Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

Okay, so today was my annual pass preview of Star Tours and to put it succinctly–totally effin’ awesome! Disneyland ran a sweepstakes for annual passholders to be assigned a window of time on a given day to ride Star Tours. I was lucky enough to get selected for today from 9-1.

Which was awesome. Be warned, I’m going to use the word awesome a lot.

Particularly because Theo was in preschool (it’s the only day of the week that he goes to preschool) so both Kevin and I were able to go. I added my friend Renee to the list, and then was also able to add an internet friend, Chris. The funny thing is that Renee, who is a professional (and amazing) photographer (she does destination photos too–watch this site!) had originally scheduled a photo shoot at 10am, but at the last minute her client had to cancel, which freed her up to come to Disneyland. Was that meant to be or what?

Anyway, I had my “winning” email which gave the time we were supposed to come, the number in our party, and my annual passport number, since the preview was for annual passholders only. When we arrived we had to wait until the whole party was there (both Renee and Chris got stuck in some insane parking lot traffic and ran a bit late), but then we headed to the Star Tours Fast Pass (FP) booth (formerly known as the Buzz Lightyear Fast Pass). I showed the email and we all produced our annual passes, and then got Fast Passes for immediate boarding.

Kevin, Chris, and Renee show off our first passes of the day

The cool thing was that you could go get another FP 30 minutes after the last one. This allowed us to ride four times, and we could have squeezed one more in. If we’d shown up right at 9:00 we could have done it a total of probably seven times, but four was just around right. In fact, four was insanely awesome. We entered into the FP entrance, and the queue inside and the ride itself turned out to be almost exactly 30 minutes, so we were able to just cycle through four times.

Unfortunately Kevin only got to ride it twice, since he had to go back to work and also pick up Theo from preschool.

Thanks for taking one for the team, honey!

I could barely contain my excitement approaching the ride. The cast members were vigilant about restricting access to the ride only to annual passholder sweepstakes winners, so that was kind of cool. Cool for us, I mean. Not really cool for all of the other annual passholders and guests who tried squeezing past the cast members to get in line anyway.

It's all space-agey and stuff

I think first I should let you know that I almost never went on the old Star Tours. I have an extremely sensitive stomach and while the original Star Tours wasn’t insta-hurl, it was an I-gotta-sit-down-after-this thing. I mean, even the carrousel makes me a bit woozy if I’m not specifically paying attention to what I’m watching. Since Star Tours: The Adventure ContinuesΒ  is in 3D, I was particularly concerned about that, but I had to go on it anyway just because I didn’t want to let my blog followers down.

Who am I kidding? I would have ridden this thing with my own airline barf bag if that’s what it took.

The interior of the queue looked almost identical to the original queue. You can watch a big-screen publicity movie about all of the places you could go.

I wanna go there! For realz.

You also meet up with our intrepid friend, C3P0

C3P0 is seriously high-strung

You think you’re almost there when you get to this sign:

Passengers only. No terrorists.

But then you’re not.

Couple more zig-zags. Sorry.

Also in the queue is a robot working on a heat sensor thingie. It actually took me two rides to realize that the figures in screen are you as you walk by.

Kind of trippy

There are quite a few nods to the old ride. In this ride you are piloted by C3P0 and R2D2, but in the old ride you were piloted by this guy, who now hangs out next to the queue.

Pee Wee Herman was the original voice of this guy. No joke.

The 3D glasses are all kinds of cool. Instead of just the generic yellow ones they use at Toy Story Midway Mania, these actually look like nerdy glasses in an endearing way. And for some reason, the glasses completely up your cool factor by a good 300%

Mr. Cool has got it covered.

It’s the perfect opportunity for you to show off how hipster you are.

Renee and Chris in da house, yo.

Or just a fun friends photo opportunity.

I do NOT look like a guy!

Perhaps I should take a moment to explain Star Tours 1.0 before I go into how Star Tours 2.0 is different.

Star Tours is a simulator ride, so you all strap into a seat and there’s a movie screen in front, and then as the movie shows, your car (I mean space cruiser, like the whole room) moves along with you, creating the sensation of actually flying or whatever. As far as I know, Star Tours was the first to utilize this technology for an amusement park. I remember when the ride originally opened in 1987. Disneyland stayed open all day and night for 60 hours to accomodate guests.

