Star Tours Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Reader Reports on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue!
(Caution: some reports may continue spoilers about the revamped attraction)

Star Tours Soft Opens May 16, 2011

Official Opening May 20, 2011

Paula Devegh: We were at Hollywood Studios for opening weekend of Star Wars Weekends (5/20-5/22). Rode the new and improved Star Tours 5 times over 3 days. What a great ride! We loved it, even better than before. The best part about the whole experience is each "Tour" is different. Its like riding a new ride each time! We can't wait to experience all 54 versions.

Heidi Beck: My sister and I were able to ride the new Star Tours experience during its soft opening. We rode four times, and while we saw a couple of the elements more than once, each ride was unique. We loved it!! So did everyone else:t here were cheers and clapping each time. My sister didn't fall victim to her usual motion-sickness either, which was a treat for her. This is an awesome ride, and you don't have to be a fan of Star Wars or familiar with the stories to enjoy it. HUGE thumbs up!

Jeff Thompson: Just returned from 10 days at the World. Was lucky enough to have ridden Star Tours twice during a soft opening on 5/17. First one was to become part of the Podrace, but the 2nd one was the best. Went to the Ice planet of Hoth and then went under the water and a Sea Monster tried to eat our ship. Excellent 3D effects.

Bob Distel: Star Wars Opening: We got in on Wed. 5/18 for a soft opening. The queue updates are good and the new boarding spiel is cool too. The film is sharp and clear and it's fun seeing new places. The scene on the frozen planet seemed almost like the same scene from Mission: Space. The ride itself seemed much tamer that the original version, lacking really sudden sharp turns and drops…they seemed more smooth. Thumbs-up!

My husband and I were able to ride on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 18th. There was a 40 minute wait, but the line seemed to move quickly and was nice and shady. As for the ride itself, in all honesty, I was a little underwhelmed. At the beginning, I felt almost as if they were so eager to get to the special effects that they forgot the story (don't think I've ever felt that way about anything Disney before!). One minute we are boarding a regular flight, the next minute we are shooting at someone. The graphics and effects were terrific, but I ended up having to close my eyes about half way through because it was making me sick. The old version used to make me a little woozy as well, but this was worse, and I simply wasn't interested enough in what was going on to risk feeling lousy for the rest of the day. There didn't seem to be any "characters" to relate to, and I missed Captain Rex. Knowing that the line for this one is likely to be long for some time to come, we will probably be skipping this one in the future. Rebecca Smith

Just rode Star Tours. The outdoor queue looked like the Ewok village. The indoor queue was more themed. Video screens, cool lighting and animatronics. The attraction was much better than its predecessor, both in video quality and theme. I will say that it made me motion sick. I'm still a lil green. They should have cool air blowing on the riders faces, that would help a bit. Alison Kinslow

We were lucky enough to walk up on Star Tours Sunday May 15th and were greeted in the entry lines with more story than before. The robots were very entertaining. We rode three times and had 3 very different experiences. People were clapping after each ride. The 3-D is very good, no blurs from any angle. It is great fun and a "Can't Miss"! Roger Carroum

While helping friends celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary, we visited Hollywood studios on Sunday May 15th. One of the cast members at Toy Story Mania! said that there may be a soft opening at Star Tours, so after the ride we went to see if that was true. The cast member at the ride told us that was true, but couldn't say how long we would have to wait….or if we would ride at all. So after riding a couple more rides we came back before we left for AK to check one last time….and we got to walk right on and ride the new Star Tours! What a blast! We went to the wookie planet on our adventure. Way to go Disney! You hit a home run this time! Earl Cort White

We rode the first day of soft openings (ran from Epcot in the pouring rain when we got the tweet that it was open!). It's really wonderful and the new queue is fabulous, but the most important thing for me is that I could RIDE IT! I haven't been on Star Tours for over 15 years because simulators make me really motion sick. I am such a huge Star Wars fan and desperately wanted to see the queue, so I went through the second time my 12 year old went on, planning to use the exit at the end. But I threw caution to the winds after hearing from some cast members that the technology was so much improved that it might be a different experience for me. And it totally was! No sickness, no headache, nothing. I rode it again the next day with no problems whatsoever. BIG THANK YOU to the imagineers and to George Lucas for giving me this amazing experience. Darcy DeWitt

Rode star tours soft opening . The scene we had was the Pod Racer scene. The 3D video was amazing as was the motion to the video. During the ride we battled Boba Fett and Darth Vader. I don't remember much else as I felt like an excited 1977 seven year old again. Normally I get sick but I was fine. May have been the excitement over trying it out. I expected the 3D to bother me but it was fine. The motion seemed smother then the old version, not as rough and jerky. Brad Garfinkel

I had the opportunity to get a pre-opening look at Star Tours 2.0 and came away with an extremely favorable impression of the changes Disney has made to the almost 22 year old attraction.

