As I write this, it’s January 9, 2020. It’s an important date, because this is the anniversary of the day that Star Wars became a part of Disney Parks. I am of course talking about it being the day that Star Tours opened at Disneyland in California.
I remember the time well. The year was 1987. There was a lot of talk about the new Star Tours ride on the news. There was even a TV special about it. My parents had their first VCR, and the TV special was the first thing that I ever recorded. We didn’t have good reception at our house (and no cable), but I didn’t care. I watched that grainy video over and over again. I wanted to ride it so badly.
Of course Star Tours did not stop in California. On December 15, 1989, the ride debuted at the brand new Disney-MGM Studios. That means that less than a month ago it celebrated its 30th anniversary! In a park that had undergone a lot of transition, the giant AT-AT has been a staple. Both Tokyo and Paris also received versions of the ride.
I finally had my chance to ride Star Tours on my first trip to Walt Disney World in 2006. We spent one day at the park, and we rode it six times. It was the ride that we rushed to when the park opened, and then we took advantage of the old legacy FASTPASS system. That was a great day. That day is part of the reason why Disney’s Hollywood Studios will always be my favorite park. It’s all about the memories.
The original Star Tours is of course gone, but it has been replaced by Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. I remember the anticipation. In 2011 we were fairly new Annual Passholders, and I was beyond excited about my first season of Star Wars Weekends (RIP). A few days before the official opening I heard that a soft opening was taking place. We headed to the park right away, in the rain. We were able to ride three times with no wait, and I was instantly in love with all the different scenarios.
If it wasn’t for the success of Star Tours, I wonder what the parks would be like now. The ride has proven the staying power of Star Wars, since it remained popular in the years without any new movies. If Star Tours hadn’t been a hit, we wouldn’t have Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Rex, the original pilot, has found a new job. He’s the DJ in Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge. It’s a job that suits him well. I appreciate the tie in of the old and the new.
Disney has updated Star Tours even more since the new movies have come out. Currently the two planet scenes are based on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There’s also a surprise character who appears in the middle. I won’t tell you who it is, in case you haven’t ridden it yet.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 33 years since the first Star Wars themed ride opened at Disneyland. Happy Anniversary to one of my favorite rides. I’ve ridden the new version over 250 times, and I’ve loved every moment! “Thank you for flying Star Tours. Buh bye.”