The First ride to arrive at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run. The Concept of this ride promised guests a ride in the actual Millennium Falcon, one of the most iconic Paces ships in all of Science Fiction. For Star Wars Fans this really is the stuff of dreams! To be able to board and fly the Millenium Falcon is really not something most of us ever really thought would become a reality. And…well it isn’t.
Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run is obviously not the actual Millennium Falcon, as that doesn’t exist, and space travel on this level is also pure fantasy. So instead we get Disney’s Imagineer’s best attempt to fake it. Aboard a life-size replica, with a super high-tech motion simulator letting you feel what it might be like to fly in this incredible Starship. But how close have the boffins at Disney got to replicating space flight? Is the ride worth the years of hype and Pandemic Delay? We finally get to ride on the Falcon and bring you our Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run Ride Review!
- Location – Disneyland Park – Galaxy’s Edge
- Type – Star Wars-Themed Interactive Motion Simulator
- Duration – 4:30+ Mins
- Height Restriction – 38 In
- Average Queue time – 30 mins – 60 Mins
- Genie+ Lightning Lane – Yes
- Single Rider – Yes
- Additional Info – Partially interactive – 6 Crew Cabin
What is Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run
The Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run was the first ride opened in Disney’s new Galaxy’s Edge land in Disneyland Park California and Disney World Florida. While we focus on Disneyland’s version both the rides and pretty much the lands are all identikit versions of each other.
Dinsey had spent billions on the Star Wars franchise and was banking on Galaxy’s Edge to try and claw some of that back, (Although we think in the end the Films and Disney+ Shows will probably earn them more than the park additions) However, constant delays and issues saw things continuously pushed back. In the end, when the lands opened in 2019 there was only one functioning ride Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run.
The ride was basically the realization of all Star Wars fan’s wildest dreams, a chance to fly the Millennium Falcon!
At the heart of Galaxy’s Edge is the full-size replica of the Falcon. Simply seeing the Falcon resting there, occasionally off-gassing is quite a thrill for a Star Wars Geek!
Queue And Theme
The Queue starts off at the base of the Falcon and circles around the back. This gives you the impression you are boarding the craft, actually, you are heading off into the ride building, but it’s convincing enough.
The initial parts of the queue are incredibly detailed as you pass through a workshop and engineering deck. There are spare engines and equipment all over and the attention to detail is magnificent.
Next, you enter the first Pre-Show area where you meet Hondo Ohnaka a Space Pirate from the Clone Wars, and his Droid, R5-P8. These incredibly detailed and life-like animatronics explain the story and the ride to you. Basically, you are going on a mission to steal some shipments of Co-Axiom from the First Order to help the Resistance and make some money for you and Hondo.
At the Pre-Show, you will be assigned your Roll, Gunner, Engineer, or Pilot along with a team color. You can now board the Millennium Falcon and wait for your boarding call.
Queues are long for Smugglers Run, there are only 2 rides in the Galaxies and this means they are really popular. It’s not at the same level as Rise Of The Resistance, but it regularly goes up to an hour and well beyond if Rise is broken down!
The good news is there are a few ways to skip the Queue
This is one of the best choices for your early Genie + Selection. As people pour in towards Rise Of The Resistance, Smuggler’s Run is a bit neglected, and you can usually bag a nice Early Genie+. If you are part of the mad dash to Rise of the Resistance, then you can enjoy your queue-free ride on that and then head straight over to Smugglers run, we had both rides ticked off before 8:30! Read about how here!
Even if this is not your plan, it’s a really good call at any point of the day to snag a Smugglers Run Genie+ as it’s one of the longest Genie+ queues in the Park.
If you are not using Genie+ then there is still the backup option of the Single Rider Queue. While the Ride is REALLY fun to do with friends and family, it’s still a team effort and you can have a good ride experience with whoever is in your cockpit.
For us, we didn’t want to use the Single Rider for our first Ride, it was too much of a group activity to do it alone, but for subsequent rides, maybe trying out the various roles and trying to beat your score, then the Single Rider is a great option.
Any odd Number in a group triggers the need for a single rider so the single rider queue moves fast.
Aboard the Falcon, you can explore the crew deck of the Iconic ship. There is the Chess Board, Dining table, and various screens and devices from the Ship. Once called you head towards the Cockpit, where you get a final briefing from Honod before entering the cockpit and taking your assigned seats.
- Front two seats – Pilots
- Second Row – Gunners
- Back Row – Engineers
The Cockpit is really incredible. There are multiple buttons and controls at each station, most of which help with the interaction once the mission starts. The segmented Glass Windshield looks out onto a domed digital Screen and acts as a perfect seamless window to the universe once the ride gets going.
Due to the immersive cockpit, it really doesn’t matter where you sit as you are all fully immersed in the world. You are actually IN the cockpit so in some ways the engineer’s seats are the best as the pilots are too close to the screen to appreciate how the whole cockpit reacts to the goings-on outside on the screens!
Of course, we still all want to be pilots though…
How to Get the Pilot Seat on Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run?
