– by James Burns
Photo Credit: Mary Burns

If you would have asked me as a child if I would someday get to pilot the Millennium Falcon, I would have asked if you were insane. I was always more obsessed with Luke’s X-Wing over the Falcon but only by a hair. Still, though, piloting the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs is a dream come true for fans. Disney has created an experience meant to allow young and old alike to live that dream; but does it live up to the hype? Let’s jump in…

You enter the Smugglers Run attraction directly to the left of where the life-sized Falcon is docked and waiting. As mentioned in part one, the Falcon hums and spews steam as if it’s a living creature. Furthermore, the queue wraps around the back of the ship allowing for a perfect view of the glowing blue engines.

An Old Friend

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

The initial queue will take the longest. Once that has ended you are guided by a cast member into a room where Hondo Ohnaka —from Clone Wars— is waiting for you. As you’re separated into two groups —each with their own individual ride entrance— you are greeted by Hondo as he is finishing a call with someone on the intercom. Each time I experienced this ride, Hondo had one of two different calls before briefing you on the mission. Obviously, this is designed to give a bit of variety to the ride should you choose to ride more than once. I won’t spoil much of the specifics.

The animatronic Hondo standing above me on the platform was so realistic that my brother assumed it was a costumed cast member. I was stunned and impressed by how far Imagineers have come in terms of their characters. R5-P8 —Who fans of the show will recognize— is also part of this pre-ride briefing.

The mission is simple: Partnering with Chewie to borrow the Falcon, you are to travel to an off-world planet and hijack a train shipment of Coaxium from the First Order. This both helps the Resistance deal a blow to the First Order and fills Hondo’s pockets. During this scene we see Chewie bring the Falcon up and over the spires to dock in front of you via a large window behind Hondo. The idea is that the Falcon has moved from where you just saw it in the queue and is now ready for you just ahead. The two groups are now instructed to move forward into the doorways in front of them.

Boarding the Falcon

The next area is a narrow hallway that can only be explained as Star Wars’ version of an airport gate. The floors even feel as though they are hollow and temporary. This is another piece of queue that only lasted a brief moment until I came to a rather awkward, small, circular room where my group was assigned their positions.

Two pilots, two gunners, two engineers. The engineer position will be the one you want to avoid as they are responsible for simply pressing a button to attach cables to the train and positioned at the very back of the cockpit. Each crew member was given a colored card with their assigned positions on it before entering the Falcon.

Chewie, We’re Home…

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

The area of the Falcon where you board is easily the most recognizable; the famous Dejarik board gives it away. This is where Luke Skywalker first trained to be a Jedi, where C-3PO suggested to let the Wookiee win, and where Han proclaimed his disbelief in the Force. Suddenly, I hear cast members are calling out the colors as if names at a restaurant waiting for your reservation. It dawns on me that this area is no more than a waiting area where, when your color is called, you get to enter the cockpit to fly your mission.

While waiting you can take pictures behind the Dejarik board or explore the impressively detailed area. One might even find a Porg nest or two. The ability to not have to stand in line at this part is refreshing and allows for exploration, something I hope Disney Parks does more in the future; but after the initial wonder wore off, I began to look around and notice just how many people were hanging out. The logic of this broke the illusion all together. I wish Disney would only allow one group into this area at a time so as to sell it a little better.

Don’t Get Cocky…

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

Once my color was called I headed over to meet with a cast member who lined us up according to our roles. We headed down a corridor to a closed door with a small screen to it’s right. Hondo came onto the screen and reminded us each of our roles and how to perform them. Once ready the doors opened and the iconic cockpit was revealed. Lights beeped, monitors gave readouts, music swelled.

I sat down in the pilot’s seat and buckled up. A white switch with a rectangle shaped green LED light blinked on the console. “Go ahead and start up the Falcon.” Our cast member instructed as she exited the cockpit. “Oh, boy,” I thought. I quickly noticed each seat had a similar green box blinking around a button. This becomes an important detail as it’s how the ride guides you to press these buttons that are important to operating this beast.

I flipped the switch and she began to rumble. Each person touching the buttons they are instructed to made it feel as though we all knew what we were doing. Like we were experienced scoundrels. Finally, the cockpit jerked as we were taking off. Here’s where disappointment set in: the left pilot handles side to side movements while the right pilot focus on up and down movements. This is a major modification to how we see the Falcon piloted in films and a huge letdown. I understand that Disney wanted to make everyone a part of operating the ship but this just doesn’t feel right. Also, forget about doing barrel rolls; this experience does not allow for flips of any kind.

There are, though, individual things each pilot gets to do. For instance: left gets to hit the “boosters” —which is basically a button that activates the throttle— and right gets to pull the iconic chrome sticks that activate the hyperdrive. I was surprised how much Disney keeps you working. The button pressing and stick pulling can get daunting at times, even for an experienced gamer. Not to worry if you have little ones, though; My kid couldn’t reach the booster and it seemed to just activate on its own. So, I guess the button pressing isn’t absolutely necessary?

The gunners don’t get to sit in spinny chairs as seen in the films. For this mission, the Falcon’s turrets are operated by a small button on either side of the cockpit. No joysticks, and aim is automatic, so all you have to do is mash the button a million times until your finger is sore. I think not being able to aim automatically is sorely missing from this experience and needs to be installed should they ever update the ride. There is also a part where you get to shoot missiles that is really fun.

Then comes the engineers who, for the most part, have just clicked random buttons and enjoyed the ride. However, once the train is close enough, they launch the cables and attach them to the train in order to remove the Coaxium. At one point the ship crashes and shuts off and all team members must begin pressing buttons to get it activated quickly and escape. The panic in this moment is very entertaining and always gets laughs. It reminded me of all the Falcon’s misfires in Empire.

What Have You Done To My Ship?

Photo Credit: Mary Burns

After landing back on Batuu, Hondo will let you know how you’ve done. He will count how many shipments of Coaxium you hijacked, deduct for repairs on the ship based on how much damage it has, and gives a different response based on your overall performance. Each chair can use their monitor to check individual stats like accuracy and such while you wait for the cast member to escort you out. I have no clue how this syncs up with the Datapad via the Disney Play app and they really don’t give a clear indication either way. To be honest I was so carried away with the ride I didn’t even try.

When exiting, if you have wrecked and the Falcon is badly damaged, you can experience sparks, red warning lights, and voices on the intercom saying things like “somebody repair this ship before the Wookie finds out.” The time my kid flew the cast member leading us out acted as if he was in a panic to fix the ship which was really cool.

Another thing I noted after multiple flights was the fact that only once did we get to navigate an asteroid field before coming home. I don’t know if this part is only available if you fly well or if you capture more than one shipment of Coaxium? If you’re reading this and know these details please write me at james@lrmonline.com

As fun as Smugglers Run is, it’s easy to tell this isn’t the main attraction of Galaxy’s Edge. From what I hear about Rise of the Resistance it has the potential to be the better ride. Regardless, though, this ride is something all Star Wars fans should experience at some point. Coupled with the rest of Galaxy’s Edge it makes for an even more immersive experience within this amazing land.

What do you think of Smugglers Run? Looking forward to riding it or not interested? Let us know below! Stay tuned for Part Three: Savi’s Workshop!

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