Whew, best day ever in Hollywood Studios yesterday. I’ll try to write a whole recap later, but we rode all the Toy Story Land rides (Saucers x4, TSM x2), Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railway, Lightning McQueen, Muppets, Star Tours (Not me, I pretty nearly die on that one), Smugglers Run (also not me for fear that it will be like Star Tours), and the elusive Rise of the Resistance! We also saw lots of characters and had lots of fun in general, but this post will specifically discuss our RotR experience (not the ride itself since I’m not a spoiler person).
I gave non fiancé the task of trying to get a boarding group at 7am from our hotel room, since he’s the extra tech savvy of the two of us, knowing that I would be trying also as a back up. Unfortunately neither of us were on our A game for the 7am attempt.
Just for background, right now the virtual queue process is that you can attempt to join the RotR virtual queue at 7am from your Disney hotel room if you have a park reservation for Hollywood Studios set up for that day for everyone in your group that plans to ride. You then get another chance to try for a boarding group at 2pm in the park if you were unsuccessful at 7am. You cannot get two boarding groups in one day.
You should have everything set up and squared away in the mydisneyexperience app beforehand, meaning you should be logged in, have your park pass linked to your account, and have your park reservation for Hollywood Studios set up for everyone in your party. After that, it’s relatively simple. On the main screen of the app there is a Virtual Queue section about RotR and an option to click “join.” You’ll have to select the members of your boarding group and then you are good to go, fingers crossed that you clicked through quickly.
We were unsuccessful at 7am (both of us), so we really got our act together and focused fully on this at 2pm in the park, and….. hooray! Boarding group 92!! A back up boarding group! I am not the most experienced with this ride so immediately after being excited that we got a boarding group, I got nervous that back up boarding groups might not get called. I have no idea how many groups typically get called per day. I did see that the ride was down for about 45 minutes in the morning, so I wasn’t feeling too optimistic when I headed back to the resort for kiddo’s afternoon siesta.
I kept checking the app to see what groups were boarding throughout the afternoon and it started to look really promising around 4pm when they were already up in the 70s. For reference, we went on a park day when the hours were 9am to 7pm.
Sure enough, shortly after 5 our status updated and said we needed to be back to the ride by 6:05pm (you’re given an hour to get back).
We hustled back over there from the Beach Club, while I debated whether we should bring our son (a timid 3 year old…but 2 in Disney years for one last trip at the instruction of a cast member when we tried buying his annual pass, hence our not needing him to be included in the Boarding Group) on the ride with us since we were so excited, and riding rides alone, especially brand new rides, takes away some of the fun. Kiddo was pretty adamant that he was not interested in trying a ride about which I could offer no reassurances of lack of scariness, so we decided to do rider swap. For those who are unfamiliar, rider swap (or rider switch) is what is offered for parents of small children who are not tall enough, or just not ready to ride a big ride. The full party shows up at the ride, they scan your bands, one parent is allowed to ride immediately, and the other is given a pass to return and ride when the first parent is done. It basically gives the second parent a fastpass to return to the ride shortly thereafter.
So my very excited, Star Wars loving, non fiancé eagerly rode first. He didn’t have to stand in the line at all, interestingly. Since we did rider swap, they allowed him to skip the line. I’m not sure how long the line was for returning boarding groups but I’ve heard it can be up to 45 minutes or an hour sometimes. With rider swap the first parent technically should have to stand in the line, but that has never been our experience. They are very nice to rider swap parents typically, probably even more so lately without fastpasses and everyone taking full advantage of the system.
As soon as our bands were scanned, a fastpass-type pass popped up in Mydisneyexperience, showing that I could return to RotR later.
So while Daddy rode “the other planet ride,” kiddo and I walked onto Alien Swirling Saucers, aka his new favorite ride, and then tried to run over and catch the final Frozen show of the night, but just missed it. After 20 minutes, Daddy was done on the ride and it was my turn. I scanned my band, despite it now being after our Boarding Group return window ended, because I was protected by that rider swap return pass, and walked right on. Those hooligans walked onto Toy Story Mania and Swirling Saucers again while I rode RotR. Happy parents and happy kiddo.
Definitely made the right call in not bringing our son on the ride. He’s been very brave this trip, but the theming would have been a deal breaker for him. He can ride big kid rides with fun theming (ie Slinky Dog), but the feeling of being chased by bad guys and it being kind of scary would have caused a lot of fear and tears in our little guy. There was a pretty upset little girl on line ahead of me. That being said, daddy insists there was a happy 3 year old boy who rode with him. Every kid is different. (But I’m right and our’s wouldn’t like it 😛)
So there it is! Success with rider swap and the boarding groups! Relatively easy peasy and awesome ! Totally worth it all. Hope we can do it again as soon as possible (literally hoping for a miracle before our afternoon flight on Friday).
For those who are curious, I saw that they boarded at least through group 101 by the end of that day. Again, it was a day where the park was open 9am-7pm with about 45 minutes of downtime in the morning.
12/11 update: we got the hang of this now! Got an early Boarding Group for our departure day this morning during the 7am time. Sadly I couldn’t use my rider swap because kiddo was dead set on Slinky Dog and the Frozen Sing Along, but daddy got to ride RotR again before we flew home this afternoon!