Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is one of two rides at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is currently open at Disneyland. This interactive simulator attraction gives six guests the opportunity to crew the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy. The Disneyland version is identical to the Walt Disney World version of Smuggler’s Run, which is slated to open on August 29 this year. Rise of the Resistance, the land’s other ride that Disney has been touting as their most ambitious attraction ever, will open later this year at both locations. I had the chance to go on Smuggler’s Run three times during my visit to Batuu, and here’s my Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run review in 12 parsecs words: You get to ride in the Millennium Falcon, and it feels amazing. 

Smuggler’s Run is a blast for any Star Wars fan, but how does it hold up against other prominent headline attractions like Avatar: Flight of Passage, Radiator Springs Racers, or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey?

Seeing the Falcon

Millennium Falcon Exterior Star Wars Galaxys Edge - Disneyland - Guide2WDW


If you’re like me, the coolest thing you ever saw on screen growing up was the Millennium Falcon. The shape of the ship. The swiveling gunner chairs. The cockpit and window! The rickety ship that was in constant need of repair was as much a central character to Star Wars as Chewbacca or R2D2. Smuggler’s Run is basically a love letter to the Millennium Falcon. It delivers the wish fulfillment of any Star Wars fan to board the iconic cockpit of the Falcon and punch it to lightspeed. 

The experience of the attraction starts outside the line, when you see the Falcon itself. In a land chock full of amazing sights and details, the full-scale Millennium Falcon might have been the coolest thing in all of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Even though I had followed plenty of preview coverage and knew what to expect, I found myself completely in awe once I caught a glimpse of the ship while I was just exploring the land by Ronto Roasters. I quickly darted to an overlooking area by the entrance to Docking Bay 7, and took a few minutes just to take in the Falcon in all of her glory. This is the first time that anyone has built a complete to-scale Millennium Falcon. It is massive and looks even more impressive than photos can do justice. Disney did a great job creating plenty of areas to look at the ship and take pictures from. 

Falcon - Galaxys Edge Star Wars Galaxys Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

Besides being an unbelievably impressive feat of architecture and theming, the Falcon serves as a very obvious landmark to show where the attraction is. Disney first experimented with an immersive land without obvious ride signage with Pandora in Animal Kingdom to mixed success. I appreciate the intention of the design and how it keeps the land cohesive in Pandora, but it wasn’t obvious to me where to go to get in line for Flight of Passage or Navi River Journey. In Galaxy’s Edge, there’s no confusing where the Millennium Falcon ride is. It’s right by the massive Millennium Falcon, with the entrance being simply marked with “Flight Crews Wanted.” This is just one of the examples of the full immersion approach working extremely well in Galaxy’s Edge.

The line and preshow

Engine - Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Queue - Star Wars Galaxy's Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

Guests enter Ohnaka Transport Solutions, run by lesser-known character Hondo Ohnaka from The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. The queue winds through a garage which is chock full of detail. You’ll notice things like an abandoned table with a game of Sabaac in process or a massive speeder or podracing engine which lights up and makes sound effects. The whole thing reminded me of Star Tours, but more detailed, more industrial, and a bit less jokey. As you work your way through the queue, you’ll have several more opportunities to look at the Falcon from unique perspectives. The view from behind the Falcon offers one of the only glimpses back out into Disneyland from Galaxy’s Edge, showing a spire from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which actually fits into the topography of the rest of the land. Immersion was a huge goal for Disney in Galaxy’s Edge, and this is just another way that they completely nailed the execution. (I’ll be interested to see what the sightlines are like at Hollywood Studios)

Millennium Falcon - Backside - Star Wars Galaxy's Edge - Disneyland

This garage portion of the line features two characters bantering over the intercom, which was fairly innocuous and entertaining. However, I didn’t really have a chance to understand who these characters were, or to play with the Play Disney Parks app game that was designed for the line. My first posted wait time was 30 minutes, and the line moved. I never stood still for more than maybe 20-30 seconds at a time. It’ll be interesting to see what the line is like once the land is not reservation-only and also has FastPass implemented, but all indications seems that Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is very efficient at moving people through the ride. 

