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Celebrate Star Wars Day with a look at Disney's new Star Tours rides

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Published: May 4, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Happy Star Wars Day! (If you don't get why today is Star Wars Day, say today's date to yourself. Then add the words "be with you.") In honor of the occasion, let's take a look at what we have to look forward to within the month as the new versions of Star Tours open at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue opens on May 20 at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida and on June 3 at Disneyland in California.

New marquee for the new Star Tours in Florida
Disney employees install the new marquee for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, in Florida.

The original Star Tours was a flight simulator theater made up to look like a spaceship, which flew a sightseeing tour of the Star Wars galaxy (the name of the sightseeing company was "Star Tours.") But, in grand theme park tradition, something went terribly wrong, and our rookie pilot, Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens, the actor behind Pee Wee Herman), made a wrong turn in the station. Before we knew it, we were dodging asteroids, weaving through an icy comet and even stumbling into the Battle of the Death Star.

In Star Tours 2, we'll be flying with Star Tours once again, this time in 3-D. Our pilot will be C-3PO, though Disney promises that Rex will be part of the attraction. The new destinations will include the pod race on Tatooine, Naboo, the Wookie planet of Kashyyyk, Hoth, Coruscant, and the Death Star above Geonosis.

Rumors have flown that you won't visit all these destinations on the same trip, but that the new Star Tours will feature multiple films, encouraging repeat rides on the attraction. Disney's offering Facebook users the chance to print a customized Star Tours Galactic Passport that includes blank spaces to note the dates you've visited each of the ride's six destinations, further fueling anticipation of multiple film options in the ride.

Star Tours Passport

The timeline seems to make this version of Star Tours a "prequel" to the original, much as the second trilogy served as prequels to the original three Star Wars movies.

Update: Some fans in Florida are posting daily photos and soft opening alerts on Star Tours 2 at www.startours2live.com. Worth a look if you're thinking about heading over to Studios to try to get lucky with a soft opening sneak peek.

Readers' Opinions

From 94.173.9.23 on May 4, 2011 at 9:24 AM
Should be brilliant. Will miss the old though but can't get in the way of progress! Wonder if they'll take it Paris? Perhaps testing it out in America first to see what the reaction is?
From Rod Whitenack on May 4, 2011 at 7:42 PM
The same way I feel about the films themselves, I'm immediately much less interested knowing that this will be mostly sequences, ships and planets from the prequel trilogy. "Revenge of the Sith" was the only watchable film in that series, and those films more or less killed my lifelong love of the Star Wars franchise. I'm sure it will look great, but I just don't care. I'll be in the middle of the pod race, enjoying the ride, when suddenly I'll think about how terrible the film is that the ride is simulating.
From Scott B on May 4, 2011 at 10:13 AM
Oh come on Rod, you didn't find the prequel discussions about trade federation disputes and midichlorian counts incredibly fascinating?! Haha
From Eric Malone on May 4, 2011 at 10:21 AM
I have to admit that, while I'd love to make a special trip just to go ride it, that's probably not liable to happen. If I do wind up going, that means one of two things:

1. I have to go alone. None of my friends are huge Star Wars fans, and since the new ride will essentially be re-rideable several times over, that means getting out of the ride and right back into the queue.

2. Money. A little tight these days.

From TH Creative on May 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM
Saw the original series in the theaters. LOVED all three of the prequels (Including EP 1). Will be at DHS on Star Wars weekend!
From Scott B on May 4, 2011 at 10:52 AM
I love to make fun of the prequels but the fact of the matter is that I saw them each during their opening weekends in the theater, own the movies on DVD and plan on owning them again on Blu Ray. I even have a mini Revenge of the Sith movie poster hanging up on the wall of my office (okay, cubicle).

We are planning our yearly trip to Disney World for September and as much as I would love to go on Star Tours, it may not happen on this trip for me. We did DHS last September and we may try to mix it up a bit for the little ones.

From Luke Sweeney on May 4, 2011 at 11:21 AM
Can't wait to go on this. Less than two weeks!
From Jeff Elliott on May 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM
My "special trip" is going to be next year after Carsland opens...
From Jeff Elliott on May 4, 2011 at 11:43 AM
According to inside sources, Disneyland did the very first cast member preview on Sunday night.

If you work for the mouse, being in the right place at the right time seems to be the strategy here...

From Phillip Allman on May 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM
Actually planning on being there opening day on the 20th. Already figuring on large crowds. Not really caring if I actually ride Star Tours, but if I get to great! I'm figuring a bullrush for that ride when park opens, which will be great for our family and friends. We're heading for toy story, Rock n rollercoaster, and tower of terror while everybody else fights for a spot in line at Star Tours! That's our plan anyway :)
From Anthony Murphy on May 4, 2011 at 4:52 PM
Looks fun!

I am more interested in the storylines behind the destinations.


Its good to see Disney up the ante on simulator rides. Perhaps they reinvented the wheel?

From Tony Duda on May 4, 2011 at 8:16 PM
I'm going for the first Star Wars Weekend and hope to ride it on the 20th but I'm more interested in the various "talk shows" since George Lucas may be there, probably for the dedication. It will be crazy crowded. Can't wait.
From Thomas Caselli on May 4, 2011 at 9:34 PM
Gosh Rod, if it is that bad why don't you just stay away from anything Star Wars ever again. If we were going down there,I would be riding it for sure. Sounds awesome.
From Don Neal on May 5, 2011 at 5:37 AM
Can't wait to ride it. We're going down 5/27 to 6/6. WOOT!
From KJ Simpson on May 5, 2011 at 9:55 AM
Hoping for a soft opening in the days leading up to 5/20! Has anyone heard any soft opening rumors??
From Robert Niles on May 5, 2011 at 3:55 PM
FYI, we'll be covering the media previews of the ride on May 19, and the opening ceremony on May 20th.
From Rod Whitenack on May 5, 2011 at 4:19 PM
If I were there anyway, I would certainly ride it. I loved the old Star Tours, and I loved the original "Star Wars" trilogy (long before Greedo shot first), and I'm excited that Hoth is one of the possible destinations. I'd love to race past a working CGI wampa. At least it won't break down and become the Disco Wampa.
From 174.98.148.87 on May 5, 2011 at 6:15 PM
Well, I'll be there at the end of the month :) haha
From Carlo Guardascione on May 6, 2011 at 5:35 PM
I want a whole Star Wars land. When is that going to happen? Come on WDI.
From 67.124.11.36 on May 6, 2011 at 6:14 PM
I've always loved Star Tours!! Especially the immersive queue. It was easy to imagine you were going on a real tour, and there was plenty to keep your attention while you waited. I can't wait to ride the upgrade! I'm going to Disneyland in mid-June. :)

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