Disneyland's hilarious Star Tours grand opening from 1987 has resurfaced. During the 1980s, Star Wars moved on from the hugely successful film that kicked off the saga into a franchise that has only continued to grow and expand with time. Some four years after the release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Disney joined forces with Lucasfilm.
The partnership between Lucasfilm and Disney produced the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland, making it the first non-Disney licensed intellectual property at the amusement park. Star Tours involved a motion simulator spacecraft called the StarSpeeder 3000 that whisks guests off to the forest moon of Endor. The ride showcases various Star Wars characters in Audio-Animatronic form (including droids C-3PO and R2-D2), and follows a scripted performance that involves a jostling, lurching journey through space, into a comet cluster, as well as a brief battle with TIE fighters before helping to destroy the Death Star III.
All things considered, Star Tours was interesting for its time, but in 2019, Disney and Star Wars are one. That means that far more can be done with the franchise on Disney’s part, as licensing issues are a thing of the past. The technology has also changed dramatically in 32 years. In fact, exactly how much has changed from the days of Star Tours to the recent opening of Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction can be glimpsed in the video here, courtesy of ABC News.
There’s no question that last month’s opening of Galaxy’s Edge was a major affair, with George Lucas, Mark Hamill, Billy D. Williams, and Harrison Ford all turning up to officially launch the attraction. The event was dedicated to the late Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, and the degree of excitement, as well as fanfare, undoubtedly blew the 1987 Star Tours opening day out of the galaxy. By comparison, the Star Tours opening was indeed a strange affair, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse turning up at one point, a noticeably wooden George Lucas in attendance, and vague lookalikes playing the ballet dancing roles of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia. All in all, the entire event seems very downscaled and of its time - particularly from today’s perspective, when Star Wars is even more of a global phenomenon than it was in those somewhat early days.
As humorous and plain as the Star Tours opening was, however, the main culprit has to be the licensing, or lack thereof. Disney simply wasn’t willing to drop the sort of money that it likely would have cost to add more Star Wars flare to the event and bring in Hamill, Ford, Williams, or Fisher. It’s an understandable issue, and Star Tours had its time and place, but it’s hard to imagine anything that Star Tours has to offer that matches the spectacle of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Source: ABC News
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019