On the remote planet of Batuu, Black Spire Outpost is snug between jutting black petrified trees.
It’s the kind of place you go to attend to business you’d rather keep under the radar. But the First Order has arrived on Batuu within the last two weeks, and they’re rumored to be looking for the Resistance presence near the outpost. Visitors from our world are pouring into the suddenly bustling locale, and when Disney Parks guests enter the village in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, they can go on two attractions: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, located by the Resistance’s base, or Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, tucked into the First Order’s area. Nerdist recently joined a small group of media to learn more details about these rides, including walking through the queue and sitting in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit. The scope of these attractions, especially Rise of the Resistance, is ambitious and bigger than I imagined (and I can imagine quite a bit). Screens are incorporated into these experiences, yes, but I don’t think anyone would call these “screen rides.”
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
In this attraction, guests can travel in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. The six seats in the cockpit include two pilots, two gunners, and two flight engineers. So really, it’s not just travel; the guests are in complete control, flying the ship in the motion simulator ride.
The premise: Hondo Ohnaka, the Weequay space pirate from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels has started a business on Batuu: Ohnaka Transport Solutions. Chewbacca has left the Millennium Falcon with Hondo for repairs post- The Last Jedi (read the book Pirate’s Price for more on this), and while he has it, Hondo’s using the ship for completely valid shipments. Ahem. And he’s looking for new crew.
The queue begins outside the one-hundred-percent-to-scale Millennium Falcon (it’s never been built out to this extent, even for the films). You’ll receive a boarding card before you step into the queue. The line winds indoors through the hangar and hallways of Hondo’s business (look for Star Wars easter eggs and opportunities to use the Play Disney Parks app) and past viewing areas looking down from a second floor onto the top of the Falcon. Every weld, every stain looks placed with love.
Eventually, you will come to the control tower and encounter Hondo Ohnaka himself, with Jim Cummings reprising his role as the voice of Hondo. The Hondo animatronic with electric motors is the second most sophisticated animatronic in Disney Parks (outdone only by the Shaman in Pandora‘s Na’vi River Journey in Animal Kingdom). He looks a little older with longer hair, but he’s the character we know from animation brought to life. It’s incredible to see him full of that bravado and charm you know from animation, but in front of your face. Hondo and his droid give you the sales pitch for the ride.
When you inevitably accept, you walk down the hallway of the Millennium Falcon into its lounge complete with the Dejarik table, and it’s like you’ve walked into a Star Wars movie. You expect to see Han or Chewie round a corner at any moment. While in this room, you can explore (hello, more Easter eggs) and take a million pictures until the group on your boarding card is called.
Next is a pre-flight debrief with a live-action Hondo instructing you via video. And then, you step into the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit. It’s cozy, with six seats. Since the ride wasn’t operating, I sat down and pushed every button I could. I stared at the lever that one of the pilots will get to pull to jump into hyperspace. From there, the flight screen renders in real-time.
Though you do have to do your part in the cockpit and work together, don’t stress if someone sleeps on the job. No scenario exists in which a failure will lead to the ride being over in two seconds. Walt Disney Imagineering representatives emphasized that everyone will have a good experience, even if the Falcon does get a little banged up in the process. Just remember: the entire six-person group in a given flight will build or lose reputation with other denizens of Black Spire (no, Disney has not yet clarified how they’re going to track that).
Two more important notes about Smugglers Run:
– Smugglers Run has a single rider line.
– The Millennium Falcon will have porgs. Keep an eye for the little critters that stowed away from Ahch-To.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
First of all, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is not 28 minutes long as recent rumors have stated. Disney Chairman of Parks, Experiences, and Products Bob Chapek did say it’s “the longest attraction we’ve ever developed with a ride vehicle.” He also said the complex, advanced experience “is almost like being on four attractions at once.” We know one of the ride systems is a trackless vehicle that will do things like circle the feet of full-size AT-ATs—that’s because you find yourself in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order.
Let’s start with the story. Rise of the Resistance begins in the Resistance’s newly established base on Batuu. They’ve slap-dashed operations together in an ancient, who-knows-how-many-thousands-of-years-old cavern just outside Black Spire Outpost, so you see more of the natural planet. Resistance fighters have clearly used lasers to carve out tunnels for their base. The queue winds through the caverns past markers indicating what the cave may have been used for and past flight gear and weapons rooms. Look out for in-universe connections in those areas.
Then riders from the FastPass and Standby lines merge (no word on single rider yet for this attraction) into a group of about 45 to 55 people in a standby room. Then in a comms area, an animatronic BB-8 looks over the group as a holo transmission from Rey appears. She has a special off-planet mission for you: you’ll be boarding a shuttle—an ITS, to be specific—and Poe Dameron will escort you in his X-wing. Double doors open to an outdoors area, you hear engines spooling and getting ready for flight, you see Poe’s full-sized X-wing to your right, and you board the first ride system with the shuttle—Nien Nunb appears as an animated figure in the shuttle!
You take off from the planet in this motion-based part of the attraction, but your shuttle is intercepted by two Star Destroyers. Poe leaves to get help, but you’re shuttle is stuck in a tractor beam. When the shuttle doors open again, you’re in a Star Destroyer’s hangar surrounded by the First Order—literally facing 50 stormtroopers, some of them moving. A First Order TIE fighter is visible to your right. It’s all massive in scale, and I was intimidated even though the hangar wasn’t finished and no stormtroopers were in place.
Cast members dressed as First Order officers will be barking at you to move along. You walk down a hallway towards detention cells. There, the large group of 45 to 55 is split into smaller groups and put into cells, a la the room where Kylo Ren interrogates Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens. This is where you’ll face Kylo Ren.
And that’s as much as we were shown. It was a small portion of the ride but so impressively detailed and expansive with a million things.
All the actors, even the voice of Nien Nunb, reprised their roles for Rise of the Resistance.
Images: Disney Parks