We Tested Wi-Fi and Cell Service for Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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A frequent question we’re getting is whether people should use their cell phone carrier or Disney Wi-Fi when attempting to get a Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and at Disneyland.

Fastest Network and Location for Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups

Based on network tests we’ve been running, we think the fastest network speeds to access Disney’s servers are achieved by using Disney’s Wi-Fi, but only in certain spots within the park. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the fastest, most reliable Wi-Fi access we’ve found is in Animation Courtyard near the Disney Junior Dance Party entrance.

Entrance to Disney Junior Dance Party at Animation Courtyard
This is where to stand for fast, reliable Wi-Fi for Rise of the Resistance boarding groups.

If you can’t make it to that spot, or if you’re seeing issues with Disney’s Wi-Fi while using MyDisneyExperience before boarding groups open, then I suggest switching to your cell phone carrier instead of using Disney’s Wi-Fi. Your cell phone carrier’s network speeds will probably be slightly slower than Disney’s Wi-Fi, but it’s probably more reliable in many areas of the park. See below for more details.

The least good place to be in the park, regardless of which network you’re using, seems to be in front of the Chinese Theater.

Good Wi-Fi access speeds are found throughout Disneyland, and at least as far as Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure. Disneyland’s Wi-Fi can be found in these locations:

  • Town Square
  • The Central Hub
  • Peter Pan
  • Matterhorn
  • Space Mountain
  • By Star Wars Launch Bay
  • Around the small world mall
  • Outside of Golden Horseshoe
  • New Orleans Square
  • All of Galaxy’s Edge

Note that if you walk from one access point to another, you may have to re-agree to Disney’s Wi-Fi terms and conditions to re-connect to the network.

Getting a Boarding Group is Still a Lottery

Being on the fastest network only improves your odds of getting a boarding group — it’s not a guarantee. When your boarding group request makes it to the correct servers in Disney’s network, it’s there with thousands of other requests from people all around you doing the same thing.

At that point, your request depends more on how Disney’s network routing software distributes those thousands of requests across maybe a few dozen computers. If it’s a simple algorithm like round-robin, your request has a chance of getting routed to a less-efficient server. Even more sophisticated load-balancing algorithms, like software-based adaptive routing, still run the chance of the server slowing down a split-second after it receives your request. There’s nothing you can do about that.

I think that internal load-balancing, individual server performance, and differences in Wi-Fi quality throughout the park are the main reason why some boarding group requests sent via cell carrier result in lower boarding group numbers than those sent on Wi-Fi.

Background

The MyDisneyExperience app seems to make most of its API calls through the domain api.wdpro.disney.go.com. It’s likely that boarding group requests are going to the same place. The domain name servers for disney.go.com are hosted by the Disney Internet Group (DIG) at these servers:

  • sens01.dig.com
  • orns01.dig.com
  • sens02.dig.com
  • orns02.dig.com

All of this infrastructure is probably at one of Amazon’s data centers in Oregon.

Ping The simplest way to test network speed is through a utility called ping. Ping tells you whether you can reach a domain from where you are, and if so, how long it takes for your request to get there. Lower numbers are better.

Traceroute Another useful network tool is traceroute. Traceroute tells you both the time it takes to get to a domain, and the route of computers through which your request travels to get there. Lower numbers are better.

Using traceroute on Disney’s Wi-Fi, I was getting responses from dig.com and disney.go.com in under 100 milliseconds, and it appeared that the requests took a reasonably direct route to get there. They didn’t go through any public network I recognized, like Level 3 or Cogent, so it’s possible that the requests stayed entirely within Disney’s private network. That would probably be the fastest possible route under most circumstances.

The same requests on T-Mobile got routed from Orlando to Tampa on T-Mobile’s leased network through Level 3, then to Google’s network in Miami (Google-level3-60G.Miami.Level3.net), then to Mountain View, California. The request bounced around a bunch of servers in Mountain View before making it out to Disney’s servers, again in Oregon. The trip averaged around 460 milliseconds, or more than four times as long as through Disney’s Wi-Fi.