Hondo - Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run Queue - Star Wars Galaxy's Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

After the garage, you get to see one of my new favorite preshows in any ride. A door slides open in that signature Star Wars fashion, and you walk into a massive room with an animatronic of Hondo standing on a balcony. He explains that Chewy has lent him the Millennium Falcon in exchange for parts needed for the ship and the Resistance, and that he needs flight crews to run some legally-questionable missions for him. The Hondo animatronic is so impressive. Because there’s such a fluidity and personality in the performance by Jim Cummings, it feels like it’s an actor in high-quality prosthetics standing on a stage. This section of the attraction also has all the hallmarks of a great preshow: clearly setting the the premise of the ride, plenty of humor, and multiple screens showing different information (it’s not quite Muppet Vision preshow-level, but definitely a great use of many screens). This preshow also addresses one of my concerns with the ride once they announced it: how are you boarding the Millennium Falcon if it’s parked outside? Is this going to be a Radiator Springs Racers paradox, where you walk through a Radiator Springs to board a car that drives into a different version of Radiator Springs? During the preshow in Smuggler’s Run, you see the Falcon tracked from its position in Black Spire Outpost as its flown into the Docking Bay behind Hondo. It’s a small detail that once again sells the complete immersion of Galaxy’s Edge.

Entering the Falcon

Millennium Falcon Interior Star Wars Galaxys Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

Guests then walk past another extremely cool sliding door (seriously, they nailed the doors in this land) into what feels like a jetway at an airport. Groups of six are put together and given a card that explains the role that they will play in the cockpit (more on these roles in a bit). It seems like these are seemingly random. On my first ride, my wife and I were given the first two cards and we got pilot. On my second ride, I got the last card and was engineer. On my third, I was last but got the pilot card (I exchanged with a 6 year old guest who really wanted to pilot). It doesn’t seem like cast members will let you wait in a separate line to get the assignment you want. If you don’t get the role you desire, it’s up to you to exchange with the other people in your group. After having ridden all three roles, I personally don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Each role is unique and fun in its own way if you know what to expect, but certain people will prefer certain roles depending on what they like out of a ride.

It should also be noted that this is where Single Riders enter the line, skipping the previous preshow. I definitely recommend doing the regular line at first, and doing single rider for repeat rides as the wait was non-existent. 

The line up to this point has been great. Lots of unique theming, views of an amazing full-scale Millennium Falcon, and one of the best animatronics Disney’s ever made. The next part makes this the greatest queue in Disneyland or Disney World: you round the corner of the jetway and step aboard the Millennium Falcon. 

They nailed it. They completely nailed the look, the feel, and the sound of the Falcon. The best part is that because you are sorted into a color-coded flight crew, you have free riegn to roam around the bridge of the ship. Getting a picture taken at the chess table seemed to be the most popular activity in this room, but there is so much to see in here from Porg nests to Luke’s blast shield helmet to the bunk where Finn patches up Chewie. It’s such a different experience being able to roam around a queue rather than being confined to standing between the ropes. I could have spent at least 30 minutes just looking at everything in this room. 

Millennium Falcon James Star Wars Galaxys Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

But as I said before, this ride loads extremely efficiently. It was about 3-5 minutes before my flight crew was called each time I rode. Once all six of you report in, you walk down another perfectly themed hallway, where you get briefed via video by Hondo about your mission: Go to Corellia and steal coaxium from the First Order. 

The Cockpit

Millennium Falcon Interior 2 Star Wars Galaxys Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

Another door opens, revealing the cockpit. Once again, they nailed it. Even though there’s an extra row of seats, everything else feels exactly right, from the lights on the dashboard to the shape of the seats. The cockpit feels both appropriately big but much more intimate than something like Star Tours or Flight of Passage. The domed screen that envelops the viewport does a great job of giving a sense that you’re looking out a cockpit window, even before the ride starts. 