Now with the advent of Fast Pass, there won’t be anything like that, and guests will actually have a fighting chance to get on the ride instead of wait in line 4+ hours. For non-Disneyphiles, Fast Pass is a system where on the popular rides, you insert your park ticket into a machine and it gives you a little ticket with a time window. You can then go do other stuff in the park and then return to the ride at your designated time and will get into the line via the Fast Pass entrance, which skips a good portion of the line. There’s only a limited number of Fast Passes available per ride, so if you want to go on Star Tours, then you should run to the Fast Pass distribution as quickly as possible once you get into the park.

Anyway, you board your flight simulator

Move across your designated row to the very end. Don't just pick a seat. This isn't Southwest Airlines.

You’re restrained by a simple seatbelt, and above you there are warning lights to fasten your seatbelt just like an actual plane. A metal screen blocks the movie screen in front of you until the ride starts.

You're almost ready to go!

The biggest and best difference between Star Tours 1.0 and Star Tours 2.0, aside from the 3D glasses, are the opportunities for different rides. There are four different segments of the ride: the opening, the first planet, the transition, and the ending. There are multiple versions of each of these elements, and the placement is more or less randomly determined, so you have 4 chances to get a different ride than the one before. Apparently there are something like 54 possible combinations.

The opening sequence is when your spacecraft leaves its hangar. There are two openings and we were lucky enough to get to see both of them. In one you’re kind of a doofus and blunder out of the flight deck, and in the other you meet Darth Vader who tries to stop you. Darth is my favorite.

You shoot through your first adventure scene, and then blast off into a warp or whatever it’s called, which is like a wormhole and is totally awesome because the stars are all whizzing past you and stuff. Then you come out on the other side to a planet where you will have your first chase/shooting scene. We landed on the ice planet of Hoth where you’re chasing bad guys and trying to avoid the AT-AT walkers, which if you aren’t up on your Star Wars movies are the things that look like giant badass metal elephants with blasters in their tusks. We also landed on a Wookiee planet, which according to my Standard Research Methodology is called Kashyyyk. Chewbacca is a wookiee and looks like all kind of cute and cuddly except that he packs as much firepower as Rambo. On the Kashyyyk, the wookiees are not cute and cuddly. They still pack the same amount of firepower and they want to kill you. You speed through Kashyyyk on what looks like a flying snowmobile–well you’re in your space cruiser, but the storm troopers are on flying snowmobiles. At first I thought we were on Endor, but it became very clear that we were dealing with wookiees and not ewoks very early in the scene.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a short break to watch the movies. The originals. Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. Just those.

Okay really, I’m kidding. You honestly don’t have to have seen a single Star Wars movie or know who any of the characters are in order to enjoy the ride. If you’re familiar with the franchise it does add a small recognition element, but you’re not going to be lost or confused if you haven’t seen the movies. It’s pretty straightforward–the bad guys are the ones shooting at you, and our intrepid pilots are not really all that skilled.

Next you meet your transition character. We saw Admiral Ackbar, Yoda, and Princess Leia. They give a little spiel that I really was too excited to actually listen to (yes, all four times–except the last time when everyone was cheering so loudly you couldn’t hear what Princess Leia was saying anyway). Then you space warp again and enter into a final scene, which again is a chase scene and you reach your conclusion. We landed on Jar-Jar Binks’ planet, Naboo, twice. Now I know what you’re saying becuase I said it too–I DID NOT PAY HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS AND HOURS OF MY TIME TO SEE JAR-JAR-FREAKIN’-BINKS! But there’s good news, my friends! Jar-Jar’s part is actually very small. He only pollutes your experience for a short time and has a couple of lines, and they really dialed back his idiotic tone from the deranged adolescent chimp voice to a mostly unnoticeable, more subtle voice. The other planet we visited was Coruscant, the Imperial city planet. This is urban warfare at its best, if your urban area included a lot of flying vehicles, bad people, and fire. Coruscant included an in-cabin effect we didn’t encounter in any of the other planets, so it was very cool that not only did they switch up the destinations, they also switch up the effects.

Finally you make what is best described as a rough landing (rougher in some scenes than others) and your adventure is over. It’s a good, long ride, and very satisfying. They are supposed to randomize each of the four elements, but the our first and third rides were exactly the same. The second and forth switched it up a little, which was fun. It’s definitely a ride to ride over and over again. Even when we got the same scenes, I found myself noticing different elements. Disney doesn’t half-ass anything, and they spared no expense on making this incredible ride.

I didn’t take pictures while the ride was moving. Sorry. For one, no flash photography, but two, I just wanted to enjoy the ride which is hard to do when you’re trying to take pictures of it. So there.

Following the ride you have a photo op in which a cast member may or may not insert himself.

Hey Jason!

The ride was very cool every time, but it was really intensely awesome on our fourth ride. It was later in the window–nearly the end of our riding, and every single person on the ride had ridden it earlier. It made the ride a total communal experience. Everyone went crazy when we saw Darth Vader and again at Princess Leia. People were cracking jokes and cheering for the good guys the whole way. It’s hard to describe, except to say that I’ve never had a better group riding experience than our last ride. It was like when you watch the Rocky Horror Picture Show with a big group of people who know every line and know where to laugh and cheer. Except on a family-friendly ride at Disneyland. Awesome.

After four rides we were definitely tapped out. We grabbed an extra set of Fast Passes for souvenirs.

I took this picture at night with artificial lighting, okay?

The exit gift store was selling some cool stuff, particularly the commemorative coins. They are coins that were specially minted for the annual passholder preview. Only 2011 coins were made, so of course I had to pay my $30 and buy one. Mine is numbered 906, but I think Chris’s is numbered in the 300s. Still, I wouldn’t expect these to last very long.

It's a reflection of me taking the picture!

It looks better in real light. Really.

Anyway, I give Star Tours a three thumbs up, borrowing someone else’s thumb to do it. Oh, and as far as motion sickness goes, I was convinced that it was going to be even worse than the old Star Tours because it was in 3D, but it really wasn’t! I was barely even queasy, particularly considering that we rode the ride four consecutive times in two hours.

It was really awesome. Don’t miss it on your next trip here.

37 responses to “Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

  1. Pingback: Trip Report Star Tours Trip Reports

  2. WordyDoodles May 26, 2011 at 10:23 am

    LOL at “deranged adolescent chimp voice”

    One thing I learned from this post is that it’s going to be a lot of fun to go to D-land without my 2 and 4 year olds!! I loved watching them enjoy it when we went last Dec (prior to the deluge), but I think one day we adults might try to go and enjoy the things for which they’re not yet height- or patience-qualified. πŸ™‚

    • Shelby May 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      As fun as it is to have the kids at Disneyland, it’s a totally different experience as adults. Next time you come down we can get a sitter for all 3 and have some fun!

  3. Tia May 26, 2011 at 10:24 am

    When I come back to LA in February, there will be epic Disneylanding that needs to happen. My Disneyland tradition has always been to go on Star Tours very first. But now it sounds like it will have to be first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I’m so relieved they didn’t muck up my favorite ride. Thanks for the report, Shelby!

    • Shelby May 26, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      You were the first person I thought of when we encountered Jar-Jar, and afterwards I was like “oh good, Tia’s going to be happy with it” :D. I’m anxiously awaiting February…

  4. Ruth May 26, 2011 at 11:27 am

    We rode 5 times with my 5 year old. Seeing the kid’s excitement was the biggest thrill for me, though he got a bit clingy at times. The pod race on Tatooine was my favorite part. Saving the fast passes was a good move, wish I remembered to do that!

  5. mackenzimeetsengland May 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    oh my lanta, I LOVE star wars. I’m a major dork. Even though it was so terribly pathetic, I still loved the old star tours very much, and this one sounds 110% better. I wish I could go to disneyland to just ride this over and over again! I guess I will have to live vicariously through you!

    • Shelby May 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      I don’t think the old Star Tours was terribly pathetic. It was just outdated. Back in 1987 it was positively groundbreaking. I think it’s a pretty good testament that guests still enjoyed it 20 years after it launched. But it’s really awesome to see Disney take it to the next level. I wonder what it will look like in 2031!

  6. Kevin May 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Pedantic note: Disneyland’s street address is 1313 S. Harbor Blvd. I’m not sure that the ‘4801’ actually means anything. (Although somewhere I did see a crate labelled THX-1138, which is George Lucas’ first movie. Also good as an inside joke is that the ‘old’ pilot droid is sitting in his shipping crate with a DEFECTIVE label.)

  7. Amber May 26, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    It is good to know that people are not finding this to be a terrbily sickening ride. I have read in several different reports now that it is not causing motion sickness the way the other did. I actually do not have an issue with motion sickness, but I hate 3D glasses (they seriously bother my eyes and usually give me a headache). I’m glad to hear they have updated that technology too.

