Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Restrictions and access
38 inches; FastPass+ access (beginning on February 19); will eventually use a single-rider’s line.
August 29, 2019
Two-sentence insider summary
Meet up with that grizzled old space pirate, Hondo Ohnaka, and explore the interior of the most famous hunk of junk in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon. Then assume one of three different crew jobs in her cockpit as you fly the legendary vessel in an environment that is dynamically rendered around you in real time.
In-depth: The backstory
Hondo Ohnaka, who’s been a part of the Star Wars mythology since his first appearance in the Clone Wars animated series back in 2009, was already in the midst of starting up a brand-new “company,” Ohnaka Transport Solutions, on the planet of Batuu when Chewbacca and Rey, the inheritors of the Millennium Falcon after the double events of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, contacted him for help. With the vessel being old, idiosyncratic, and, now, pretty badly damaged, Chewie couldn’t find the parts he was looking for to patch her up – and Hondo, with his myriad underground connections, was the Wookiee’s best and fastest shot at keeping ahead of the quickly-pursuing First Order.
The old Weequay pirate agrees to assist, but on one condition: that the Falcon be loaned out to him to be the centerpiece of his new smuggling operation. Chewbacca and Rey respond with a counteroffer of their own, demanding that at least some of his under-the-radar missions involve sneaking supplies and parts to the Resistance, to help them recover from the devastating Battle of Crait. A bargain is struck, everyone is happy (well, relatively), and, now, the hunt is on for freelance crews to man the Millennium Falcon on all these smuggling runs.
That’s where you come in. Experience isn’t needed, but discretion is a must.
(For even more on the backstory, including the lengths to which Hondo has to go in order to keep Han Solo’s old ship from out of enemy hands, see our complete explanation.)
In-depth: The queue
In the novels, Hondo Ohnaka keeps the Millennium Falcon hidden away at Batuu’s spaceport, behind a moving screen of cargo crates, equipment, and supplies. While that sophisticated camouflage net isn’t present in Galaxy’s Edge, the ship is still a sight to behold.
The Falcon is a full-size, fully-detailed, 110-foot recreation, occasionally venting out gas, attempting to fire up her engines, and having maintenance workers come out to check on her (even Chewbacca himself periodically prowls the scene, supervising all the repair work). She’s parked on a landing pad that is framed by a surrounding cliff wall that has had a series of loading docks, passageways, and storage rooms carved out inside of it (and which has had a number of flight towers and cupolas built on top of it); Disney has engineered it perfectly so that when you first spot her, no matter which way you enter the spaceport area from, the ship is sitting at exactly the same angle that she was for her on-screen debut in Episode IV: A New Hope, in Mos Eisley’s docking bay 94. The resulting effect provides quite the first impression – a superb way to start off Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run’s experience.
The entrance to the queue is situated to the left of the battered ship, leading into tunnels and a large maintenance bay, where various engines and vessels are in one state of (dis)repair or another. First on the ground floor and then up on the second (the catwalk level of the mechanical shop), visitors are able to look through a series of strategically-placed windows that allow beautifully-framed, up-close-and-personal perspectives of the Millennium Falcon. Every viewport is a cinematic opportunity, allowing fans (both old and new) to bask in the presence of the most famous movie starship.
The preshow scene – where the attraction’s story kicks into high gear, priming you for the on-ride adventure that is about to unfold – is set in a control room where an audio-animatronic Hondo Ohnaka stands ready to greet you. This seven-foot-tall figure is the second-most advanced robot Walt Disney Imagineering has ever made in its 70-year history (the first being the Shaman of Songs over in Na’vi River Journey, of course), and its lifelike movements and natural delivery make that fact immediately apparent. He’s voiced by Jim Cummings again, just as with the character’s appearances on the two Star Wars television shows, and his flamboyant dialogue feels like it comes right out of either The Clone Wars or Rebels: “Remember, the more you work together, the more you earn. Your lives – and my profit – depend on it!”
Once the old pirate is done explaining the mission at hand, he orders R5-28, a battered astromech droid, to summon the Millennium Falcon from its perch outside the loading dock; a video projection that doubles as windows behind the Weequay shows the venerable vessel flying over and landing at this interior loading dock (thereby explaining how the Falcon goes from being parked outside, in the courtyard, to being boardable inside the mountain). Guests then get assigned to a particular flight group of six by being handed a boarding pass, after which they walk across a bridge and finally, at long last, enter the ship itself.
Smuggler’s Run’s holding area takes a page from both Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Universal’s Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, allowing passengers the opportunity to move freely about a space as they wait for their group number to be called. In this case, however, that area is none other than the Millennium Falcon‘s iconic lounge, where the dejarik table (that’s “holographic alien chess” for non-Star Wars diehards) and communications console are located. This is an authentic, film-accurate recreation of that set (even down to the bolts!), and guests have chance galore to examine, take selfies in, or just relish being in the cabin after all these many decades of seeing it on the big screen.
Finally, your number gets called, and you and your five compatriots head off to the cockpit to begin your mission.
