Here is my spoiler filled
review of Star Tours at Disneyland California. Many people
have asked me to review the brand new attraction so I decided
to put it all down on web paper and share my experience.
You and I both know that Star Tours is not really a part of
Adventure Thru Inner Space besides being the one attraction
that took it over but, I do want to touch on that Disney/Imagineers
really went that extra mile and I can see that they still
has a fondness of the attraction. This is proven when I see
that within one of the destinations that there is yet another
hidden item of another brand new Mighty Microscope tucked
away but can easily be seen if you are looking for it. More
on that later. Now onto my review...
Just to let everyone know who asks me, yes,
I really love this new version of Star Tours. I will always
look back with fond memories to the old Star Tours ride (and
ATIS) for nostalgic reasons and I thank the internet gods
I have youtube and my ATIS Virtual
Ride-thru to go back and relive them. But this ride was
really overdue for an update and facelift. I am happy to say
that this new revamped Star Tours ride does not disappoint
that even the most hardened Star War fan will have something
to love here.
Since I have lived in California all my life, I know that
when a new ride opens at Disneyland I need to get there early
and hit it first when the park opens at 9:00AM. Early is the
key if I stand a chance to get on the ride with the least
amount of line wait times. My daughter and I got in the park
as it opened and only had to wait about 7 minutes to get onto
the new Star Tours which was completely worth getting up early
Once inside, it was great to see that the
imaginers didn't change the main line queue area too much
but there were many improvements to be found. I even noticed
a "new ride smell" upon entering the main building.
I always love that? They made improvements to preview screen
which is even larger now with the grid lines and scrolling
text of departures removed. The preview screen is now presented
in clear HD rear projection which looks colorful and vibrant.
The new destinations and weather updates are a nice touch
Look ma! No waiting!
The once blue Starspeeder 3000 space ship
in the room is painted orange and is now named the Starspeeder
1000. Battle damage to the ship has been removed and other
small geeky details have been changed but overall it is pretty
much the same main queue area, minus the overhead moving baskets
of droid parts in the droid factory. The new engine doesn't
have any animation lights or anything to make it look special.
In fact it more looks like small droid than an engine. Below
I added New vs Old photos of the Starspeeder engine.
This is the new engine that does light speed?
As you enter the second section of the ride
queue, to your right is Rex, the former pilot droid from the
actual old Star Tours ride. He has a sticker on his side that
reads "Defective" which I found amusing. If you
wait long enough he sputters and sparks and he comes back
to life for a moment to spout out his actual old dialog from
the former attraction. He will say things like "Welcome
aboard" or "I'm still getting used to my programming!"
before he shuts down again. I liked that they still found
a way to fit old Rex back into the attraction somewhere and
he wasn't sent to the Disney droid dump.
Speaking of droids, the old droid factory
has now been transformed into a baggage and passenger security
station. The former (feathers removed) repair "goose"
robot from now defunct America Sings or (Splash Mountain character)
has gone through another slight modification to now become
a luggage scan droid. His mouth now lights up as he talks
and he wears a shiny metal vest outfit that makes him look
less "junky" than he did before. His HD display
control panel is covered in detailed animation readings as
he uses his luggage scan machine to find contraband or illegal
alien pets inside the luggage. This is the real star of the
show here. I thought this is one of the cooler changes to
the queue line update. Luggage bags scroll on a treadmill
by a scanner and a laser scans the bag. Using a "Peppers
Ghost" reflection effect similar to the ballroom scene
in the haunted mansion, you can see the contents in the bag.
If you wait long enough you will see item contents such as
Wall-E, Stitch (from Lilo and Stitch), Storm Trooper gear
and even the crystal ball Madame Leota from Haunted Mansion.
It's great to see what weird things can be seen through this
machine. Imaginers did an awesome job on this effect. I wonder
how many different items they came up with for this scene.
The last "goose" droid is still
in the upper level just before you obtain your 3D glasses.