There are two natural comparisons for this ride: Star Tours and Mission: SPACE, the latter of which features “interactivity” and a convincing cockpit featuring satisfyingly clicky buttons. Mission: SPACE has always been a bit of a disappointment because the interactivity is faked. Nothing you do makes a difference on the mission. Smuggler’s Run actually delivers on the promise of Mission: SPACE – It is truly interactive, and your job in your role has an effect on the outcome of the mission.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run Review

The Mission

The ride begins, and you are riding the Millennium Falcon. The motion simulator ride itself feels like an upgraded version of Star Tours, with the movements being a bit more subtle and convincing. There are a few moments of drops and twists that almost approach the “pit in your stomach” feeling that Flight of Passage evokes, but not quite as epic. In terms of just pure motion simulation (not focusing on the ride film itself), I think that Smuggler’s Run is second only to Flight of Passage. 

The mission takes you out of Black Spire Outpost, through lightspeed to Corellia, and back. There is no way to completely fail the mission (i.e. get a “Game Over” screen), so the ride takes roughly 4-5 minutes. The experience of the ride is pretty different depending on your role.

Pilot: This is the most immersive, most interactive, and the most intense. You are sitting the closest to the viewport, so the screen is wrapped around you completely, which made the feeling of motion a bit more pronounced. The left pilot controls left and right, while the right pilot controls up and down, so the two pilots need to work in tandem. This can be frustrating if you’re going for a perfect run, but also a bit of chaos makes the ride a bit more fun. The ride is “on rails,” meaning that your movement is limited to a preset path, but there’s plenty of obstacles to avoid. The Falcon moves a bit like a boat, so it can take some skill to avoid oncoming spires or explosions. While this is the most interactive role, it doesn’t necessarily mean best. This experience feels much more like playing a video game than anything else in any theme park, so if you want something that feels more like a ride, you might prefer the other two roles. 

Gunner: In terms of interactivity, this is a bit of a step down from the pilot. On your left or right, there’s a panel with three buttons. Before the ride begins, you can choose automatic aiming or manual aiming. With automatic aiming, you can just press any button and the ship’s computer will aim for you. With manual, the top button shoots high, the middle button shoots middle, and the bottom button shoots low. Once you orient yourself, it’s possible to hit these buttons without looking at them, so you can keep your attention on the screen. Your goal as the gunner is to take out as many Tie Fighters as possible, while also shooting some other targets. This isn’t particularly challenging, but it was fun. Gunner is a nice mix of interactivity and traditional passive riding. 

Engineer: If the pilots or gunners mess up and the ship gets damaged, it’s up to the engineer to press buttons to repair the ship. Honestly, I thought this role sounded kind of boring compared to pilot or gunner. The other issue I anticipated was that the buttons are all 90 degrees to your left or right, which means you’re looking away from the screen when you’re doing your job. I worried that the engineer’s job would be too distracting. In practice, I actually really enjoyed being the engineer. There’s a bit of a fun chaotic feeling when you notice lights blinking in your peripheral vision and you have to quickly press them that reminded me of the game Space Team. It also only takes about 5 seconds to press your buttons, so your attention isn’t taken away from the ride that much at all. This is the least interactive role, but you still have an important job to do and the outcome of the mission depends on how quickly you hit your buttons. 

The three roles have clear differences from each other, and it almost feels like riding a different ride each time you go on. My favorite was probably pilot, but not by as much as I thought it would have been. I’ll honestly be happy to ride in any role, as the interactivity and distinctiveness of each role gives this ride the best reride value of anything at Disney World or Disneyland. 

