After over 40 years of dazzling and inspiring audiences as a model and a CG creation in the Star Wars films, the hunk of junk known as the Millennium Falcon has now become a ride. And spoiler alert: It's amazing. We were lucky enough to ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run a few times while visiting Batuu in Orlando, and we have a lot of thoughts. The main thought being "childhood joy." It's just so authentic to what we always thought it would be! Check out the video of us co-piloting, Han & Chewie style:
Check out this great interview with Andres from Walt Disney Imagineering. He helped bring the ride to life:
Alden: Ladies and gentlemen, we are here inside of the Millennium Falcon, here at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. I am joined by one of the minds that helped bring this place, Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, and the Falcon, to life. This is Andres, one of the Disney Imagineers. Andres, how're you doing?
Andres: Hi, everybody. Nice to meet you guys. We're doing great.
Alden: First things first, what is it like when you get either the call, or the email, or whatever it is that says "This is what we're about to embark on, this is what we want to accomplish?"
Andres: That's one of the things that's really hard to explain, and one of the things that we get to do here at Walt Disney Imagineering, right? For you to get a call to say, "Hey, you're going to bring Star Wars to life" for the first time, over 40 years people have been watching this, generations have fallen in love with the story, right? Watching it on TV, watching it on the big screen. Well, now for the first time, we are building physical locations for you guys to come and experience it. I'm getting goosebumps just telling you about it. It's just an amazing feeling. It's a dream come true to work on projects like this.
Alden: Absolutely. And it really is chill inducing when you're here, people. So when you're working with companies like Disney, and obviously directly with Lucasfilm, does it come in the form of, "Hey, here are the things we'd like you to hit. We want you to incorporate Hondo, we want you to do this. This is our vision." What is that relationship like in terms of bringing, not just a technical ride to life, but a story experience as well?
Andres: Well that's what the core of Walt Disney Imagineering, is, so we're storytellers. The idea really is to bring you guys into the story and have you guys experience it, right? But we know that the fans, the Star Wars fans, love those details, are meticulous about the story, are in love with the characters. For us to be able to leverage Lucasfilm as a partner to get some of those details right, to help us make sure that as we incorporate different characters from different storylines, we can connect them in a way that can engage you guys and give you on a more immersive experience when you come visit Batuu. That's what we really hone in on, right? That's what we really want to do for you guys.
Alden: All right, so I got to ask. We saw him on the way and you were talking about details, meticulousness. You got Hondo leading us into this ride. He's an extremely lifelike and detailed creation, it's not an actor. You have Jim Cummings voicing the character just like he did and Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. What is it like bringing him to life, in terms of just a technological feat?
Andres: Our team, that manages all of our animatronics, amazing team, leading edge technology as we do this, because to your point, what we want is for people to have that little bit of doubt. Is that a character, or is that an animatronic? It's just an awesome way to have them be part of the story and introduce you, give you your mission that you're about to embark on as you get on the Millennium Falcon.
Alden: In your estimation, is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run something that you feel "We set out to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish? It's over." Or do you see the Falcon flying to more places in the future? Is that a door that's left open?
Andres: Right now we're excited to open this particular mission and this option for you guys to come and just take control of the Falcon. Because like I said, "Who doesn't dream of going into the actual cockpit," right? Taking command of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy and going on a mission. Right? But like Walt said, "The parks are never done until imagination is done...as long as we have imagination." It's just an amazing opportunity for us to be here and to continue to grow all of our opportunities here at Star Wars.
Alden: We'll wrap it up on this fun one. You helped make it, but when you're inside, what position are you taking inside of the Falcon cockpit?
Andres: All of our positions are amazing, and when you guys are in there, you'll realize they all depend on each other. You're going to have your pilots, you're going to have your gunners, and you're going to have your engineers. If the team of six doesn't function together, you guys are not going to complete the mission. Each position is mission critical.
Alden: Well, you heard it here, straight from the mouth of an Imagineer. When you're on the Millennium Falcon, please work together. Try not to get busted by the First Order. And thanks so much for your time, man.
Andres: Thank you guys.