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The Force is Strong with Star Tours [Review]

Disneyland’s Star Tours opened last Friday, June 3, after the almost year long closure to perform upgrades. Actually, it’s better than upgrades. The ride got a complete makeover and a new name. It’s now known as Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. The original ride opened in 1987, and it took passengers on a tour to the forest moon of Endor. It was overdue for touch-ups. The technology wasn’t in step with the rest of the park, and the Star Wars universe has expanded since 1987. The new ride takes place in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. To say that fans were eager to hop aboard the new Starspeeders is an understatement.

You might know this, but allow me to reinforce it – Star Wars fans are dedicated. Combine that with Disney fans, and you have a force that cannot be stopped. Many people lined up outside the park on June 3 before the gates even opened. Darth Vader and Stormtroopers greeted them upon entering the park. Some people waited in line for four or five hours.

Since I have nowhere near that level of patience, I let go of my dreams of going on the ride on opening day. Even though 54 variations awaited me (yes, I will be making a spreadsheet to track them) I couldn’t subject myself to that torture. I checked reports on Twitter all day from Mouse Wait and hoped the wait time would go down. Soon it was three hours and ticking towards my tolerable wait time range. Sometime around 5:00pm the wait time dipped to 90 minutes. I hopped in my car immediately.

I could barely be bothered to stop for dinner once I got to the park—I wanted to get in line. My kind of people would be there—people that would recognize my Rebel Alliance tattoo and give me high-fives about it. The sign said 100 minutes. No one cared. We had smart phones, books, and the Wars to keep us happy. I noticed Disneyland even broke their unspoken rule about not allowing adults in costume. I spotted a Padmé (Geonosis arena outfit) and multiple Jedi.

After over two hours in the line walking through Death Star trench run inspired switchbacks, everyone in my surrounding area was still in high spirits. The mood got noticeably better once passengers made it to the inside line. While you peruse the arrivals board and listen to the service droid make announcements, you can check out baggage claim droids. Enjoy the banter of C-3PO and R2-D2 while you look at your new ride. Well sort of new. You’re still boarding a Starspeeder, but it’s cleaned up and shiny. You have to get past a TSA type droid before you enter the final boarding area. Don’t worry, it doesn’t pat you down.

Finally, you are directed to a departure gate and a boarding row. You’ll get 3D glasses on the way. People were practically skipping with glee at this point. If the Mos Eisley Cantina song would have been playing, we all would have been dancing. The door whooshed open and at first glance, not much was different. The interior of the Starspeeder didn’t change much from the perspective of the passenger. Once you sit down and go through a pre-flight check, the unwitting pilot appears. Threepio proclaims he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but it’s too late. The Starspeeder is off and running.

And next? I don’t want to spoil it for you. There are three possible openings, three possible endings, and six locations that can be randomly visited (Tatooine, Coruscant, Kashyyk, Hoth, Naboo and a visit to the Death Star above Geonosis). You can go to two locations per ride. It’s fun to talk about each part like a collectible after the ride. “I still need to get that planet.” I stopped myself from reading details about the ride, and I liked being surprised. You’ll see many familiar faces in the jam-packed sequences. The appearance of a few made the entire group in my Starspeeder cheer. Besides all the new eye candy in glorious 3D that had me ducking and trying to melt into my seat, the motion is better on this version. It didn’t feel like the guaranteed “spew bucket” of old. Finally, certain riders can be singled out on each tour for a very personalized experience.

Disney found the golden ticket with this ride. The repeatability factor is high. Myself and many others would gladly exit the ride and get right back in line for two more hours (after a thorough visit through the newly remodeled and stocked Star Trader). It’s worth it. I think even Darth Vader would agree.

(Images via WDWNews)


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