He definitely sounds like he is voiced by actor Patrick Warburton
(Rules of Engagement) but has a slightly higher pitch to his
voice which is funny since he normally speaks very low and
deep. As you walk by he scans you with an infra-red camera
and makes funny quips about how you look and that you need
to keep moving much like the old droid did. A large view screen
wall is to the side of him where you can see yourself in infra-red
The last area before you board all looks pretty
much the same except you can now pick up your 3D glasses before
going through the turnstiles. As you wait to board, overhead
you are now shown a brand new boarding instruction and rules
video on an HD display that now shows C3PO board your ship
to make some adjustments and then get locked inside. A new
CGI female instructional droid robot now replaces the former
actress who would give boarding instructions to the guests,
but she is still found in the video (and looking a bit older).
She is dressed in purple as one of the passengers boarding
with a young boy and she sits near the front of the cabin.
(see pic) The droid also instructs you not to put on your
3D glasses until you are instructed to do so.
As the doors open you and you enter, you can
see slight changes to the cabin have been made such as the
side tube television view screen has been replaced by a HD
display rotated on its side. There is a new Star Tours logo
on the front port and other small cosmetic details have been
added to the interior of the ship.
As I sat there waiting for the ride to start,
I was really anxious to see how it all looked in 3D and how
well the simulation felt to the ride movie. I saw an interview
years ago with George Lucas where he talked about the old
Star Tours was supposed to get updated every five years or
so and get a brand new destination programmed in to keep the
ride fresh, but due to different people running Disney and
their financial issues made this difficult at the time. Around
2008 when Lucas and the Disney Imagineering team finally got
the green light to start production on Star Tours, they decided
to opt for doing all the desired destinations all at once
and to have a random destination "slot machine"
type of set up built in, so you never know what random destinations
will be chosen. I asked a Disney Cast member if the ride changed
every hour or so but to my surprise they told me that the
ride changes every single time you ride it. It is totally
random and they don't even know what destinations will come
up. This can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. More
on that later
*Ride destination spoilers
So the ride is set up to play four different
sets of scenes and the Star Wars timelines are non-existent
here but still doesn't distract from the fun. I have read that
there are supposed to be 54 different versions of these 11 scenes
if you mix them up at random. Let's do random math. 3x3x3x2=54
Is that right? Anyway, in reality once you have seen all 11
scenes you have ridden all of the destinations that are available.
You just won't know which ones you will get every time you ride
When the ride starts you will get one of these
two different openings:
1. Robot Security Droid with Storm Troopers
2. Darth Vader with Storm Troopers and Jet Troopers
Then after you enter light speed you get one
of these three different destinations:
1. Hoth - AT-AT battle with Snowspeeders
2. Tatooine - Pod Racing
3. Kashyyyk - Speeder forest bikes with Chewbacca
After you enter space at the end of those
scenarios you will get one of three different Star Wars hologram
2. Princes Leia
3. General Ackbar
Jump to Light Speed!
Then you hit Light speed again and end up
in one of these three different locations to end your trip:
1. Coruscant - Battle over city and fly through
2. Geonosis - which is kind of deceptive since it really is
just "over" the planet in an asteroid field and
Boba Fett tries to shoot you down while C3PO drives you into
the new Death Star to avoid him. This is the destination you
want if you are looking for the hidden Mighty Microscope.
3. Naboo - Air and Sea adventure with Jar Jar and giant sea
creature that attacks your ship.
As the ride starts we are instructed to put
on our glasses as the cast member does seatbelt checks and
leaves to start the ride. The lens curved glasses have a silver
reflective tint and were comfortable to wear. As the viewport
opens we see C3PO sitting in the pilot seat to the left, and
he can rotate in the chair to look at the audience as Rex
could. His animations are almost perfect and I hate to admit
that he is a lot more interesting to watch than the old Rex
droid, but he is. I also noticed that the 3D depth in the
main viewport looks pretty amazing with the 3D glasses. This
isn't a poke you in the face kind of 3D, as it is a more of
a "depth of field" visual that makes the ride even
more engaging to the viewer than the old ride. The ride simulation
movement felt smoother and seemed to coordinate with the on
screen action even more accurately than before. I loved this
new Star Tours experience.
