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Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disneyland – Complete Photo Tour!

On Sunday we were among the lucky winners of a lottery for Disneyland annual passholders to preview Star Tours before it officially opens on June 3. We couldn’t shoot the actual ride film, but Patrick took a ton of photos of the queue, so if you want to wait and be surprised when you go, STOP READING NOW!

We were given a window of 9am–1pm in which to preview the ride. The park opened at 8am, so at rope drop a bunch of us passholders did the patented Disney run-walk to Star Tours to get in line for the preview. Inexplicably, they wouldn’t let us line up to wait inside either of the elaborately switchbacked queues, which meant we all just lined ourselves up under the Peoplemover track and blocked traffic.

The way the preview was set up, a little before 9am we were allowed into the FASTPASS distribution area to get an insta-FASTPASS that was good immediately. After we rode it, we were able to get a new insta-FASTPASS every 30 minutes. At the beginning, when lines were longer, you didn’t really have to wait for your window to open. From about 10am on, the lines died down and you would finish the ride 10 or 15 minutes before you could get another FP. This “one pass per half-hour” policy was only communicated verbally, so I think a lot of AP holders thought they could only ride once and left when they were done. We were in it for the long haul and managed 9 rides in 4 hours!

The indoor overflow queue was only open for about 30 minutes at the beginning of the preview—after that it was unnecessary.

Inside the first room of the main queue, everything felt brand new even though not a whole lot had changed. It’s amazing what a little paint and new lighting effects can do!

The large screen alternately displayed boarding information, planetary weather reports (why do so many sci-fi universes include single-environment planets? I mean, really, it’s raining everywhere on the entire planet all the time?), plus promotional films for Star Tours and some of its many destinations.

"Alderaan: Recently voted safest planet in the galaxy!"

C-3PO and R2-D2 are still muddling their way through safety checks of the Starspeeder…

Cambot, is that you?

Every single time we got Admiral Ackbar on a ride, someone in the audience would shout "It's a trap!!!"

Is that...?

Can it be...?

It's Rex!!!

...And he's been marked "defective"!

Poor Rex!

Spot the hidden Mickey!

One of the old goose droids is now inspecting baggage.

He's not very good at his job.

One of the best new gags is the silhouettes in this window—they’re on a pretty long loop and there’s lots to discover. My favorite is Jar Jar Binks in carbonite…

The snarky, uh, TSA droid doing body scans gets his sass from Patrick Wharburton—that guy must make a MINT off the Disney parks!

I see me! ...Sorta...

Wave for the camera—he LOVES it when you do that!

The 3-D glasses are fairly comfy, especially compared to those dang Real D ones they make you wear at the movies. But I thought the whole thing with the Star Tours re-boot was that it would have glasses-less 3-D. When did that change?

In the boarding area, monitors give you a peek as the droids prepare your Starspeeder for launch. You also get to watch the setup, where C-3PO goes aboard to complete some last-minute checks. Then they show the pre-boarding safety demo before switching back to a “real-time” view of your Starspeeder being lifted to the loading platform. Pretty cool!

LOVE the homage to the ridiculous hairdo on the woman who presented the original ride's safety spiel!

The cabins have been refreshed and re-lit, and they look great! At some point during boarding, they snap a photo of someone in the cabin to be featured as the rebel spy in the storyline. How they select you is a mystery, but it seems to help if you’re a cute little kid or a distinctive-looking adult (like the long-haired, bearded, Wookie-lookin’ guy on our last flight)!

As you’ve probably read, there are 54 different randomly accessed combinations of scenes in the ride. There are 2 possible takeoffs, 3 planets for the first sequence, 3 presenters for the secret message, and 3 planets for the last sequence. Here’s a handy checklist courtesy of MiceAge.com.

Somehow in 9 rides, we never managed to get the speederbike chase on Kashyyyk in the first sequence, which was disappointing but had the intended effect of making us want to ride again soon! Our planetary combos were

1. Hoth + Naboo
2. Hoth + Coruscant (Patrick was the rebel spy!)
3. Hoth + Naboo
4. Tatooine + Naboo
5. Hoth + Death Star over Geonosis
6. Tatooine + Coruscant
7. Hoth + Death Star over Geonosis
8. Tatooine + Naboo
9. Tatooine + Naboo again!

The exit area is basically the same, but the gift shop has been improved by the addition of a window and the no-brainer relocation of the X-Wing formerly hidden at the top of the old Peoplemover ramp.

Why is the Annual Passholder-exclusive merchandise always even tackier than the regular merch?

Overall, we were REALLY impressed. The new version is everything they claimed it would be—definitely an improvement, and the repeatability is high. The ride feels less jerky even as it’s whipping you all over the place in sync with the action on the screen. A couple of the sequences aren’t as compelling as they could have been (we thought the pod race was going to be a lot more thrilling), but every scene is packed with levels of interesting stuff: the primary action, plus in-jokes and site gags going on in the background that take multiple rides to notice. We felt the very best sequence was the one on Naboo, which makes full use of the motion-simulator and 3-D for a truly thrilling ride. Another thing we enjoyed, which probably won’t last long, is the way everyone onboard listens intently and silently during the appearance of Leia/Yoda/Akbar (well, except for the obligatory “It’s a TRAP!”). It’s rare that entertainment can so completely capture the audience’s attention these days, and I love it!

Have you ridden the new Star Tours? What do you think?

This post is part of the Disney Blog Carnival. Click here to see more great Disney-related posts and articles.

{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Jenn paul May 31, 2011, 7:09 PM

    Unfortunately, most of this is lost on me… As I am the only Disney lover that knows nothing about star wars and only just saw the first one for the first time a couple of months ago. With that said, as always your attention to detail and awesome picture taking skills have me wanting to ride this right now! Great review, really! Glad you were picked to preview it, that had to be fun!!!

    • lurkyloo May 31, 2011, 8:47 PM

      That’s really interesting! Having known about Star Wars as long as I can remember knowing, I’d be interested to hear what you thought after seeing it for the first time… I wonder if it has the same impact if you didn’t grow up with it.

  • Hope June 1, 2011, 1:26 PM

    Aww man! I didn’t know you could ride more than once.:( We had the same AP preview slot as you for Sunday morning and just did it at around 10AM then went to DCA to do Little Mermaid (which we managed to ride) and then went home. 🙁 I totally thought to ask if we could do it again, but didn’t. Next time I’ll remember to just ask. I know a lot of our other friends got to ride it as many times as you did w/o a fastpass because there weren’t any other AP’s in line, so they got to ride a handful of times back to back.

    How cool that Patrick got picked as the rebel spy. I was afraid it was only going to be limited to little kids (a little girl was picked on our ride). So glad big kids get in on the fun too! 🙂

    I wasn’t feeling the AP exclusive merchandise either, BUT did come home with a Yoda Beenie. lol

    • lurkyloo June 1, 2011, 2:00 PM

      I thought the same thing – sooooo many kids got picked, which just doesn’t seem fair to this old bag! What did you think of Little Mermaid? I need to ride it again, but my first impression was “Did they run out of money for the climax?” Cuz the cut-out of Ursula and silhouette of Ariel & Eric smooching seemed like a stopgap or something…

      • Rachel June 1, 2011, 2:10 PM

        I’m glad you said something about TLM Carrie, I watched a video of the ride and while some of the animatronics are amazing the story-telling is really flat. They do pretty good at the beginning through “Under The Sea” but after that it’s like what-the-heck-did-they-blow-the-budget-for-the-Under The Sea scene-and-had-to-cut-corners-for-the-rest? I’m hoping they’ll make some improvements for the version we’re getting at WDW otherwise I’m going to be very disappointed.

        • lurkyloo June 1, 2011, 2:13 PM

          EXACTLY! I felt like we heard all this hype about how many bazillions of animatronics there were and how advanced they were, but I guess they’re all in that first big show scene under the sea. Boo!

          • Hope June 1, 2011, 3:29 PM

            Ha ha! Well at least it’s a million times better than the Golden Dreams movie they used to have there. 😀

      • Hope June 1, 2011, 3:25 PM

        I liked the Little Mermaid ride but did think that they sort of lost steam where you just mentioned. It’s like they ran out of songs and slapped it together. It sort of felt like they treated you to a fancy 4 course meal with the other scenes and then handed you a granola bar for dessert at the end. I liked the marriage scene after that though, but I wish that it was longer. Because of the doom-buggy type of ride vehicles, I sort of thought it would feel as long as Haunted Mansion, but it felt like it was just as quick as the Fantasyland rides. I’m just glad that they gave Little Mermaid some kind of an ending, unlike Snow White’s Scary Adventures where you’re in the scary forest and then the next scene is “happily ever after”. Umm what? lol

        • lurkyloo June 1, 2011, 4:17 PM

          That’s so funny! I was going to compare it to Snow White, but you’re right—it’s not THAT bad… Like you, I also thought the ride would be longer, again because of all the hype on the Disney parks blog and Blue Sky Cellar, etc.

