Ever since it opened in 2019, Star Wars fans have had Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World on their bucket list.
Because while you might have seen the Star Wars movies dozens of times, this is the only place in the world where you can experience the excitement of jumping into the pilot’s seat of a life-size Millennium Falcon.
Yes, I’m talking about the extremely popular ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run, of course. It’s one of the two new attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando (also at Disneyland California).
So, what exactly is Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run? Today, I’m going to give you the lowdown on this top-rated attraction from the Walt Disney Company, including the backstory, the ride system, a detailed review, and even some secret tips and hacks.
I’ve been on the Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run ride numerous times, so join me as I walk you through this ride. Reading this article will help you be prepared with what to expect and tell you how to make the most of the attraction.
Overview of the Star Wars Millennium Falcon Ride at Walt Disney World
- Location: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (also at Disneyland California)
- Ride Type: Simulator, thrill ride, dark, loud, small drops
- Thrill Level: Medium
- Disney Genie+: Yes
- Ride Duration: 4 Minutes 30 Seconds (excluding the pre-show)
- Height Requirement: 38 inches (97 cm) or taller
- Estimated Capacity: 1,500 – 1,800 guests every hour
What is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run?
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is one of the newest attractions at the Disney parks – both Walt Disney World Florida and Disneyland Park California.
It is a themed Star Wars flight simulator ride in which guests board a lifesize version of the most iconic spaceship ever created in the movies – Millenium Falcon – for a very special mission through hyperspace.
What Are Roles In Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run?
When you board the Millenium Falcon at Disney World, you are assigned one of a possible three roles:
These “roles” must work together in the command center to control the ship.
The left pilot controls up and down movements and the right pilot controls sideways movements. Engineers fix problems with the spaceship and gunners gun down objects on this smuggling mission that’s carrying precious cargo.
It depends on your performance whether the mission is a success or whether the spaceship ends up in a scrap metal heap at the end of the ride!
What’s The Backstory?
According to the Walt Disney World website, the Millenium Falcon is a full-size, 100-foot replica of the ship that featured in the movies. Like everything the Walt Disney Company does, the attention to detail is astonishing!
Guests board the Millennium Falcon from a spaceport for a special mission from Hondo Ohnaka, a smuggler from the TV series “Rebels.”
Ohnaka is now running a booming supposedly legit business, and the ride takes place inside Ohnaka Transport Solutions in the Black Spire Outpost. He asks guests to make a run for him because he has more cargo than he can handle.
The ship for the mission through hyperspace to Destination D is the Millennium Falcon that’s on loan from Chewbacca.
Tip: To understand the complete backstory, pay attention as you walk through the Black Spire Outpost and the main village on Batuu.
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – The Ride
While for most attractions at the Disney theme parks, the queue is just something you have to tolerate, at Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Star Wars land, the queue is very interesting.
But first, before you enter the queue area, stop for a minute at the entrance to admire the spaceship itself.
It’s this massive, hugely impressive object that’s a focal point in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and it invariably draws your attention. The first time you see it, it can take your breath away, and I’m talking about people who are veterans at theme parks.
The Walt Disney Company has spared no expense in making it a realistic experience. There is incredible great attention to detail in the entire area which is a themed environment. The only other place you get this kind of Disney experience I would say is at the Flight of Passage.
Tip: Make sure you are officially connected to the Play Disney Parks app while you’re queueing for this attraction at Disneyland and Disney World because there are several interactive spots and hidden easter eggs!
Now coming to the actual ride itself…
I feel like the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon feels less vast than it appears in the Star Wars films, but again, the detailing is amazing and you do feel immersed in the entire Star Wars experience.
There are numerous buttons, levers, and switches flashing lights and sounds, so it can be pretty overwhelming.
The Millennium Falcon consists of 7 cockpits or pods, each of which holds six riders. The loading and unloading is pretty fast because there’s a rotating platform.
Once all the riders are strapped in, the engines come on and you take off on your Star Wars mission! The hangar bay of Ohnaka Transport Solutions is displayed on a massive domed video screen and you have amazing views from the windows of the cockpit as you are pushing off.
