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.

3 Comments

  1. Scott B

    I remember riding on this in 1990 during my first WDW trip. I was your typical 12 year old kid with an obsession with all things Star Wars. Girls clearly were not a priority during this part of my life. The ride did not disappoint. Neither did it on all of my other trips to the park since then.

    As long as the new one refrains from mentioning midichlorian counts and trade federation embargoes, I am sure it will not disappoint either.

    1. walkingdisneyfreak

      i wasn’t alive in 1990…

      1. Tiger

        LOL, I now feel super old being born in 1974 😉

        Anyway, I too have fond memories of this ride, mostly in DLR in Cali where I was born and grew up around and yes, I was there the very first summer in 1987. It WAS a great ride and a ‘must do’ for a very long time. As my interest in Disney got bigger, I ended up doing this ride at WDW a few times, Tokyo and even Paris! Its always funny listening to Rex squeal in multiple languages ;). But as much as I loved the original, it has overstayed its welcome as there was no more of a 10-20 minute wait at most throughout the year at any theme park. We needed something new to shake it up and it looks like by all accounts and effort, they done just that!

        Oh and keep THIS in mind: From 1987 until 2010, I rode this ride around 40 times—and thats not the number of the 54 experiences this ride is expected to give us! 22 years of riding it and still wouldnt be close to seeing all the different combinations this ride will provide. So yes, some people can potentially ride it for a lifetime and will see something different everytime!

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