world, yes. But you must realize that this is not true. Guests who stay on property are given more perks than those offsite. APs are given more perks than those that are not. And in Disney’s mind, your $500 FL Resident AP is a pretty big discount compared to the family from Kansas that bought a 7-day park hopper for that same price.

      Look, I’m an annual passholder too, but I’d still advocate for limiting repeat rides to one every 5-7 days. If you’re a local you can go every week and ride 50 times a year. That family from Kansas that spent more money for their tickets than you did maybe didn’t get to ride it at all.

      And how can you advocate that a guest is a guest then complain that bloggers and reporters attend frequently? That’s pretty hypocritical.

      • As someone who frequents the CA park a few times a year for vacation, im 100% for capping the locals access. You haven’t felt the brunt of ap oversaturation until you come to disneyland. It’s simply not fair that the locals get WAY cheaper ap’s and tickets and then completely jam pack the parks. Disney does little to level the playing field with vacationers and locals except for when they banned “camping” for fantasmic. It was SO satisfying when the locals were upset that they couldn’t hold the best spots all day.

  2. It all boils down to the fact that Disney does not have systems in place to handle these ideas. We used their second system of being in and on the app at 7am. However, it did not recognize two of the family members who were with us causing such a delay and a late boarding group by the time we deleted them. We asked how could we check before attempting this again and the answer was you can’t. Entrance queues don’t talk to RoR app so it happens!!!! Open up fast passes like everything else and then others have option to wait in line. The ride never works continually (we never got on in group 85) and although it’s a great ride as far as technology goes it isn’t the end all that Disney likes to believe. If you aren’t into Star Wars you aren’t understanding much of it. Right now the system in place discriminates families with small children who can’t be dragged out of bed, elderly who can’t deal with crowds or the speed needed to do this, and those that are clueless with Disney app/ smart phones etc.

  3. I agree. Our (my husband and I) next trip is in April. The ride is not on our plan. With all the problems, until they are ironed out, we will avoid. The same with smugglers run.

    • I agree — we’re also going in April (after Easter) but did you know that Smuggler’s Run will start having a Fastpass+ starting mid-February? We may be able to get on one ride in GE at least!

  4. Great ideas in your article! My daughter just started with the DCP and will be working in Galaxy’s Edge. She bought a ticket and rode yesterday. We are visiting next month and I’m studying up on how to visit her and ride the new ride:)

    • Hope they pay your daughter a living wage. The people who work at the park are such great folks and as a passholder and shareholder, I really hope they treat her well! Good luck to her on her new job :)

  5. This makes too much sense for the dum-dums sitting in Team Disney building across from Disney Spring to comprehend.

  6. It would help if guests could setup their boarding group before the process opens. We had an issue where one of our group wasn’t registrting in the app. It would have been nice to know there was a issue earlier in the process.

    • if you would have gone to guest relations after you had the boarding pass for everyone else- they would have helped getting the last member of your group added. It happened to us too. and they fixed so all members could ride.

  7. At a minimum they should move to having open window where guests can enter lottery queue prior to selections being made. That concept works well with Ticketmaster. The evening before would be best option, they should be able to geolocate mobile devices to make sure folks are at least within Disney boundaries, that would mean local folks would have to at least be on property to jump into lottery for the next day.

  8. Hi Jason! This was a great article. We are going to Disney World in 4 weeks and have planned this entire trip around our love of Star Wars. I have been reading about all of the issues with the Rise of the Resistance and am so worried that we wont have the opportunity to ride during our trip. You made great points in your article and as a guest who always spends the additional money each year to stay at a Disney resort, I absolutely agree that resort guests should get a better chance of riding. In fact, I think that resort guests should be guaranteed 1 ride per family per the duration of your trip on each of the Star Wars rides. Otherwise what is the point of staying on Disney property? It’s not like they are giving access a few hours early to Galaxys Edge each day for resort guests, so right now there are literally no Star Wars benefits at all for resort guests. Anyway, good points and thanks for the great article!

    • We are going in 7 weeks, and our whole trip is for galaxy edge also. I am hoping Disney makes a change by then and resort guest gets one boarding pass per family member. Or atlease fix the glitch, you dont even have to be in the park or even in FL to get a boarding pass. The system is letting others get passes.

  9. It’s way too popular for any system to be “good”, I think. I wonder if a combination of some FP+ released at 60/30/7 days, then a lottery system for others, then some standby allowed each day might be better. Rather than trying one thing only. I do like your ideas of only allowing people to ride once during a one week (or whatever) timeline. And, yes, PLEASE HAVE MORE FOOD AT 6:30am!

  10. So.. with your system, I could go to the park every day for months and never get picked by the computer at random… no matter what time I arrived…. I respect your opinion… I do not agree with it… I was just there Jan 20th and walked into HS at 6:45 am and at 7am joined boarding group 72 and was riding ROTR at 12:15 pm We had married friends that somehow did not link each others tickets and both got a boarding group number. to ride…. Every possible variation of creating a fair way to ride has it’s flaws… Apps crashes… slow internet… unfair advantages for some… Most people deal with it and move on… there is no perfect system…

    • With the lottery system the day before that I proposed, you wouldn’t have to go to the park every day for months. You’d know the night before whether you were picked or not. Thus saving you a lot of time.

  11. Interesting ideas. I think giving people at Disney resorts more chances at a boarding pass would infuriate all who spend the money to stay at Disney in order to increase their chance and then still don’t get one. If that was Disney’s approach, it would have to be a guaranteed boarding pass.

    • That’s a great idea that I hadn’t put in my original article. If you book a hotel package for a minimum of 3 nights you get a guaranteed boarding group one of the days.

      • Sure that’s a way to incentivize folks to stay at an onsite resort…but, what about locals and resident passholders who have also spent money as well?
        A. Leave the boarding group system as-is. If you have already rode once within a certain timeframe, you are moved to the back of the line by the computer for a time.
        B. Add a limited number of FastPass/standby spots once boarding groups have been filled, provided that capacity has not been reached nor a large number of breakdowns have occurred.
        C. Add a single rider line

  12. Here’s my idea: Don’t require guests to be in the park to try and get a boarding group. If someone has a dining reservation in Hollywood Studios in their My Disney Experience app for a certain day, then they should be allowed to try and get into a boarding group for that day earlier. At best, more people will make dining reservations to be able to get into the drawing earlier, which would still put more money in Disney’s wallet. At worst, it’s people making dining reservations that they have no intention of showing up for, in hopes of landing a boarding pass. Middle ground: The get their boarding pass, but then cancel their reservation. Easy solution to that: If the reservation is cancelled, so is the boarding group reservation. Other than that, allow guests anywhere on property, which should easily be able to be racked via GPS, to get in on the lottery. If they’re eating breakfast at their resort, or are on the way to HS via bus or Skyliner, or even car, they would still have a chance. With this option, maybe open boarding groups for a given day earlier than park opening by a few hours. Similar to the original first come, first serve method, without needing to deploy employees early.

    • That’s mostly what I had proposed. I don’t like your dining reservation idea though. First it would screw up all dining reservations for that park. There’s no need to connect the two. And Disney doesn’t need a way to entice people to book dining reservations, the restaurants are almost completely full anyway.

