Boarding Groups Changed Again. Here’s What You Need to Know
I coincidentally timed my latest Walt Disney World vacation at the perfect moment.
On some of the days, Disney’s Hollywood Studios employed the most recent Boarding Groups system for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
On one of my final days, the ride switched to a new method.
Yes, Rise of the Resistance changed again. You’re probably wondering, “What now???” Well, here’s what you need to know.
Explaining the Old System
Until this week, the most recent version of Boarding Groups required guests to be in the park at 10 a.m.
At that point, the Virtual Queues menu did the heavy lifting.
When the booking window opened, would-be riders would choose Join Virtual Queue.
Presuming that things went well, a page would load. It would ask which members of a party would participate in the Boarding Group.
A lot could go wrong here, and it’s frankly a scramble drill that Disney needs to improve.
I say this because it’s still working the same way under the new system. I think DisTouristBlog says it best:
Who are these people expecting anything related to Disney IT or Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance to work smoothly? 😂
— Disney Tourist Blog (@DisTouristBlog) November 4, 2020
Alas, that’s all we’ve got. So, we’ll all stuck here. My brother’s family lost an opportunity to book a Boarding Group because we showed in their group.
We already had scheduled a Boarding Group on our own. They couldn’t get one, as that would give us two. It’s the type of coding error that can ruin a vacation.
Thankfully, there’s a second option when the 10 a.m. Boarding Groups sell out, which usually happens in five minutes or less.
Disney adds another set of Boarding Groups at 2 p.m., and the process works similarly.
My brother’s family managed to grab a Boarding Group during the second window, which allowed all seven of our members to ride Rise of the Resistance.
Suffice to say that we felt incredibly fortunate that day. It was rare for the process to go that well under the old 10 a.m./2 p.m. system.
Alas, the new process appears even more challenging.
Explaining the New System
Under the old system, everyone in Disney’s Hollywood Studios would know that the Boarding Group window would open soon.
Park speakers started announcing this fact at 9:50 a.m. and 1:50 p.m.
TFW your Rise of the Resistance boarding group number gets called. pic.twitter.com/1QSVm705p3
— Elise (@TeamRickandIlsa) November 5, 2020
Well, the new process increases the difficulty by quite a bit.
Now, anyone can theoretically book a Boarding Group at Hollywood Studios.
Disney has removed the requirement that guests must be in the park before entering the virtual queue.
Yeah, your competition now is anyone with a Hollywood Studios Park Pass on the applicable date.
Also, Disney cannot announce when the window opens since nobody is in the park at the new time. And that’s the other sticking point.
The Boarding Group booking window now starts at 7 a.m. And that’s not even the worst part.
1st day 7am boarding group drop…success pic.twitter.com/85FhXaSRBU
— Heather (@DznyGrlSD) November 3, 2020
I made a trial run at booking on the first day under the new system. Since I know the tricks for booking, some of which I’ll discuss below, I had some success.
My brother’s family ran into the same issue as before. They couldn’t book in time since I appeared on their reservation.
At this point, a Hollywood Studios park day without Rise of the Resistance is far from devastating.
You can easily do everything else in the park and have a great time.
However, Star Wars fans, people who have never ridden Rise of the Resistance, and completionists WANT that Boarding Group reservation.
Now that the window opens at 7 a.m., you will know by 7:01 whether or not you’ll have the Hollywood Studios park day you desire.
Remember that you can theoretically switch parks if you fail to get it.
I wouldn’t cancel, though. Instead, I’d speak to Disney Guest Services about changing.
Early Results with the New System
One of the new 7 a.m. window’s unstated purposes is to re-balance the four parks a bit.
Hollywood Studios currently gets too much traffic compared to the rest.
However, early results qualify as “shaky at best.”
Boarding Groups have booked in less than twenty seconds each day.
For comparison, Disney wanted to improve the process from the old way, i.e., the one from last week (up until November 2nd).
On a recent day, that system still showed Boarding Group availability after eight minutes. On most days, the system sold out after five minutes or so.
The difference between 15 seconds and five minutes is…well, run as fast as you can for each amount of time. You’ll notice a difference.
On the plus side, guests who planned to travel from other parts of Florida to Walt Disney World love the change.
These visitors claim a much stronger chance at booking a Boarding Group, which matters since they often own annual passes.
One of the groups struggling the most with Disney fandom right now is Floridians.
We spoke with one guy who spent the night at Disney’s Contemporary Resort on Halloween just to give himself a chance at a Boarding Group on November 1st.
That’s a dude paying several hundred dollars just for a chance at a Rise of the Resistance ride.
I’m saying this so that you’ll temper your expectations here. Getting a Boarding Group still isn’t easy, nearly a year after its opening.
I’ll do what I can to help you raise the odds, though.
Pro Tips for Booking Rise of the Resistance
Let’s face facts. Your odds of getting a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group have gone down under the new system.
Until early November, your sole competition involved other guests already in Hollywood Studios.
Now, you start at 7 a.m., and your competition qualifies as anyone with an internet connection.
— Culture and Thrills (@CultureNthrills) November 5, 2020
However, early reports suggest that guests on the Walt Disney World campus possess a home-field advantage of sorts.
Thus far, the overwhelming majority of people who have reported Boarding Group success had accessed the system from the Disney campus.
@WDWNT @easywdw Thought y'all might find this interesting. I'm at home in Virginia and was able to get a boarding group. Seems the system is definitely not location based. (No one freak out- I immediately canceled it so someone else could grab it.)@WaltDisneyWorld #fixthesystem pic.twitter.com/nKFQUeqqxC
— Rebecca A (@RebeccaManbat) November 5, 2020
So, you probably shouldn’t expect to book a Boarding Group on the day you’re flying/driving into Orlando.
I wouldn’t recommend that anyway since you never know when Disney will call your Boarding Group.
If you got an early pass, you’d miss your window anyway.
Instead, your best bet involves a bit of preparation. You should wake up and be ready by 6:55 a.m.
At 6:57 a.m., log out of My Disney Experience on your phone. It’s at the bottom of the page that shows menu options like My Plans and Photos.
Log back in at 6:59 a.m., preferably right as the clock flips from 6:58 a.m. You’re reducing some app data and speeding up Boarding Groups access.
At 10 seconds before 7 a.m., hit the button for Virtual Queues. Then, choose Join Virtual Queue.
If things go well, you’ll get to pick your party and hopefully schedule a Boarding Group.
Again, picking your party is when the situation can go south. So, tear through that step quickly.
During its first two days, Rise of the Resistance gave away all Boarding Groups in an average of fewer than 15 seconds! You gotta be quick!
Remember, though! Should you get unlucky, you can always try again at 2 p.m.!
Also, I strongly suggest scheduling two different Hollywood Studios park days as a precautionary measure.
Grabbed this right at 2:00 P.M. – Boarding groups full by 2:03. pic.twitter.com/DqobHxcmjo
— Doctor Disney (@Doctor_Disney) October 29, 2020
You can always cancel one later and switch to a different park if/when you ride Rise of the Resistance.
Those who feel particularly frustrated by the experience should speak to a member of Disney’s Guest Experience Team.
The cast members may not provide you with Boarding Group access, but they can improve other parts of a Hollywood Studios visit instead!