For many fans, the long-awaited day is here: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming to French theatres, two full days before its American premiere. Since 1992, Disneyland® Paris has hosted an incredible Star Wars experience that brings Guests into the saga’s universe. Let’s revisit this attraction, a must-do for a whole generation of fans: Star Tours.
Inspired by George Lucas’ unforgettable Star Wars™ original trilogy, Star Tours at Disneyland® Paris is the fourth attraction set in this in this creator’s universe. The first Star Tours attraction opened in 1987, in Tomorrowland at Disneyland Park in California. Two years later, Tokyo Disneyland welcomed the second Star Tours attraction version at its own Tomorrowland in 1989, and the third opened this same year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The fourth attraction was unveiled on 12 April 1992 at Disneyland Paris, on the theme park’s opening day. Though each attraction features a different queue or numbers of Starspeeders, each is part of the same adventerous and captivating Star Wars saga space adventure.
Star Tours in Discoveryland in April 1992
A hive of innovation
In 1987, Star Tours at Disneyland Park was the first attraction in the world to feature flight simulation technology in a theme park. The Starspeeder 3000 is a real simulator used by real civil, commercial, and military pilots. Imagineers wanted to elevate the Guest experience, so they added a synchronized series of featuresncluding a 70 mm film, special effects, robots, and themed props in the simulator cabin.
George Lucas with Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald, 1986
Lucasfilm, Ltc. has been a key collaborator. Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas’ cinema special effects company) produced the special effects on the Star Tours film. A projector adapted for 70 mm films was installed under the cabin to project images on its ‘windscreen.’ Avid fans might recognize one of ILM’s visual effects model makers, who plays the role of an X-wing pilot in the Death Star scene.
The original storyboard for the attraction
A truly authentic experience
Guests truly feel that they are fully immersed in the Star Wars universe, which explains in large part the immense success of these attractions. Star Tours at Disneyland Paris features its own backstory, wherein Cast Members are ‘astro-stewards’ of the Star Tours company, whose astroport is in Discoveryland. Cast Members wear the generic Discoveryland costumes, a timeless uniform inspired by the characters imagined by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and George Lucas. However, the characters, sound effects, musical soundtrack and key themes from the Star Wars films are present throughout – from the moment Guests enter the queue. For an even more realistic experience, each attraction features original movie props. In California, the real droids R2-D2 and C-3PO from the movies are part of the attraction’s line, and C-3PO’s dialogue was even recorded by the original artist, Anthony Daniels, in all the Disney Theme Parks (including in French for Disneyland Paris). Daniels also donned the full C-3PO costume to act in those scenes written for the queue, so Imagineers could reproduce his real movements for the Audio-Animatronics feature. At Disneyland Paris, true fans might recognize a disassembled speeder bike and other familiar Star Wars props.
Located right next to the Jedi Training Academy, there’s no doubt that Star Tours will continue to be very popular in the upcoming weeks. Please note that the attraction will close in early the beginning of 2016 for extensive renovations, and will reopen a few months later with brand new surprises.
*In 2011, the American attractions versions, in both California and Orlando, evolved under the direction of George Lucas. They’re now called Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Since these adventures take place chronologically between episodes three and four, passengers climb aboard a Star Speeder 1000 and wear 3-D glasses. In 2013, the Tokyo attraction was also updated.