Written by Katie Penn, photos by Katie Penn unless otherwise specified
Facts at a Glance About Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run:
|Park: Hollywood Studios Location: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Height Requirement: 38” (97cm) or taller Fastpass: Not yet. Single Rider Queue: Yes.|
|Quick Notes: Fly an interactive Millennium Falcon flight simulator where the ride vehicle responds to rider’s actions (or inaction) so no two rides are the same.|
|Disney Warnings: Thrill ride, small drops, dark, loud. WARNING! For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.|
|Cautions: Interactive motion simulator with sharp turns and drops, violent bumps, sudden movements, extreme angles, a wide variety of light effects including flashing lights, and loud noises including explosions. Ride vehicle is a fairly small, dark enclosed space.|
|Length: 4 minutes 30 seconds.|
|Special Needs & other info: Must transfer from wheelchair/ECV. Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older. Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted on this attraction. There is a crate area where you can leave your service animal while you ride. Audio Description, Handheld Captioning, Assistive Listening.|
Overview of Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run in Hollywood Studios
Immerse yourself in some of Disney’s best theming and join a crew of Smugglers attempting to steal precious cargo for credits. Work with your team mates to fly the Millennium Falcon. Be careful, the Falcon responds to your actions – if you fly it into a wall, it will shake and groan like you flew it into a wall!
As a comparison, we find it to have motion that’s more violent than star tours. Each ride will be different as it is controlled by the riders. One pilot controls up and down, one controls side to side. So you can be thrown in any direction. If your pilots jerk you all over the place, then you’ll jerk more than if you have smooth pilots. Imagine driving over a dirt road full of pot holes at far too fast a speed and you get some of what it might feel like. Guests get thrown around in the seat (bouncing all over the place). The motion might be compared to bad airplane turbulence but it’s more severe side to side than in a plane.
Queue, pre-show & boarding for the Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
The line for this attraction can easily reach two hours long. First thing in the morning the line can reach the entire length of the Star Wars land, so guests should be prepared for long waits outside. Later in the day as guests fill the inside queue, the line inside is still long but usually entirely covered. Guests wind through a serious of chambers inside the mountain, and even get to walk around the back of the Millennium Falcon.
Some of the outdoor queue is open-sided but covered. Once inside the line is enclosed, dark and air conditioned. Though much of the queue feels wide open, some areas may feel narrow.
There is plenty to see – old docking bays with droids, spaceship parts and junk, windows which look out onto the Falcon. Some might find it very stimulating with loud noise levels, lights, sound effects, and an animatronics Hondo character (see below).
Despite its length, the queue is worth waiting in line at least once to experience the fantastic Imagineering experience. Due to the capacity of the attraction the line does move at a steady pace and the fun things to look at make it seem like a shorter wait than it is.
Before being sorted into boarding groups there is a pre show with a fantastic animatronic of Hondo who is recruiting crews to smuggle and transport goods across the galaxy. For this important mission he has commissioned the Millennium Falcon.
Following the preshow you are then taken onboard the Millennium Falcon where you wait for your ride. For Star Wars fans this is an absolute must – geek out at all the details as you wait to be called. In this area, an alarm might go off, which could be startling. There are flashing lights in this area.
The Cast Member divides guests into teams of 4. Each team has two pilots, a gunner and an engineer.
NOTE – single riders join standby guests at this point and 99% of the time are allocated the engineer role.
As you are informed of your role by the cast member you are handed a card with your role and a color. When it is the turn of your team to board, the cast member will call your color, so if you are exploring the ship or taking group photos, make sure you are listening to be called.
Once called you are shown into the corridor outside the cockpit. Here you receive your final briefing from Hondo – listen carefully because he explains the controls. Your ride experience is greatly affected if you do not know how to operate the ship. Once the briefing is over, the cockpit doors will open and you enter to sit.
Seats: Each ride vehicle has 6 seats which are individual stations with seatbelts. The 2 pilots sit at the front with a control panel in front of them, the 2 gunners sit behind them, and the 2 engineers sit in the back. The engineer and gunner panels are on their sides.
There are handles to hold onto that are built into the ‘console’s. For the engineers and gunners there are small ones found with all the buttons etc. For the pilots it’s in front of them. They’re molded in to look like part of the ship. They could be described as a bit like the inside handle on a car door. The engineer seats have fold down arms. Some might find the rear positions to be slightly less bumpy.