The ride film itself is completely rendered in realtime, and it looks incredible. It probably isn’t quite as crisp as the prerendered segments from Star Tours, but it’s close. I’m pretty picky when it comes to resolution and image fidelity, and I didn’t really have anything negative to say about the visuals while riding. The ride film is also not as breathtaking or majestic as Flight of Passage. If there’s any weak point to the ride, it’s probably the section in Corellia. The actual events are fun: there’s a train chase, fights with Tie Fighters, and a really cool drop sequence. But Corellia personally ranks as one of the least iconic Star Wars settings. It’s a bit industrial and feels more generic than any of the planets found on Star Tours or Pandora. If I have one nitpick with the ride, it’s just the setting. The sections through Batuu are much more fun because Galaxy’s Edge does such a great job making you fall in love with the setting, and jumping to lightspeed looks and feels amazing. 

Odds and Ends

There are a few other details that I absolutely love about Smuggler’s Run. 

  • The mission’s end really does vary depending on your performance. My first run was a disaster. We only got one canister of coaxium, and really damaged the ship. Hondo’s spiel at the end involved listing off the ship’s systems that were no longer operational. Upon leaving the Falcon, the hallway was flickering and buzzing with damage. On my second ride, we had an almost perfect run and got two containers of coaxium. As we waited to exit, Hondo said that we had to wait because there was an alien stuck to the hull of the ship as thumping sound effects played from above. Each time I went on the ride, the dialogue at the end was completely different. 
  • If you go on during the daytime, the sequences on Black Spire Outpost will be in daylight, but if you go on during the evening, the sequences will be at night. It’s an unexpected detail that shows the advantage of running a simulation in real time.
  • If you look close, you’ll see a Starspeeder 1000 from Star Tours fly by.
  • You get a score at the end of the ride, which will sync with the Play Disney Parks app. These score screens are perfectly designed, evoking that 1970s sci-fi screen. I didn’t try to do too much with the app, so I’m looking forward to seeing what difference it makes. 
  • Look out for a Rathtar frozen in carbonite on the way out. 

Final Verdict

Falcon at Night - Black Spire Outpost - Star Wars Galaxy's Edge- Disneyland- Guide2WDW

If you can’t already tell, I really love this ride. They completely nail the feel of the Millennium Falcon, which delivers on the promise of an attraction like this. I do have minor complaints about the setting of Corellia, but apparently more missions will debut at an undetermined date. It’s a big upgrade over Star Tours, which was already one of my favorite attractions at Disneyland and Disney World, and it’s the most uniquely rerideable attraction that Disney has opened.

Even though many of these are apples to oranges, just for fun let’s see how Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run compares to other recent E-Ticket rides. It has more narrative cohesion than Radiator Springs Racers, but doesn’t have the epic scope of Ornament Valley or the unique thrill of physically moving through that outdoor track. The Hogwarts queue of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey gives Smuggler’s Run a run for its money. I’m torn because there’s a bit more variety to Hogwarts, but the Hondo animatronic and the Falcon bridge are the best things I’ve ever seen in any queue. I personally found Smuggler’s Run to be a bit more ridable than Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, with the action being easier to track and overall experience being more consistent. Finally, Smuggler’s Run doesn’t quite match up to Flight of Passage. While the line and preshow definitely best FoP, the ride film of Millennium Falcon doesn’t match the amazing movements and jawdropping visuals of James Cameron’s ride. I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and I’ve only seen Avatar once. Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run made me giddy, but Flight of Passage actually made me cry. 

So, yeah, it’s not quite as good as the best ride at Disney World. I’ve read some reviews online that seem a bit underwhelmed with Smuggler’s Run, which I can actually understand. Galaxy’s Edge as a land is the most mindblowing accomplishment that I’ve experienced in themed entertainment. The only ride that’s open right now is very good, but doesn’t blow away expectations like the rest of the land. Considering the positioning of this as the secondary attraction of the land, it’s still amazing that it’s a true E-ticket and must-do for anyone who goes to Hollywood Studios or Disneyland.

I think if you expect this ride to be the greatest attraction ever, it will probably disappoint you. If you expect an upgraded version of Star Tours that happens to be interactive and has one of the most amazingly detailed ride vehicles ever, then strap in. You’re in for a fantastic ride.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run Review


James
James

James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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