As Star Wars Celebration V prepares to descend upon Orlando in just two days, I sit in California thinking about my last trip aboard Star Tours at Disneyland just two weeks ago.
On July 27, 2010, the Star Tours attraction in Disneyland closed its intergalactic doors. It was a sad day for me as I, like many of you reading this, grew up riding Star Tours. Star Wars was my property as a kid and riding Star Tours was always one of the highlights of our family trips to Walt Disney World.
The attraction is being retooled (or “reimagined,” as Disney is saying) and will be brought back next year as a 3D attraction with a story set during the years between the film prequels and the original trilogy. Because I am less than thrilled with the Star Wars prequels, I’m worried about what George Lucas has planned for Star Tours 2.0. (“I have a bad feeling about this…”) Star Tours was the one last reminder of a world before the prequels, a haven and a time portal that took us all back. For a few minutes we could live in a world pre-prequels. And I loved it.
I had planned on riding Star Tours for my “last time” the weekend before the closure, but I didn’t make it down to the park. On that Monday morning, July 26, the final day of operation for the ride, my Twitter feed was buzzing about Star Tours and how long the queue was, full of people saying their goodbyes.
I currently work in Santa Monica for a reality show, not exactly around the corner from Disneyland (especially with traffic). But as I neared the end of my work day, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to take a trip to Endor with Rex and Artoo one last time.
So I hopped in my car as soon as I got out of work (7:00pm) and fought Los Angeles traffic all the way down to Disneyland. Once I arrived, I found the attraction’s wait time to be 45 minutes. I had never waited that long to ride Disneyland’s Star Tours and it had been 20 years since I had waited that long at the Walt Disney World version.
Because of the length of the queue, Disney opened up a whole new (to me) room to feed the queue through. The room was a basic rectangle with the queue winding back and forth, but it did have a fun red “scanner” that all guests passed through. I choose to believe it was some sort of security scan.
There was also another Mon Calamari “fish man” animatronic in that room, similar to the main room, though guests could get much closer to this one.
As always, my favorite part of the Star Tours experience was the life-sized C-3PO and R2-D2 figures. Seeing those two interact is always a thrill and I really hope Disney keeps that element of the queue.
I used my time in the queue to take photos and reflect on my childhood filled with watching the Star Wars movies, playing with action figures, pretending to be Jedis with my brothers, and taking trips to Disney World with my family. I know I wasn’t the only one there with a somber feeling. It was a way of getting closure. I am so glad I was able to experience it knowing that it was the last time I’d ever see it at Disneyland in the state it’s been in since it opened years ago.
During the ride, as always, Rex totally screwed up and we didn’t actually make it to Endor. But we did get to participate in a full-on assault against the Death Star, complete with trench run, so no guests complained to the captain. They must wipe that droid’s memory after every flight because I’ve taken several voyages with him over the years and every time he says it’s his first flight. Oh well. I suppose he may now be dismantled. Sad. He never did get it right.
Farewell Star Tours. Thanks for the memories.
More photos from the final day of Star Tours at Disneyland: