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Star Tours
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering

Industrial Light & Magic

Manufacturer Walt Disney Imagineering and Thomson-CSF
Theme Star Wars
Hosted by RX-24, voiced by Paul Reubens
Music Composed by John Williams, The Droid Room (queue music) composed by Richard Bellis
Vehicle type Simulator
Cars per vehicle 1
Guests per car 40
Ride duration 4:30 minutes
Height requirements 40" (102 cm)
Attraction transfer icon.svg Must transfer from wheelchair
Closed captioning symbol.svg Closed captioning available
Fastpass availability icon.svg Fastpass available
Star Tours Entrance DLR.jpg
Disneyland
Land Tomorrowland
Soft opening date December, 1986
Opening date January 9, 1987
Replaced Adventure Thru Inner Space
Tokyo Disneyland
Land Tomorrowland
Opening date July 12, 1989
Sponsored by Panasonic
MGM - Star Tours.jpg
Star Tours at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Land Backlot
Opening date December 15, 1989
Fastpass availability icon.svg Fastpass available
Disneyland Park (Paris)
Land Discoveryland
Opening date April 12, 1992
Fastpass availability icon.svg Fastpass available

Star Tours is a simulator ride located in several Disney theme parks, including Disneyland in California, Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland in Japan, and Disneyland Park in Paris. The ride is based on the successful Star Wars franchise of movies, created by George Lucas, making it the first of the park's attractions that did not use Disney-designed imagery.

The first incarnation of the ride appeared in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in 1987, replacing the previous attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space.

Contents

History

The ride that became Star Tours first saw light as a proposal for an attraction based on the 1979 Disney live-action film The Black Hole. It would have been an interactive ride simulator attraction, where guests would have had the ability to choose the ride car's route, but after preliminary planning, the Black Hole attraction was shelved due to its enormous cost—approximately $50 million USD—as well as the unpopularity of the film itself.

But instead of completely dismissing the idea of a simulator, the company decided to make use of a partnership between Disney and George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, that began in 1986 with the opening of Captain EO (a 3-D musical film starring Michael Jackson) at the California park. Disneyland then approached Lucas with the idea for the Star Tours amusement ride. With Lucas' approval, Disney Imagineers purchased four military-grade flight simulators at a cost of $500,000 each and designed the ride structure.

Meanwhile, Lucas and his team of special effects technicians at Industrial Light & Magic produced the first-person perspective film that would be projected inside the simulators. When both simulator and film were completed, a programmer then sat inside and, with the aid of a joystick, manually synchronized the movement of the simulator with the apparent movement on screen. On January 9, 1987, at a final cost of $32 million, almost twice the cost of building the entire park in 1955, the ride opened to throngs of patrons, many of whom dressed up as Star Wars characters for the occasion. In celebration, Disneyland remained open for a special 60-hour marathon from January 9, 1987 at 10am to January 11, 1987 at 10pm.

Plot summary

Advertised as "The Ultimate Star Wars Adventure!," Star Tours puts the guest in the role of a space tourist en route to the forest moon of Endor, the site of the climactic battle of Return of the Jedi, via the Star Tours travel agency. Much is made of this throughout the ride queue, which is designed to look like a spaceship boarding terminal; posters advertise voyages to different planets, and a giant screen informs riders of the benefits of going to Endor. This area is stocked with Audio-Animatronic characters that seem to speak to the ride patrons (including versions of Star Wars favorites C-3PO and R2-D2, delivering a typical Laurel and Hardy-esque routine), as well as a life size mock-up of the StarSpeeder 3000, the spacecraft that guests embark on.

According to the book "Disneyland Detective" by Kendra Trahan, the figures of C-3PO and R2-D2 in the Disneyland attraction are actual props from the original film, modified to operate via Audio-Animatronics. Guests then enter a maintenance area where an apparently underproductive G2 droid performs repairs on another droid while being distracted by the observing guests while another droid unknowingly points out all the supposed flaws of the StarSpeeder 3000 and its RX pilots. A ride attendant escorts guests to one of several loading stations where they wait for their turn to ride.

A television screen posts a countdown to take-off time and images are shown of the Starspeeder 3000 spacecraft being serviced. As launch time approaches, a safety video is shown featuring Star Wars aliens, Disney Imagineers, and their families. It instructs guests how to fasten their seat belts and where to place belongings. Once the doors to the Starspeeder open, guests walk across bridges into one of several ride theatres. As the doors close, the bumbling pilot droid of the ship, RX-24 or Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens), chats up the guests about the trip as he sets up, it happens to be his first flight.

All goes well until a slight mistake on Rex's part sends the ship down the wrong tunnel and plummeting down into a maintenance yard, just managing to escape to open space before a giant mechanical appendage crushes the ship. Once in space, Rex puts the ship into light speed, but overshoots the ship's intended destination, passing Endor, instead getting caught inside a comet cluster. The ship gets trapped inside one of the larger comets and has to maze its way out. Just when the situation seems to be at its worst, the ship encounters a Star Destroyer.

