In the spring of 2019, Disney sent shockwaves through the galaxy when it announced that Star Wars land would open earlier than expected, though with only the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in operation.
The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is an advanced flight simulator and, of course, a super-duper headliner. Boarding this ride and sitting in the cockpit of the fabled Millennium Falcon fulfills a dream for many Star Wars fans. The ride itself lasts about five minutes; a 38″ height requirement is enforced.
Guests approaching the attraction will see all 110 feet of the Falcon parked outside the spaceport, periodically venting gas as technicians tinker with the temperamental craft. (You can look at the full-size Falcon but not walk under it or touch it.)
Hondo Ohnaka, a well-known businessman (smuggler), is looking to recruit a flight crew to help him deliver hard-to-find items to his clientele. This is where you come in.
A pirate familiar to viewers of the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons, Hondo Ohnaka has cut a deal with Chewbacca for use of the Falcon in his Ohnaka Transport Solutions company. After ascending to a second-story catwalk with wraparound views of the ship, visitors enter Ohnaka’s command center, where Hondo and his astromech assistant R5-P8 explain the setup. Meanwhile, the Falcon can be seen through the windows, preparing for launch. Ohnaka is one of Disney’s most advanced A-1000 animatronics, with electric motors capable of 50 functions, and his movements are eerily fluid.
As you wait in the ride’s queue, you are handed boarding cards that break riders into groups of six: two pilots, two engineers, and two gunners. Before getting into the cockpit, riders are led into the sanctuary of the ship, the lounge of Millennium Falcon, complete with the famous Dejarik table (holo-chess table) and other memorable props from the films. Once the boarding call comes, riders are led into the exceptionally detailed cockpit of the ship. With their jobs assigned, it is time to jump into hyperspace.
The motion simulator ride is similar to Star Tours, except that you and the rest of the crew are given partial control of the Millennium Falcon, and what happens next depends on the actions of the six people controlling the ship. What separates this ride from other simulators (like Star Tours) is that its graphics are generated in real time by an array of bleeding-edge Nvidia processors, creating cinema-quality images that react instantly to the guests’ actions. There are 200 buttons, switches, and levers in the cockpit, and each one does something when activated; watch for indicator rings to illuminate around certain controls, clueing you into the correct moment to punch them. Your task is to hijack a trainload of coaxium hyperdrive fuel from Han Solo’s home planet of Corellia; in the future, addition randomly selected missions may see you running guns to the resistance or escaping the maw of an interstellar leviathan.
Furthermore, your actions in the cockpit have consequences and will follow you throughout your stay at Galaxy’s Edge. Be prepared to do your best! Who wants to be known throughout the galaxy as the one who wrecked the Millennium Falcon?
The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is stand-by only in Disneyland, but Fastpass+ is available at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as of February 19, 2020. A single-rider option is also available, but the full queue and preshow are well worth experiencing your first time through.
Now, with all that in mind, are you ready to take over the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy?”
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
This next-generation dark ride has been drawing huge crowds of Star Wars fans since its debut at Disneyland on January 17, 2019. A mobile Resistance gun turret tucked into a scrubland forest marks the entrance to the most epic indoor dark ride in Disney theme park history. Rise of the Resistance is an innovative attempt to integrate at least four different ride experiences—including trackless vehicles, a motion simulator, walk-through environments, and even an elevator drop—into Disney’s longest attraction ever.
The adventure begins as you are exploring the Resistance military outpost that has been laser-carved out of ancient stone. An animatronic BB-8 rolls in, accompanied by a hologram of Rey (Daisy Ridley), who recruits you to strike a blow against the First Order. A few dozen guests at a time exit the briefing room to board a standing-room-only shuttlecraft piloted by Nien Nunb from Return of the Jedi; you can feel the rumble as the ship breaks orbit and see Poe Dameron (Oscar Issac) accompanying you in his X-Wing, until a Star Destroyer snags you in its tractor beam and sucks you into its belly.
When the doors to your shuttlecraft reopen, you’ve been convincingly transported into an enormous hangar, complete with 50 Stormtroopers, TIE Fighters, and a 100-foot-wide bay window looking into outer space. Cast members clad as First Order officers brusquely herd captive guests into holding rooms to await their interrogation by helmet-headed baddie Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
Before long, you’re making a break for it in an eight-passenger (two [four-seat] rows) troop transport with an animatronic astromech droid as your driver; the car is capable of traveling without a fixed track, like Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. The ride blends dozens of robotic characters and enormous sets with video projections to create some of the most overwhelming environments ever seen in an indoor ride. One sequence sends you in between the legs of two towering AT-ATs while dodging laser fire from legions of Stormtroopers, while another puts you face-to-face with the Solo-slaying Ren. In the epic finale (spoiler alert), you’ll survive an escape pod’s dramatic crash back to Batuu, a heart-stopping multistory plunge enhanced by digital projections.
Once open, Rise of the Resistance quickly become the most popular ride in the park, right ahead of Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Be sure to read these virtual boarding pass instructions if you want the opportunity to ride it. And while the brief drop at the end isn’t nearly as intense as Mission: Breakout! at DCA, we recommend those weak of stomach not to underestimate its ability to loosen your lunch.
Opening hours, access, and Fastpass procedures for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge are likely to change over the coming month. Check out our free, updated information as it becomes available.
For all there is to see and do at Disneyland, check out The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Seth Kubersky with Bob Sehlinger, Len Testa, and Guy Selga Jr. All Disneyland fans should also check out The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey.