Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance back-up ending; Secrets of theme park ride B-Modes

by Matt Roseboom

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is an amazing and incredibly complex attraction, but what do you do when tens-of-thousands of guests want to ride and a feature of the attraction isn’t working? That’s where B-Mode comes in.

Audio-Animatronic Kylo Ren in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

B-Mode is a built-in function for many major attractions. This is where ride designers build a simpler version of a certain scene to be used in case an effect or animatronic is down.

In this situation, the final Kylo Ren animatronic, as seen above, was not working. However, Imagineers worked in a storyline that still allows the ride to keep running with an altered scene. You can take a look at it below:

Galaxy's Edge Rise Of The Resistance B Mode
WARNING: This clip features a major spoiler for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and soon at Disneyland park in California

By using projected screens, the ride can keep going as normal. While this projected screen showing Kylo Ren in his TIE Fighter is not as impressive as the full-sized Kylo Ren Audio-Animatronic, it is almost 100-percent reliable.

Of course, reliability is not why people go on rides. That one scene is also not the only reason people want to experience this new attraction. Therefore, numerous effects are built with this secondary B-Mode option to keep the ride running. Unless guests have seen ride videos or been on the attraction before, they usually don’t even notice something missing.

Another example of a B-Mode in operation is at the Na’vi River Journey in Pandora – The World of Avatar. The Shaman of Songs is perhaps the most incredible animatronic ever built. Fans can actually get a glimpse at how she works on the final episode of “The Imagineering Story” on Disney+.

Again, though, due to her extremely complex design, she sometimes is unable to operate for the long 12- to 16-hour days that parks require at Walt Disney World. Because of this, a projection screen was built to hide her and still show practically the same thing that guests would expect to see. Take a look:

BROKEN Animatronic on the Na'vi River Journey POV | Walt Disney World

One final example is the other major ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run takes guests on a simulator-style attraction as they pilot the most famous hunk of junk in the galaxy. The pre-show with Hondo Ohnaka cannot be bypassed and is a large part of the storytelling process.

Here, guests learn about the mission, why Hondo has the Millennium Falcon, and a quick overview of the positions guests will take. His animatronic moves around, interacts with a screen, and leads the entire pre-show. He, too, has a special back-up where his body is actually covered to look like extra cargo and he is shown on the overhead screens.

Hondo Missing in Millennium Falcon

So, when does B-Mode happen, and who decides this? B-Mode is done if engineering maintenance teams declare they cannot fix an effect within a certain amount of time. That could mean nightly work wasn’t finished in time or perhaps a mid-day breakdown will cause a major guest flow upset. Ride operation managers can assess how poor an effect looks and if it is deemed necessary for continued ride function.

An example of this would be Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom. If some of the explosion noises in the final lift hill didn’t go off, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The background noise of a certain scene is certainly not worth taking a major ride down. But if the entire ride was missing themed lighting it could be considered a major issue.

Looking at it like that, guests won’t really notice if a stormtrooper’s laser blast doesn’t hit a wall once or twice. (They never really hit what they aim for anyway). But, if the ride’s final simulator-style drop-tower sequence doesn’t have a working projector, it would be what Disney refers to as “bad show.” That’s when it comes down to the ride managers — they can choose to keep a ride running, take it down for maintenance or, if they have the option, to run the ride in B-Mode.

FIRST LOOK inside Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been increasing the capacity of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance almost every day. Now, more and more boarding groups are getting to go on the ride. This is thanks to hard-working cast members, a diligent maintenance team, and constant test-and-adjust to see how to best make guests flow through the ride. We can also be thankful that options like B-Mode exist to allow rides to run with 95-percent of what Imagineers hoped guests would see.

While we think seeing a scene in B-Mode doesn’t ruin the ride experience, we want to know what you think:

Are you okay enjoying the rest of this incredible attraction if one scene is modified? Or, would you only want to ride the attraction at 100-percent of what it can do? Do you have any examples of seeing an attraction when you thought it looked so bad, it should have been shut down for repairs?

Let us know in the comments below!


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Lori WARWICK January 3, 2020 - 6:43 pm

You forgot the biggest B mode in WDW history! The Yeti at Animal Kingdom. I was at the preview of the attraction and even then it was in B mode. I’ve never seen the Yeti move.

anon January 3, 2020 - 10:15 pm

The correct term is “B-show.”

Terra January 5, 2020 - 7:15 pm

I think they need a better B Show for the first part of the Rise of the resistance. My sister had a rider switch she had to redeem. When she rode the first part of the attraction was down. They went out a side door and down an emergency exit route with bushes. Then suddenly into the room with the stormtroopers. She had no idea what her mission was. I am sorry, but Disney could have done a better job with that. They could have had cast members explain. Or advise people they were only getting part of the experience.

Barbara Grissom February 8, 2020 - 9:39 am

Rise of the Resistance is amazing! Our transport lost audio so we were not sure what was going on. When those doors opened and we saw the storm troopers we all gasped. We walkEd through that room into the next section to get in line and waited quite a while so my daughter myself and the rest of our family went back in the storm trooper room and hung out for about 20 minutes taking some amazing photos. They then stopped the ride and gave us a fast track pass to come back later, which we did of course. The second time there were no problems and I’m glad the video on this page left out the key parts of this ride experience. Disney did an amazing job and the cast members were very kind and helpful. My mind is blown!!!

Ginny May 19, 2021 - 3:43 pm

I was lucky enough to experience both the “A” and “B” mode Kylo end sequences doing a rider swap during my visit.

What I found interesting is that it seemed like the time when I experienced the Kylo animatronic attacking the riders, it almost looked as if we were supposed to experience the B mode ending again, as the ceiling had looked like it already collapsed and Kylo Ren was behind it. But then suddenly the ride made a shift and boom, there he was, pulling us in. Now that I’ve seen videos of it, it seems like he’s supposed to drop from the ceiling. So I’m wondering if this switch occurred on a dime by someone behind the scenes, or if the system is automatically programmed to implement the intended ending if it detects that the effect is working correctly.

Matt Roseboom May 19, 2021 - 3:52 pm

He’s not supposed to drop from the ceiling, but the ceiling is supposed to drop in front of him as he’s controlling you with the Force, allowing you to get away.


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