Star Tours closed last week to make way for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue and with it, the last flight to Endor (well attempt to travel to Endor anyway) has come and gone and I can't help but look back on my experiences on Star Tours over the years.
Star Tours is a weird attraction in that it wasn't my favorite ride in Hollywood Studios, nor do I think it was a lot of people's favorite ride. That's not to say we all didn't enjoy it, but it was in that second tier of attractions that we enjoyed that were almost in a "supporting role" in the park. Frankly, it was an attraction we took for granted to always be there and considering it's been in the park since 1990, it had become a staple of the park.
I can't recall vividly my first time on Star Tours. I do remember riding it the first time I ever visited the Disney-MGM Studios, which was likely in 1991 or so. In a park that I didn't "get" at the time, Star Tours was a lot of fun because as a 10 year old kid, I loved the Star Wars films and it definitely made me feel like I was really inside the Star Wars universe. Score one for the Imagineers!
Star Tours and this site formed an ever deeper bond as they years progressed. Starting in Mousefest 2006 and continuing each December through last year, Studios Central hosted a "Let's fill a Starspeeder" meet, which as you might have guessed, sought to have Disney fans take up an entire Starspeeder 3000 to enjoy the ride together. The first year we were a few short of that goal, but in the years to follow we managed to not only fill one Starspeeder but a couple others. I believe in 2008 we managed to fill up 2 and a half Starspeeders and I love thinking back on the memories many of us collectively shared, such as one year my wife giving me a hard time because I forgot to grab her to ride together or last year when we were all ready to go and part time Studios Central contributor Glenn Sonoda had to have the Cast Member help fix his seatbelt (a very funny experience if you were there).
|Star Tours Mousefest meet 2007||Waiting to ride!|
Star Tours has also been a way I've met a lot of different people through rides we've taken together. Because it's a really mild thrill ride, it was something that most people enjoyed riding and it was great to indulge in our inner geeks together as we rode to a different world.
My favorite part of the Star Tours ride was the lightspeed scenes. I don't know why, but I always loved the sensation of the simulator lurching backward a bit and then pitching forward to give you the sensation of jumping to lightspeed. When I think of Star Tours or someone mentions it, it's the one image that instantly pops into my mind.
Last week was the final flight to Endor, a special event put on by D23. It was an unique opportunity to ride Star Tours for the last time and it was a real great time. We were escorted through the park by a squad of Stormtroopers to the ride where we all took our sweet time enjoying the queue area one last time. It was kind of surreal being in the queue with 200 other people but no one really wanting to go forward for fear of having to say goodbye to the ride.
You could tell this was important to the Cast Members who worked at Star Tours too because there was emotion in every aspect of their roles. From the Cast Member that choked up when she had to say her goodbye spiel one more time before launching the ride to the assembled group in the gift shop holding a ceremonial gateway with their lightsabers. It's the kind of experience that is what really makes Disney such a "magical" place.