Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a small enclave dedicated to Star Wars, the mega-movie franchise, and it hosts a Star Wars weekend each year that attracts dedicated science fiction fans from the world generally and the East Coast specifically. The enclave’s main ride – Star Tours – went dark in fall 2010 to re-imagine itself and will reopen May 20, 2011.
While an unknown robot named REX piloted the old ride, the new version promises C-3PO, the beeping, buzzing, trash-can shaped droid from Star Wars that had a full personality based on little more than head spins and electronic burps. The ride mechanism is still a simulator, however, meaning an audience of about 40 people sits in an enclosed space and outside, unseen, pistons in the front, back, and sides jerk them around. A movie playing in front adds to the illusion and fills in a plot. The new movie will also be in 3-D for the first time – and hopefully the newest 3-D technology rather than the dated stuff still used in other Disney attractions.
Called “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue,” the new show’s dateline predates the old show. Guests ride in a “Starspeeder 1000,” the grandfather of the “Starspeeder 3000” used by REX since 1989.
While Disney has not released details of the show, it’s safe to assume from artist photos that guests will join a race (Star Wars version of NASCAR) on Tatooine and later dodge city traffic. It’s also safe to assume that guests will spend time in space and encounter unexpected enemy spaceships. In an intriguing twist, Disney also says “the outcome of the adventure may change from one ‘launch’ to the next.”
Perhaps Darth Vader will sometimes win.