Well, the media embargo has lifted, and we have some first impressions of Millennium Falcon in Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, courtesy of The Orange County Register‘s Brady MacDonald:
“The Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland puts riders in the pilot, gunner or flight engineer seats on an intergalactic journey that’s so thrilling, fun and realistic that you’ll really believe you’re flying the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
The mind-blowing new Smugglers Run ride at Disneyland will exceed the expectations of every Star Wars fan who has dreamed of flying the Millennium Falcon for the past four decades.
I found myself ducking under tunnel entrances, leaning in my seat to dodge upcoming rock spires and shaking in disbelief when we ran into asteroids as my fellow flight crew members navigated through an interstellar minefield of obstacles, barriers and hurdles on our smuggling mission.
Riders enter the Smugglers Run ride queue through Ohnaka Transport Solutions, a shady shipping operation run by Hondo Ohnaka, a dreadlocked space pirate with six tusk-like chin protrusions. Riders receive their smuggling mission from an audio-animatronic Hondo before moving into the hold of the Millennium Falcon and eventually the cockpit of Han Solo’s famed YT-1300 light freighter.
My fellow flight crew members worked as a team as we flew the Millennium Falcon together. Gunners shouted out flying instructions to improve targeting as I sat in the pilot’s seat during one mission. On another jaunt, I took the gunner seat and fired red laser blasts at TIE fighters in our path.
The whole experience feels like a 360-degree immersive video game without the need for virtual reality goggles. Every inch of the Falcon cockpit is in story and each of the 200 blinking and flashing buttons on the console plays a vital role in the success or failure of our mission. There’s even a score at the end of the smuggling run that rates each flight crew member’s contribution to the effort.
The new Smugglers Run attraction takes the flight simulator aspects of Star Tours, combines them with the curved dome visuals of Soarin’ and adds an interactive twist that ramps up your involvement and investment in the overall ride experience. It’s that final element that makes Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run one of the best rides Walt Disney Imagineering has ever created — if not the very best.
That is until Rise of the Resistance comes online later this year. That dark ride is expected to feature four attractions in one and has been described as the most ambitious ride ever built by Disney. But for now, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers sets the new bar for excellence in a Disney attraction.
During the ride, the Falcon departs from the Black Spire Outpost village on the Star Wars planet of Batuu, the setting for the new 14-acre land at Disneyland. Our first job as a flight crew was to avoid the 135-foot-tall spires surrounding the village — which is no easy task. You get an immediate indication if you’re flying with capable pilots or not. And flight crews can be brutal if you don’t know what you’re doing. On the flip side, your crew can be incredibly supportive if you fly like an ace.
Filling the gunner role can leave you with a little repetitive stress syndrome if you take the job too seriously — as I did. Gunners are tasked with plowing the road for the Falcon of whatever is in our path — from TIE fighters to asteroids.
The flight engineers in the back seats are charged with repairing the ship when the pilot runs into spires, fails to navigate narrow openings or crash lands. Which happened far too often on my three journeys. But I’m still a novice. I’m sure my flying skills will improve with repeated trips aboard the Falcon.
Probably the biggest rush of the journey belongs to the pilot in the right front seat when he or she gets to pull back on the lever to launch the Millennium Falcon into hyperspace. The jump to hyperspace elicited cheers every time.
Your success or failure on your mission aboard the Falcon is important because your reputation as a smuggler will follow you around Black Spire Outpost. Step into Oga’s Cantina after crashing the Falcon and a bounty hunter might tap you on the shoulder looking for a space pirate’s lost loot.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run debuts at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on Friday, May 31, at Disneyland and Aug. 29 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.”