Network Speed and Reliability Tests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

I brought two devices into Hollywood Studios over multiple days to test network speeds: an iPhone 8 and an iPad Pro.

Upload/Download speed My cellphone carrier is T-Mobile. T-Mobile’s LTE network offers consistent, reasonably fast network speeds, even in crowded parts of the park. I was able to get download and upload speeds of over 40 Mbps everywhere I went. Here’s an example from Sunset Boulevard, a place I would not recommend standing for Rise of the Resistance boarding groups:

T-Mobile Speed Test at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney’s Wi-Fi network offers comparable speeds. I also ran this test on Sunset Boulevard:

Ping Speed I used the ping utility to test how long it took for requests to reach the MyDisneyExperience servers, starting a few minutes before official park opening.

Here’s a chart of the network performance I measured at various places throughout the park on Saturday, February 15, 2020. I also tested on Sunday, February 9 and Tuesday, February 11, and Saturday’s tests showed the widest differences:

Network Location Time Packets Sent Min Response Time Avg Response Time Max Response Time Packets Lost
Disney WiFi Sunset Boulevard 7:50 am 24 12.563 189.536 1,337.481 2
T-Mobile Sunset Boulevard 7:50 am 27 37.366 47.423 61.039 0
Disney WiFi Brown Derby 7:51 am 36 12.368 46.391 368.008 1
T-Mobile Brown Derby 7:51 am 33 26.451 46.998 56.824 0
Disney WiFi Chinese Theater 7:54 am 31 13.774 12.579 25.739 10
T-Mobile Chinese Theater 7:54 am 43 37.008 53.219 344.743 1
Disney WiFi Star Wars Launch Bay 7:57 am 28 16.174 129.782 1,158.968 4
T-Mobile Star Wars Launch Bay 7:57 am 32 30.135 46.156 55.289 0
Disney WiFi Disney Junior Entrance 7:59 am 172 11.935 23.151 145.43 0
T-Mobile Disney Junior Entrance 7:59 am 170 29.273 49.082 91.653 0

At its best, Disney’s Wi-Fi generally outperforms T-Mobile in terms of speed to get to Disney’s servers. At the entrance to Disney Junior in Animation Courtyard, Disney’s average network speed is better than T-Mobile’s best speed. But speed only gets you so far — network reliability is also important. And that’s where T-Mobile does better (and probably your cellphone carrier, too).

Network Reliability The big difference between T-Mobile and the Wi-Fi in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is that Disney’s Wi-Fi network seems much less reliable in crowded areas of the park. Disney’s Wi-Fi network repeatedly disconnected my iPad as I walked around, especially on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. It sometimes took up to 30 seconds to re-connect.

In addition, Disney’s Wi-Fi network dropped 17 network packets – around 5.8% of the traffic we sent it – during our ping tests above (but none were dropped during the crucial 8:00 a.m. boarding group window near Disney Junior). T-Mobile dropped exactly 1 packet, or about 0.3%.

What’s been your experience getting boarding groups? Do you feel like you have more luck with cell phone data or Disney Wi-Fi? Let us know your experience in the comments.

Len Testa

Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, and has contributed to the Disneyland and Las Vegas Unofficial Guides. Most of his time is spent trying to keep up with the team. Len's email address is len@touringplans.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @lentesta.

29 thoughts on “We Tested Wi-Fi and Cell Service for Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • February 17, 2020 at 10:55 am
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    I echo your comments on Sunset Blvd. My party of 2 were there at the cattle call on the 29th and 30th of January. My phone is on Republic, which is rebranded Sprint/T-Mobile. On the 29th, I tried using cellular data (phone indicated LTE) while sitting at a table at Anaheim produce and got nothing but a loading spinner. I walked with the rope-drop crowd to the Guest Experience Team stand at the end of Sunset, and I was first or second there and got added to group 91 (3rd backup group that day) and rode in early afternoon. On the second day, I sat in the same spot and used Wifi without too much issue. I was able to join group 55, and rode around 2 PM.
    I probably would have had better signal elsewhere, but being close to the least-used guest experience stand was valuable insurance to me.

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 11:24 am
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    Len, this is invaluable information! Fantastic quality assurance research and work. This is EXTREMELY useful! Thank you for providing this!!

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  • February 17, 2020 at 12:38 pm
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    Great Work Len! You’re right, if you can get a good connection on Disney’s WiFi it should be faster than going through a cell phone carrier which has to route through many more nodes.

    Here’s another strategy I’ve read about on the Disney Tourist Blog> Scan into DHS and then exit and go to EPCOT for the morning, grabbing your Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group *outside* DHS. I’ve also heard of people in Anaheim doing this.

    Can you test that strategy (getting your boarding group outside the park) using the same system?
    Thanks!

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  • February 17, 2020 at 1:05 pm
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    Silly question, but is animation courtyard open prior to official opening to get in place and get settled prior to trying to get boarding passes?

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  • February 17, 2020 at 1:13 pm
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    Thank you, Len… you’re doing God’s work.

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  • February 17, 2020 at 1:33 pm
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    Thoughts on how to handle when Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opens? I’m guessing long stand by lines when boarding groups open. Based on your comments those in line will probably encounter slower network speeds. Sounds like a gamble to be in line and try to get into a boarding group.

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  • February 17, 2020 at 1:45 pm
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    I was there the week of January 19, using a prepaid Tracfone with Android 7.0 and, I believe, Verizon cell service. Because of difficulty the previous summer at DLR, I had a bad attitude towards Disney Wi-Fi and did not use it. I made sure to enter DHS well ahead of the 7:00 a.m. official opening. Despite the comments in the article above, I found Sunset Blvd. worked pretty well. I waited at a bench not far from the restrooms. One day I got a boarding group in the 30s, another day in the 40s, and one day I blew it when the BGs opened before I started the “join” procedure and I got group 80-something. Even so, I was able to ride on all three days.

    It’s worth noting that in recent days, ALL groups (regular and backup) have been assigned in less than two minutes from official park opening. That means the discussion about which locale is milliseconds better than another one is less academic than it sounds. Be sure to do your homework so you have the best possible chance to join a group on your park day(s).

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  • February 17, 2020 at 2:54 pm
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    Yes, Bethany – they usually open it because the line for Slinky gets too long. It’s where they store overflow.

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  • February 17, 2020 at 2:56 pm
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    Brian, that might be a challenge if you’re inside MMRR when boarding groups open. Let me see what I can find out.

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  • February 17, 2020 at 6:14 pm
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    My friend and I were stood outside One Mans Dream. I was on Disney Wi-Fi, my friend on her cell phone data. At exactly 8am we both started the boarding process. I was booked and out before she had even got to choose how many in the party. I was given Boarding Group 50. But that’s just our experience, other friends have said the opposite worked for them ‍♀️

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 6:29 pm
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    Thanks for all you do and happy to be a subscriber! Likely wouldn’t have gotten our BG without TP. Also stayed at the Dolphin for 2 nights at good discount for our SWGE visit through the Priceline Express posts. Walking in the morning and taking the boat in the evening  after 14 hour day was fabulous. So fortunate to be doing this on vacation rather than working that day.

    But for future reference, why is Sunset Blvd supposed to be bad?

    We got BG 21 from there on Thursday, 2/13, CL7 – maybe sheer luck? I went there b/c reported full Verizon bars and other reports of being successful. Sit on ledge or bench, eat breakfast, don’t get claustrobphobic in with the masses RD’ing MFSR or SDD. Iphone 11 (mine) got the BG and iphone 6 seemed to be getting through as well. Granted, I probably OCD’d prepped for getting a BG – preparing phone (no background app refresh, location off, etc.) and practicing ahead of time.

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  • February 17, 2020 at 6:53 pm
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    I can’t thank you enough Len for all you and your team are doing to help Liners get a BG. We’ll be there next week, I am trying to be realistic and tell my kids we might not ride ROTR but those infos are priceless, there is hope for us!! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 7:14 pm
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    I’ve got to be honest – this is stressing me out! I’m down at the end of March and will do what it takes, but man, it sounds like a crazy few minutes!!!

    Reply
  • February 17, 2020 at 7:28 pm
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    Thank you! I think it’s the crowds on Sunset and Hollywood Blvds, but maybe it’s something to do with the buildings, or maybe there’s just not great WiFi signal there?

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  • February 17, 2020 at 8:45 pm
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    Len, thank you and all TP team. We got BG 25 on Tuesday. Feb 4 using Verizon and standing between the Chinese theater and the entrance to animation courtyard. The stress level was just incredible. And we loved it!

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 7:02 am
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    Now *this* is what I call a Len post. Love it. I had terrible luck near the Chinese Theater on ATT LTE a few weeks ago. I should have been smarter, but we had a 7:20am Oga’s to get to.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 7:30 am
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    I got group 2 but I used Verizon lte on my Galaxy s10+ and my trick was to click into the “my plans” page then slide down to refresh that page at opening time. Tim tracker has a video explaining the process on YouTube.

    Reply
  • February 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm
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    I used my cell service at the Disney dance party area yesterday 2/17, and it was a no go! For at least a full 30 seconds after 8 it would not let me select a boarding group. I didn’t open the app until 10 seconds before 8. The people behind us also had a difficult time. I wish I had tried WiFi if I were to do it again. Luckily a member of my group was closer to toy story land and using his cell phone service he got us in group 14! The people behind us were not so lucky and they didn’t get a boarding group at all.

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  • February 18, 2020 at 11:07 pm
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    We had later than expected arrivals both days we went to HS last week.

    First day we entered the park at 7:58, so we immediately whipped out our phones 30 feet from the tap points and stayed put. Used cell connection (Verizon) with my iPhone 8 since I didn’t know if I could trust the WiFi. Wound up with group 34.

    Second time entered park at 7:55. Walked to the Animation Courtyard this time but kept some distance between us and the horde lined up for Toy Story Land. Again didn’t use WiFi and wound with group 31.

    Reply
  • February 19, 2020 at 7:12 am
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    Len – Thanks for the data. It seems, though, like you stopped collecting data at just the time it would actually matter. I feel like the network conditions matter most from 8:00 (or whenever the opening time is) onward when the entire crowd is trying to score a boarding group. Collecting data at the time of the heaviest use might reveal bigger differences in capacity and reliability.

    Reply
  • February 20, 2020 at 9:26 am
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    So I belong to all (lol, a lot) of the Disney groups and was fiercely researching since Dec 5th on how to get on the RoR because my husband is a huge Star Wars fan. Everything said don’t use Disney’s WiFi, close the app and open it a second before 7am (line up you  watch if you have to) etc.

    So Feb 1st, our relatives went (who did not do any research) and they said that a cast member helped them and told them to make sure they were on the WiFi. Immediately I was like “nope” and dismissive (in my head not outright lol) but then I started to question them, “what time did you get there?” “What was your boarding group?” “Where were you when using your WiFi?”. So they got boarding group 24, and I thought there had to be something to that because with the other tips the general earliest boarding group I was seeing was mid 30’s, but mainly a lot of mid 40’s.

    So we went on Feb 4th, unbeknownst to us and it seemed like everyone else the first 8 am park opening day. I actually found out on the TV at the resort that the park wasn’t opening until 8, but had already called an uber and since we needed one with car seats and they seemed to be hard to come by we just kept it, we were up anyway.