The gameplay can be confusing at first, but I think Disney wanted to take the middle path in terms of difficulty – neither too easy nor too difficult. They have to cater to every age group, after all.
I think it’s really cool that if you are a group that will occupy 6 seats, you’ll get your own cockpit. The other thing about this ride is that there are multiple roles, so the experience can be somewhat different every time you go on, depending on where you are sitting in the vehicle.
Which Role Is Best on Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run?
As mentioned, there are 3 roles on your mission aboard the Millennium Falcon.
- Pilots are in charge of all the action on this adventure, i.e., steering the spaceship through space by moving it vertically and horizontally.
- Gunners shoot down any incoming TIE fighters.
- Engineers repair any damage to the spaceship during the trip.
The cockpit features 3 rows at the same level. Out of a crew of six, the two pilots are seated in the front row, followed by the gunners in the middle row, with the flight engineers bringing up the rear.
You can switch places with another guest provided they are willing. Kids under the age of 10 might find the pilot’s role challenging. Teenagers and adults, on the other hand, will love it.
The pilot’s role is by far the most important, most immersive, and the most fun. You really get a sense of being in control.
There are two pilots to do the piloting – one controls vertical movement and the other horizontal. My next pick among the roles would be the gunner’s role, followed by the engineer. Once you’ve been on the ride a couple of times, these two roles can start to feel boring.
However, the first time you go, any of the roles – pilot, engineer, or gunner – are going to be fun because the whole experience is interactive.
Tip: The take-off and landing sequences are different during the day and night. So, if you’ve already been when there’s sunlight, consider going again when the sky is dark, or vice versa.
Which Is Better: Star Tours The Adventures Continue vs Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run?
Comparisons are to be expected. Both are Star Wars-themed attractions that look like spaceships and are simulator rides that involve some sort of mission that you have to complete.
Here’s what I think.
Smugglers Run comes out on top simply because it is interactive while Star Tours is not.
However, Star Tours trumps Smugglers Run in that it has many different missions, which means you don’t get bored even if you’ve been on the ride several times. There may be ride updates in the future and Disney might introduce more missions to Smuggler’s Run, which would take care of this issue, but it’s not been officially announced yet.
For Star Wars fans, both rides are a must-do.
If I had to pick one out of the two, however, I’d say Smugglers Run at Galaxy’s Edge – it’s newer, plus the interactive queues are at just another level – never before seen in a theme park.
Which Is Better: Flight of Passage vs Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run?
Avatar Flight of Passage is a 3D simulator ride over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run, as mentioned, is at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios.
So, each of these attractions is in a different Disney park.
I would not compare the two even though both are simulator rides with interactive attraction queues. The reason is that Avatar Flight of Passage and Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run have totally different theming, ride vehicles, and intensity (Flight of Passage is more intense and scarier).
The wow factor of Flight of Passage is hard to beat, but I think you should just enjoy each attraction individually.
Which Is Better: Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run vs Mission: SPACE?
Again, both are interactive motion simulators that create the experience of flying and require guests to undertake a mission. I would say the Millennium Falcon is much more complex in terms of gameplay and the number of switches and buttons in the cockpit.
However, Mission: SPACE is a more intense ride compared to Smuggler’s Run. Therefore, the Millennium Falcon is a better pick for a family with people of different ages.
What Is The Typical Wait Time At Smuggler’s Run?
When the attraction first opened, wait times were expectedly very high. Now, I’m seeing wait times of less than 60 minutes for the Millennium Falcon ride, sometimes even 25 minutes!
More than the popularity of the ride itself, I have a feeling it has to do with lower attendance overall at the Disney theme parks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, remember, this ride can accommodate over 1,500 guests per hour, so there’s a quick turnover. Plus, it has proven to be a reliable ride and is not prone to breakdowns.
What is the Best Time to Go On Smuggler’s Run?
My experience is that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is best experienced either first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
If you want to beat other guests to it and rope drop this attraction, plan on being at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at least 30-60 minutes before the listed opening time per official Disney information.
If getting up early on vacation is not your idea of fun, then I suggest waiting until it’s nearly park closing time, because that’s when queues are typically shorter. Mid-day is likely to be the worst time in terms of crowds.