    • Shelby May 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      Yes, I’m not sure how they did it, but it’s definitely much less sickening than earlier versions. I’m also not a huge fan of 3D either, but these were great effects.

      • Melinda May 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm

        I can’t remember if my husband and I rode Star Tours when we were in DL years ago. I’m thinking not, though, or I would presumably have some faint memory of it. I can’t remember what year we went so it’s possible that Star Tours didn’t even exist yet…or maybe the line was so long that we didn’t want to squander time in it. However, we DID go to Captain EO. :-/ I do remember that the old submarine ride was still there, so it was after 1984 (when we got married) and before whenever they took out the submarines.

      • Shelby May 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm

        Melinda, according to some quick searches, Captain EO opened in 1986 (and re-opened last year as a tribute show), Star Tours opened in 1987, and the submarines were around until 1998. So perhaps you visited in 1986? The original Star Tours had insane lines for a long time after it opened, so it could be you just bypassed it. Hope you make it back here soon!

      • Melinda May 27, 2011 at 6:42 am

        Could be–as I posted that, I thought, “Hm, I *could* look up those dates and pin it down a little more”…or find out from my husband’s cousin when she got married, as we accompanied his grandma to CA to attend the wedding. I’d love to make it back with him–my sister and I flew down 7-8 years ago to stay with our aunt, and that was the first time I’d ridden “It’s a Small World.” My sister has/had back problems, though, so we couldn’t do anything with a lot of motion (although my aunt and I went on “Back to the Future” at Universal, mostly to escape the notice of security guards…just kidding. I hope.)

  8. Magical Days with the Mouse May 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Hey your post is GREAT! I won the same day, but the 4-8pm slot. I love all your photos too!! You really did a great report on your day. It’s also nice to see a fellow Disneyland blogger. Do you have twitter? I want to make sure I’m following you, if you do. πŸ™‚

    • Shelby May 27, 2011 at 12:53 am

      Thanks!! Wasn’t it a great day for riding too? Not too hot, not too cold. I’m not on Twitter right now, but you can find me on Facebook :). Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Mrs. Mommy MouseEars May 27, 2011 at 5:39 am

    Love your style! Can I come to Disneyland and ride with you guys? Sounds like you had an absolute hoot!! Can’t wait to ride down in WDW soon…thanks for the great post πŸ™‚

  10. Melissa May 27, 2011 at 9:44 am

    This is one of the best Star Tours posts that I have read! I really, really can’t wait to ride it now. πŸ™‚

  11. DIStherapy May 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

    How sensational that you “won” passes! Your review is entertaining and soooo informative. I, too, love your style. (Can you hear me giggling??)
    I’m a follower :DM

  12. Traci May 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    What a great experience and you did an ace job reporting on it. I’ve heard some good things about the new star tours, I guess I’ll have to wait until Sept. (I’m not renewing my pass until then.)

    • Shelby May 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      September will be a much better time to ride it, too, as there will be less competition for the Fast Passes. They’re going to go very quickly!

  13. Carol May 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Great job, Shelby! It almost makes me wish I still had passes… but I can wait. πŸ™‚

  14. Chad May 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

    So glad I found your blog, and a GREAT article and write-up! We’ve ridden it once, but unfortunately they were REALLY cracking down on picture taking so we got few for our own blog. I’ve LOVED seeing everyone else’s though and can’t wait to get back in there with my own camera!

    Thanks so much for sharing. Glad again I found you!

  15. Chad May 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Whoops! Forgot to add that I sure hope they have some coins left when I ride tomorrow! *crossing fingers*

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  18. Sprouts Photography July 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    So just wanted to let you know, that I went again more recently and the special seat was definitely NOT the one we predicted. The day I went on (got on 4 times) each time it was totally random! Once the “normal” spot, another back row, each time was totally different!

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  20. BassBone April 1, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    The reason the old Star Tours made you sick was at one point some brilliant lawyer decided that the movements of the flight simulator were too violent and that they cause motion sickness. With that hypothesis they decided to smooth out the movements of the simulators and make it a less jarring experience. Unfortunately, the human brain doesn’t work that way and because the film no longer was synced exactly with the movements, there were actually *more* complaints of motion sickness after they made the changes than before. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves about the old Star Tours.

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