We are still working on this….sorry
The Ride Vehicle is really clever, there are Multiple Ride Vehicles mounted on a turntable that spins around, allowing one crew to board, and another to disembark, while the others go through the ride sequence. In fact, there are a total of 4 carousels with 7 Ride Vehicles on each giving 28 ride vehicles and a pretty impressive throughput!
The actual ride is an advanced Motion Simulator with interactive elements. The Falcon Cabins are seated on a series of hydraulic rams that tilt, lean, and rotate the riders to simulate motion. This combined with the Digital Projection onto the domed screen gives are really realistic simulation of Space Flight.
The concept here is very similar to Star Tours, but the technology is so far advanced it really bears no correlation in execution.
The Imagery is also rendered in real-time, whereas Star Tours and other rides of this nature are pre-recorded videos meaning there can be no interaction. Smugglers Run being rendered on the fly, allows riders to interact with the scene and affect outcomes! It is essentially a giant Video Game with the Crew controlling events in real time!
However, in order to keep the experience a ride and still please guests who are not really into playing giant Video Games, the level of control is pretty minimal, and the overall possible outcomes are pretty small. For example, if a rider is requested to push a button, but forgets or can’t find the right one, the button is automatically pushed after a short while. If a pilot fails to avoid an obstacle, you smash into it and carry on your way, with no real effect on the mission.
Piolet Control is very minimal, designed to dodge obstacles and initiate the jumps to light speed, you do not get to control the actual path the Falcon takes or anything like that.
Overall, no matter what you do the ride is pretty much the same for all riders, even if you do nothing at all the ride still goes through the motions pretty much as you expect. The major differences are the narrations from Hondo and a few extra sequences available if you do everything particularly quickly. Although these are really Stall Scenes and can equally occur if the pods in front of you load and unload slowly.
You will also find on exiting the ride that your performance will have an effect. Most noticeable if you do a lot of crashing as the corridors will show signs of damage and the audio speils denounce your performance. Do well and the corridor will be undamaged and you will likely be congratulated.
We are going to break this into two parts, as we are fortunate to disagree on the Star Wars Universe! I have loved the films since childhood and consider myself a real geek. I spent hours playing Star Wars computer games, including X-wing Vs Tie Fighter, where I learned FAR too much about imaginary Space Fleets! So getting behind the controls of a Star Wars Starship is not really new to me!
What is new is the chance to board the Falcon and actually (sort of) Fly it! The thought is enough to get me giddy! But being such a geek could cloud my Judgement! I might get carried away with the little details and easter eggs and forget the real experience. I might also be let down as it’s not all I dreamt of and let the red mist taint my view.
This is where Kate comes in, she doesn’t really care for Star Wars at all! So her dispassionate view on the ride is priceless. We think most people are going to fall into these camps, either fan-boy/girls or not. So Kate will show you how the ride stands up as a RIDE. We both enjoy Star Tours, so Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run should easily be good enough to stand up to her scrutiny. And I will try not to get carried away!
So Away from the Technical details of how the ride works the actual experience is really immersive. Despite the reality that the impacts of the crew have very little effect on the outcome, it does not really feel that way and when a command comes in to hit a button, fire a weapon, or jump into hyperspace the urgency to do so is quite overwhelming!
The Ride is an incredibly immersive simulation really transporting you to the Starwars Universe in a really compelling way. The Ships maneuvers, banks, turns, and drops all convince the brain you are actually performing the maneuvers in reality, well at least the primitive part of your brain!
We don’t want to go into a running commentary of the content of the adventure as we would be revealing quite a few spoilers, but the story visuals and experience really take you to a new and unexplored realm of the Star Wars universe.
From a non-Star Wars perspective, the ride is still a thrilling and fun experience. The Actual ride is not all that from a Star Wars Perspective, apart from the odd Tie Fighter and Chewey Cameos, there isn’t that much Star Wars Lore in there so fans and non-fans will enjoy the ride just as much.
From a Fan Perspective, it’s the overall presentation that really impresses me. The Falcon Lounge, Chess Table, and Cockpit are the things that really got me fanboying!
Overall the ride is a real triumph. It really is hard to believe this is the “second-tier” ride at Galaxy’s Edge. From the moment you arrive at the Millenium Falcon, to the final exit door you are immersed in a level of detail and theming that is quite unprecedented even for Disney.
Of course, the experience is only a simulation and for many, this is a letdown, as people were wanting more of a proper ride (well they got that with Rise Of The Resistance) But the level of emersion of the whole experience really has to be seen to be believed.
The Ride itself is a technical masterpiece but lacks a little Star Wars Lore as the adventure is SO standalone, I would have preferred more Star Wars Easter Eggs and nods. But it’s still a fine experience and getting to about the pinnacle of simulator technology. It’s not quite Flight of Passage, but it runs close.
We would have preferred more interaction, but can understand the balance between being a Video Game and a Ride!
Have Yor Say
What are your thoughts on Star Wars: Millennium Falcon – Smugglers Run? Does the Ride live up to the hype or is it an overblown simulator? What position did you get and how did that affect your enjoyment? Whatever you have to say let us know in the Comments Below.
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