Below is a detailed account of the brand new Star Tours: The Adventures Continue ride. If you want to remain spoiler free, stop reading now!
I had the pleasure of taking part in Disney's soft opening for the much anticipated attraction overhaul of Star Tours this past Sunday (May 15th). There was never more than a 30 minute wait, so I was able to ride it six times in a row with no trouble at all. Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed inside the attraction, so out of respect for Disney and Lucasfilm, I can't show you much. However, I'll go into as much detail as possible about the the new queue line and the ride itself as I try to remember everything about this four minute and thirty second thrill.
The queue line for the ride is pretty much the same as it was before, but there are a few changes worth mentioning.
• The Mon Calamari Officers are still present in their control room high above the line (no changes). • In the first room of the queue, the full size StarSpeeder 3000 has been changed to a StarSpeeder 1000 and repainted to a maroon and white color from the blue and white that it used to be. • Also in the first room, is a HUGE screen with flight status reports and weather conditions on various worlds in both basic and Aurebesh which also runs tour advertisements for different worlds every two to three minutes. • As you enter the second room in the queue, the old REX droid from the previous ride is sitting off to the left side with a sticker that reads “DEFECTIVE - RETURN TO FACTORY”. • There’s an x-ray machine with a new security droid that checks each piece of luggage as it’s scanned which you are able to see. There are a ton of items that can be seen: Vader’s boots, Scout Trooper mask, Ewoks, Battle Droid heads, Captain Eo droid, Buzz Lightyear, Wall-E, Mickey ears, astromech droids, tools, sports equipment, etc. The droid tries to make small talk with you as you stand in line depending on what's seen in the luggage he's scanning. • There’s a door size screen that shows various types of passenger shadows walking by every few seconds (COOL feature!). • There’s another x-ray machine at the top of the ramp before you get in the actual line for your shuttle that is infrared with a view screen that you can see yourself on. • The messy look with all the droid parts laying around has been cleaned up for a more streamlined look.
Once you make your way through the queue, you arrive at the boarding gate. You are instructed to go either to the left or the right and asked how many are traveling in your party. Depending on your answer, you are given a line number. On the way to your shuttle, you pick up some ultra cool 3-D glasses for your journey which are pictured above. As you stand in line waiting for the shuttle doors to open, a new video is shown. C-3PO is outside the ship looking things over. There are some Pit Droids attempting to do some maintenance on the outside of the ship, a Mouse droid falls off the side of the launch pad and luggage falls off a passing transport. Once C-3PO is inside, he talks to the captain about trying to fix an issue with the shuttle. You then see the captain walk away while he works on the ship. The shuttle doors are opened and in you go. Once everyone is seated, the Star Tours worker makes sure all are secure in their seats and closes you in as the phrase "May the Force be with you" is said.
Launch control decides it is time for your shuttle to launch without the captain on board much to C-3PO’s displeasure. A photo is taken of a random passenger who is named the “Rebel Spy” for each mission which always results in a laugh from the other passengers as this person is displayed on a monitor for all to see.
You are stopped abruptly by Darth Vader and an entire garrison of Stormtroopers on your way out of the hangar. He demands a search of your shuttle and starts tossing you around with the Force, but R2-D2 has other plans. He opens fire on Vader and starts backing up. Vader ignites his lightsaber, blocks the shots and tells his men to chase you. Four TIE Fighters begin the chase as you exit the hangar backwards. Once in space, you destroy one TIE Fighter and avoid several more while flying around Star Destroyers before jumping to hyperspace.
The bay door opens and you are staring right at the Millennium Falcon. An Imperial droid scans the ship and detects the Rebel Spy! You see an entire garrison of Stormtroopers gathering around the ramp aiming at Han Solo. Han puts his hands up and then starts firing on the troopers (Han shoots first!) and runs up the ramp. The Falcon takes off and you follow it out of the hangar into open space. Han shows off his fancy flying as you evade Star Destroyers before jumping to light speed.