      Disney couldn’t even figure out how to cancel Fastpasses for people when they canceled their hotel reservation, so how are they going to be able to do that for dining reservations?

  13. Yes! Wonderful ideas! I was fortunate enough to experience Rise of the Resistance twice during my early December trip. We got up before the crack of dawn, made it to Hollywood Studios early for extra magic hours (6-8 AM), and stood in line. They let us into Hollywood Boulevard early and we were told we couldn’t join a boarding group until the park officially opened at 8 AM. While in line for Slinky Dog Dash, we heard rumors that boarding groups were available and were able to get an afternoon boarding group. That was around 7:30. I felt like it was both fair (more of a first come, first served system) and also a bit of luck (since the app crashes a lot and the window obviously opened much earlier than we were told it would open). I cannot even imagine going through all that effort of getting up at 4 AM and getting to the park to not be able to ride all day. I heartily agree with the assessment of food being scarce. We were not able to have breakfast at our resort due to the very early hour. In fact, our food court didn’t start serving until 7 AM! That’s rough when you’re trying to make even a normal 8 AM extra magic hours morning. Thankfully, we had packed some dry cereal we could eat in the room. Still, by 9 AM, we were starving. The lines for Woody’s Lunch Box were very long!! I was too hangry to stand in that line to get some substandard pop tarts. I was frustrated Backlot Express wasn’t going to open for another 2 hours. We ended up at Docking Bay 7, which thankfully wasn’t too crowded. They started serving lunch at 9 AM, which was fine by us since we were ready for lunch after being up for 5 hours. I heard other guests in line complain because they wanted breakfast options. I can understand that. I think Hollywood Studios has a ways to go to figure out all these “growing pains.”

  14. I think they need to incentivize resort guests. I would open morning EMH on Tuesday’s and Friday’s for one hour before regular park opening and make available 50% of the days allotted BG’s (if it’s 100 regular and 40 back up for 140 on day make 50 regular and 20 backup available). That way they give resort guests a perk while still leaving day guests opportunity to ride. It might also lighten the crowds those 2 days. During AP blackout around Christmas and New Years there were plenty of BG available even 2 hours after scheduled park opening.

  15. All really solid ideas, and I especially hope Disney puts the “evening before lottery” in place. Knowing my family, we’d still be in the park near opening time and likely spend the exact same amount on in-park purchases during the day, but we could just plan our day around our fast passes a little more efficiently (and probably with way less stress)! And a second lottery entry for staying at a Disney property would really just be another great reason (of many) to stay at one of their resorts.

  16. How about paper boarding passes as guest enter the park with a return time this solves app problems and The first come first serve issue. It would also serve as a default fast past for any guest if the ride were to break down for more that two hours.

  17. For people staying on property, they could give them the option to select a boarding pass when they start to choose their fast passes. They could plan their fast passes around the day and time they were assigned a boarding pass. If they don’t make it for their time, then other folks would have an opportunity to ride like you mentioned earlier in your article. We travel to Disney every year and I have two young kids, 8 & 4. Getting them up and moving at the crack of dawn along with my wife does not happen. Also this year will be my niece and nephew’s first trip my niece being 10 and my nephew is under one year old. This would be fair for everyone setting fast passes, but would also allow for boarding groups for locals as they arrive at the park for first come first serve.

  18. I think the virtual queue currently in use in horrible! I think they just turn on FastPasses for the attraction & have the old fashioned lines. The idea of getting up ungodly early to try to ride is ridiculous

  19. I totally understand why Disney doesn’t want to go back to the first-come first-serve method. There were too few people in the park entering at 5am to warrant paying hundreds of cast members to work the rides, shops, and other jobs. After all, they are a business and capitalism is a thing. They would be losing alot of money everyday. However, I don’t like this new system. I like the options you gave about entering an actually lottery beforehand and I really want the old version back. I’m fine with waking up a few hours earlier to get a boarding group, but also experience DHS with little to no wait times and finish the whole park before it’s official opening. I just wish Rise could start to work soon so this whole system can go away.

  20. Go back to paper fast passes for this attraction or line up at the FP+ Kiosks on the day of to get a boarding pass. First come – first served queue at kiosks.

  21. I’m a FL Resident Premium AP and I paid for my ticket same as someone from Indiana or the UK or whatever. There’s no reason that I should be locked out if I’m there in time to get a boarding group.

    • You paid way less for your ticket (on a per-day basis) and can go more often. And you wouldn’t be locked out unless you rode it in the past week.

  22. The first iteration of virtual queue was replaced not because of Disney saving money On transportation but because they were getting THOUSANDS of complaints from people who got there at the posted opening time, with zero idea the park could potentially open earlier, thereby losing their chance to ride. They’d ask why wouldn’t you change the park hours on the apps or posted at the hotels? If the park opened earlier than scheduled prior to ROTR and you got there an hour into operation you’d lose nothing. With ROTR you lose perhaps the primary reason your arrived.

    The second version is MUCH fairer. Disney can tell a specific time to be there by and if they don’t make it by then, it’s the guests fault.

    • Complaints that Disney didn’t tell people the park could open early. Well, Disney has never been good at communication. There is no reason they couldn’t update the opening time on the times guides or app.

      And “Disney can tell a specific time to be there by and if they don’t make it by then, it’s the guests fault.” – well, what if they are there by that time and still don’t get a boarding pass. Then whose fault is it? Cause this happens all time time.

  23. This is the best post I have seen on this situation. All the suggestions seem great and much better/fairer than the current system.

  24. Hey Jason, Ill be honest and skimmed through the article so if I touched on one of your ideas or something, I apologize. First off, we have been 3 times and haven’t had any issues really. Went smooth for us. However I know some have had issues. I am a local AP so it’s no problem for me to come back but I feel for those who are actually on vacation and on property. Here is a rough idea…prolly has loopholes too and would have to be critiqued. I like the idea of priority for resorts guests so why couldnt they have like two times to get boarding passes, with priority early for the guests up to certain time then have a second wave/time to get boarding passes for other guests. Like doing 7am for resorts guests that allows them to get get passes from 1 to 60 then other guests would have to wait until say noon to get the rest of the boarding passes. Again thats a rough idea, I am sure it would have to be a trial and error thing because of times and how many boarding passes to resort guest vs other guests. Seems doing that also would keep down maybe some of the early morning surge and then mid to late morning you would have the other surge of guests. I dunno…hope that makes sense. Just brainstorming.

  25. Standard line, no fastpass, no limits, but scan each guest to allow only 1 ride per day (or even 1 ride per say 3-5 days.) If line is 5 hours long, then entrance to the line closes say 6 hours before park closing. If the line is 3 hours long, it’ll close 4 hours before closing. This allows everyone who got there early enough to ride before park closing to ride, it builds in an hour of downtime, and nobody HAS to be there first thing in the morning(obviously the sooner you get there the smaller the line will be which is it’s own benefit.) The ride will close about when it normally would have, possibly even sooner to allow for testing and maintenance and for everyone to ride who wants to ride. It’s similar to Hagrid at Universal, though with all of Disney’s tech improvements you could further limit people from re-riding which would keep the line shorter.

