Entering Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland for the first time, a few days before the land opens to the public and through a rear entrance for media and cast members, the first thing we witness is an old, grimy YT-1300 light freighter parked right in front of us. It's the Millennium Falcon, rectangle dish included, as it exists right now in the era between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and this holiday's upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
And this hunk of junk is magnificent. It's a complete 1:1 scale recreation of the iconic vessel from a galaxy far, far away, a ship that's known for its speed and seemingly indestructibility. No little smuggling transport has survived as many battles, and now it resides on the planet Batuu, home of Black Spire Outpost - the location of the most technologically advanced single-land expansion in Disney Parks history.
Beside this ship is the entrance to the first of two rides coming to Galaxy's Edge in 2019, Millennium Falcon: Smugger's Run, an attraction where guests are promised the adventure of commanding the Falcon with their own crew - each taking different roles - in a fully interactive experience. But how does it work and is it truly interactive?
Why is the Millennium Falcon on Batuu?
Following the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Chewbacca brought the Falcon to Black Spire Outpost for repairs at this spaceport on the edge of the galaxy. In exchange for some much-needed replacement parts, Chewie is loaning the Falcon to Hondo Ohnaka (the fan-fave, fast-talking Weequay from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels ), a smuggler who is now making good use of the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
Hondo needs crews to run a mission for him to Corellia to acquire coaxium (fuel for faster-than-light travel) from a First Order train, and this is the subject of the Millennium Falcon: Smugger's Run experience.
Asa Kalama, Executive Creative Director at Walt Disney Imagineering, tells us that the plan from the beginning was to include the Falcon as a centerpiece for Galaxy's Edge since it's one of the most iconic characters itself in Star Wars lore. And more importantly, the Imagineering team knew they wanted guests to live out the fantasy of actually commanding the vessel as part of their own personal journey on Batuu.
How Does Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run Work?
Beside the Millennium Falcon landing pad is the entrance to the Smuggler's Run attraction, and while currently there is no FastPass support, the infrastructure (scanners) is there for when it's eventually added. The queue sees guests circle around back of the parked Falcon, and then again from a higher vantage point where the incredible detail, upper gun turret, and fuel lines can be seen.
Inside the attraction, guests will see where workers play Sabacc, where weapons are stored (for smuggling?), and there's a large engine unit hanging from the ceiling. As they finish the queue, the magic happens as guests get to meet Hondo Ohnaka in person - a brilliantly realized animatronic character. Behind him the view ports digitally show the Falcon landing, as he chats with his droid, the guests, and Chewbacca, before letting you into the next area: the Falcon interior.
First, a cast member will greet your crew and hand out colored cards which assigns 2 pilots, 2 gunners, and 2 engineers, then you enter the Millennium Falcon's iconic lounge. Chewie's bunk and hologram Dejarik game included! Here's where guests wait until their colored cards are called before they enter a cockpit. There are eight cockpits in total, each supporting a crew of up to six, meaning 48 guests can be in this experience at any given time.
Upon entering the cockpit, the the glass digitally displays the space port you're parked at. The pilots take the front seats, gunners in the middle seats, and engineers at the back.
Is Millennium Falcon: Smugger's Run Truly Interactive?
The left pilot controls the horizontal steering, and the right pilot controls the vertical steering (remember: up is down and down is up!) and the hyperdrive (the most fun part arguably!). The left gunner controls the upper turret (denoted by blue-colored lasers) and the right gunner, the lower quad gun. The engineers, like the gunners, have their own screens on the side, and similar to the gunners (who are always on "auto") simply press a button repeatedly at the correct times, whether they're shooting down enemy TIE Fighters or repairing ship damage. Occasionally, at key times, a secondary button may pop up (e.g. to fire a missile or grappling hook).
The experience is akin to a co-op video game experience in a simulation chamber (the cockpit moves as the ship performs actions to make you feel it) with wonderful visuals. It is however, on-rails, and the interactive elements are very limited. Still, Smugger's Run offers something unique, satisfying, exciting - and certainly something that Star Wars fans have been waiting for.
Each position keeps track of their accomplishments and earnings, and at the end Hondo tallies it up, subtracts his cut for repairs, and you'll be escorted out, with the opposite of congratulations. This is Hondo's operation after all...
It's very different in many ways from Star Tours, keeping both rides worthy and unique, and with different roles in the cockpit, there's reason to do it again and again. We're excited to see what missions can be added to this experience in the future as Galaxy's Edge evolves. There's nothing like flying the fastest ship in the galaxy!
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens at Disneyland May 31, 2019 and later in August at Walt Disney World.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019