After each opening, you blast into hyperspace and arrive at a random world which results in a wild ride around whichever planet or area you happen to be near. Once your time at the first location is complete, you fly back into space where you are contacted by one of three people: Admiral Ackbar, Yoda or Princess Leia. I never saw the Princess Leia version which was the one I was most looking forward to, of course. You are told that you have a Rebel Spy on board and you must see them safely to their destination. A very cool feature for this part of the ride is the fact that they say "him", "her" or "them" when referring to the Rebel Spy depending on who was chosen at the beginning. C-3PO comments "It appears that we've just joined the Rebel Alliance" and you blast back into hyperspace and on to the next location.
Here's a breakdown of each location I visited during my six missions:
Asteroid ring/Death Star - twice Coruscant - twice Hoth - three times Kashyyyk - just once Naboo - twice Tatooine - twice
Asteroid ring around Geonosis/Death Star – You are attacked by Boba Fett in his Slave I ship. You fly through and blast apart many asteroids before he shoots a seismic charge at you which R2 shoots back at him ending the fight. You spin around and see an incomplete Death Star as Vader and his wing men begin their attack run in perfect formation. C-3PO opts to fly straight into the Death Star (which is just insane to watch). You make your way to a hangar bay where Stormtroopers duck for cover as you fly overhead before jumping back into hyperspace and arriving at the Rebel Fleet as seen in the end of TESB. You land inside the Medical Frigate and are greeted with applause and smiles by the Alliance.
Coruscant – You drop out of hyperspace into the ROTS opening battle where you are flying in and out of the larger ships. Three buzz droids latch on to your windshield. R2 handles one of them while the other two get blasted off as you fly through a ball of fire from an exploding ship. You now make your quick decent onto the planet surface as you free fall next to another ship that's aflame. R2 decides to fly the wrong way through the air lanes before landing on a platform delivering the spy and the rest of the passengers safely.
Hoth – You land smack in the middle of the bitter cold and follow two Snowspeeders in the Battle of Hoth which includes flying through AT-AT Walker legs, being shot at and eventually, coming to rest on the edge of a steep cliff. C-3PO tells everyone to be still and then screams for everyone to lean back as you begin falling forward. The shuttle falls into a trench of sorts and slides down further and further before being launched off the abrupt end. R2 fires the engines just as you begin to fall back to the ground and off the planet and back into space you go.
Kashyyyk – You land in the forest and are part of a speederbike chase (very Endor like). A wookiee gets blasted off his own ride and slams into your windshield. He tries to hang on, but gravity gets the better of him and he slides off and away leaving hand streaks all the way down. You come out of the forest and blast off the planet back into space.
Naboo – You drop out of Hyperspace into the battle over Naboo complete with the blockade in place. You follow a few Naboo Starfighters onto the planet and get shot down into the water where you find the underwater city of Otah Gunga (Jar Jar alert!). A Gungun instructs you to follow him through the planet core where you are attacked by several “bigger fish” (TPM sequence). The last giant water dweller to attack grabs you in its mouth and shakes you around while it licks the windshield before R2 electrocutes it causing the beast to fall away. You blast to the surface and crash land into a hanger off the shore where the tail of a Naboo Starfighter crashes through the front window of your shuttle. This is done so abruptly and well in 3-D you can’t help but duck.
Tatooine – You drop right into the pod race where you run into other racers jetting through Beggar's Canon. Along the way, Jabba's Sail Barge is seen off to the right. You turn sideways to make it through a narrow part of the canon and get stuck to another podracer and lurch ahead barely beating Sebulba to the line. You free yourself from the other podracer (which goes spinning wildly), barely make it over the crowd and jet back into space.
While I saw the same locations several times, the ride was never once the exact same. There are always different versions which makes it fun. All in all, a fantastic upgrade to what was already a great ride. The 3-D aspect is not over the top, but just right. This is a must see/ride for any Star Wars fan.