If you or someone in your party needs side support keep this in mind:
“The ride seats may be difficult for someone to sit in who needs side support. On one side, there is the middle aisle. There is a wall on the other side, but it’s not right up to the seat, so is too far to really provide much support.” —Sue Mickelson
“The seat belts were not appropriate for my five year old Houdini. She had crawled out of her seat before the CM had even left the cabin so she and I exited the ride. Definitely not a good ride for my daughter with autism. I went back on with my sons and the back row is not good for tall people. I’m 5’11 and my knees slammed into the seat back the entire time.” —Crystal Fleming Wasdin
Wheelchair/ECV and accessibility information: The queue is accessible to ECVs and wheelchairs. There are some steep ramps so you’ll want to use your manual wheelchair breaks when necessary. There is some uneven ground in places. Those who sit in the gunner or engineer positions can transfer directly from a manual wheelchair to the ride seat. These seats are in the back of the ship and there’s enough room for a wheelchair to come along side of the seats.
Pilot chars are in the front of the ship. If you can’t walk the few steps to the chair, you have the option of using the transfer device. To see a photo of the transfer device check out this page on abilitytravelers.com. The transfer device is a standard airline aisle chair, so anyone familiar with using those would find it to be the same.
ECVs don’t go inside the ride cabin. You must be able to walk a short distance. Here’s a description of the process from visitor Heather Raymond Gable: “I use a scooter and you drive all the way to about 5 feet from the door. They load the scooter group last so other groups may look like they are being taken first but they are not. When you get done with the ride the scooter is waiting right outside the door.”
Single Rider Line info: The single rider line has two flights of steps, each with approximately 10-12 steps. You may end up waiting on a step for some time. So at this time those in wheelchairs or who have mobility issues that impact the ability to climb stairs will not be able to take advantage of this. This line bypasses a lot of the cool things to see in the queue including the animatronic Hondo, and takes you right to the Millenium Falcon.
Additional details about Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
Smuggler’s Run is Disney’s most interactive experience to date. From the moment you join the line you are immersed in the experience. The line and preshow are packed with details and are a full experience in themselves. Nothing has been overlooked, from the tools sitting on crates in the docking bays to the noises and alarms of a space ship.
Following the preshow guests actually board the Millennium Falcon and wait in the lounge area of the ship – guests will recognize the round seating area and hologram table and take turns to have pictures taking seated at the famous table.
If you haven’t totally geeked out at this point, you are then called to enter the cockpit of the Falcon. The little corridor feels just like you see in the movies and your last minute briefing prepares you for your flight.
The cockpit of the Falcon is small, dark and enclosed. At the front of the cockpit is the view screen. Every other surface (except the seats and the floor) are covered with blinking lights, switches and computer screens constantly relaying data.
Guests sit on their seats and buckle their seatbelts and prepare for the flight. Pilots have to control the left to right or up and down. This is made tricky as the movements of the ship are mirrored. This makes the piloting role really fun as you try to figure out which way to move the lever to make the ship respond in the desired way.
TIP – Engineer and gunner sit further back and their controls are to the side. The one downside of the attraction is that if you become too immersed in the controls you need to use you will miss the action on the screen. So don’t forget to look up occasionally.
The ship responds to the rider actions, so no two rides are the same. Energy is high in the cockpit. For part of the ride the ship is being fired at with laser lights. The pilots will be trying to evade objects which can mean you’ll be moved into a variety of angles, some of which are extreme. Tensions can rise and guests often try to tell each other what to do with their controls. It is a team effort, and it is not an easy to complete task.
Part of the fun of this attraction is that most of the time you will do really badly! It is not an attraction that is designed to provide a simple guest experience. You have to work for it – if you’re competitive this is a really fun ride.
The ride can become frantic and noisy, so it could be overwhelming for those who are sensitive to loud or sudden noises, sudden moves and flashing lights, buttons and switches. The ride requires quick and accurate reactions and on most occasions there will be a lot of crashing and bumping. In my opinion some of the more fun rides are the one where it all goes very wrong. If you watch people coming out of the attraction they will all be laughing about their team performance.
Here’s a description of the physical participation and hand dexterity required for the different roles, well written by Pammie of pammieplusparks.com:
“The pilot on the left moves a lever left and right to steer left and right and has one button to push. The pilot on the right has one lever to push up and down to go up and down and has one button to push. The gunners have a gun to fire that they can just hold down the button for and it will continuously fire and they have one or two torpedos to fire. The Engineers have the most to do with a bank of buttons and some switches to push periodically through the ride but you can just mash down on those really easily. There is a voice in the console next to you that tells you what to do and the button you are supposed to push is lit up and highlighted. It is super easy. If you have reasonable mobility in your arms and hands it should be fun and simple to do.”
Once you have completed your mission you will leave the cockpit area and walk the corridors of the Falcon until you reach the hatch to disembark. There can be quote a long walk through the mountain corridors until you resurface back on Batuu.
For details on Plus Size accessibility visit the Pammieplusparks.com page on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run here.
Take a look at the queue and the ride:
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