  26. One more variation on the Lottery the Night Before – open the lottery 24 hours early. Allow lottery requests to enter the lottery. Then Disney pushes the messages to everyone at park opening time. Everyone has an equal chance, and you don’t have to be physically in the park to enter or hear back on how you did in the lottery.

  27. I would offer limited fast passes to resort guests and annual pass holders as a Tier 1 and have the remaining boarding groups added to the my Disney experience as soon as you scan your ticket, automatically. Let’s face it…not too many people are still rope dropping toy story land. You have to choose at other parks with the tiers, why not here as well.

  28. I really disagree with you.

    They can’t staff buses for days and weeks on end starting at 3am. It’s not logical. They can’t have a 10hr line anywhere without it being a fire hazard / crowd control issue.

    They can’t have the ride open earlier or later forever because the cast members are so much a part of the ride.

    The virtual que is working. I rode it. And was only there one day and arrived at the park at 6:30am on New Year’s Eve. The folks that seem the most upset are the locals and the cast members who I believe are still blacked out.

    As to the downtime on the ride … yes. I don’t know what the issues are but rides do break down. And Hagrids breaks a lot! I’ve never ridden it. But I do know bloggers that went to universal for a week and had it break every time they got online and they never rode. 🙁

    • I’d like to respectfully disagree with you.
      You say they can’t staff buses at 3am. Why not? Other than money.
      They can’t have a 10 hour line? Universal did, I’m sure Disney could figure it out.
      They can’t have the ride open earlier or later? Why not? Other than money.

      • Money and workers conditions. I can’t imagine being a Disney bus driver and then being told I had to be at work by 3am every day.

        It’s not just money – it’s asking the employee/cast member to take that on indefinitely.

        What they have done works for anyone that can be there when the park opens. If you don’t want to get up early you’ll probably miss out. But everything I’ve seen from folks that are there by 6:30 is they are getting to ride.

        None of the line issues are really the problem. The problem is the breakdowns and the park not knowing how it will operate that day. And the boarding pass system also helps them hide that a bit. Another incentive.

        • We all know this won’t be indefinite. But bus drivers and other workers have to work when they are needed. What about the overnight cleaning crew? Lots of jobs are 24/7 and people have to work the overnight shift.

          But yes the ride not operating reliably is the biggest issue facing them right now. We as guests suffer because of that.

  29. I liked the first option – Lottery System Without the Hassle of Refreshing the App + limit Annual Passholders to 1-2 boarding groups per month. I’ve seen a lot of AP’ers get one it every day, while others not at all. The lottery system is so random, plus factoring in technology challenges. You only get a few seconds to try for a boarding pass which makes it a stressful and frustrating experience.

  30. It’s not a lottery. It’s first come first serve at park open. The original idea where people would stand in line outside the gate for 4 hours completely screwed over disabled people. I have no complaints about the new version. If it bothers you so much get over yourself and wait till the hype dies down.

  31. Hello,I like your idea of making the lottery the day before, that way all the people have the same opportunity to get into the ride, but I will do it with half of the available passes that day, and half the actual ride day,available to all the people that requested (like a option on the app to put you in lane) and are actually that day in the park. Because not everyone is going to disney for this attraction, it will only give opportunities to the ones that requested it, and can automatically assign you a boarding pass.

  32. The most fair and easy way would be to eliminate the app altogether. As soon as a guest has entered the park bam theyre placed in a boarding group. As long as their available. You get a notification via app this is your group with an option accept or decline. If you accept thats your group, if you decline then it gets put back in for later. Lets say your ticket has issues on entering. Having Guest Experience teams on standby and have them copy group numbers through the system for the same parties. Also you can have teams stationed as well to scan a ticket to see a boarding group if someone doesnt have a phone at all. This would be for day of ticket people without the app account. Just some food for thought and would make this easier without stress on the app.

  33. I wonder what the background of your writers on this site are because I think having someone with a technical background, besides just observing theme parks for years, (Actual engineering, computer science, etc.) would do wonders for broadening the perceptions of this site.

    First, there is no attraction at a Disney park, or any theme park in the world that is capable of allowing every guest through a gate to ride in a given day. There will always be winners and losers. The challenge of operations is to try and allow as many people onto an attraction, WHILE, providing guests with the highest satisfaction possible.

    Typically guests self sort themselves. Weighing the cost of waiting in line for hours vs the benefit of the riding the attraction. However, waiting hours on end, with the likelihood of the queue being dumped due to a breakdown and you being forced to wait in line again is not good for guest satisfaction. Not everyone waiting when it breaks down could get a fastpass to return since that would destroy any further standby line (see days when Frozen Ever After literally had to close for standby guests since so many guests had fastpass). With a physical queue you could potential spend your entire day waiting in line, and not get the chance to ride. And at best, most guests would have a longer than posted wait time. Quite an infuriating experience don’t you think?

    The inherent flaw, or possibly benefit, with any virtual queue (fastpass, maxpass, tapu tapu) is it removes the barrier of standing in line, and waiting on your feet. There is no cost of time for the user to join a virtual queue so demand will always be exponentially higher than that of a physical queue. However, being able to spend your time not waiting in a physical line is a much better guest experience. By not giving a guest a specified return time, you don’t create the expectation of a “wait” so breakdowns don’t affect guests as severely.

    When it comes to allocating the boarding groups, while it might be true that you don’t need to show up at 4:00 to get a boarding group with the old system, guests will consistently attempt to get to the park earlier and earlier in an effort to be first. That is just not sustainable for Disney. Not only from a cost perspective, but a safety side as well. You cannot continue to have cars back up highways and large crowds congregating in parking lots and roadways. Instead Disney is trying to create a deterrent that isn’t inherently present with a virtual queue by not providing guests who arrive early with a better chance. Instead they are encouraging guests to show up right a park opening.

    And regardless of when the boarding group enrollment opens, the passes will all be distributed at the same time, that is a factor of the amount of guests who have already entered into the park. So the thought that this system somehow makes boarding passes run out earlier is not true. It simply means that more guests are arriving than the first few weeks.

    People need to realize that rides are only capable of operating for a fixed number of hours each day, and nightly maintenance is a required fixed part of every attraction. If it’s not complete the attractions literally cannot allow guest onboard. So extending park hours, opening the attraction early or keeping it open late are simply not possible.

    As for the aspect of fairness, a physical queue is obviously the fairest method. First come, first served. But having to stand and wait the entire time is a poor guest experience. As far as a boarding group, while it might not be fairest, nothing at Disney, or in life really is truly fair. But this creates the best guest satisfaction. Because you know from the beginning of the day if you are going to ride or not. And while it may not be ideal, any logical person is not going to let their day be ruined by not riding an attraction, whether that is because the line was simply too long during the day, or they didn’t get a boarding group.

    And as for the constant complaints of Disney not spending money that are prevalent across this site; it’s not just about adding some more staff to the toll booths and turnstiles in the morning. It’s about expanding the hours of the entire bus fleet and skyliner fleet (which also have a fixed amount of hours each asset can run daily), adding additional cast to complete nightly duties like custodial and maintenance work around the park, opening F&B at the resorts early, bringing in more expensive management and directors to oversee the extended hours of all hourly casts. The cost is significant to the entire resort not just hollywood studios and that requires coordination across multiple departments, and budgets to be reallocated throughout multiple departments all to appease the operational team at studios.

    So before speculating on everything that you think Disney can be doing better, try to understand that there are a lot more nuances to every decision that the authors of this site are incapable of, or unwilling to consider.

    • First of all I resent your assertion that writers on this site aren’t educated with a technical background. For your information I have a Ph.D from MIT.

      However you do make some valid points which is why I decided to reply instead of just ignoring you.

      Much of your argument deals with breakdowns and guest experience. Maybe Disney should have tested the ride better to make sure it doesn’t break down so much.

      As for the spending money part. The resort restaurants and Skyliner still don’t open early enough to get food and get to the park before it opens. Food courts open at 7am and the Skyliner at 7 or 7:30am. So Disney DID NOT add additional cast as you say they would have to. They just opt not to do it. So really it’s only the toll booths and front gate staff that need to be increased. But the point of the article is that there are ways to improve the guest experience without doing that.

      You didn’t address why a lottery the day before wouldn’t be an improvement in guest experience at no additional cost to Disney. In fact it would lower costs because thousands of guests wouldn’t voluntarily show up at 6:30 am if they already knew they had a later boarding group. THIS SAVES MONEY. These guests could then eat breakfast at their resort before coming to the park, MAKING DISNEY MORE MONEY.

      • First Jason I want to thank you for your reply and starting a dialogue.

        You bring up a good point with the night before lottery. Much like FP+ that would better allow Disney to plan out their resources and you are right people wouldn’t come early if they didn’t get the boarding group. But I think that is where the fatal flaw with this system lies. While it might only be a small percentage, if a family has limited time at Disney and has to choose between going to studios for a day vs another Disney park, not being able to secure a boarding group could deter them from ever stepping for inside the park. While it is all one resort, all the parks operate almost like independent busnisss, so I can’t ever see the studios management team choosing to deter people from coming into their park, dropping their in park sales revenue.

        All of that doesn’t even touch the biggest issue of communicating properly to all guests the requirements for the lottery. While any system besides a pure standby line will have some learning curve for guests – and ultimately disappointed guests who didn’t understand what they needed to do – requiring them to sign up the night before during fixed hours just seems ripe for confusion and frustration from guests. At least with the morning of, guests understand they need to be at the park and can ask cast onsite for assistance if they don’t know what to do.

        And you are right. Disney still has not extended F&B and transport hours. And that was my point. Guests were angry and upset they couldn’t get food and couldn’t take Disney transport to get to the park and your site certainly reported on those frustrations. The cost to doing that was so prohibitive that Disney felt compelled to make a change to the distribution of boarding groups to better the guest experience. Now guests can at least take buses which are running an hour before the park opens and get food in the park almost immediately once the park opens (though I agree more F&B should be open in the park) instead of waiting outside the park at ridiculous hours with nothing to eat.

        As for my technical background comment, I think your recommendation that they should “have tested the ride better” shows what I’m trying to get at. It’s just not that simple. Let’s imagine that Disney had just another month of testing. What then? If you encounter problems and you don’t know the solution, what can you do? And if you do find a solution, but know it will take months, if not years to implement the software and hardware fixes, then what? At some point you need to open the attraction and address the issues down the road. No ride will ever have all it’s issues fixed, even years after opening. This site seems to operate under the principle that if Disney just had spent more money, and more time, everything would be running smoothly, but the reality is, at some point you just design a system that is too complex. Instead of scrapping what they had, Disney decided to make it work as best as they could.

        This isn’t an attraction like Frozen Ever After, which had a disastrous opening, but quickly stabilized once it could be load tested and small fixes made. Once a generation, Disney seems to make a ride that pushes the limits of what is truly possible with today’s technology. This generation’s is rise, and before that it was test track. That ride was delayed nearly two years to rework the entire ride control system. So I’m sure people would much rather have this ride open and at least running rather than wait for Disney to completely redesign some of the systems to address constant down time drivers. This very day, test track is undergoing extensive refurbishments to address downtime issues. Is that ride “not finished yet” as WDWNTs Twitter loves to say about Rise? The sheer complexity of this attraction is what drives downtime’s. And even if the problem requires just a simple power reset, the time to evacuate guests across this massive show building is fixed, meaning even the smallest downtime’s can reach at least an hour.

        And you have to remember Disney’s engineering, unlike nearly every other company, is unique. They are in the business of building prototypes. Very rarely is a ride cloned so they almost never get the chance to iterate on the designs. And while portions of ride systems may have been used before, each ride is truly a unique application with its own challenges. Even though this site likes to claim this is trackless technology, it’s not new, the truth is that it’s an entirely new application at the system level. Never has there been this many ride vehicles in this large a space at the same time, with omnidirectional vehicles moving as quickly as they do, operating over a 3D space now that two floors are involved, and mating with separate ride systems.

        I know that Disney’s engineers are in this for the long run and willing to put in the work needed to eventually get the to the same stability as its other E tickets, but it is not an easy process. These are the card that have been dealt, guest got an incredible attraction that is “a return to form for imagineering” and Disney pushes itself to its limits to meet guest expectations. And while we unfortunately have to live in this necessary period of growing pains for the ride, Disney is certainly doing what it believes to be best for the overall satisfaction of its guests.

    • You said everything much better than me. I personally think the virtual que has been great. And i was so glad it existed because we didn’t want to wait three hours plus in line and we did want to ride. We had no issues with the virtual que.

      I do think it’s obvious the author has never hired / managed employees before. You can’t just “add employees.” You have to find folks willing to take on customer service roles on a graveyard shift. Good. Luck. Not to mention the inherent liability of drivers starting at 3/4am.

      • Workers will do anything if you pay them enough.
        Bus drivers work at 3am in many major cities, so I’m sure there’s a way for it to happen.

  34. Nicely done Jason. You nailed the suggestions. We had a good experience in December, except for few to no food options. And unscheduled lottery start time where we got group 43 only 3 minutes into the period. Disney has lots of opportunities to do better if they get your post.

  35. Going to a Walt Disney Theme Park should be a pain free experience (as in less fussing over obtaining admittance onto a Ride, or Attraction). Especially for Park Guests visiting from out of town (we’re not those who live locally with a year pass that can come and go at will). This Group Pass + Disney App system is a disservice and it’s going to make Park Guests go elsewhere (ie Universal Studios). Or, it’s going to make Park Guests not even visit for the new Ride / Attraction until the hype dies down (assuming less Park Guests wanting to get onto a Ride / Attraction will eliminate the need for these Board Group Passes). If this is the path Team Disney is taking at their Theme Parks for all popular Rides / Attractions (a system that’s forcing Park Guests to get into the Theme Park at a ridiculous early hour), then I predict a % not even bothering to visit and that % will increase. if this new Ride is so innovative? it should meet a Rider Capacity per Hour with minimal down time (don’t be a broken Indiana Jones!) It wasn’t so bad letting Park Guests queue up with a separate Single Rider line, right? It was an incentive to allow Park Guests at a Disney Resort the option of getting admission into a Disney Theme Park an hour earlier, right? (this current system just eliminates both) 🤷🏼‍♂️

  36. Tried to argue these exact
    Points on the WDW subreddit and the overly committed disney stans ate me
    Alive. I dont see how anyone could think this current BG system is good. Another option would be to create one line for people willing to wait, and have everyone else do the night before lottery entry suggested in the article. People should have the option to wait in line if they want to and the option to NOT wake up at 5am if they dont want to.

    • Hahaha the WDW subreddit. They are almost paid shills. At least here you can express your sensible opinion and people will take it for what it is.

  37. I think the problem with doing the lottery the night before is that many more people would sign up because it would be so much easier than being in the park at 6:30 am. This means that a far lower percentage of people who sign up will get a boarding pass number.
    On the other hand, I love the idea of letting people enter the lottery in the park starting at 6:30 and then Disney assigning random numbers at 7 am. This eliminates the mad rush at 7 am and doesn’t punish people who have a random problem with the app right at 7. I hope Disney adopts your idea. I think it makes a lot of sense.

  38. The ideas you have are completely reasonable and would help a lot of people out. I don’t see them getting rid of the lottery virtual queue though since it’s generating them so much money from people shopping to people getting food. I just went last week and it was such an amazing experience that was worth it and I’m so glad it was because of the amount of effort put to get on a boarding group. What I don’t like though is that if you have children, the morning boarding group system is twice the effort. 1) you don’t want to bring a stroller or bags so that way you can just walk right in 2) you pretty much need to take a Lyft and just carry your child without a car seat while you wait in traffic if you’re staying on site. 3) because everything is still closed off at 6:30 the line to the bathroom is crazy so good luck if you or your kid is holding it.
    I think if they want to accommodate on site guests then at closing time (8pm currently) the app should allow them to join a boarding group at that time for the following day. Transportation runs an hour and half after closing so guests would be able to still travel back to their resort safe and sound and this would reduce the amount of traffic in the morning for the ride share line.
    I also believe that boarding groups shouldn’t go all the way to the end of the day because all remaining boarding groups get called around 6pm and then the ride breaks and if you’re on a back up boarding group you’re screwed and the effort was for nothing except maybe part of the experience lol. If the lottery went to 6pm and then they left the last two hours for standby lines, the old fashioned way, then at least if the ride breaks down you’re not as upset that you woke up before the sun rose for nothing.
    I do think because the crowds are less at the moment that this lottery solution isn’t so bad but come summer time I don’t see this working out and they probably won’t be handing out fast passes for the next day either as the crowd size builds up.

  39. I live in Orlando. I still haven’t been on this ride. Nothing like being there when the park opens and STILL not being able to get in the line. It’s seriously turning me off of the whole Galaxy’s Edge concept.

  40. I agree with your ideas on how to improve the lottery system, especially the night b4 idea. As far as fair, hey, life isn’t fair. Never was, never will be.

  41. We were there on 1/22/20. Stayed at Disney and got to the park before 7. It was 7:05 when we got through the gate. I had my finger on the button as I went through the gate. 5 minutes after park opened we were in queue 91. Needless to say we never got the call. Shame you get in the park 5 minutes late due to long line and can’t get on the ride.

  42. I don’t know, Jason. We were there at Hollywood studios Friday morning (Jan 24) with about two or three thousand other people waiting to get in. We showed up at 6:00 but we didn’t need to. Anybody who got there before 6:40 was going to be inside the park by 7, and if they had the app and were paying attention at the stroke of 7:00, could get in a boarding group. We talked to a lot of visitors all day (trading boarding group stories) and basically anyone who came before seven got in a boarding group. Some who got into the park a bit after seven got in boarding groups with higher numbers, which meant they rode the ride around 5pm.

    So a system is in place that doesn’t incentivize camping out at the park gates at 5:00am and gives anyone who came to the park before it opens a pretty good shot (almost guaranteed?) at getting into a boarding group. I don’t see how that is so gripe-worthy. It rewards those who pay a price to come early, without asking them to come unhealthily early.

    YES this is rough on people with failing devices or bad internet. I don’t really buy the app crash narrative and I don’t think a huge percentage of people are dealing with issues like that. Again this is anecdotal but everyone who got in the park before seven on Friday seemed to easily and happily get the job done. Bad internet makes life bad on all kinds of levels (uber / ticketmaster / fandango / ….) and it is a bit of a stretch to say “Disney please can we go back in time and do it the old way for the sake of 3% of the population”. Does anyone want to camp out all night for concert tickets like the old days because some folks have crummy devices? Not really. The digital method is better, though imperfect. By the way you should NOT use the park wifi for getting in these boarding groups. Use your device’s internet plan.

    Having said all this, your lottery idea is pretty good. It takes away the stress (and there was a lot of stress) of sitting there at 6:59 refreshing again and again and again. I just didn’t really encounter anyone there who didn’t get in a group. Maybe the system is having its rough edges sanded off.

    You seem to be in favor of first come first served because it is “fair”. That it is, but it really silently discriminates against families with little kids. They just don’t have the stamina to come that early and wait in the dark for a couple of hours, and I think it would really be a shame if attractions at the parks only were accessible to the kind of people who have the energy to camp out at 5:00am. We really want kids to be able to participate in all these things, right? It would be hard to be a parent of 8 year olds explaining to them why the happiest place on earth is characterized by darkness and boredom for the first two hours you are there. ha ha.

    I think Disney’s system is imperfect but any system would be, and I think it strikes a good balance.

    Anyway thank you for your article.

    • Thanks Phil for your well-though-out reply. I am not in favor of getting to the park at 3AM just because it is fair. I mainly wanted to use that argument to show how the current system is less fair. I do agree that those with small kids have it the hardest. Part of the reason I haven’t brought my kids to Galaxy’s Edge yet.

      • Thank you for this article! I like the idea of the lottery the night before. Something needs to change..
        We just got back from Disneyland and in the two days we tried and failed to get on the new ride. We arrived in line by 6:15 with our two young children and never were able to get a boarding group earlier than 90. I guess were not lucky. The last day was the saddest because they closed the ride early and never got past 80. My kids were devastated. I hope by the next trip things will be ironed out and we will be able to experience the ride.

  43. Your first suggestions for improvement resemble the system used for Moonlight Magic for DVC members. That system seems to work well and Disney already has that software so I think those are great solutions.

  44. From my perspective, an evening before lottery makes a lot of sense. To require and early morning arrival with all of your party and have no guarantee of getting a boarding slot is NOT guest friendly. We have an upcoming trip and are staying on property. We get to WDW about every four to five years. It is a very costly trip, particularly given that we have a number of kids. I would at least get several shots at the lottery in a night-before lottery without then inconvenience and extreme disappointment of i got my whole crew up early and then didn’t get a boarding group. Disney really needs to fix this.

  45. Kudos to the author for some clever ideas on fixing the virtual queue. However, the virtual queue seems predicated at least in part on the unpredictable performance of the ride. Disney likely knew the ride would experience frequent disruptions, which is probably one reason for its delayed opening. A better long-term solution would be to inprove the ride’s reliability performance, which would allow more consistent theoretical hourly ride capacity and allow the ride to be integrated into the fast pass system.

    • Yes. It seems Disney was either dumb or greedy. They either announced an opening date way too early for the ride to be ready, or wanted to open it as soon as possible to gain additional revenue. I heartily agree they shouldn’t open a ride if it is going to have almost daily breakdowns.

  46. I like the night before lottery. The part you didn’t mention is how there are currently not enough other attractions at Hollywood Studios to sustain the number of guests who must now stay in the park for 12-13 hours. Knowing what time you might get on the ride (if at all) would make for a much more pleasant morning and eliminate so much aimless wandering looking for other things to do that don’t have a 70+ minute line.
    And SPOT ON with the coffee complaint!!! I stood in line longer to get a cup of coffee than I did to meet BB-8. (Only to find the food stand next to Joffrey’s with no line was selling regular coffee for 30 cents less.)
    And in case it matters, after our backup group got called at 6pm and we stood in the queue for 90 minutes, the ride broke and we did not get on.

  47. I say, let the fast passes be sold to Rise. Again, a money generating option.

    However, before anyone else gets a ticket, quad up to wait or a FP, THEY NEED TO GET THE RIDE RUNNING PROPERLY! How embarrassing it is for a family to go there, wait in line, get on the ride and then have to sit and wait while someone fixes the system that is BRAND NEW, and should Not be faulting. I understand that the rides are new and high tech. But they still need to work properly, every day, time and again. Because believe me, (and Disney already knows this, they just refuse to learn from their own experiences),people will STOP coming to the parks if they continue to see and hear about all of these stupid Que/App problems coupled with the failure of the rides themselves. After all, there are plenty of other Disney parks and rides to go see, as well as even many other Theme Parks in the area so that Disney doesn’t get any of their money.

    We all know that since they caved to the unions, they have to oay a lot more money for the same people doing the same job. So, they have to generate more revenue. Well, stop going and see what happens. I obviously know what there are still millions of people from around the world that storm the gates of both US Disney Parks, so it will take a lot to make them see or feel it. But those of us in the U.S. are their main customers, and tend to make the biggest impact.

  48. I’ll be there in April. IF I cannot get a Boarding Pass, so be it! My vacation is very expensive and there are plenty of OTHER things to see and do in Hollywood Studios. At least, there will be a Fastpass+ available for the Millennium Falcon attraction, which is an improvement. I refuse to get to the park at 7 am for ONE stupid ride that breaks down more often than my city’s public buses!

  49. I don’t see why they can’t just turn on FP+ and allocate the number of FPs they think they can accommodate without too much risk of not getting all those people through the queue because of operational problems. If the ride is running well, they could add more FPs the day before or just let the standby line go faster the next day.

  50. We were there the third week in December. Luckily it worked out for us. My kids went over at 6:30, they ended up being Boarding pass 81 and didn’t get called until 1:00. We finished the line we were in, which took a bit, they made it to the ride with 20 minutes to spare. For them, it was all worth it. They absolutely loved the exerience. But I agree they need a better plan. I like the regular line for everybody in the begining. The ultimate first come, first serve.

  51. An evening before lottery and penalizing locals is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Why? It’s not needed. The current system works well as is. If you want to ride, know you have to get there early, have your group linked before you arrive, and turn off WiFi. It’s not really that hard.

  52. Wow, that’s an awful lot of convoluted solutions to a very simple supply/demand problem. Since Disney is not likely to build 2 or 3 more identical rides at the park, the obvious demand-side solution is a surcharge. Disney could adjust it between $20 and $50, depending on the seasons, day-of-week, etc. OR, people could just get over the idea that their lives and happiness and vacation depend on getting on this ride.

    • Don’t you think the whole virtual boarding group and backup boarding group system is convoluted in itself? I sure do.

      I do agree that a surcharge would certainly even out the supply/demand problem. But everyone would be screaming about paying extra after they already paid to get in the park!

      • Walking into the park, clicking an app, and then waiting for your number to be called sounds pretty straightforward to me. Several of your other commenters have confirmed that.

        Yes, people would complain, and probably not as politely as you do in the article above. While the 3:30 am option seems enormously fair to Disney geeks and Star Wars nerds, I suspect the majority of Disney guests have a different definition of what a “vacation” is.

    • What is the $100/day admission fee for then?
      If Disney starts charging $20 extra for this ride, we’ll soon be paying extra for a lot of rides.

      The problem is capacity… Disney knows rides need a certain minimum capacity but has under-built: Soarin’, Flight of Passage, Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash… and so on. (at least they later expanded capacity for TSM and Soarin’)

  53. Your butthurt is just embarrassing at this point. So you don’t get invited to the media events anymore so all you do is complain. Maybe go to Universal for a while

    • Yep all we do is complain. We don’t offer any constructive ideas for improvement. But hey thanks for reading WDWNT and come back soon!

  54. Here’s an idea: how about Disney actually design and build an attraction that has adequate capacity to meet demand? This is the most-hyped Disney attraction EVER and its capacity is dismal. It could and should have been built in duplicate in the first place. Guests shouldn’t have to suffer because of Disney’s poor planning and penny-pinching.

  55. A lot of these problems have actually been caused by Fastpass, so it really can’t be solved with more FP.

    Pre FP, what was the traditional theme park experience? You were either enjoying an attraction or in line for one. People were spread out across various attractions.

    With FP, you can now by-pass the queue, quickly do the attraction and in just a few minutes you’re out looking for something to do.

    By burning through attractions so fast you’re finishing the keys rides too quickly and getting that “half-day park” feeling, or causing more congestion in other lines.

    We’re supposed to be immersing ourselves in the theming and surroundings. Instead people are head down in the phone app and bypassing parts of the attraction to get through it quicker.

    I’d like to see them work on ride capacity so more of can actually enjoy an attraction rather than figure out who should miss out them.

  56. Just charge an added fee to ride – similar to charging a fee to build a lightsaber in Galaxy’s Edge (but not as high !! $ 20? ) and problem solved

  57. Assigning boarding groups the day before requires no effort from the guest and will create more demand. It seems okay but less likely to get a group.

  58. I like the article, hate the title. It is just click-bait (it worked with me…)

    The system has not failed, It is actually much better than 12hr queues. Universal might get away with it, blogs like this one would just kill Disney for allowing that. Lets be real.

    I like the idea of allowing guests to request a Boarding Pass As soon as they go in and then the system pushing a notification at. 7am to everyone. Not sure if I like the idea of allowing people to request one the day before…

    Not having a decent place to have breakfast was my only complaint when I got Group 95 a few weeks ago.

    The virtual queue system is not perfect, but allows people to enjoy the park instead of stand in line for hours, I hope they did this for the Stand-By line of FoP.

    The system has not failed. It is GOOD. Very good. It could be better, that much we can all agree.

    PS: Disney needs a 5th gate… anything else are workarounds… I can only dream.

  59. You are misdirecting your criticism.

    People generally don’t like lotteries, and deem them unfair. First come first served (FCFS) queues are perceived by people as being the most fair and equitable system for distributing scarce resources.There is a large body of research that supports FCFS being the most equitable system.
    I strongly believe if Disney moved to any of your suggestions people wouldn’t appreciate what they had with the current system until it was gone.

    To bring it back to you misdirecting your criticism…The problem is not with distributing the boarding passes at 7am for a FCFS queue; the problems are that the attraction is unreliable and their application for entering the virtual queue is unreliable. This has nothing to do with the queuing system.

    Rather than change a system that in principal is the most equitable, Disney should invest in improving the reliability of the attraction and their smart phone application.

  60. I am confident that Disney has some pretty bright engineers and IT people working both on continuing to increase uptime on the attraction and evaluating and implementing ideas for better handling guest flow. As I read the comments about “fairness” and whether certain types of guests (annual passholders, resort guests, etc.) should get some kind of priority status, I keep thinking about the front line cast members who make visits to these parks special for all of us. Keep in mind that at least through April, they are all blocked out of Studios, even the Studios cast members. I spoke to a cast member this morning who said that she is having Frozen Ever After withdrawal. She has no interest in Rise of the Resistance, but would like to go in and see her favorite shows. I don’t work for Disney, but I have great respect for cast, especially the front line cast who are too often the brunt of actions and rants from entitled guests. So, no matter what your opinion here – treat the cast with respect, reverence even.

  61. Personally I liked the original system. We didn’t Disney transportation. We took a Uber that cost us less that $10 dollars. That’s cheap as far as Disney goes. What was frustrating was the lack of places to eat that early. They could have had a lot more money from us. And lastly, it was joy to be in the park that early and have ridden every ride before 9 and then having our slot for Rise right after. We were done for the day with rides by 11 and then spent the rest of the day leisurely in the park, eating, or reriding some rides.

    Of all the ones mentioned I like the evening before lottery. Of course the best way now would be to just go to the standard stand by line.

  62. The fact that there is a system in place that basically dictates whether or not you can ride a ride is based on how “lucky” you are in the first TWO MINUTES of “park opening” is absolutely deplorable. I’m all for “the old fashioned way” of things, you get to the park at opening, you made a bee line for the attraction, you ride it within an hour probably (although Disney opening the gates before the gates are supposed to be open can throw a monkey wrench into things). But ultimately you see the wait time as 30 minutes or 60, or 180, or 600 then you can make a decision at that point at whether or not you want to stand in line for the ride. The whole “fairness” of waiting in line thing was setup such that someone waiting in line for a ride, or saving a spot for a parade, or whatever isn’t in the line for the ride you’re trying to go on, so it makes your life a tiny bit easier, if 5000 people are standing in line for this ride, that’s 5000 people who aren’t in front of you at a restaurant, or in line, or sitting on the sidewalk waiting for a parade. I get it makes Disney more money to allow people to wait by “not waiting” but the reality is it just makes the parks that much more crowded as a result, because now those 5000 people will be in the park somewhere standing in front of you.

    I was never a fan of FP+ and the ability to reserve “skip the line” passes months in advance, again get into the park early, get your FPs early, ride other rides, use FPs, get new FPs, rinse and repeat throughout the day, but here comes Disney with their “Most people don’t use more than 3 in a day” metric they pulled out of some dark hole. But this new system quite honestly scares the ever living crap out of me, be prepared for Tron to be a similar thing, and over at Disneyland the Avenger’s Campus rides to be similar, the new future of Disney “oh you want to ride some of the new rides? Yeah sorry that’s not happening today because you were 120 seconds too slow with your smartphone, why don’t you try some of our classic attractions!”

  63. This was a great article and all I can say is there are no easy answers. My husband and I just finished a three day trip to Disneyland and did get to ride ROTR once. We were lucky enough to get in boarding group 55 and got our call around 2pm. The next day we were in the park 40 minutes before opening but despite trying right at the start, we got boarding group 115 and they only got up to 96 that day. I am not complaining because we got on once and I’m very grateful. But if yesterday had been our only day there we would have missed out. We are two tech savvy adults in our 40s, using a good phone and not using park wi-fi, so anyone who thinks it’s easy to get in was just lucky. I am in favor of Disney only letting people ride once every three or four days, and then giving priority to ticket holders who have not ridden at all each morning. After those people are assigned boarding groups, open any remaining spots to repeat riders. I don’t know what percentage have ridden more than once so it’s hard to know how much it would help, but Disney should already have the technology to do it. Hoping for a follow up article in a few months.

  64. As an Anaheim passholder, I definitely think that folks staying at the resort should get prioritized over locals like me. If it’s that important for passholders to get on the ride, have a nice stay-cation and book a night at the resort. We can come back anytime, there’s lots of kids who may never get to come back! I saw some disappointed young faces on opening day and it broke my heart.

    People who line up early in the morning for anything non-essential should not be rewarded. It’s insane behavior that no company in the modern era should encourage, even for publicity reasons. The straight lottery without app refreshes sounds fair, and I’d be open to the evening before lottery idea too.

    The park has been really stressful in the morning since the opening of the attraction. I was literally stressed about it for a week before hand! Now that I’ve been on the ride, it’s honestly more of a relief than anything. The ride is cool I guess, but it’s not worth all this stress.

    Good luck everyone, hope you all have a fun time on the ride, see you at the park! :)

  65. Although it’s not perfect you have to credit Disney for at least trying to come up with a fair solution. And as noted elsewhere every solution is going to have flaws.

    To those that say first come first served Is a better solution – our family grew up on Disneyland. A few years back I took my kids to DisneyWORLD for a one-time-only long weekend. The lines for the new Avatar ride were 6-8 hours. We had to basically decide between riding that one ride and seeing the rest of the park. Long lines are not an answer.

    As for technical issues Disney is literally in the bleeding edge with this queue system. I’m more surprised at how many times it has *not* crashed.

    That said here in Washington State we have a system on popular ferry routes heavily used for vacationers where a block of tickets is release 60-90 days in advance, a second block 14 days in advance and a third block 24 hours in advance with a standby. Somewhat similar to Oga’s Cantina reservations. That’s better for folks booking expensive travel.

    I’m guessing Disney is thinking most of these issues will be resolved soon so the current system is good enough. Wish us luck!

  66. I couldn’t agree more. It is a total ripoff. You pay $110 to get into the park and no matter how early you get there, you are not guaranteed anything. My app wouldn’t refresh and all the non back up boarding groups were gone in under 30 secs. We got group 96 and they didn’t even get to group 80 that day. This was at Orlando location. The only positive is that I saw a video of the ride thru another rider and it is nothing special. Its just like all the other simulation rides just with different characters and different flashing lights. Conspicuously missing from ALL 3 rides was the presence of REY. How is that even possible? Go to Universal, people… Harry Potter is much better of an attraction and the rules are much more consumer friendly. Now Disney is prioritizing fast pass selections based on popularity, so not even that is a fair system.

  67. I am a local with a weekday-only annual pass with plenty of blackout dates, which I spent a lot of time saving up for. Like many other locals I sure don’t have any advantages over the tourists who come from thousands of miles away. I have had my blindness partially cured because I got some vision in my left eye following a series of surgeries, but the glaucoma is still there so I have to get up at 5:00 a.m. in order to get to Disney in under 2-3 hours. That is because that is how I can catch the 6:00 a.m. bus intended to carry Disney maids from Orlando to Disney Springs to transfer to get to the hotels, which they clean. This means that the best that I can do is to catch the maids’ bus to Disney, transfer to whichever bus will take me to the Disney hotel closest to the park I wish to attend that day, and then wait with the guests of that hotel to catch the Disney bus to the park. Out-of-town Disney guests can fly clear across the country in no more time than I spent getting to the parks. Then in order to attend and get home from any of the nighttime shows I must catch the guests’ resort bus from the park to some Disney hotel, transfer to a guests’ bus going to Disney Springs, walk through Disney Springs from the drop off point for the Disney hotel buses to the West Side by the Cirque Du Soleil building because that is where the only bus back to Orlando stops. From there I catch the Lynx bus 50 to Sea World and transfer to the I-Ride Trolley line, and then get off at the last trolley stop and walk home from there. There are pleanty of hardworking local Disney fans who do not have the resources to get to Disney all of the time like we are accused of doing by tourists with big vacations budgets because most Orlando workers are in crappy paying service jobs waiting on well-heeled tourists. So that dig about our having some unspeakable advantage is waaaaay beyond the pale of unfariness.

    Because the annual pass I saved for years for is expiring in a few weeks, I don’t expect to get in Rise of the Resistance. Am I disappointed? Of course, but I will certainly have bigger problems in this world. If you think that your vacation is going to be ruined if you don’t get onto Rise of the Resistance, give it a rest and come back in a few years. I shall try to save up enough money to get a ticket when the prospects of getting on the ride are much better, or I shall simply take my money to Disney’s competitors. You are all free to do the same. In fact, if you have all of your money for airline flights, hotels, theme park tickets, etc. etc. etc. while still paying your bills at home, you are not disadvantaged at all because you can go anywhere in the world. I would trade you places in a heartbeat.

  68. I really like the Lottery the Night Before. If you have multiple day tickets, you can choose to go to a different park if you are not successful getting a BP. Then try again for a BP the next evening. Also if you are successful, you can time your visit to the Park. No need to arrive at opening. There is another alternate idea, and that is to treat the BP just like the airlines. Basically you buy a non-refundable park ticket for the exact day you intend to go (well in advance), provided that you receive a BP with a know group number (much like an airline seat assignment). If you don’t show up your ticket is void. Those who couldn’t get a guaranteed BP ahead of time can still “fly stand-by”, just like the alternate BP’s today. Disney gets to sell more tickets as some number will be unable to show up (this is why airlines overbook seats), and attendance is level-loaded as you can’t choose alternate days to use your ticket.

  69. So is it actually a disadvantage if my husband and I both have the apps and are linked to each other and we are both trying to join a boarding group? Will that complicate/confuse the app? Are we better off just having one of us do it? Thanks for your help!

  70. Jason, I appreciate all this info and your ideas. I have another point to add which was not covered. (And I am in CA, but this can be applied to both locations.)
    The app/virtual queue system and even the kiosk boarding pass option are difficult and in my case impossible to use due to disability. I am not alone. I have heard from other friends with disabilities who could not use the system. In my case, I have a condition that includes a sleep disorder and chronic fatigue and it is impossible for me to be up at the early hour required to be at the opening. In CA it is currently 8 am. Still much too early for me. It is not a choice for me. To get up earlier than 8 am and not have the time needed to gradually get ready for my day would literally make me very ill for days. (I can do a 10 am entry at the earliest, and that is pushing it for me.) Several of my friends have the same disability or their children do. Or their kids have intellectual disabilities and the early morning hours don’t work for them because it creates meltdowns, behavior problems, etc. They have not been able to ride. Guest services for visitors with disabilities offer no solutions.
    For guests with disabilities like this, I have a couple of ideas to offer, which I also believe will not cost Disney any more money. They could probably enact both of these ideas simultaneously.
    1st idea: Reserve a small number of seats for each boarding group which would be held till maybe 30 minutes before that group’s turn to board and ride. Like House seats in a Broadway theatre. There are always a number of seats held until half before curtain in case some VIP or friends/family of someone in the show needs last-minute tickets. If not, they sell them to patrons in line. (And I’m sure all the celebs visiting the park are not having to use the virtual queue. They are just ushered onto the ride.)
    2nd idea: Just as you have to make reservations for Oga’s and Savi’s, hold a certain number of seats, throughout the day, for guests with disabilities. That way someone like me could arrive at 10am, go to guest services and request a ride at a later time.
    Now I know this could be tricky identifying a person with a legitimate disability and need for this kind of accommodation. After all, it is against the law to ask someone about their disability. But Disney has been accommodating people with all kinds of disabilities for years by giving them access passes. These guests have not displaced guests without disabilities. Disney could also limit the number of seats they hold. Just like the reservations at Oga’s etc. When they are gone, you look for another time slot. If they are gone, they are gone, try for another day, but make it fair!
    My kids, who also have the same condition, and I are going to SWGE soon. We hoped to get on the Rise of the Resistance, but we know we won’t be able to get in a boarding group. If Disney keeps this system, we will NEVER be able to ride this attraction, ever. I hope they go to a regular line system at some point in the future. OR take my suggestions. Because it really isn’t fair to offer something that not everyone can access with equal opportunity.

  71. I’m an avid Disneyland fan and have been multiple times. I don’t like this system as it is not family friendly and takes away from the Disney experience. Cell phones are ruining the vacation- it’s like a game of fast passes.

    My suggestion:
    -I like the night before lottery idea so anyone with advanced ticket purchases or multi day passes can go online or their app and enter for the next day. Credit the ticket for the next day if they get it as you don’t have to go sequential days on multi day passes.
    – Limit annual pass holders to once per month boarding
    – Prioritize the multi day pass holders (they are spending the most money at your Paris and unfair fir them to not go at all). Maybe let them book a boarding group for one day for those coming 4+ days 60 days in advance, similar to other reservation systems
    – I’m not in favor of the staying at the hotels as people will stay one day to get the benefit and it may prevent families from booking full vacations. Also favors wealthier families.
    – Give military families with 4 day passes a boarding pass! Thank you for your service.
    – Keep a limited amount available for first come first served fast pass. But Don’t allow lines before a certain time in the morning.

  72. They could offer an option where you can pay extra and get a guaranteed boarding group, and limit the number of these spots. It then leaves the in-park lottery for backup boarding groups. Although it’s probably less ethical and favors the upper class (and those who plan ahead), it does guarantee a spot on the ride (and increase Disney’s profit). In addition, this system does fulfill the first come first serve aspect (in the sense that there are a limited number of tickets) and it gives guests who are determined to experience Ride of the Resistance a better chance than the current lottery system offers.

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