The attention to detail inside of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is truly unlike anything else we’ve ever seen in a domestic Disney theme park. The design truly makes it feel like the land has always been in its current location and it does feel like the closest experience we could ever have to living our own Star Wars story, which is exactly what Disney was hoping for with the land. However, the land can’t stand on only architecture, merchandise, and dining. The attractions inside Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge have to be the pinnacle of Walt Disney Imagineering, so it wasn’t a surprise that a vast amount of people were disappointed to learn that the marquee attraction, Rise of the Resistance, wouldn’t be opening on May 31, 2019 along with the rest of the land. Instead, we were left with only Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, which many were looking at as the lesser of the two attractions. While I still haven’t fully processed my feelings on riding Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, I’ll try to share my feelings about the experience as well as I can.
Of course, spoilers will follow ahead, so if you don’t wish to know anything, please don’t read any further!
The Queue of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Before I get to the actual ride portion of Smuggler’s Run, I have to start with the queue. The attraction truly starts as soon as you first lay eyes on the Millennium Falcon parked in Black Spire Outpost. The ship is bigger than you could’ve imagined and it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities for it to take off at any given moment. To the left of the ship is where you’ll enter the queue for the attraction and while most of the land is unmarked, Smuggler’s Run is easy to identify due to the extra signage needed for the Standby, Single Rider, and Future FASTPASS queues. Keep in mind, the attraction will not open with FASTPASS, but the touchpoints are there and waiting.
The immersion starts with the first Cast Members you meet as you walk up to the attraction. They were there to welcome us to Ohnaka Transport Solutions and to inform us that Hondo will take anyone regardless of experience to help be a pilot, gunner, or engineer. It is touches like this that help sell the immersion in the land. When the Cast Members are truly making you feel like you are in the story and not breaking character then it’s easier to accept this world as a reality. The theming with Cast Members didn’t stop here, but I’ll get to that in a little bit.
From there you begin the LONG journey through the queue. You’ll pass by the backside of the Millennium Falcon on your right getting plenty of chances to get a unique and memorable shot of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. You’ll then make your way into what appears to be a maintenance bay. The size and little touches in this room is mesmerizing. From what looks like an abandoned game of Sabacc to the broken down droids and the hanging engine they attempt to fire up from time to time, everything feels realistic and authentic. I really can’t undersell the size of this room. It is massive and it is well packed with props to look at and help pass the time in what will most likely be a very long line. You essentially gain elevation as you climb your way through the room, but I can report it’s accessible the entire way through the queue. However, the one person on an ECV I witnessed driving through actually stated it was difficult to make it through the line.
Meeting Hondo Ohnaka in Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
The next portion of the queue once again takes you past the Millennium Falcon, but this time it’s on your left and you’ve also gone from below the ship to above it allowing you even more time to take in how impressive this creation is. After looping around one more time, you then enter your first holding room that is broken up into left and right sides. You won’t spend too long in this room, because soon doors will open and you’ll make it into the briefing room with Hondo Ohnaka, who you may know from the animated series in the Star Wars canon. I’m happy to report that the footage Disney previously showed of the Hondo animatronic didn’t do it justice and it’s even better in person.
The storyline goes that Hondo Ohnaka has made a deal with Chewbacca that he can use the Millennium Falcon to help in his business with the understanding that the Resistance will get a piece of whatever is successfully taken during your… smuggler’s run. In the pre-show, Hondo welcomes you to Ohnaka Transport Solutions and he’s offering us the opportunity of a lifetime – to transport valuable merchandise across the galaxy. He needs pilots to navigate, engineers to operate the ship, and gunners to defend the shipment, and that is where we come in. Then the Millennium Falcon is shown landing at Ohnaka Transport Solutions in the giant window behind Hondo and Chewbacca appears on a video monitor to set up the deal between the Resistance and Hondo. We even get reassurance that the First Order won’t even know we’re there!
Boarding the Millennium Falcon
After making your way down a narrow hallway, you finally reach the next set of Cast Members who once again explain the different roles for the experience and hand you a colored card with your assignment on it. 6 people can ride Smuggler’s Run together and that breaks down to 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers. The process is very random and if you are with friends and family then you can just swap your cards, but if you’re with other groups then you most likely will just have to accept your fate unless they seem just as friendly as you do when you ask to not be the engineer…
Instead of having the ability to walk up the iconic ramp of the Millennium Falcon, you walk into the hall that leads directly into the common room that we know from the movies. It truly does feel like you are standing on the Millennium Falcon at this point. The room at any given time will be holding no more than 20 or so people, so you have time to take it in, but it may not be that much. I had two experiences where I was only in this room for 30 seconds before moving onto the final briefing stage and I had two other experiences where I was in here for a minute or two.