*More ride spoilers ahead...
On my first ride through we got: Robot Security
Droid, Hoth, General Ackbar, and Naboo. The security robot
along with a group of stormtroopers, try to detain our ship
and then scans all the guests to look for the rebel spy. A
wide red beam shoots from the droid and scans the audience
(a nice 3D effect) and then shows us a picture of the spy
that they are looking for. Everyone laughed as the Rebel spy
photo revealed to us on our ship looked like a clueless six
year old little girl. R2 puts the ship into high gear as we
escape the security droid and blast past the Stormtroopers
and follow the Millennium Falcon out of the hangar as we past
a bunch of Imperial Star Cruisers. R2 shoots a few Tie Fighters
down and blasts a few rounds into the face of a giant Star
Cruiser before hitting light speed. The whole crowd cheered
and was really into the whole experience as I was. Every time
we jump to light speed everyone yells "Whaaaaooooohhhh"
while C3PO leans back in his flight chair which is very effective
to give the illusion of the light speed gravity pull (if there
is such a thing). Next we enter the snow planet of Hoth.
An example of a rebel spy shown on the view screen. It can
Hoth was as amazing as any Star Wars fan boy
(or girl) would love to experience. You fly with Snowspeeders
while you dip over and between mountains, zip under and through
AT-AT walkers, and have a near miss with one falling from
being tangled in tow-wire. The scene ends with a quick bobsled
ride in the snow. It was great.
Then we fly off into space and R2 gets a distress
signal. General Ackbar lights up from a hologram projector
light just above the main view screen window. The 3D effect
of the blue Hologram looked like it was shooting out front
right there in the cabin and is a very nice 3D effect. Ackbar
says that we need to get the rebel spy to them and he is sending
coordinates to deliver her to safety. Then we hit light speed
once again. Yay! Everyone is pumped and cheering!
I know general Ackbar "It's a trap!"
Light speed but not Naboo
This is Naboo (last destination)
Having already seen a few blurry Star Tour
locations on youtube I already knew what locations were available
so I was hoping I would get anything but Naboo, but of course
that is the one we get. Just my luck I guess. It starts with
a battle close to the planet surface over Naboo and you quickly
get shot down and hit the water. Star Tours now becomes a
slow underwater submarine ride where you almost drive over
Jar Jar (sadly not killing him) and pass by a Gungan underwater
City. As in episode 1 you get attacked by a giant sea creature
by which his mouth is clamped over the front hull and his
gooey tongue swashes back and forth on the glass view screen.
Some people even started screaming during this part which
made me laugh. Does it feel that "real" that you
have to scream? Guess it is.
Wish this was death race 2000
To escape the monster's grasp, R2 electrifies
the ship and we quickly dash to the surface only to skim the
water like a speed boat and glide into a ship hanger. Sliding
uncontrollably we smash into a parked ship and the pointy
rear of the ship breaks through the view screen and glass
shoots into your face from the impact. This is one of the
few, "poke you in the face" 3D type of moments in
Star Tours and it is a bit of a shock when it happens if you
are not expecting it.
The 3D effect is really effective here
Passengers unload and we drop off the (seven
dollar a piece to manufacture) glasses into a bin to be reused
for future flights and walk down the usual ramps and, as Banksy
says: "Exit through the gift shop". I couldn't wait
to ride it again to see and experience more scenes.
