Thea Awards Recipients

Thea Awards 2021

Thea Awards for Outstanding Achievement: Attraction

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance , Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Florida & Disneyland Park, California, USA

Located in the groundbreaking and Thea-Award-honored Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed land at two Disney theme parks on both coasts of the US, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is a genre-defying attraction that casts guests as part of the Resistance in a thrilling, multi-sensory experience as they combat and escape the evil First Order. Part walk-through immersive theatre, part dark ride, part thrill ride —this nearly 20-minute experience allows guests to live their own personal Star Wars story in groundbreaking, spectacular new ways. Secreted away in ancient ruins deep in the forests of Batuu, guests discover a hidden Resistance base where they are introduced to new and familiar characters from the latest Star Wars saga - fighter pilot and General of the Resistance Poe Dameron, Resistance fighter Rey, helpful droid BB-8, and alien pilot Nien Nunb - where they are given a mission to rendezvous with General Leia Organa at an undisclosed planet. First boarding a Resistance Intersystem Transport Ship, guests suddenly find that their base - and their escape plan - has been discovered by a First Order Star Destroyer, and their transport is captured and pulled aboard the massive ship, where they are greeted by a battalion of menacing Stormtroopers.

Guests are then placed in prisoner holding cells, where they are interrogated by the imposing Kylo Ren before a spectacular rescue ensues, spearheaded by Finn from the Resistance, who instructs them to board droid-operated First Order transports that have been reprogrammed to take them to safety. Their escape involves branching paths, evading giant AT-AT walkers, numerous near-misses, thrilling space battles, and a final face-off with the Dark Side powers of Kylo Ren before their craft engages into an escape pod for a thrilling freefall finale back to the planet Batuu.

Rise of the Resistance is simply the most technologically advanced theme park attraction in existence today. This mind-blowing attraction literally takes every technique that Imagineering has developed and pioneered in the last sixty years of attraction design and combined it into one seamless, story-driven experience.

The level of complexity and engineering in the attraction is unparalleled; several completely unique ride systems are used - a standing simulator on a giant turntable that acts as a “magic trick” that takes guests from the surface of Batuu to the Star Destroyer all on-foot, a droid-piloted trackless dark ride system of 38 individual eight-passenger vehicles that encompasses the majority of the dark ride story, and a thrilling hybrid simulator/drop ride that acts as the attraction’s grand finale. These complex systems work together seamlessly to create a linear and immersive story, with the help of nearly every trick in the book in terms of environmental special effects - lifelike and state-of-the-art Audio-Animatronics figures, large-scale show action equipment, extensive mapped projection effects like laser blasts and sparks, incredibly high-resolution video views into space through the Star Destroyer windows, “holographic” video effects, multi-channel audio both in the environment and on-board the vehicles, even unique persistence-of-vision LED lighting effects that create signature Star Wars “laser blasts” that visibly careen over guests’ heads.

All the while, these dozens of individually-complicated systems are choreographed seamlessly into a staggeringly high-capacity attraction that redefines what a major marquee attraction can be, and how a sprawling, detailed and legendary IP story can be told not just on a ride, but through a complete system of experiences that add up to much more than just the ride itself. The entire attraction, from front to back, is one massive magic trick that leaves riders gobsmacked and in disbelief at what they’ve seen, and represents the absolute pinnacle of how our industry is capable of entertaining an audience at a theme park.

Find out more about TEA member Walt Disney Imagineering

Award Credits