Written By: Abel S. - "Honest Abe"
It’s late at night yet I’m still wide awake and wired.
I have just returned from a sneak preview of the updated Star Tours ride at Disneyland and all I can say is WOW!!! (Alright,
I’ve got more to say or this would be a really short review.)
First of all, let me explain that I am a Star Wars fan as well
as a Disneyland fan. I have been an annual passport holder for ten years. My family has a long history of working at
Disneyland. I actually rode the original Star Tours before it was opened to the general public due to a sneak preview party
given to employees and their families. I believe I rode it five times that first night. Fast forward over twenty years later
and after tonight’s ride, I feel as if I haven’t aged a day.
There have been rumors of an update to Star Tours for a long time.
Ever since The Phantom Menace premiered, it was said that the ride would be updated to include the Podrace sequence.
As much as I love Star Tours, I did feel that an update was long overdue. I couldn’t possibly have expected to be this
blown away. First of all, the ride is now in 3-D. I know, I know. So many movies now are in 3-D that it may seem somewhat
tired at this point but it really adds a whole new dimension to many aspects of the ride (pun intended!)
According to press materials, the timeline of the ride takes place
between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The basic ride concept is that you are about to leave on a leisurely trip aboard
your Star Speeder 1000 when Darth Vader and a garrison of Stormtroopers halt your flight and demand that a rebel spy aboard
your vessel be surrendered to him at once. He flicks your ship around by using the Force until your pilot, C- 3PO, manages
to break free of Vader’s grasp and get you the hell out of there! Then your REAL adventure begins.
If you hadn’t heard, there isn’t just once sequence
to this ride as used to be the case. Star Tours now has 54 different possible ride scenarios. There are several different
planets in the Star Wars universe that you are now able to visit. My understanding is that the order is always changing. Also,
you don’t visit every planet each time out. Tonight, I flew through the legs of an AT-AT on Hoth and blasted through
an asteroid belt surrounding Mustafar while being chased by Boba Fett! Next time, I may fly to Courscant or Kashyyyk or Yavin.
You could theoretically get on this ride five times in a row and have a unique experience each time. Are you beginning to
understand the massive grin on my face? After all, were you nearly pulverized by a sonic depth charge launched by the Slave
I itself? Did you by chance slide along the snow banks of Hoth, just missing certain death along a cliff edge? Did you suddenly
find yourself thrust into the Rebel Alliance and then warmly greeted by its leaders? Did you receive a personal holographic
message from Yoda? I DID!!! Alright, I’m trying to calm down.
Of course, what ride experience wouldn’t be complete
without a gift shop waiting at the end of it? The newly redesigned Star Trader doesn’t disappoint, particularly
in its décor. There is a massive X-Wing fighter mounted from the ceiling along with some really cool spinning lights
that resemble flying saucers. The merchandise is spread out all the way into the arcade at the back part of the store. Bye
bye several rows of videogames, hello merchandise. There is one primary section specifically devoted to Star Wars merchandise.
It is the area that you first see upon exiting the ride. The only thing noticeably absent was the Star Wars photo shop where
you can superimpose your face into a multitude of Star Wars scenes. That has been moved to the far side of the store, around
the corner where part of the arcade once was. The lighting in this section was somewhat dim but then again, it was just before
closing that we were there. Anyways, you’ll find plenty of the latest Star Wars toys in the shop as well as shot glasses,
hats and t-shirts with the Star Tours logo. There are a few items exclusive to annual pass holders; these include a commemorative
coin, a pen and a really cool black tumbler featuring Vader’s face. All in all, I was quite pleased with the selection.
To sum up, if you have an annual pass or if you’ve been waiting
for a good reason to go to Disneyland, then here it is. You’ll want to ride it multiple times so as to experience as
much of the ride as possible. I didn’t even describe for you the line queue. After all, I wanted to save some surprises
for you. Just make sure that you utilize the Fast Pass system so as to maximize the number of times you can get on the ride.
One final, wonderful little detail: the Fast Pass distribution machines are in the shape of Gonk droids! I wasn’t able
to get a picture as they were closed down for the night, but it’s the little details like this that truly make Star
Tours a memorable trip to Disneyland!
Abel S. a.k.a. "Honest Abe" has written reviews for Dark Horizons, JoBlo and MusicTap.
He has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He can usually be found at his keyboard ranting and rambling
about the human condition or watching Beavis & Butthead.