As soon as we left the Star Wars themed gift
shop, we went for some fast passes to ride it again. A cast
member told me that they sell out before 10:00AM so I had
to act quickly. At the fast pass booths I see that there is
a good size line to obtain one. "Oh great". I think
to myself. "A line, for a line pass." After waiting
a short five minutes I get my pass to return by 3:30PM. My
daughter and I decide to get in line again before the park
gets even more crowded since it was still only 9:30AM. We
get into line and notice the wait time was now set to 45 minutes.
I already knew that this day was going to be like this so
I was ready for some long line waits. I set my iPhone to stopwatch
mode to see how accurate the sign is.
42 minutes later we are boarding Star Tours
again. So, what do you think I got for my "slot machine"
random experience? I got the same EXACT destination locations
again. Even the Hologram Ackbar was the exact same. What are
the chances of that? I should go to Vegas with those odds.
What is even more amazing is that I was actually the rebel
spy this time. No joke. I have my daughter as a witness that
I was the spy on our second time on Star Tours. Yes! I was
so shocked that I was chosen and was wondering if the ride
picks a certain seat or is there multiple cameras that can
take a picture of any seat at random? I'll have to ask a cast
member about that next time. Something Disney should consider
is having your rebel spy picture available at the gift shop
counter if you decided that you wanted to buy it to show proof
of this to your friends and family. Maybe that will be added
later because I would have bought one if it was available
for purchase. After we left the attraction we decided to go
on other attractions until 3:30PM rolled around to ride Star
Tours again for our third time.
All the other rides had a short line wait
so it was a good day to go to the park. Only the major rides
like Splash and Space Mountain had 45 minute wait, but things
like Pirates or Haunted Mansion had five minute wait times.
I love going to Disneyland on days like these. I guess everyone
was at the Star Tours attraction because the line wait was
up to 95 minutes or more for the rest of the day.
When 3:30PM hit we arrived back at Star Tours
and we were quickly back riding the Starspeeder 1000 again.
This time we got the Darth Vader opening which was really
cool. He uses his force powers to shake your ship around before
R2D2 tries to shoot him to escape his force grasp and you
fly out of a space station in reverse while shooting tie fighters.
Next we got Tatooine - Pod Racing which I
enjoyed a lot and really gives the feeling of what it would
be like to be in a Pod Race battling fellow racers. One of
the cooler things I noticed on this scenario was that the
smaller HD display viewer on the right shows a top down perspective
of the race from outside your ship. You see other pod racers
flying, racing around and slamming into your ship, all in
real time with what is going on the main view screen. It was
a really clever use of that small side screen and I almost
wish it was always on so you see it like a rear view mirror
at all times. As we fly past the other pod racers and win
the race you fly over the crowd in the stands and shoot back
into space. C3PO asks R2 about an incoming message.
A blue hologram Princess Leia appears and
gives us a short speech about getting the spy or I should
say "me" to safety. I gave a quick wave to my fellow
crew as she said this and everyone laughed. It is interesting
to note that that this young Carrie Fisher hologram looked
exactly like the one R2 plays from the original 1977 Star
Wars movie but from a "front" angle. I heard an
interview from George Lucas where he said that the Leia footage
is the actual footage from the original filming of Star Wars
but it wasn't used in the film. He shot Carrie Fisher doing
that hologram scene from a ton of different angles and just
happened to have one that fit perfectly for what they needed
for this hologram sequence of this attraction. Her mouth must
have been computer corrected to mimic the slightly different
dialog and her voice sounds exactly how Carrie sounded back
in 1977. But as we all know, the smoker voiced Carrie Fisher
of 2011 compared to the voice of 1977 Carrie Fisher sounds
totally different. I think extensive computer editing was
used to get this effect or they got a really good voice impressionist
to do this job. Either way, it was a dead ringer to the Princess
voice we all know and love. When Leia says her famous line,
"Help me Star Tours, you're our only hope!" the
crowd chuckled and cheered as we burst into light speed once
again to get "me" to safety.
Next I got
it, Naboo again. No, no, NO! Not again! How can this happen
three times in a row? Argh! What am I? Charlie Brown? What
crappy luck! So we go through the same scene again for the
third time with no surprises to be expected.
