Review: Disneyland's 'Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run' Ride Let's You Explore The Fastest Hunk Of Junk In The Galaxy – And Then Pilot It

(Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens this week and it's too big and too immersive to be contained in a single review. Our extensive coverage will be collected here.)

Tucked into Black Spire Outpost on the Planet Batuu (actually Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland in Anaheim, California), you will find an infamous ship parked at the local port: the Millennium Falcon. And yes, seeing it in-person is amazing.

This life-size recreation of the iconic ship is so much bigger than I ever expected. There is a real difference between seeing it in the movies and seeing it right in front of you. It's a really cool sight and I'm sure tons of people will be taking photos with it. Disney Photo Pass photographers are stationed around the ship to take your picture, although they might inquire why you want to take a photo with this "hunk of junk" (Yes, even the Disneyland photographers are trained to act in-character.) In fact, the old freighter is under repair and service, and I've heard that if you're lucky and arrive at the right time, you might find Chewbacca underneath the ship, hard at work. The Falcon occasionally sprays mist, and you can hear the crew running tests on the old ship. You might even see them power up the engines to give it a spin.

But this isn't just a photo opportunity. It's also the entrance to the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run attraction. The queue line for the ride takes you all around the ship: you'll see it from behind, from above, and yes, even from inside. And then you get to pilot it.

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The Background Story

The story so far: Chewbacca brought the Falcon to Black Spire Outpost for repairs at this spaceport on the edge of the galaxy after the events of The Last Jedi. In exchange for some much-needed replacement parts, Chewie is loaning the Falcon to Hondo Ohnaka, a smuggler who fans know from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. For those who haven't watched the animated television series, Hondo is a Weequay pirate always looking for the next big score. Hondo is brought to life with a wonderful animatronic figure, one of the best Walt Disney Imagineering has ever created. They even consulted with Clone Wars/Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni in bringing the animated character to life in this attraction.

When we find Hondo in Batuu, he is now running a "legitimate business" out of the spaceport called Ohnaka Transport Solutions. He has more cargo than he can handle and needs extra flight crews to make some runs for him. Naturally, he is looking for crews that won't ask too many questions. That's where we come in.

galaxys edge millenium falcon smugglers run main hold

A Dream Come True

After progressing through the rather large queue line that takes you through Hondo's space garage, we get to climb on board the Millennium Falcon and spend some time in the ship's main hold and lounge. You can sit at the famous Dejarik (holochess) table or adventure around the space, exploring every nook and cranny. Just don't push any buttons you aren't supposed to! There are lots of easter eggs to be found here. For instance, Luke Skywalker's training remote from A New Hope is sitting with the helmet in one of the bunks.

Walking into the main hold for the first time, I actually teared up. This is the closest we'll ever be to actually being in the world of Star Wars and being on board this ship. I wonder if guests will feel they have enough time to explore and take photos in this area before their group is called to go on their mission, particularly in the cockpit. Will park guests be holding up the line taking selfies in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon? It's a real concern!

galaxys edge millenium falcon smugglers run cockpit.0153

The Ride Itself

Park guests are separated into groups of six and randomly assigned one of three roles to complete their mission. From what I can tell, you can't ask to be the pilot, but you can trade seats with members of your own crew, if they are willing. The attraction itself is a motion simulator with actual rider interaction. Here are the roles you can take on.

Pilots: The left pilot controls the horizontal motion of the flight, while the right pilot controls the vertical motion and the lightspeed lever. If the Falcon sustains damage – such as smashing into obstacles or taking enemy fire – and is not properly repaired, the ship's handling is affected.Gunners: This position uses the guns on either side of the ship to defend the Falcon and the cargo it acquires on this mission. There is an automatic setting for newbies and a manual setting that makes it more video-gamey.Flight Engineers: It is the job of the engineers to keep the Falcon from falling apart on the mission. You do this by basically pressing any button that lights up. The more damage your pilots encounter, the more work your job is. It is also your job to take control of the "special modifications" Hondo installed for these unusual missions.millenium falcon smugglers run galaxys edge

Initial Thoughts

At the time of this writing, I only had the chance to pilot the Falcon and it was a lot of fun. I imagine the gunner role would also be fun, but I'm skeptical that the engineer role would be as thrilling because you will be so far back from the cockpit window (i.e., the screen) to see much and will spend most of your time pushing buttons on the side panels to watch and enjoy the action. I will say that this ride feels more like a video game than a standard motion simulator, and will probably be more fun with a group of six friends than a random grouping of strangers, especially since the ride encourages you to communicate with (AKA yell at) one another as the mission intensity heats up.

The ride is a collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Industrial Light and Magic and the day I took on a job for Hondo, there was only one mission available. However, I assume more missions (levels) will be added over time. At the end of the mission, Hondo informs guests how well they accomplished their objectives and awards them credits...after taking his cut and subtracting damages. I'm not exactly sure yet what you can do with your credits, but I assume it connects to your datapad (AKA the Disney Play app on your phone) and allows you to purchase digital goods.

One cool touch: if your mission goes poorly, as you exit the ship, you will notice the Falcon's hallways show damage caused by your disastrous flight. Yeah, you'll want to ride this one more than once.

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