Star Wars Ride of the Resistance Review: 'Forget taking the ride… you are the ride'

It’s five years in the making and has been described as the most ambitious theme park attraction ever built by the legendary “imagineers” at Disney.

This is the first look inside the highly anticipated, new ‘Rise of the Resistance’ attraction at Walt Disney World Florida.

Disney welcomed the world’s media this week ahead of its public opening tomorrow, and we were among the first to pass through its swishing, blast doors to see if it matches up to its own lofty ambitions.

And much like George Lucas changed the face of blockbuster movie-making forever in 1977 when he unveiled the first episode in the Star Wars saga – we can confidently predict you may never think the same way about theme park rides after you experience this.

Forget the days when you bought the ticket and took the ride.

In ‘Rise of theResistance’, you are the ride. Never has the world’s favourite, science fiction galaxy seemed less “far, far away.”

With just weeks to go to the release of the final blockbuster movie in the Skywalker saga, this is every Star Wars fan’s ultimate fantasy as it sets out to immerse visitors centrally into a storyline and experience.

It’s as if you are placed right into your own Star Wars spin-off movie, where you’re the hero, complete with an iconic John Williams soundtrack and blaster noises in the background.

The ride, located in Disney’s Hollywood studios park, is packed with jaw-dropping moments and carried off on a breath-taking, cinematic scale with full-sized sets and dozens of cast members interacting with riders on their journey.

The story takes guests aboard a full-size, transport shuttle and then into a nearby Star Destroyer on an adventure that blurs the lines between fantasy and virtual reality, with a stunning attention to detail.

It’s described as “one of the most immersive, ambitious and technologically advanced experiences in Disney history,” using multiple ride systems working together in a seamless storyline that guests get to live out.

It will allow fans of the great space opera to finally feel what it’s like to blast off aboard rebel shuttles before being boarded and sucked by tractor beam aboard a giant star cruiser where the sinister First Order and an army of stormtroopers await in one of the most spectacular moments of the ride.

They will feel the heat of the blasters and the lightsabres as they battle alongside ‘Rey’ against the First Order and the Dark Side.

The attraction features fully realised blaster bolts in mid-air, holograms, giant AT-ATs beloved of Star Wars fans and non-stop 360-degree virtual reality action.

There is an ingenious moment in a face-off with arch villain Kylo Ren and a crowd pleasing appearance by Ireland’s own Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux from the movie franchise.

Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products told reporters at the global premiere last night: “StarWars: Rise of the Resistance is the most ambitious, immersive, advanced, action-packed attraction we’ve ever created. We threw out the rulebook when designing this attraction to deliver experiential storytelling on a massive, cinematic scale.”

Chris Beatty, Executive Creative Director,Walt Disney Imagineering added:

“Our goal was to create a place so authentic –so real – that when our guests step inside, they feel like they’re in the movie. To do this, we had to partner with the team at Lucasfilm in bringing these films to life. Together, Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm have crafted a place that is going to amaze our guests – a place they’ve never seen before.”

‘Rise of the Resistance’ adds to the new ‘Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’ world opened at the park in August.

It stays true to the storytelling heart of that project which involved Disney staff consulting with Lucasfilm to create a whole new world in the Star Wars galaxy instead of seeking to replicate one from the movie sets.

The concept was to invite park guests on a story adventure of their own on the planet ‘Batuu’. It represents the largest, single-themed land expansion in Disney history and is already proving massively popular with guests, including many Irish families, who get to live out their own adventures in a galaxy far, far away.

As well as the new ‘Rise of the Resistance’, visitors can take control of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

And last night Disney executives revealed that by 2021 you will be able to book a ‘space cruise’ – aboard a Galactic StarCruiser that will see guests enter a replica starship ‘hotel’ and spend two whole days and nights aboard, completely immersed in their own virtual movie adventure world.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, these really are the rides you were looking for.

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