After we left Star Tours the ride continued
to have a seriously long wait time so my daughter and I headed
over to the other California Adventure Park to see the new
things that have been adding. We never made it back to ride
Star Tours again, but there will always be next time for future
flights and I now have something to look forward to on my
next Disneyland visit.
I definitely love all the new enhancements
and changes to the new Star Tours, inside and out. I am glad
that the 3D adds to the feeling of immersion to what flying
around in the Star Wars universe would be like. Getting random
locations will always keep this ride fresh for many years
of enjoyment and I can't wait to ride it again and again.
I only wish there was still a scenario where we can be part
of the Rouge Squadron to blow up the Death Star like the old
one had. There is nothing like the feeling when you first
dive into that trench over the Death Star. Oh well, maybe
we will get that on our next Star Tours update? As for now
we have six great locations to enjoy instead of the same old
single ride experience we got from the old attraction so that
is a good thing. Thumbs up and five stars goes to Lucas, Disney
and the entire creative Imagineering team that worked so hard
on making this a great new addition to Tomorrowland. Maybe
it's time to renew my annual passport? Now how about a new
3D revamped version of ATIS in the tradition of the new Harry
Potter ride? I think that could be cool!
End of my review but there is more...
A few more geeky observations I want to add.
How does the hologram know if the spy is a
"Male" or "Female"? When I rode the same
exact ride scenes twice, I noticed one slight difference.
When I first rode it with the little girl being the spy, General
Ackbar says, "Deliver HER safely to the rendezvous
point". Then when I was the spy, he said "Deliver
HIM." How do they set the hologram to know gender?
Does the camera have gender recognition tech built
into it? I doubt that. This makes me think that there is only
one spot the camera always takes a picture and a cast member
must press a "Male or Female gender" button so the
ride will know what version to play. What if the spy looks
like "Pat" (from old Saturday Night Live skit) and
gender comes into question? I know this is kind of a dumb
geeky thing I found, but I notice stupid stuff like this and
want to know how it's done. Disney things that make me go,
One thing I did find pretty funny by riding
Naboo three times in a row was with every appearance of Jar
Jar, most everyone in the ride would always groan. I also
heard someone yell "Run him over!" and on the last
ride through someone yelled. "Shoot him R2!" Hahaha.
No love for Jar Jar will be found anytime soon I think.
I was also shocked to find out that the Imaginers
found a way to put the Mighty Microscope in the New Star Tours
ride. The Microscope was also seen in the actual original
Star Tours ride. It was located in the first warehouse scene
just before you exited the building, you could see it tucked
in the corner on the right.
The Mighty Microscope lives again!
As I stated before. I was wondering if Disney
imaginers would put the Mighty Microscope in the new
ride just as they did years ago in the old Star Tours attraction
and couldn't believe they actually did it. If you happen to
get the Geonosis scene you can see it there. This is
the scenario where you get chased by Boba Fett and you fly
into the new "under construction" Death Star to
escape. If you look carefully, the Mighty Microscope can been
seen on the left side of the "cross" shaped tunnel
as you zip by and right before you exit the Death Star through
the ship hangar. (See pic) This is one of those little secret
things that Disney likes to hide into all of its attractions.
Of course I didn't get this scenario when I first rode Star
Tours but after I heard about this I checked and verified
it on good ole youtube and have also seen it in later ride
Behold! The Mighty Microscope lives once again in digital
New fold out laser turrets?
The last and kind of stupid observation I
have is where is this fold out laser turret coming from? You
don't see any doors on the speeder 1000 in the line queue and
there is already laser turrets that look completely different
sitting on the front. If you look at the viewscreen the turrets
that fold out would have to be located directly next to the
sides of the windows of the speeder. Lame point I know but it
is something that crossed my over-thinking mind.
Laser turrets look different from the outside