The Cast Members are very strict about lining up when your color has been called, so be prepared to abandon that photo of you sitting at the dejarik board to get in line. Despite the fact that they are strict here, they do an excellent job at theming back and forth with other Cast Members. Not once did we see anyone break character. Granted, this was a party with celebrities, executives, and media, so it wouldn’t be the best time to not do your job, but hopefully the Cast Members embrace how special their roles are and they continue to roll with it. Also, if things go haywire in this room, try to find a button on the wall to press and make everything go back to normal.
The final briefing room places you right outside of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and Hondo just reiterates your assignments one last time. The door then opens up to an empty Millennium Falcon and you make your way to your seats. Pilots are in front, gunners are in the middle and engineers sit in the back. The left pilot will control the left and right movement of the ship, while the right pilot will control the up and down movements as well as the jumps to lightspeed. The gunners and engineers do the same regardless of which side you sit on. Once you buckle up, it’s time to go.
The Ride Experience on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
You start the ride by taking off from Black Spire Outpost and quickly making it out of the atmosphere so you can successfully make the jump to lightspeed. Your mission is to follow a train, just like in Solo: A Star Wars Story, to steal some coaxium. Of course, things don’t go the way as planned and soon you’re taking evasive action and defending yourselves from the ships protecting the train. Regardless of how bad your team is doing, you’ll manage to steal some coaxium so everyone has a happy ending, but the better you do the more you can steal. You escape from the planet and make the jump to lightspeed, but your hyperdrive fails and you have to start evasive maneuvers through a field of debris while you’re still being pursued by enemy ships. Of course, you escape and make your way back to Batuu so you can find out how you did. This decision is based on the amount you stole minus the damage to the ship, and remember, how you did on your mission can follow you throughout the land.
Review of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run
Overall, I think most guests will walk away from Smuggler’s Run applauding it as a success. Everything that needs to work with it works right. It’s immediately immersive like the rest of the land, it is packed full of details that make it feel truly real, and the ride itself is entertaining and definitely requires multiple experiences. However, it isn’t the perfect experience overall. The one thing I cannot knock about it at all is the queue. It really is a work of art and everyone involved in it should be proud. There was a time when I thought no one could build a queue more impressive than Universal, specifically the marquee attractions of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but Disney has upped their game with Flight of Passage and now Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Take it in and appreciate it, because it really is special.
Now for the bad parts. The time spent on board the common room of the Millennium Falcon needs to be tightened up. I know that it’s hard to control, but there’s not nearly enough time to take it all in if you’re a massive fan. This is where the divide between the biggest fans and the average guest would really show. I would’ve been more than happy to sit in the room for 5 minutes just appreciating the details and grabbing the perfect photos, but most people aren’t me. There has to be a compromise somewhere in there.
As for the ride, it really is too reliant on the pilots. I don’t want to say that it’s hard to pilot the ship, because it’s not, but I also grew up playing video games and have a grasp on controlling ships in a simulated environment. If you don’t have that experience then you’ll struggle and it will bring down the rest of your team. The gunners are constantly working away, which helps keep that position interesting, while the engineers have the least amount to do, but they also have the best overall view of the attraction. The first time I was an engineer, I thought I only had to press buttons twice the whole ride, but the next time I realized there was actually more to press than that and it did increase my enjoyment in the role, but it’s really just a position you should hold if you want to sit back and take it all in.
As a pilot, you can’t really take in the attraction. You do feel incredibly immersed being right up against the window, but you lose out on the full picture and I think that’s important to see as well. Ultimately, the shortcomings of the ride have to completely deal with the team dynamic and being let down by the other people you are riding with.
For those worried about the intensity, don’t be too concerned. It does jostle you around a bit like Star Tours and Mission: Space, but it has a different feel. It lacks the claustrophobic environment of Mission: Space, but the size of the cockpit doesn’t allow for the extreme movements that you can experience on Star Tours. The seats are straightforward with seatbelts making this attraction pretty accessible for everyone.
My final takeaway is that Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is an absolute must-do attraction, but it’s definitely not perfect. It’s fun, it has repeatability, and it helps you actually feel like you’re living your Star Wars story and that is the whole purpose of the land. If the ride doesn’t suffer from maintenance issues and isn’t constantly showcasing horrendously long waits then it will be at its best. I know I look forward to riding it again, but hopefully I have a crew that will live up to my expectations the same way the attraction as a whole lived up to my moderate expectations.