Review: Smugglers Run is a fun, interactive and chaotic ride

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open with only one of its attractions ready to welcome guests. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run offers guests their opportunity to fly the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy as either a pilot, gunner or engineer. With opening day approaching quickly at Walt Disney World, how does this ride stack up?

Smugglers Run is an extremely fun experience that’s enjoyable regardless of your Star Wars knowledge. Each role – pilot, gunner and engineer – presents its own unique activity for guests to perform. Pilots will steer the ship and jump to hyperspace, gunners will fire the ship’s lasers and engineers will repair the ship’s damage and fire harpoons. Early reports stated that pilots had the most enjoyable role, but we’ll personally confirm that the fun is found throughout the roles.

At its core, Smugglers Run could be described as an interactive Star Tours or Star Tours 2.0. Don’t let that sound or feel like an insult. The overall execution of guests feeling like they’re actually flying one of the most iconic ships in movie history is outstanding.

It all begins with a brilliantly-designed buildup that starts before you enter the queue. A life-size version of the ship sits just outside the ride’s entrance, serving as one of the best photo spots in all of Walt Disney World. It teases guests with what’s in store and is remarkable all on its own.

The queue itself takes guests through a large repair workshop that has all of the sights, sounds and smells that you’d expect in a machine shop. Workers can be overheard on the radios testing and fixing engines, gunk and grime can be seen literally everywhere and theming completely fills the entire queue.

Guests will then encounter Hondo, the not-so-trustworthy boss who will assign your mission. He’ll also serve as the voice you’ll hear throughout the ride, telling the various roles when to perform specific actions. He’ll also waste little time reminding you of the money you’ll owe if you damage the ship.

And what a ship it is!

It’s the moment you were waiting for. You’ll board the Millennium Falcon and have a chance to explore the infamous chess room. You can look around at all the details and grab a quick photo at the chess table before joining the rest of your flight team for your mission.

One hallway later you’ll see the doors to the cockpit open and you’ll finally take your seats. Pilots in the front (duh), gunners next and then engineers. Don’t worry about your role or seat – you won’t have any trouble seeing and there’s plenty to do for everyone.

We served as our ship’s engineers and didn’t really know what to expect. We quickly learned that interacting in the story was simple. The buttons to our side would light up in green or orange when an action needed to be performed, such as a button needing to be pressed or a switch needing to be flipped. Firing the harpoons to wrangle in some cargo was a clear highlight.

There’s a lot going on during this ride. You’ll be bumped and jostled, more so depending on your pilot’s skills, and you’ll be constantly glancing over to see if you’re slacking on your responsibilities. This means that you’ll be taking your eyes off what’s going on in front of you fairly often, which can make following the full story of the ride a bit difficult. We knew we were trying to secure cargo and shoot down TIE fighters, but the constant back-and-forth needed to hit all the buttons and switches made it easy to miss some of what was happening.

Now, it may be easy to hear that the ride is a bit overwhelming and assume that means we had a poor experience. That’s not the case. It was more fun than either of us expected. It was a bumpy journey battling the forces of evil from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. What’s not to like?

This ride has an incredible repeat rideability factor. Your actions really can influence the ride! The three different roles are similar but different enough to change your experience, and your performance can alter what you see on the screen.. The hallway you exit through even serves as a measuring stick for your team’s success.

We were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed this ride. Our attention has been locked in on the Rise of the Resistance attraction, but we’d definitely recommend taking time to check this one out. While we wouldn’t rate it an E-ticket, we would classify it as a strong D-ticket.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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