To set the scene, I was in Orlando with All Ears Running Team member Brad Garfinkel to attend the Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th anniversary event at the Contemporary Resort. One of the Sunday sessions included a talk by Kathy Rogers, a senior show producer at Imagineering who told of many of the changes to Star Tours. This really whetted my appetite to see what had been done, so we headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios on Monday morning in hopes that the attraction would be available for soft opening.

The cast member at the attraction when I arrived was very much into his part, urging us to visit for "flight testing." I always enjoy when a cast member really is into the part… it adds something to the attraction, making the magic seem more real. At the entrance, we were joined by Dave Dunkowski, another running team member and the three of us proceeded into the attraction.

To start, the queue area has been redesigned. The path is the same, but the decor has been changed. As the time frame for the ride has changed, the Starspeeder is now a 1000 model as opposed to a 3000 model. The color palette for the attraction has changed as well. The ride still features R2-D2 and C-3PO, but no longer has the annoying Rex, the pilot in the original attraction. Other changes have been made as you proceed through the queue, including a droid cargo area, and security screening droids. One of these droids is scanning luggage, as well as offering commentary. Kathy Rogers described the area as being like an intergalactic TSA. The video in the queue will show you some of the destinations you might visit as well, so I recommend you check that out as you wait.

The ride loading is mostly the same, with one addition. You will arrive at the meeting point for FastPass/non-FastPass and be directed left or right. You pick up your "flight safety glasses" and are directed to a row. Once in the row, pay close attention to the preflight boarding video… There's some foreshadowing to look for, as well as some humorous video bits involving the maintenance droids, in addition to the standard spiel about carry-on luggage and getting seated.

The actual vehicle has not changed much. A little refreshment of the color scheme and the installation of your new pilot, C-3PO (I am NOT making this up). The under seat netting has not been changed and in many seats your carry-on baggage winds up perilously close to the floor in the words of All Ears blogger Jeanine, who I had the good fortune to tour the galaxy with on two flights later in the day.

The new film offers many enhancements, from smoother motion to a 3-D film, but the greatest enhancement would be the random elements. There are four distinct elements to the show, and only the first element is consistent. This would be your departure from Star Tours base. Make sure you look toward the right side of the screen for a famous Corellian freighter. As your speeder begins to move, you are stopped by two Imperial storm troopers and a probe droid who are looking for a rebel spy (usually a child aboard your speeder). When the spy is discovered aboard your craft, the troopers open fire and R2-D2 gets you out of the terminal and into a full-scale space battle. After dodging TIE fighters and Imperial Star Destroyers, R2-D2 (despite whining from C-3PO) takes your craft into hyperspace.

The remaining show elements will take you to different places in the Star Wars universe. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but without giving too much away, I can say that possible destinations can include Hoth, Naboo, Tattooine, Coruscant and the Death Star. Cut scenes feature such Star Wars luminaries as Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Yoda. There's also a scene involving the much loathed Jar Jar Binks (notice he is not listed amongst the luminaries.

SPOILER ALERT: I will say that during a panel discussion earlier on Sunday with Imagineers Jason Surrell, Jason Grandt and Alex Wright, they talked about how when they were pitching the new version of the ride to George Lucas, the Hoth sequence was brought up. Seems that the Imagineers were trying to remain true to the new ride film's chronology (set sometime between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope). As such, since Hoth would've been an unknown planet to the Empire, they didn't include the Imperial AT-AT walkers. After viewing the film as it was, Lucas asked, "I liked the Hoth scene, but where are the walkers?" When the Imagineers explained why they hadn't included them, Lucas said, "Put in the walkers." As such, your visit to Hoth will include the walker battle.

While I feel the imagineers did a great job with the attraction, there is some room for improvement. I feel the slight itself is smoother, but the 3-D glasses give you a narrower field of view. In addition, while the synchronization is better than the old ride, it still seems to be the slightest bit off. Brad was able to ride without suffering abut problems, but he said that a second trip might have done him in for the day.

In conclusion, what we have is a well-executed and much needed update to an attraction that had been rendered stale from 20 years of complacency. As the soft opening period continues, I expect minor tweaks to the synchronization and perhaps the randomization. In short, if you get the chance to check the attraction out, I do recommend it. As a side note, during her talk, Kathy Rogers said that it would take about six straight hours to ride through every possible sequence of show elements. After five trips today, I'm not sure that's a challenge I'd relish. So, with that being said, I wish you safe travels throughout the galaxy and may the Force be with you.

Brian Thompson, May 16, 2011