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    Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

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Description And Comments

The first attraction to open in Galaxy’s Edge lets guests fly Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon, the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.” Guests approaching the attraction will see a life-size Millennium Falcon parked outside the spaceport, periodically venting gas as technicians tinker with the temperamental craft. (You can look at the replica, but you can’t walk under or touch it.)

To board, you’re recruited by Hondo Ohnaka, an animatronic pirate who has cut a deal with Chewbacca to use the Falcon for some sketchy transportation business. After ascending to a second-story catwalk with wraparound views of the ship, visitors enter Ohnaka’s command center, where Hondo explains the mission, while the Falcon can be seen on a video screen preparing for launch. Ohnaka is one of Disney’s most advanced animatronics, with electric motors capable of 50 functions, and his movements are eerily fluid.

At this point, you enter the Falcon through an umbilical bridge and are handed a boarding card that assigns you to a six-person flight crew. While awaiting your turn, you can relax in the ship’s instantly recognizable main hold, complete with a holographic chess board from the movies.

When the time arrives, your group of six guests walks down the ship’s curving corridors and appears to enter the Falcon’s one and only cockpit, thanks to a patented carousel system that keeps the small simulator cabins hidden from each other. Each rider is assigned his or her own station— a pilot and copilot up front to steer around obstacles and activate the hyperdrive, two gunners in the middle to shoot down enemy fighters, and a pair of engineers in the rear to repair the ship when the pilots and gunners mess up—and computer-generated scenery is projected on an ultra- HD dome outside the windshield. By far, the best role is that of pilot.

What separates this ride from other simulators (like Star Tours) are 200 buttons, switches, and levers in the cockpit, each of which does something when activated: Watch for indicator rings to illuminate around certain controls, clueing you in to the correct moment to punch them. Your randomly selected mission—there are reportedly three in all, but only one was working when the same ride debuted in Disneyland in May 2019—may see you running guns to the Resistance or escaping the maw of an interstellar leviathan.

Another difference between Smuggler’s Run and other simulators is that the video screens displaying the action aren’t attached to the ride vehicle. This not only allows for a more realistic display of the action but should also reduce the potential for motion sickness.

At the end of the day, however, in spite of the amount of money, time, and technology that Disney has invested in this attraction, the Smuggler’s Run ride experience is a disappointment. Seats for the gunners and engineers are situated far enough back from the video screens that it’s like watching a drive-in movie through a tunnel. Worse, the controls for those four seats are mounted at a 90° angle from the action onscreen: If you’re in one of these seats, you can either look at the screen or the controls you’re supposed to be working—but not both. It’s so hard to work the controls, in fact, that we gave up halfway through our rides.

The experience for the pilots is no better—one pilot controls left and right movements while the other, inexplicably, controls up and down. The real Millennium Falcon doesn’t work this way, and nobody with any sense would design actual controls like this.

Terrible ergonomics are only part of the problem, though. Star Wars fans have known since 1977 exactly how the Falcon’s guns and gunners are supposed to look and work. What Disney has built here captures none of that—the thrill of combat has been reduced to push-button data entry. It’s an inexcusable design compromise, one that undercuts the entire land’s claim at realism.

Finally, the script that our rides followed was so comically predictable that it actively distracted from the experience. If you’ve ever been on any other Disney simulator, say, Star Tours or Mission: Space, you’ll recognize the exact same plot points, at the exact same pace.

The Millennium Falcon enjoys a beloved, unique place in American cinema. We think it deserved better. That said, opinions among the Unofficial team aren’t uniform: Seth Kubersky, author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, describes it as “a four-star ride in a five-star wrapper.”

Touring Tips

Expect Smuggler’s Run to be mobbed from the moment the park opens for years to come. The full queue and preshow are well worth experiencing your first time through, but the single-rider queue can save you time on follow-up flights.

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