This past weekend, I finally went back to Walt Disney World for the first time since before the Coronavirus pandemic. This may be my longest absence from Disney Parks in my five or six years of being a passholder. Even before I was a passholder, I would visit at least once or twice most years ever since I was a kid.
On this particular trip we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (featuring Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge). The main goal since March 2020 has been to ride Mickey’s Runaway Railroad and I finally got to do that. It was also my first time visiting a Disney Park with my girlfriend.
This is a video game site I know but that’s why I want to review Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (the ride) as a video game. The ride basically is an immersive co-op gaming experience.
When it comes to rides and theme parks I stick to the less intense rides. I don’t mess with roller coasters, flippies, big drops, high speeds or pretty much anything like that. My favorite “adventure” rides are Star Tours and Dinosaur. I really love Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Figment and Spaceship Earth — things that keep it pretty calm.
In Smuggler’s Run six passengers take control of the Millennium Falcon. There are two pilots sharing control of the Falcon — one up-and-down and the other handles turns (left and right). There are also two gunners — one on each side of the Falcon. The last jobs, and “most important,” are the two engineers. Engineers repair the ship as the pilots crash and trash it. They also control the harpoons.
Making your way through the queue of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is also an entertaining experience. Not only do you get to explore this large space station, you also get to hang out in well-known areas of the Falcon.
One of my favorite parts of the whole experience happens before you even get into the Falcon. The Falcon is now owned by one of my favorite Star Wars: Clone Wars characters, Hondo Ohnaka (voiced by Jim Cummings aka Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Pete, Darkwing Duck, King Louie). It’s been really neat to see these animated characters come to life.
We got to see Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian play a real life Ahsoka Tano (originally voiced by Ashley Eckstein in Star Wars: Clone Wars) and Bo-Katan (Katie Sackoff – in both The Mandalorian and Clone Wars).
Hondo is extra special because he’s an animatronic that looks and moves like a real person. He also talks to you on the screen throughout Smuggler’s Run. My favorite part as I was saying before was seeing a real life (animatronic) Hondo explain the mission to you.
The imagineers did a great job coming up with the game part of this ride. Sure, I would like something a bit more complicated as someone who spends many hours playing games. However, many guests who will ride this don’t spend any time playing games. They had to make something that fits all types of guests.
Being a pilot is by far the best job, but also the hardest — especially if the other pilot has no idea what they are doing. Being a pilot not only means you get to control the Falcon, you also get a front row seat to the action. And one of the pilots gets to control the hyperdrive (which is by far the coolest part). The first time I was a driver and Hondo told me to take it to lightspeed I screamed out to my passengers, “Are y’all ready for this?”
While Gunners and Engineers have similar tasks, they push buttons. Gunners fire the guns and Engineers fix the ship and fire the harpoons. If these were too complicated then people would spend the whole ride staring at their task and not noticing the actual “ride” part of traveling through space.
You basically just mash your buttons and hope the pilots don’t crash too much.
Of course, it would be cool for the ride to have a SOLO pilot (see what I did there?), and larger tasks for the other crew members. Maybe even a gunner down below, but it has to be simple to get riders in and out. Plus, there are all types of people who ride this and some are video game savvy but many are not. Also a more complicated setup would definitely be continuously broken by guests with no experience.
The one thing I do hope is that they will update the ride with new missions, sort of like they do with Star Tours. Star Tours has continued to add new scenarios from the prequels and now sequels over the years. Yesterday I rode through The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker on Star Tours.
Right now I totally love this ride, because piloting the Millennium Falcon is every Star Wars fan’s dream. If they continue to add to the experience, that will keep it fresh for years to come.
Overall, this isn’t a great video game, but it is a fantastic ride. Who doesn’t want to be part of the crew on the Millennium Falcon one day?
One more Thing
My last bit of wisdom is this. If you can ride Smuggler’s Run with a part of six, do it! That’s the ideal situation. Having a flight crew of friends and being able to yell at each other for not doing your job right.
Also, this way you can ride it multiple times so everyone gets to try each position. Last year, I got to ride with a group of four and that was pretty fun too. I can’t wait to go back to Batuu (aka Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge) and do it again.
The ride is very interactive up until the very end, so if you’re unsure of your performance pay attention to your surroundings as you exit.