Imagineer Bashes ‘Star Wars’ Ride, Draws Ire From Fans

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

The sun sets over the Millennium Falcon at Disney's Hollywood Studios' Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

Credit: Disney

Retired Walt Disney Imagineer Jim Shull infuriated Disney Parks fans on X (formerly known as Twitter) this week with a post criticizing Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. He claimed that the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ride’s storyline was incomprehensible and unsuccessful.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run is one of two attractions in Batuu at Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Though not as popular as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the motion simulator ride regularly boasts some of the highest wait times throughout Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. It’s one of the only Disney Park attractions with a single rider line.

On Smuggler’s Run, six guests control the Millennium Falcon as pilots, gunners, and engineers. Pilots steer the iconic “piece of junk” while gunners shoot at enemy targets and obstacles. The engineers, well… They press some buttons. Hondo Ohnaka of Star Wars: The Clone Wars guides the mission and grades guests’ performance at the end of the ride.

Hondo Ohnaka animatronic on Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run.
Credit: Disney

One of the most impressive parts of Smuggler’s Run is the Hondo Ohnaka animatronic, located in one of the ride’s preshow rooms. The Star Wars Rebels character recruits guests to help collect and deliver a vital substance for the Resistance–making him a little money in the process.

This brings us back to Shull. In one of his most viewed X posts, the former Imagineer and “Disney Unpacked” co-host claimed that Hondo Ohnaka wasn’t a recognizable enough character for most guests.

Although this animated figure is impressive in its movements I have zero idea who it is or why it is important. Good storytelling requires fore knowledge of stories and characters for a ride or experience to succeed. #StarWars

Whether proud of his statement or impressed by the post’s engagement, Shull was so pleased with his claim that he pinned it to the top of his X profile. He disregarded the widespread backlash to his claim.

ezra bridger (left) and hondo ohnaka (right) in star wars rebels
Credit: Lucasfilm

Many fans pointed out that the preshow makes it abundantly clear that guests are on a delivery mission, driving the Millennium Falcon. One of the animatronic’s first lines is: “I am Hondo Ohnaka, of Ohnaka Transport Services.” @Blacklight_21 wrote:

Hondo Ohnaka: “l am Hondo Ohnaka, of Ohnaka transport services.”

Jim Shull: “I have zero idea who it is or why it is important.”

How about you experience the ride before tweeting stupid things?

“Or you can simply go on this ride and listen to what he says and understand everything,” said @kitra.

Shull previously garnered backlash for negative remarks about Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. He’s not been shy about criticizing The Walt Disney Company in recent years, openly criticizing Disney Genie+ and runDisney policy changes.

A Disney World guest holds up a medallion for the upcoming Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in November
Credit: runDisney

Many fans felt that the former Imagineer only spoke positively of projects he was involved in. (Shull spent 33 years at Walt Disney Imagineering, working on projects at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Shanghai Disneyland.)

“Is there like anything you like after you left?” @Kristofke_L asked.

Some even felt Shull’s criticism was hypocritical, as dozens of popular Disney theme park rides aren’t based on recognizable existing characters. From @davidmrattigan:

I’m not sure I’d agree – there are plenty of preshows (if not most!) featuring characters we’ve never met before. In fact, most of the best ones. Haunted Mansion springs to mind. Heck, I didn’t know who Rod Serling was as a kid and I still loved Tower of Terror!

“Playing devils advocate we didn’t know who Wardon Wilson Matua was when he introduced himself in [Kilimanjaro] Safaris either?” @TheLeisureProf said.

One of Shull’s former Imagineering colleagues came to his defense.

“Our first version of the preshow featured a Hutt instead,” wrote Larry Ahern, a former theme park attraction designer.” It technically wasn’t Jabba, but it would have felt familiar and I think people would have liked it better (plus it probably would have been cheaper).”

Inside the Magic was unable to reach Jim Shull for comment.

Do you agree or disagree with Jim Shull? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments. 

Please note that the story outlined in this article is based on personal Disney Parks guest experiences. No two guest experiences are alike, and this article does not necessarily align with Inside the Magic’s personal views on Disney Park operations.

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