Pirates of the Caribbean opened in Disneyland in 1967. The script and now famous theme song were written by one of the original Imagineers – Xavier (a/k/a “X.”) Atencio. X. had never written a script before and, as he was finishing his draft, he expressed concern to Walt that there was too much going on. Walt, ever the genius, told X. not to worry. “Think of it like a cocktail party.” You ride through once, you pick up a conversation here, a scene there. Then you ride it again and notice something new. The re-rideability is in the information overload.
Fifty-two years later, on December 5, 2019, Walt Disney World opened the first Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And the Imagineers listened to Walt.
I’m not going to pretend to sum this experience (deliberate choice of word – this is no “ride”) up in an article. Nor would I want to, as you should experience it for yourself.
The good news is that no matter what you’ve seen online, it has not been spoiled for you. This is not an attraction that can be captured in pictures or video. We’ve all seen the ever-present image of the mass of storm troopers. And they really will take your breath away in person. But short of that one scene, this really isn’t an experience that can be captured on film. And that is perhaps the greatest kindness of it all. You can put your phone away. It is useless onboard.
I have ridden one time so far and wouldn’t dare claim to have absorbed enough to offer up a proper review or reaction. It is not a ride. It is a fully immersive experience in a series of acts. It is part interactive theater. Part thrill ride. Part dark ride. Part sheer surprise. It is nothing like I expected it to be but left me not remembering what in the world I’d expected. It is a tour de force that doesn’t seem to care what you think of it because it is bigger than you. It makes me want to go home and watch Star Wars but I also don’t know if you need to have seen one of the movies to appreciate at least the grandness of it. (Though truth told, hardcore fans are going to mess themselves over it.)
My clearest reaction to the experience is that I need to do it again. And again. And again. I don’t know where we go after this but I am now fully confident that Disney is willing to do it.