(Worried about the throughput of a ride that can only seat six at a time? Don’t be. According to Disney, Millennium Falcon has enough “cockpit pods” to push through approximately 1,800 people an hour.)
In-depth: The ride
Hondo Ohnaka has modified the Millennium Falcon‘s cockpit to now feature six chairs instead of the usual four. This is because each member of your party is divided into three different flight-crew roles: there are two pilots, who, of course, fly the ship (the left-hand pilot controls horizontal steering while the right handles vertical and the jump to hyperspace); two gunners, who will be responsible for shooting down all those pesky First Order TIE fighters that chase after you (the left gets the top turret while the right gets the bottom guns); and, finally, two engineers, whose job it is to repair any damage that the ship may accrue during your adventure – and, at one key moment, to also fire a harpoon.
Excelling at all three responsibilities is the only assurance of a successful completion of the mission at hand, and, furthermore, Disney has spent a great deal of time and energy on making sure each task is as fun and rewarding as it possibly can be – thereby diminishing any hard feelings that you weren’t selected to be the pilot, the only position that every last person in line really wants to do (although, yes, it is only the right-hand pilot who gets to pull that legendary hyperspace lever).
The mission itself is simple – or, at least, should be. Hondo is dispatching you to the planet Corellia (Han Solo’s homeworld) to intercept a First Order train shipment of coaxium, the fuel needed for faster-than-light travel (all of which essentially makes the ride something of a Solo: A Star Wars Story highlights experience). Both Ohnaka and, occasionally, Chewbacca chime in during the entire journey, helping to explain the controls and nudging the various crew members throughout the mission. Needless to say – in typical theme-park fashion – things don’t exactly go according to plan, but, by the time passengers return to Batuu, the Resistance has the fuel it so desperately needs… and the old Weequay pirate has his profit.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run employs real-time video-rendering technology in order to realize all these different environments, which uses a souped-up version of Epic Games’s Unreal engine and which employs five “ultra-high resolution” projectors. In this way, the flight cabin is completely enveloped in a realistic-looking landscape, one that is generated on the fly and that, thanks to the various controls strewn about the cockpit, allows a certain level of interactivity – while the ride experience is very much on rails, forcing the Falcon to follow a specific, pre-set flight path, the pilots will need to try their best to avoid hitting certain obstacles that lie along the way. (Similarly, the gunners can’t manually target their turrets, but if they don’t press the fire [or, in one crucial case, a missile] button, the enemy ships will remain in the environment and will continue to damage Chewie’s vessel.)
(Just to give you an idea of how detailed the Millennium Falcon set is, there are over 200 different individual buttons, switches, and toggles covering seemingly every last square inch of the cockpit, and the necessary ones will light up in order to signify when they need to be pressed or flipped.)
This interactivity means that how, exactly, passengers respond during the ride experience determines how well the iconic ship comes out of the scenario. If the pilot lurches on the controls, the ship will knock over a spire during takeoff from Batuu’s surface; if the quad-gunners miss their targets, the TIE fighters will shoot at and score hits on the Falcon; if the engineers don’t respond quickly enough, that damage will become more serious and, possibly, lasting. While Smuggler’s Run won’t allow you to irrevocably crash and burn, your and your colleagues’ handling will have lasting consequences, starting with how much money you each make (once Hondo deducts his teeny, tiny profit, of course) – a percentage is displayed once you have settled back at Ohnaka Transport Solutions’s landing pad. Consider this your grade, with 100% being an A+ and – well, you get the idea.
Speaking of which…
In-depth: After the ride
After you step out of the cockpit, you’ll make your way down another of the Millennium Falcon‘s circular corridors, whose appearance will be entirely dependent upon how you and your crew handled the ship during your mission – if you flew well, it’ll be in pristine condition; if you did poorly, lights in the hallway will be winking on and off, there’ll be the sound of sparks flying, and comm chatter about all the damage you’ve inflicted upon the ship will accompany you on your way out.
Once you return to the streets of Black Spire Outpost, the level of funds you managed to acquire from your ride will help inform your reputation system in Galaxy’s Edge, influencing how the different employees at Oga’s Cantina and the various gift shops respond to you. (A poor result in Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, for instance, might lead a bartender to mention how displeased Hondo is with the way you handled his star ship.) These results will persist over long periods of time, rewarding those visitors who come back to Galaxy’s Edge multiple times.
(Don’t worry – if you wish to opt out of this level of interactivity, you certainly can.)
OI fun fact
There may be a(nother) Solo: A Star Wars Story cameo present in the Millennium Falcon‘s cockpit: L3-37, Lando Calrissian’s longtime droid co-pilot whose consciousness ultimately got merged with the ship’s navicomputer, may somehow make her presence known to guests. Keep an eye (and an ear) out!
- Black Spire Outfitters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Creature Stall in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Droid Depot in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- First Order Cargo in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Kat Saka’s Kettle in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Milk Stand in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Resistance Supply in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Ronto Roasters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- The Jewels of Bith in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios
- Toydarian Toymaker in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios