Like Darth Vader on Bespin City, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is adjusting its agreement, pray it doesn’t alter it further. The Disney Parks Blog has announced new procedures for securing a boarding pass to enter the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Rise, the second attraction to open in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been very popular with guest lining up as early as 4am every morning for a chance to be among the riders each day. Until this morning, Disney’s Hollywood Studios had been opening its gates as early as 6am and then as soon as guests had their passes scanned, they could secure a boarding pass. The park also opened some of its more popular attractions to spread guests throughout the park while they waited for their boarding group number to be called.
As Rise is a new ride, it’s not yet operating at full capacity, and even if it was, it would not be able to accommodate everyone who wants to ride each day. The virtual queue helps manage guest expectations as to who will get to ride, but it has also provided an incentive to show up early to make sure you can get in that virtual queue with a boarding pass.
Boarding passes guarantee you a spot in line, but not a ride. If your number isn’t called on the day, Disney has been offering a Fastpass to return the next day and a one-day park ticket.
Disney also recently started issuing backup boarding groups. In the backup queue you only get to ride if all the other boarding groups have been called. No guarantee to ride means Disney didn’t have to issue a fastpass if your number wasn’t called.
Clever spreadsheet toting managers can now better manage the numbers of guests who are guaranteed a ride and make sure they’re not over promising by starting to issue backup boarding passes earlier. That solved one problem (having to issue a ton of fastpasses and one-day tickets), but left another… how to stop guests from arriving super early.
The solution tested this morning and later announced on the blog is to return to the good old fashion rope drop. Guests will be allowed into the center of Hollywood Studios starting 1 hour or so before the park hours officially begin. Guests won’t be able to secure a boarding pass, however, until the park officially opens. This morning that was 7am.
Since guests are now held in the middle of the park and can’t enter the virtual queue until the park opens for everyone, this reduces the incentive to show up at 4am or even 5am. Showing up at 6am for a 7am opening is likely sufficent now… as long as you are in the park by 7am and have swift enough fingers to secure a boarding pass in what amounts to a virtual lottery.
Another intended result here is to reduce the need for Disney to bring in cast members a couple hours early every day for what probably amounted to very marginal increase in guest spending.
Eventually the excitement will wear off, the capacity per day will become more reliable, and guest demand will drop to something closer to normal. At that point, I expect Disney to end the virtual queue altogether and implement Fastpass+ for resort guests (because face it, all Fastpasses will be gone before the 30 day window when the rest of us can book). No one knows exactly when that will be, but it will probably happen in early 2020.
What do you think of the new procedure for securing a boarding pass to enter the virtual queue for Stat Wars: Rise of the Resistance?