Fans of Disneyland’s Star Tours Get Over 50 More Adventures in Star Tours 2.0

Posted by Staff on Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Star Tours 2.0 Disneyland

Early last month, one of Disneyland’s most beloved rides, Star Tours, reopened after receiving a technological makeover, as Star Tours 2.0. Although the flight simulator ride has remained popular since it first began taking Disneyland guests on a tour of the “Star Wars” galaxy in 1987, the Disney Imagineers, the engineers and designers behind the theme parks, knew that the ride was more than ready to catch up with the 21st century. Not only has the original Stars Wars trilogy since expanded with the Prequel Trilogy, but film technology has also greatly advanced, so that many new elements could be added to the visual aspect of the adventure.

The original Star Tours ride was introduced at a time when the Imagineers felt that Disneyland needed a ride featuring characters embraced by the current young generation. Disneyland had previously partnered with “Star Wars” creator, George Lucas, for the 3D show, Captain EO, so they were very fortunate to have a direct connection with the man behind the immensely popular films that had permeated the public imagination. Lucas was game for the project and together with a team of Imagineers, he developed the adventure story that guests would participate in until the ride closed for renovation in September 2010.

Star Tours was one of the first simulator rides in an amusement park, but the technology itself had already been developed for military training. With four military-grade flight simulators purchased, the Imagineers shot the story on 70mm film at 30 frames-per-second and proceeded to match the movements of the simulator to the action on screen. Since the screen and simulator are independent of one another, there was always the opportunity to create more than one story line: “When they designed the original one, because it was a simulator and film-based, they always intended to update it,” said Kathy Rogers, senior show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering. By the time Imagineers were seriously considering updating the ride in the late 1990s, “Star Wars: Phantom Menace” was hitting the theatres, with the promise of two more films to follow. While they began storyboarding new adventures at that point, they decided to wait until the release of all the prequels in order to cover their bases and guarantee that they wouldn’t have to update the ride following the release of another film.

Star Tours 2.0 Pilot AC-38

The new pilot, AC-38 aka “Ace”

While the simulators themselves haven’t changed much, though they have been rechristened as the early model Starspeeder 1000, the high-definition quality of the visual element is light-years beyond the original footage. In addition, it is now a 3D adventure, which is essential in a world where 3D technology is becoming more and more common in blockbuster features. Whereas every fan of the original ride quickly became familiar with the rookie pilot, RX-24, and the accidental journey through the galaxy that ensues, the new ride offers 54 different story options made of a combination of different beginnings, detours, transmissions from Princess Leia, Yoda, or Admiral Ackbar, and endings, all guided by the new pilot, AC-38. Current digital technology has allowed the Imagineers to mix and match these story pieces seamlessly so that only the most fanatical Star Tours devotees will know every possible story by heart. Finally, the Star Tours 2.0 ride picks one member of the audience as a Rebel Spy, who then must be transported out of the reach of the Empire, making the ride even more interactive. Though it was a long time coming, Star Tours 2.0 should keep Disneyland guests entertained for years to come unless George Lucas decides to bring out the fabled Star Wars sequel trilogy sometime soon.


History of Star Tours

Endor Express

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