For the first time ever, Star Wars fans are able to board the Millennium Falcon and embark on dangerous mission that could tip the scales in the battle between light and dark. The new ride at Disneyland's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge park puts fans right in the middle of the saga they grew up with. It's an interactive experience that allows the guests to have a direct impact on the outcome of the attraction, with a thin line separating success and failure.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run is an immersive experience from the moment you get in line. The Corellian freighter itself is parked outside the entrance to the ride; a full-scale replica meant to deliver a sense of awe, seeing it up close and personal as you head toward the cockpit.
From there guests enter a maintenance shaft that leads to a repair area. This is where the fun begins, as it's a more detailed experience than what you'd find at the Star Tours ride across the park. While that one has the sleek sheen and polish of busy airport, Smuggler's Run instead takes you inside the grimy and dirty repair areas that are required to keep these freighters in peak condition.
Over the intercom, guests are treated to the humorous bickering of maintenance workers and Hondo Ohnaka, the very same smarmy pirate made famous from appearances in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series, the role reprised by legendary voice actor Jim Cummings.
One of the workers is voiced by Ben Schwartz and another is voiced by Bobby Moynihan, comedic actors known for their roles in Parks & Recreation and Saturday Night Live respectively. The two area also two-thirds of the triplets in Duck Tales.
From the sprawling line in the maintenance area, guests are then taken to a short line before the boarding area that overlooks the Millennium Falcon and the port of Black Spire Outpost, giving fans another look at the ship as it towers over the visitors outside. The level of detail is immaculate, and it makes you want to hop out and check to make sure Chewbacca made all the right repairs on the bucket of bolts.
You're then led into a briefing area where an impressive animatronic of Hondo himself stands on a platform above, alongside his own trusty astromech droid known as R5. He addresses the riders and explains that he needs skilled crew members for a dangerous mission to Corellia before he's interrupted by Chewbacca on a screen. The two bicker for a few minutes before Hondo ushers you into a waiting area.
This is where you actually board the Falcon, and the hallways begin to look like the iconic circular corridors engrained in every Star Wars fan's brain. In this space you and the other guests are put in groups of six, and each of you is randomly assigned a card that gives you your role: gunner, engineer, or pilot. With two of each role, everyone has to work together to ensure the success of the mission.
Then guests are treated to one of the coolest waiting areas in any ride at a Disney Park, which is the recreational area of the Millennium Falcon. The infamous Dejarik table sits in the corner, providing a cool photo opportunity as you wait. The nooks in the walls are also home to some makeshift nests, evidence of a previous Porg infestation.
Guests wait around here for a few minutes while Disneyland cast members gather the groups of six to load them into the cockpit. The wait can be five-to-ten minutes long, and you might even hear an explosion followed by a randomly blinking light in a corner. The cast members will encourage you to rush to push the button quickly in order to take care of the problem, which is just another level of immersion to make you feel like you're on board. Remember all those times Chewie or C-3PO would have to rush back through the Falcon to take care of an engineering issue? It's just like that.
The different groups in the Falcon are organized by color-coded cards, and once your color is called up by a cast member you are whisked into the Falcon cockpit — which is a surreal experience in and of itself. The buttons and levers are all accurate to the films, the size of the room makes you feel like you're an actual pilot, and the impressive screen that surrounds the cockpit makes the visuals look like you're actually docked in a hangar.
Of course, nothing ever goes right. Whether it's a First Order presence or Hondo's own greed, the mission gets a few setbacks and the riders have to work together in order to achieve success. And by the time it's all said and done, Hondo is either giving you a bigger cut of the take or chastising you for the damage sustained by the Falcon, which comes out of your final score.
Guests then exit the Falcon, and depending on their level of success they might notice damage done to the interior corridors. It's a nice touch that continues to expand on the level of immersion that is so important to the entire park.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run is the only attraction in operation at Disney Parks right now, but it's one of the most impressive rides in the entire area. While it will be a fun and thrilling ride, it's sure to instill a sense of wonder in every Star Wars fan.