(Editor's note: "Good Morning America" got an in-depth look at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge before it opened to the public earlier this summer. An almost identical land opens at Walt Disney World on August 29, 2019.)
Generations of kids and adults alike have dreamed about taking the controls of the Millennium Falcon.
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run is one of two ride attractions at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at both Disneyland and, beginning Thursday, Walt Disney World. It is "the ride the world has been waiting for," Jon Georges, the land's executive producer, told "Good Morning America" earlier this year.
He called the experience, "life changing." And for Star Wars biggest fans, of which there are legions, it just might be.
First comes the approach. Come around a bend and the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run looms larger than life. It's more than 100 feet long and its scale alone reveals to the rider something incredible is about to happen. It's the first time a full-size Millennium Falcon has ever been built.
Prior to boarding the ship, "GMA" sat down in the Chess Room for an interview with Kathryn Yancey, show mechanical engineer on the project. The Chess Room acts as a holding room for the guests waiting to take their turn at the controls. Fans will immediately recognize the Dejarik, or holographic chess table. Here we also find what the creators refer to as a "hidden gem": look behind you while you sit at the table and on the shelf you'll see the helmet Luke Skywalker wore during his first light saber training.
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One of the highlights of the attraction, Yancey said, is the character who gives riders their commands aboard the ship.
"Hondo Ohnaka is a beloved character from the TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and we bring him into your Star Wars story," she explained. "He is in charge of Ohnaka Transport Solutions and taking you to help with a couple of his errands."
When it came time to take the controls of the "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy," Yancey invited me to ask more interview questions as we piloted the ship: she in charge of it's right-left controls and me in charge of it's rise and descent. "But," she said, "you might just want to enjoy the ride."
It was immediately clear this was no place for interview questions. Piloting the Millennium Falcon was indeed the "fully immersive" experience Yancey had described to me.
Groups of six board the ship: pilots, gunners and engineers. Everyone is given their role and lined up accordingly. Your boarding group and team is called -- and it's time to step into the cockpit.
Each role has a different job with separate buttons and levers to push or controls to take. There are about 200 in the Millennium Falcon. That's one of the reasons the ride is never the same twice: no only would a person not necessarily get the same role on a subsequent ride, but depending on who is at the controls and what they're doing, the experience will vary.
It's a team effort to collect and deliver vials of coaxium, a valuable hyperfuel. Depending on how well the team works together, credits are earned. Credits are tracked throughout the land for those who want to participate.
It's a thrilling, heart-pounding adventure with a learning curve. You're in control: You steer right, the ship goes right. You damage the ship, the riders in the engineer role make the repairs.
"It really brings everyone together and brings your into your own Star wars story," Yancey said.
She described her love for Star Wars and told "GMA" being part of the team that built Millennium Falcon, was a "dream come true." Yancey described being moved to tears by seeing it come to completion.
It's a similar story to the one Georges told us earlier this month. He had brought a woman from Lucasfilm through the land.
"We turned the corner and came up to the Falcon and she just lost it. She started crying," he said. "Even the filmmakers don't see these things built full-size, usually it's a screen or a model or maybe just a part of the set, whatever they need for the movie. Even for our biggest fans, I think they are going to be blown away by the scale and level of detail."
And as for the guests who've waited decades for this chance? Yancey has no doubt it will be "very special."
"This is their dream," she said. "It's where they've always wanted to visit. They will have this moment of 'I've finally arrived.'"
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