The ship gets caught in its tractor beam, but manages to get loose when a rebel X-wing fighter (played by ILM modelmaker Steve Gawley and therefore not to be confused with Wedge Antilles, the popular survivor of three Star Wars films, who was played by Denis Lawson) provides assistance by destroying the tractor beam's generator. With the tractor beam deactivated, the StarSpeeder escapes the Star Destroyer. Soon the ship accompanies the Rebellion on a massive assault on a Death Star. Rex uses the StarSpeeder's lasers to eliminate TIE fighters while a rebel destroys the Death Star in the same manner as Luke Skywalker did in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. A final light speed jump sends the StarSpeeder back where it started, but not before a near collision with a fuel truck in the spaceport.

Cast

(in order of appearance)

  • Wayne Allwine as Mickey Mouse
  • Russi Taylor as Minnie Mouse
  • Anthony Daniels .... C-3PO (attraction queue area) (audio-animatronic) (voice) (uncredited)
  • Anthony Daniels .... Alien Announcer (speaking Ewokese) (voice, electronically altered) (uncredited)
  • Brian Cummings .... Vid-Screen Announcer (planetary destinations) (voice) (uncredited)
  • Jenifer Lewis .... Safety Instructor (uncredited)
  • Anthony Daniels .... C-3PO (onboard video segment) (noteworthy because it's not the audio-animatronic figure seen in the queue, it's actually him in the motion picture costume) (uncredited)
  • Paul Reubens .... Captain RX-24, aka Rex (voice) (uncredited)
  • Dennis Muren .... cameo (one of three ILMers visible in a Maintenance Bay window during the rear-projected simulator film, ducking as Rex almost careens into their building) (uncredited)
  • Steve Gawley .... cameo as Red Leader (onboard video) (uncredited)
  • Ira Keeler .... cameo as supervisor who ducks under desk at the end of the ride—mistaken by many to be George Lucas himself (uncredited)

Muren, Gawley, and Keeler are all Industrial Light & Magic special effects wizards who worked on the attraction for Lucasfilm.

Ride System

Star Tours utilizes a Rediffusion Simulation (Later owned by Thomson-CSF) hydraulic motion base cabin featuring 4 degrees of freedom. The trade name for this simulator is Advanced Technology Leisure Application Simulator, or ATLAS. The Rediffusion 'Leisure' simulator was originally developed for a much simpler show in Canada called "Tour of the Universe", where it featured a single entrance/exit door in the rear of the cabin and a video projector. The film is front projected onto the screen from a 70mm film projector located beneath the cockpit barrier. George Lucas has mentioned that the next generation of the attraction will feature digital high definition video and motion bases capable of up to 6 degrees of freedom.

Attraction facts

Disneyland Star Tours entrance in 1996 before Tomorrowland makeover.
Star Tours in Tokyo Disneyland.
  • Grand opening:
    • Disneyland: January 9, 1987
    • Tokyo Disneyland: July 12, 1989
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios: December 15, 1989
    • Disneyland Paris: April 12, 1992 (Opened with Disneyland Paris)
  • Designer: Walt Disney Imagineering, Industrial Light and Magic
  • Simulators: 4 (Disneyland); 6 (all other parks)
    • Simulator's theme: Starspeeder 3000
  • Guests per simulator: 40
  • Height requirement: 40 inches (102 cm)
  • Sponsors:
    • Disneyland:
    • Tokyo Disneyland:
    • Disney's Hollywood Studios:
    • Disneyland Park, Paris:
      • IBM (1992-2002)
      • None (2002-Present)
  • Show length: 4:30
  • Ride system: Flight simulator with Audio-Animatronics all synced to film
  • FASTPASS Available (not available in Disneyland or Tokyo)

Star Tours II

In April 2005, at the Star Wars Celebration III, Star Wars creator George Lucas confirmed that a Star Tours II was in production. In May 2009, /Film reported that filming for the new version of Star Tours was underway in West Hollywood, California.[1]

The flight information board utilized in the ride queue promises forthcoming adventures to Hoth, Tatooine, and Dagobah and displays the text "Soon Endor Won't Be The End-All". These details, especially the tagline, are often mistaken as recent additions, used to support rumors of impending changes to the attraction, but have actually been in place since Star Tours opened, as have advertisements to other planets; eg. Hoth.

At the D23 Expo in Anaheim, it was announced that Star Tours at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios will close in October 2010 and re-open in 2011 as Star Tours II. The updated ride system will consist of a High Definition, Disney Real-D 3D screen, an improved motion simulator as well as several other special effects. A short teaser trailer was shown at the expo featuring a Podracing scene similar to that from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. An accompanying teaser picture depicted an orange-colored "StarSpeeder 1000" spacecraft.[2]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/05/01/secret-star-wars-production-shooting-in-hollywood/
  2. ^ http://www.endorexpress.net/database/starships/starspeeder-1000/

External links

Coordinates: 33°48′42″N 117°55′04″W / 33.811633°N 117.917735°W / 33.811633; -117.917735

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