  • Rachel June 1, 2011, 1:59 PM

    Great report Carrie! Hopefully Chauncey and I will get to ride ST in WDW when we go in December. I’m glad to hear that the ride is fairly smooth, that was my biggest issue with the older version, I swear I got whiplash after riding a few times. From what I’ve heard, the DL and WDW versions are pretty much the same? I’ve seen all of the Star Wars movies more times than I can count so I’m looking forward to discovering all of the details they’ve added….and yelling out “It’s A Trap!”

    • lurkyloo June 1, 2011, 2:08 PM

      I feel like I read somewhere that Florida’s is smoother than California’s, but now I can’t find it. The amount of motion depends on which scenarios you get, but I never had that “lurch forward straining against your seatbelt” experience you used to get on old Star Tours. I hope you enjoy it!

      • Hope June 1, 2011, 3:28 PM

        Now that you mention it, I did notice this version of Star Tours was a lot smoother than the older one. I always felt like I was sliding out of my seat because the seat belt didn’t really hold me down (especially when we felt like we were lurching forward) before. I can’t wait to ride it again and see where else we travel.

    • Beth June 2, 2011, 1:01 AM

      We got selected for the AP preview on the 31st. I had heard from others that you could ride more than once, but after the cast member marked a line through our email I figured that once was it. :/ Granted, we made our time limit with about 15 minutes to spare (we had been over to DCA to ride Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, which I thought was a super cute dark ride). The rebel spy in our group was this old bald guy, he got quite a few laughs. When Admiral Akbar showed up I had to resist the urge to yell “It’s a trap!”. It’s cool to hear that others had the same idea, but I can already tell that that gag will grow to be annoying over time…

      • lurkyloo June 2, 2011, 7:56 AM

        So let’s see, from our unofficial survey, it seems like you have to be a cute little kid or a really bald or really hairy man to get picked as the rebel spy! 🙂

  • Elizabeth June 2, 2011, 10:14 AM

    Nice photos. Cool to see the differences between the ride exterior in California as compared to what I’m used to in Florida. I got to go to the night-time preview event here in Florida and with all the characters and the free make your own sundae bar, I only got in four rides. Probably for the best though as I was starting to get motion sick (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the GIANT sundae with brownies in it)! It’s a really cool ride and when you really stop and consider how the old ride was it’s such a HUGE leap in entertainment value.

    Here are some pics from the Florida preview event…






    And for good measure a few from Star Wars Weekends…






    Yea Disney!

    • lurkyloo June 2, 2011, 10:44 AM

      Wait wait wait… Make-your-own SUNDAE BAR?!!! Why didn’t *we* get a make-your-own sundae bar?!!! Harrumph!

      • Elizabeth June 2, 2011, 10:58 AM

        LOL! It was the BEST! Real ice cream…not some wimpy soft-serve…and all the toppings you could think of! Probably didn’t help that I was STARVING by the time we got there at midnight. Really fun event by Disney.

  • Becca June 3, 2011, 11:50 AM

    Funny thing is they actually made TLM ride longer from what it was originally designed for. Thank goodness or it would have been definitely too short!

    But thanks for the informative article. Your pictures we cut on the side (along with some of the descritions of them) but I still very much enjoyed everything!!! I went to the AP preview and, like Hope, only thought to go one once. I am very pleased with the update and can’t wait to go on again!

    (a littel girl was chosen for ours too :< maybe they think its just the easiest choice comedy wise plus Disney likes to cater to the younger ones. Either way, no fair!)

    • lurkyloo June 3, 2011, 12:41 PM

      LOL! I’m with you on that one. So are the Star Wars pix cut off for you, or just Little Mermaid? Also, which browser do you use? I need to learn how to fix this stuff.

      • Becca June 3, 2011, 12:46 PM

        Windows Internet Explorer, and yes, both posts were cut off. Sorry to be of trouble!!!

        • lurkyloo June 3, 2011, 12:50 PM

          No worries – I like to know this stuff cuz I can’t see it, and I need to learn to fix it!

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