Does Smugglers Run have Genie Plus?
Yes, there are 12 attractions that are part of Genie+ (which has replaced the FastPass queue) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is one of them.
I would say you put Smuggler’s Run on high priority for Genie+. At least in the early days, Genie+ was running out faster at Smuggler’s Run than at Tower of Terror and Slinky Dog Dash, which are other top picks for Genie+ at Hollywood Studios.
Does Smugglers Run Have a Single Rider Queue?
Yes, there is a single rider line at Smuggler’s Run, which is great if you are visiting Star Wars: Galaxy Edge alone or you’re the only one in your group who wants to go on this attraction.
However, if you’re with a group, the ride experience is vastly better with friends and family. Also, don’t forget that while the single rider line greatly reduces waiting time, you do miss out on some of the interactive ride experiences and the best view in the regular queue area.
Lastly, if you’re with your own group, you can switch roles, which isn’t possible if you’re riding with a group of strangers. You’ll have to take whatever role you’re assigned by cast members. You’re unlikely to get the pilot’s role since single riders are seat fillers.
Does Smugglers Run have Rider Switch?
Yes, and it works just like it does at the other Disney attractions.
If there is a child who does not meet the height restriction for the Millennium Falcon, two adults in your party can choose the Rider Switch or Child Swap program and go on the ride one at a time without waiting in the queue twice.
Is the Millennium Falcon wheelchair accessible?
There are many ramps and elevators that you need to navigate to get to the loading area.
However, Smugglers Run is accessible for wheelchairs, ECVs, and other mobility devices. A cast member will be happy to provide assistance in directing you.
Remember that if you take the elevator, you’ll miss a few props and views.
Cockpit Hack For The Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run
Here’s an insider secret:
There’s something called the “Chewie Mode” on the Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run ride. It’s something you can unlock during the pre-flight check in the ride vehicles.
Instead of following the audio instructions and pressing buttons on the control panel in front of you as directed, you need to be a little naughty in following Hondo’s orders.
Here’s how you enter Chewie Mode:
- Board the Millennium Falcon with a full crew occupying all six seats.
- Do not activate your position before the ride starts.
- Allow the two left and right pilots to push their control sticks to the extreme left side/right side and extreme up or down positions.
- Now the pilots should push their activation button.
- The four other crew members (gunners and engineers) should ignore the pre-flight instructions. They should hold down one of the white buttons on the control panel and then press the activation button.
The only problem is that this hack won’t work unless all the guests in a cockpit follow these instructions to the T.
If you are able to successfully enter “Chewie Mode,” prepare for a surprise! Instead of Hondo’s voice, you’ll hear Chewbacca’s voice!
If you’d like to meet Chewbacca (sometimes the voice won’t cut it!), I wrote a complete guide on where you can meet him at Disney. Read Where Can I Meet Chewbacca at Disney World for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run scary for little kids?
There is a height restriction of 38 inches so that excludes the very little ones anyway. In my opinion, it’s a medium thrill ride that’s not very scary or super intense. However, it does involve small drops and bumps, so those who suffer from severe motion sickness, maybe avoid it.
Is there any height restriction for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run?
Guests 38 inches / 97 cm tall or more can ride Smugglers Run.
Is Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run a rollercoaster?
No, it’s not a roller coaster. It does not spin or go upside down. It is a simulator ride that makes you feel like you’re flying.
Do PhotoPass members get on-ride photos on Smuggler’s Run?
Unfortunately, no, at the current time Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is not on PhotoPass, so you won’t have any photos taken while you’re riding.
Does Smuggler’s Run Close During Bad Weather?
No, it’s an indoor attraction, so it does not close when it’s raining. Indeed, it’s a great option during bad weather.
A Treat For Star Wars Fans
So, Star Wars fans, that’s a wrap on my comprehensive guide to Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland California.
I hope I’ve answered all your questions. If you want to know something else, ask me in the comments below.
Now, all that’s left to do is buy yourself some stormtrooper armor and enjoy a post-ride drink at Oga’s Cantina!
Stay tuned for more news, reviews, and information on other experiences at Walt Disney World.