'Extraordinary ... a technical marvel that delivers on its promise...'

By James Hibberd
December 04, 2019 at 09:04 AM EST

Disney’s eagerly awaited new Star Wars attraction, Rise of the Resistance, had its media preview in Orlando, Florida and the first reactions are impressive … most impressive.

Along with 22 new photos (below), journalists who toured Galaxy’s Edge centerpiece are calling it a shocking immersive experience that’s also a “technological marvel.”

“Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is the most ambitious, immersive, advanced, action-packed attraction we’ve ever created,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in a statement. “We threw out the rulebook when designing this attraction to deliver experiential storytelling on a massive, cinematic scale.”

The ride is a whopping 18 minutes long from start to finish and includes three distinct acts. The storyline is set between 2017’s The Last Jedi and this month’s The Rise of Skywalker.

Here’s the basic storyline: The audience plays new Resistance recruits on an assignment by Rey (Daisy Ridley, in holographic form). Your journey takes you from a trading port town called Black Spire Outpost, to a transport ship, to being captured by Star Destroyer and imprisoned in a cell block, and then getting rescued and escaping.

Other actors from Disney’s Star Wars film trilogy who reprise their roles for various content in the ride include John Boyega (Finn), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) and Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux).

Here are the photos and some reviews (spoiler-free) of the ride which opens Dec. 5 at Walt Disney World and Jan. 17 at Disneyland in Anaheim, California:

Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

The Orange County Register: “Rise of the Resistance will leave you wondering again and again how Walt Disney Imagineering pulled off one visual illusion after another, with each scene somehow outdoing the last. Disney’s new Star Wars attraction redefines what E-ticket stands for: Extraordinary … Everywhere you look is Star Wars. The entire attraction is a 360-degree scene out of a movie. It feels like you’re really on a Star Destroyer in outer space. The illusion is complete. Imagineering has recreated the look and feel of a Star Destroyer — right down to the droid ports where astromechs can plug into the ship. And you can reach out and touch it all… If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself wanting to linger in each new space you encounter in Rise of the Resistance. Every scene has so many visuals to drink in that you can’t see them all in a single ride.”

Steven Diaz/Disney Parks
Steven Diaz/Disney Parks

L.A. Times: “…. a hearty ride that marries plenty of drama, some from its cast and some from audio-animatronic figurines, with flashy modern tech and many old-fashioned sleights of hand. It’s also an attraction that will deliver on many of the early promises of Galaxy’s Edge, boasting full-scale, highly active droids, alien creatures, lightsabers and an impressive use of vehicle movement that succeeds in conveying the power of the magic-like Force at the heart of the Star Wars universe … Rise of the Resistance is an attraction that is designed to entertain us, but it does so because it never stops feeling like it is expressly responding to us.”

Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

CNN: “The technology is so ambitious — four different ride types that all need to seamlessly synch together, including live cast members and several animatronics …with the Rise attraction, we’re three dream layers deep — having an experiential Star Wars adventure and the thrill that dream promises …Mission accomplished? If the mission was to have great fun, then yes. I’m a Star Wars superfan, and as impressed as I was, I only wished the peril level reached a higher point. I recall being actually scared at Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and I am not at all invested in that franchise. But in my opinion, Rise is a long-sustained level of joy and a technological marvel that beats any other attraction in the park in both of those ways.”

Kent Phillips/Disney Parks
Kent Phillips/Disney Parks

IGN: “What sets Rise of the Resistance apart from pretty much any other theme park ride is the way it completely immerses you in a galaxy far, far away – but without the pressure of having to pilot the Falcon or carry out other tasks that might affect the outcome of the ride…While Rise of the Resistance is undoubtedly a thrill ride, with ‘rapid motion, sudden stops, and sharp turns,’ it’s not going to give you the same adrenaline high as a roller coaster or even Forbidden Journey, which is a much more turbulent trip …Rise’s real strength is in its ability to tell a compelling, cohesive story that ratchets up the tension and keeps you guessing as it unfolds…It all plays out like a believable sequence from one of the films, complete with a rousing, goosebump-inducing score and crisp visuals that use CGI backdrops and footage of the actors, in addition to the practical effects and character projections … Rise of the Resistance is a technical marvel that delivers on its promise to fully immerse riders in the Star Wars galaxy. With its combination of cutting-edge technology, focused storytelling, and sheer scale, Rise represents an ambitious step forward for Disney, although its emphasis on creating an immersive narrative over roller coaster-style thrills may not completely satisfy the adrenaline junkies in your group.”

Kent Phillips/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

Collider: “One of the best attractions in Walt Disney World history … Animatronics, trackless vehicles, video screens, surprise drops, massive props (including huge AT-AT’s), and terrifically in-character cast members all coalesce into the attraction that is Rise of the Resistance, which is why it’s kind of unfair to describe this as a ride per se. It’s a complete and supremely satisfying experience that wholly immerses you into a brand new Star Wars story … Rise of the Resistance is quite possibly the most immersive attraction I’ve ever been a part of (yes, even moreso than Flight of Passage). You never quite feel like you’re on a “ride” because you’re too wrapped up in all the impressive goings-on around you.”

Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Kent Phillips/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Steven Diaz/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks
Matt Stroshane/Disney Parks

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