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The long wait is over and Star Tours The Adventure Continues is now open in Disneyland. This weekend my family and I braved the considerable crowds but were fortunate enough to have Fast Passes for the brand new version of this classic Disney ride. Star Tours is now back on my list of Top 5 favorite Disney rides. I decided to leave the actual review to someone who knows way more about Star Wars than I. My husband Richard! So here is what he thought of the new ride:
I finally got to try out the new Star Tours – the Adventures Continue – at Disneyland this weekend. It’s advertised as all-new, with brand new 3D sequences and 54 different versions of the ride. I went on the ride twice, quite a feat considering the wait times, but was dismayed to find I was sitting through exactly the same story! What are the chances of that? (OK, smart people might say 1 in 54, but I’m guessing it’s even less than that. Read on for why…)
First things first. Spoiler alert coming. I should say now that this post includes details of one of the 54 new stories, plus observations from the brand new waiting line, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading now.
OK, I was exaggerating slightly, since there was a slight difference between the two rides. In the first story, Yoda delivers information about a spy who has hidden on board the ship. In the second, this is done by a holographic projection of Princess Leia. Very impressive, since for the show they re-used the message hidden inside R2-D2 by the Princess shortly before the Tantive IV was captured in A New Hope. There may have been lip-syncing going on, but it was hard to see. The script was definitely adjusted to make use of the original, especially ‘you are our only hope’. The spy turned out to be one of our fellow passengers, and a photo of them was shown on a video screen at the side of the main screen.
I absolutely loved the ride, particularly the use of C3PO as the rookie pilot caught in the auto-launch sequence. My son told me there must be five C3POs in the ride in total (one in the line and one on each of the four shuttle ships. Not bad for a five year old).
As you attempt to take off from the space port, Darth Vader, flanked by a battalion of storm troopers (some with jet packs) attempts to intercept you. He uses his dark force powers to throw the ship around in new ways. This must have stretched the simulator’s capabilities far more than originally expected.
You are then pursued by a group of 3D TIE fighters as you try to head into hyperspace.
The jump to lightspeed felt a lot more realistic in the new simulator. Of course I haven’t really got anything to compare this against (the California speed limit forces me to keep my car under 65 mph at all times).
On exiting lightspeed, you end up joining the Battle of Hoth where several AT-ATs either step on you or collapse on you after a snowspeeder succeeds in lassoing their legs.
After the next lightspeed jump you arrive in the rings around the planet Geonosis, where Jango Fett is waiting to give chase in Slave I through the asteroids that make up the rings. You weave through the asteroid field with some great effects, courtesy of the Star Tours the simulator. Actually since this story is supposed to be set around Episodes II and III I wonder if this is actually a grown-up Boba? Also, since he appears to fall foul of one of his own seismic charges, is this consistent with the story? Sorry, maybe I’m taking this too seriously now…
The final exciting sequence takes you into the Death Star, which is under construction. You enter through an open hole in the side and speed through tight corridors, just like those in Return of the Jedi, before plummeting down a huge shaft filled with ships. One of these ships is the Millenium Falcon, but it speeds past in an instant and is hard to spot (my son saw it too).
A new and entertaining wait line slightly makes up for the wait time (120 minutes yesterday for anyone without a Fastpass). The line shows the weather on various destination planets including Mustafar (ash cloud approaching, of course). I didn’t spot Hoth on there but guessed it was going to be cold.
I also loved the silhouetted shadows passing by the window in the line and spotted a number of familiar shapes: Chancellor Palpatine (again since this is set around Episodes 2 and 3 I assume he hasn’t made emperor yet), several Jedi, plus an R2 droid. R2 gets zapped by a bunch of pesky jawas, falls over and is carried off, Episode IV-style.
I was left wondering how they will rotate the different endings. Maybe they are truly random, in which case the probability of my seeing the same show twice was indeed 1 in 54. Or maybe they limit the variation a bit. If it was my ride, I’d hold back some special endings for really special occasions.