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Disneyland Article
Test And Adjust Team Fine Tunes Rise Of The Resistance For First Riders In Star Wars Galaxys Edge

Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance
Orange County Register
Brady Macdonald
January 13, 2020
January 18, 2020
The first time Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attractions senior leader Garett Heffner stepped foot in Disneyland’s new Rise of the Resistance he found himself in a massive Star Destroyer hangar staring at a 100-foot-wide space window.

“It was still very much under construction and I just was in awe of the fact that this was just part of the queue,” said Heffner, senior production manager for attractions in the new Star Wars land. “I just thought, ‘What the heck did I get myself into? This is unbelievable.’”

Heffner and 120 Disneyland attraction test-and-adjust cast members are busy making final adjustments to Rise of the Resistance ahead of the Friday, Jan. 17 debut of the highly anticipated new ride at the Anaheim theme park.

That Star Destroyer hangar bay is now filled with 50 audio-animatronic stormtroopers and a full-size TIE Fighter as Disneyland prepares to open the most ambitious and technically advanced attraction ever created by Walt Disney Imagineering.

“It still amazes me to this day,” said Heffner, 50, of Placentia. “This is the most complex attraction ever built in the world.”

Rise of the Resistance enlists recruits to join a battle between the villainous First Order and the heroic Resistance. Along the way, the recruits will be captured aboard a Star Destroyer, break out of a First Order detention cell, elude the clutches of Kylo Ren and escape back to a secret base on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new Galaxy’s Edge lands at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The Rise of the Resistance test-and-adjust team works with Imagineering to put the new ride through its paces before it opens to the public, said Disneyland attractions cast member Ryan Sontag.

“When they want to run tests, we operate it,” said Sontag, 29, of Long Beach. “We learn from it. It’s really great hands-on for us because we become the experts in operation. And we’re able to provide feedback to them on how it can better operate to meet our needs.”

The test-and-adjust teams uses that base of knowledge to teach and train Disneyland cast members who will operate Rise of the Resistance on a daily basis.

Testing started more than a year ago on the complex ride system that combines four attractions in one. Heffner likens the complicated ride to the “Star Wars” symphonic score by composer John Williams.

“I have a new respect for John Williams the conductor because trying to get all the different sounds to come together to play beautiful music is kind of what we’re doing,” Heffner said. “Orchestrating everything and making sure everything is timed and everyone understands what each role is.”

Behind the scenes, Rise of the Resistance is powered by 5 million of lines of code running show systems and special effects on 50 computers. The job of the test-and-adjust team is to help Imagineering troubleshoot software problems and debug any pesky issues in those millions of lines of code.

“A typical day in the life of test and adjust is truly like, ‘Here’s our plan. Let’s see if it works. If it doesn’t work, let’s troubleshoot on why it doesn’t work,’” said Rise of the Resistance test-and-adjust team member Jerry Williams. “And then repeat, repeat and repeat.”

Each component of the ride is tested scene by scene until the entire show is methodically pieced together. Only now after two years of working on Rise of the Resistance has Williams been able to step back and look at the big picture with all the pieces of the puzzle put together.

“I’ve seen every little component tested individually,” said Williams, 38, of Anaheim. “But then to finally have a ride through of it, it’s like, ‘Wow, now it makes sense to me.’ I was able to see the story come together in a different way.”

Disneyland employees worked closely with their counterparts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida where an identical version of Rise of the Resistance debuted on Dec. 5.

“What they’ve learned we’ve applied and what we’ve learned they’ve applied,” Heffner said.

The Batuu West test-and-adjust crew brought a piece of the Rise of the Resistance control console signed by the Disneyland team as a congratulatory gift to their Florida counterparts during a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in December.

The Disneyland test-and-adjust team will use the ongoing cast member previews to nail down the cadence and rhythm of the new ride as the park prepares for the opening of Rise of the Resistance later this week.

“We’re still fine tuning the attraction, but we’re feeling good about it,” Heffner said.
Attractions Referenced

Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance

Lands Referenced

Star Wars Galaxys Edge

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