Geek Nostalgia: Looking back at the original Star Tours ride at Disney-MGM Studios

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Entertainment, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

A long time ago in a theme park not so far away… Star Tours premiered at then Disney-MGM Studios on December 15, 1989, the same year the park itself first opened. It was the third Disney park worldwide to receive the state-of-the-art Star Wars-based simulator ride, featuring Audio-Animatronics versions of C-3PO, R2-D2, and the new Starspeeder 3000 pilot droid RX-24, or Rex.

From opening day until closing on September 7, 2010, Star Tours entertained theme park guests, allowing them to journey into iconic Star Wars territory. Now, as we await the debut of an enhanced prequel version of the attraction, dubbed Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, due to open on May 20, it’s a perfect time to take a look back at what made the original Star Tours ride a classic.

Enjoy the retro video below featuring Disney archive B-roll footage of Star Tours shot throughout the 1990s (and plenty of big hair):


Ah, yes. Remember when the life-size AT-AT walker outside the Star Tours entrance used to periodically shoot “lasers” in the form of water? I’ve missed that effect for years.

And everyone loved the perpetual first-time flyer Captain Rex, voiced by a young Paul Reubens early in his career. I’m sure C-3PO will make a fine Star Tours pilot when the enhanced ride opens soon, but I’ll never forget my many star flights with Rex. Fortunately, it’s said he’ll have a cameo in the new version of the attraction.

But the thing I’ll miss most about the original Star Tours is experiencing the Death Star trench run. This is the one scene every Star Wars fan always dreamed of being a part of and Disney made it happen for more than 20 years. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue won’t have a shortage of classic Star Wars scenes, with Guests finding themselves in an AT-AT battle on Hoth and zipping through the speeder bike-filled forests of Kashyyyk. But I’m not sure anything can compare to helping blow up the Death Star.

It’s clear from the big turnout at D23’s “Final Flight to Endor” event, commemorating the closing of the original Star Tours, that fans had a strong attachment to the ride:

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will feature 54 different combinations of scenes, offering a different beginning, middle, and/or ending to the ride nearly every time it’s visited. But with such a variety of experiences awaiting Star Wars fans, I have to wonder if guests will establish the same sort of bond with the new version of the attraction as was made with the old. It’s tough to memorize and recite an attraction’s dialogue when it changes with every ride. Even so, it’s likely this variety that will keep fans coming back even more often than with the original, determined to see each and every possible combination of adventures when they are finally revealed on May 20, 2011.

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