Disney World is being sued for its hit ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The ride immerses passengers directly into the center of a conflict between Star Wars’ Resistance fighters and the evil First Order, allowing them to be captured and taken to a Star Destroyer before they escape to safety with the vital plans. The ride first debuted at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios park in Florida in 2019, and has been immensely popular ever since.
To achieve the immersion as realistically as possible, the ride incorporates a number of high-tech systems. The trackless carriage combines with a motion simulator to seemingly ferry passengers through their mission. As guests are fleeing the Star Destroyer in an escape pod, it also employs a drop-ride system to simulate the affect of dropping to the planet’s surface below.
The Disney World Rise of the Resistance lawsuit comes from Raven Sun Creative who claim that Walt Disney World is violating their patent on ride technology which incorporates a vertical-moving cart with on-screen video. The company claims it owns this technology and even presented it to Disney in the past, but the House of Mouse maintains that they have done nothing wrong. Raven Sun may have some grounds for legal action if their claims are true, but regardless of which way the Rise of the Resistance lawsuit goes, it’s unlikely the ride is going anywhere.
Raven Sun Creative claims that they presented the technology in question to Disney back in 2014, before the Rise of the Resistance ride was envisioned in 2015, but that Disney had little interest. They also claim to have come to Disney again in 2020, after the ride had launched in Disney’s Star Wars themed section of the park, but that the company went ahead and infringed on their patent. There are only subtle differences between the technology that Raven Sun claims Disney stole and other screen-based rides like Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but if what they claim is true, Raven Sun could have legitimate grounds for compensation.
With that in mind, however, the overall ramifications of the Rise of the Resistance lawsuit for Disney and patrons of its theme parks will likely be minimal. If they decide that Raven Sun has sufficient evidence, Disney will probably do what most major corporations do in this sort of situation and settle out of court. Excited Star Wars fans who haven’t had the chance to go on the ride yet don’t need to worry; it’s highly unlikely that Disney would allow a settlement that includes shutting down Rise of the Resistance. The most probable conclusion will simply be Disney paying Raven Sun Creative to go away.
While the impact of this lawsuit should be fairly minimal to both guests of Disney’s parks as well as the company itself, it does bring up long-time issues of Disney’s effective impunity to legal action. As with most major corporate entities who posses the scale and influence of Disney, traditional legal actions have little effect because the corporations can simply buy their way out with essentially no harm done. Most recently, this can be seen in Disney’s Black Widow lawsuit by Scarlett Johansson which saw the corporation vilify the actor for attempting to seek what she saw as her fair dues before the action was settled out of court. It also begs the question of true accountability, because next time Disney faces a lawsuit, it may not be for something as simple as patent infringement on a Star Wars ride at Disney World.