Why Disneyland's Millennium Falcon is not one ride, but three
After visiting Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge several times over the past month, I feel like I should stop saying that the land has only one ride. I know that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance isn't open yet and that the other "attractions" in the land (Oga's Cantina, Savi's Workshop, Droid Depot) are not by any stretch rides. But, to me, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run — supposedly the only ride now open in the land — should not be considered as just one ride.
Because it's really three.
On Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, riders are assigned one of three roles to play in the famous spaceship's cockpit: Pilot, Gunner, or Engineer. Pilots sit in the front row of the six-seat ride vehicle, gunners in the middle, and engineers in the back. But these titles are not simply cute ways for Disney to assign seats on the ride. Smugglers Run might be the most interactive major theme park attraction ever built, with its riders given real tasks to perform during their mission.
Unfortunately, many Disneyland visitors don't realize that, assuming Smugglers Run to continue the well-established theme park attraction convention where visitors just sit and watch. On my most recent ride, a woman in the pilot seat said as the cast member closed the cockpit door, "I don't really have to do anything, do I?"
Uh, yeah, you do.
And the pilots, gunners, and engineers each have to do very different things. So much so that they aren't always sharing the same experience. That's why I think it's more informative to consider Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run as three distinct attractions rather than one.
Why does this matter? Because the differences between these three roles are not limited to the view you have and the buttons you need to push while riding. The quality of the experience you get from the ride varies wildly depending upon the role you are assigned. As a frequent visitor to Disneyland, that affects my desire to wait in the queue to ride Smugglers Run again.
Obviously, this isn't an issue for a first time visitor. Stepping into that cockpit for the first time can be an amazing experience, especially if you are a Star Wars fan. But I would recommend this attraction to anyone, as it represents something innovative, unique, and even socially valuable in the theme park business. With three distinct roles to play and the potential to craft multiple outcomes, Smugglers Run offers great value for repeat rides, as well.
For most fans riding the Falcon will be a one-and-done experience, since many Disney theme park visitors are not blessed with the means to visit the parks on a regular basis. The gunners and engineers will love the ride and walk away happy, even as the pilots who pay attention and learn to use the ride's controls walk away really, really, really loving it.