Disney just gave us a major unannounced Star Wars land update in the most unlikely of places


  • Image via StarWars.com
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is just over 12 months away from opening in Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the Disneyland version in California opening a few months earlier.

With the still-unknown exact date quickly approaching next year, we’re starting to learn new details on what this billion-dollar land will entail.

A new feature found on the Target exclusive Blu-ray version of Solo: A Star Wars Story includes a special 13-minute long video focused on the Millennium Falcon. The feature, called "The Millennium Falcon: From Page to Park," focuses on how Disney is bringing the iconic spaceship to life in the upcoming land. The yet-to-be-named Millennium Falcon ride will be one of two signature rides in the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The first half of the Target exclusive Solo feature focuses on the spaceship, with the last half of the focused on the upcoming ride.
  • Image via Disney
It includes some of the best and most extensive video yet from within the new land. Drone footage of what looks to be the Disneyland version shows off the extensive metal framing that took place in the construction of the new 14-acre land. Then the feature shifts the focus to the Millennium Falcon itself, with dramatic music playing the camera pans across concept art of the attraction as a spokesperson explains, “What we’ve created here will really give you the chance to see every detail, fully at scale and brought to life.”

  • Image via Disney
The Millennium Falcon attraction’s executive creative director, Asa Kalama, explains that when it’s their turn, guests will be brought to the Millennium Falcon where they will walk down the “iconic corridor,” past the holographic Dejarik table before they find their seats in the cockpit. This confirms that the queue will not be on the Millennium Falcon but instead will be in a nearby building. Guests will be called up in groups to board the spaceship and will walk through and explore the ship’s detailed corridors.

The video also gives us some of our first views of the ride vehicles, confirming that each ride vehicle will only seat six guests. Previous concept art showed this, but it was unclear if more seats would be included and were not seen in the concept art.

With an estimated seven ride vehicle pods per centrifuge, with 42 guests concurrently, and with the reported estimated three- to three-and-half-minute ride time, it puts the maximum capacity per centrifuge at around 750 guests per hour. With four centrifuges that puts the ride’s estimated capacity at approximately 3,000 guests per hour. That would be just below the capacity of Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, but insiders, such as WDWThemeParks.com’s Tim Grassey, have stated the capacity for the new attraction will be closer to 2,000 guests per hour placing it near the hourly throughput of Flight of Passage, Soarin’ and Tower of Terror.

  • Image via Disney
Next, we learn that the cockpit is equipped with 200 active knobs and switches that guests will interact with while on the ride. Guests in the two front seats will be the pilots, the two center seats are for the gunners, and two rear seats will have guests playing the role of engineer. All six guests will have specific duties during the ride. The actions of each guest will create a unique ride experience that all six riders partake in together.

If all of this sounds complicated, well, that’s correct. Disney insider Jim Hill, who stated he recently was given a backstage tour of the Star Wars construction site at Disneyland, says that in recent tests Disney has been running into issues with the ride being confusing for some guests. Hill said that Disney is looking at possibly providing a website for guests to learn about the attraction and the various roles riders are assigned on it before visiting the park. Other options include Disney having an "easy" and a "harder" option for the ride, much like they do with the Green and Orange sides for Mission: Space, though that would entail overriding large amounts of the interactivity Disney has built into the Millennium Falcon ride.

The hyper-real graphics seen on the ride will be rendered in real time thanks to some of the most advanced non-research computers ever built. This allows for every ride to be different as guests explore the vast universe Disney Imagineers have programmed into the ride.

  • Image via Disney
Disney has had interactive experiences of this type before with mixed results. An early VR experience found in Epcot ran into many of the same troubles now plaguing the Star Wars attraction. With this being the first VR headset most guests had ever seen, many would get lost and stuck in a corner for most of their time with the headset. Disney looks to be fixing this in the Millennium Falcon ride with an automatic override built into the system. The sensitivity of this override is still unknown but based on the ride’s design all seven ride vehicles would have to have similar ride lengths, meaning that guests won’t be able to crash the Millennium Falcon completely. Even with the override, there will still be plenty of mistakes guests can make on-board. How well guests perform their assigned tasks on the ride will affect not only the ride itself but also other experiences within the land.

Walt Disney Imagineering Portfolio creative executive Scott Trowbridge explains how the actions on the ride will affect other experiences for guests within in the land:

“[If you]… do a poor job; you lose the cargo, you smash up the ship, you might come back owing more money than you started with, the boss man might not be too happy. When you roll across to the local cantina the bartender might lean over and say, ‘Hey, word on the street is your name’s been put on the list of a local bounty hunter, I’d watch out if I were you.’ So how well you do on this mission really does have an impact on your overall, land-wide story.”

This interactive concept has also been questioned by Hill as possibly too ambitious, with Imagineering now walking back many of the hoped-for interactions. The interactions were previously thought to affect guests across the entire land, though more recently only the cantina has been mentioned.

These interactions may ultimately just be used for select guests, such as those staying at the Star Wars hotel. The first (and only officially confirmed) Star Wars hotel is currently under construction beside the Star Wars land in Orlando. It is expected to open sometime after the new land opens, though an exact timeline or prices have yet to be announced.

With the Disneyland version of Star Wars land scheduled to open by this upcoming summer, we will only have to wait a few more months until Galaxy’s Edge reveals all of its secrets.
  • Photo via Disney

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