How Star Tours Laid the Stage for Disney’s Galactic Ambitions

Mike Powers

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The year 2005 was already an important one for Star Tours, however. Although as previously mentioned Star Tours launched with elements of the ride teasing other locales for the attraction, the original ride never received updates beyond the Endor adventure. But at Star Wars Celebration III in April 2005, Lucas confirmed, at long last, that the adventures would indeed continue.

With the prequel trilogy about to conclude with Revenge of the Sith’s release in May of that year, a new upgrade to Star Tours would be able to incorporate locations and ideas from the prequel trilogy, as well as expand on elements from the original trilogy beyond Endor. The new ride would also use 3D technology to immerse audiences, and no longer would they just visit a single location on each trip—the update would offer dozens upon dozens of potential unique combinations of locales in a single ride. Originally, the sequel ride would draw from six potential locations—Coruscant, Tatooine, Hoth, Naboo, Geonosis, Kashyyyk—after opening at Spaceport THX1138, with visits to different planets interspersed with messages from various Star Wars characters advising visitors about a secret mission to rescue a randomly chosen spy aboard their ride.

Not every change would be popular with Disney diehards. Although the upgrade—dubbed Star Tours: The Adventure Continues—would still maintain a lot of elements from the original, one controversial decision was to replace Star Tours’ droid pilot RX-24 (better known as Captain Rex, well before the Clone) as the ride’s “pilot” and instead directly integrate C-3PO and R2-D2 into the ride’s story, rather than just keeping them part of the queue. After shutting down the year prior in 2010 for refurbishment for the overhaul, Star Tours: The Adventure Continues formally debuted at Disney World in Florida in May 2011, before opening at Disneyland that June.

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