History of Star Tours

Star Tours Original

Star Tours was one of many historic firsts for the Disney Parks when it opened. The first modern simulator attraction. The first attraction to be based on a non-Disney film. One of the most cloned Disney attractions of all time.

Welcome to Disney Parks History. Here we take you through the history of various Disney Parks attractions. This week we are taking you through the history of the original version of Star Tours.

Star Tours was the second partnership between Disney and George Lucas after the previous successful development of Captain EO. After this Disney turned towards developing an attraction based on Lucas's most popular franchise, Star Wars.

Black Hole Ride Disneyland Concept Art

Disney had attempted their own franchise to rival Star Wars with the Black Hole, but it flopped epically and ended their already in development attraction plans based on the film.

Disney turned to Lucas to turn his highly successful franchise into another hit attraction for Tomorrowland to replace the aging classic Adventures Through Inner Space. It would require Disney to develop an entirely new ride type to adequately capture the magic of the Star Wars films.

Disney turned several military simulators into the ride vehicles currently in use in Disneyland, stylized to look like starships from the Star Wars universe. They would be known as the Starspeeder 3000 class ships.

The ride film and storyline would be developed in a joint venture between Industrial Light and Magic and Disney Imagineering. Being one of the most expensive rides in development at the time, and based on a hit science fiction film. It opened on January 9th, 1987 in a special 60-hour long day.

The queue would reuse the same route as Adventures Through Inner Space before continuing up to the vehicles, although completely redesigned as an intergalactic tourism agency.

The animatronics of C-3PO in the queue of the Disneyland attraction are actually film props from the original trilogy made into animatronics.

As they built the queue they removed two animatronic geese from the then still operating America Sings and converted them into G2 droids (G for Geese). The attraction would operate without these animatronics until it closed and the majority of the rest of the animatronics were moved to Splash Mountain. These are still there to this day, and you can still see the webbed feet.

The actual attraction followed an original storyline, where you went along with Captain Rex (RX-24) on his first-ever flight to Endor. Things did not go according to plan and you miss the Endor moon to fly through a comet and a battle with the remnants of the Empire and the Death Star III. After the rebellion wins the battle you make it safely back to Star Tours where you would exit into a gift shop.

This ride would remain entirely unchanged during its run at the park, with the exception of Rocket Rods passing through the queue for a short period after the Peoplemover closed.

This ride would later be cloned to Disney's MGM Studios, now Disney's Hollywood Studios, themed instead as a Hollywood soundstage.

It would come to Tokyo Disneyland and Euro Disneyland with similar intergalactic tourism agency theming although with unique touches in each to fit in with the individual Tomorrowlands in each Disney resort.

The actual queue and attraction would be almost identical in each version, with the exception of language differences.

Body Wars Epcot Disney World

The ride system created for this attraction would also be put to use for the Epcot attraction Body Wars, which would open prior to the Disney World version of Star Tours.

While the ride was still popular, by the mid-2000s it was growing apparent that the ride was becoming outdated. Simulator technology had vastly improved yet Star Tours remained stuck in the early days of the technology. There were also three new movies worth of content to use.

Star Tours The Adventures Continue would be announced to replace the original Star Tours at both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. Both would celebrate the final flight to Endor within several months of each other, both closing in 2010.

The new ride would use a randomizer to incorporate scenes from both trilogies, and swap out Rex for C-3PO in the captain seat. Rex would move to a tribute in the queue line which otherwise would remain entirely unchanged except with the Starspeeder 3000 being transformed into the Starspeeder 1000.

Tokyo would switch over to the new version later in 2012. Their version would continue having a unique post-show including a tribute to Epcot attraction Horizons.

Paris would take the longest to switch to the new version, with the original Star Tours sending its final guests to Endor on March 16th, 2016. They delayed transferring the ride due to the financial struggles of the resort, which then was independent of the rest of the Disney company.

This ride would solidify the relationship between Lucasfilm in Disney that started with Captain EO and would eventually lead to them purchasing the company. Rex remains a beloved Disney Parks character, having later been added to Galaxy's Edge, where he continues to entertain guests to this day.

Star Tours may no longer be here, but this ride got a sequel attraction that lived up to the original.