    So they let everyone start scanning in at 6:55am. We go in and went by the theater where our relatives got their boarding passes. Checked the WiFi and we had an okay WiFi signal but we decided to use that hour to find the strongest WiFi signal. So we needed a plastic spoon four my daughter and while we were in backlot express, which is closed for service. But the doors are open and anyone can sit inside or outside. A cast member helped me get a spoon and while I was doing that my husband found full WiFi outside the backlot express, but down the stairs and to the left. We didn’t have any of the apps that you used to test it but my husband is tech-y So not sure what he was using to test it but he said it was the best hotspot so far that we had tested (we didn’t get over to the Disney jr area) we also liked this spot and thought it might be good because there were hardly any people near us, like at all. So we would be the only ones using the router.

    Where we went wrong is we didn’t open the MDE app until 7:59:59. But we did both try for it, my husband was faster, and he got us into boarding group 15. So we were super happy. I wonder if we were logged into the app a little sooner if we would’ve gotten even earlier.

    I was so nervous to not use our cell service (googlefi) but we did have an extra day where if we needed to try again we would. However it worked out, we were super happy!

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  • February 21, 2020 at 12:24 pm
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    This information seems to be for California. Does the wifi information apply to Disneyworld in Florida as well?

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  • February 23, 2020 at 1:21 pm
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    Do you have to be scanned into HS? If we have a park hopper pass and are at brunch in EP when HS opens can we log onto the app and try for a boarding group? We’re there for a week so we will have multiple opportunities to try.

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  • February 23, 2020 at 3:35 pm
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    Yes, you do have to be scanned into HS. In theory you could be one of the first to scan in (30+ minutes before official park open), then leave, and still try to get a boarding pass at park open time from wherever you are. But I wouldn’t risk tapping into a different park *before* HS opening time… no direct knowledge, but guessing that could perhaps nullify your earlier tap?

    Reply
  • February 23, 2020 at 6:47 pm
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    Mike thank you for your quick reply. That’s what we thought. One more question: what happens if instead of boarding groups it gets switched to FastPass+, is there usually any forewarning as to what day that would go into effect?

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  • February 23, 2020 at 8:22 pm
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    They announced FastPass for Smugglers Run almost a month before it went into effect (and obviously they got gobbled up quickly). So if and when an announcement for Rise of the Resistance is made, they’ll go almost as fast as the daily boarding passes. I’d suggest following every reputable Disney news breaker just in case!

    That said, I’d be stunned if Rise goes to FastPass anytime real soon. Until they’re confident they can operate consistently without breakdowns, the boarding group system just gives them way better control of the massive demand for the ride.

    Reply
  • February 24, 2020 at 7:53 pm
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    Thank you for the hard work and info! I also am wondering if once you tap into Hollywood Studios before park opening, can you then leave Hollywood Studios and tap into EPCOT and get a boarding pass while at EPCOT?

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  • February 25, 2020 at 7:45 am
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    Trish, yes, you can tap in and then go somewhere else. The CMs might say you can’t, but we’ve done it.

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  • October 21, 2020 at 4:10 pm
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    We just returned from our Disney World trip. My family stood in the animation courtyard where you recommended. I tested the internet speeds using the speed test app just before 10am and here were my results.
    10/13/2020 wifi download 19.4 upload 32.7. LTE download 119 upload 43.9.
    10/16/2020 wifi download 14.2 upload 24.6. LTE download 159 upload 48.6.
    With the atomic clock pulled up on my sons phone, my wife using T-Mobile LTE on her phone and me using wifi on my phone, refreshed the Disney app right at 10am.
    Despite the speed difference, both days I was able to get a boarding pass using wifi before my wife using LTE.
    This supports your conclusion that the wifi is better to use as long as it is reliable.
    We got boarding group 7 the first day and group 5 on the second day.
    Thanks for all you help.

    Reply

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