Behind the Disney Magic - Star Tours 1987-2010

Discussion in 'Disney Theme Park Discussion' started by canadianman30, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. canadianman30

    canadianman30 Member

    Star Tours - Prt I

    An underwater adventure with Captain Nemo would have needed an attraction with a motion base, but the technology wasn’t advanced enough in the 1970's. ; When Michael Eisner joined Disney in 1984 he was already friends with George Lucas from his Paramount days and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". ; Lucas was eager to develop a park attraction, and Disney had been developing their simulators. ; A "Star Wars" based motion attraction was the obvious answer to both parties. ; There was one particular attraction Disney was looking to replace. ; "Adventure Through Inner Space" had opened August 5, 1967. ; By the mid 80's, however, it was looking quite dated. ; So it closed on September 2, 1985 and plans were formulated to fit "Star Tours" in its place.

    The "Star Tours" space had to accommodate a new queue, preshow, four simulators and an exit area. Design work was well underway by mid 1985 with a projected November 1986 opening. ; Once the plot was agreed upon, the ride mushroomed into a 20 minute extravaganza. ; It was reduced to 3 minutes 10 seconds, then increased to 4 minutes to avoid too short of a ride. ; Originally pilot RX-24 was verging on the psychotic, but was reprogrammed to be a rookie pilot. ; He was meant to be inexperienced, not scary.

    Meanwhile, the model shop was busy making the sets (with help from Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic) ready for shooting. ; "Star Tours" was shot on 70mm film at 30fps for clear, flicker-free images. ; The film, along with its effects, came with a $6 million price tag from ILM. ; Full-sized props were built by Disney Imagineering, as were the attraction's animatronics and supporting cast. ; The roof of the show building needed to be unexpectedly raised for the simulators motion. ; Whilst this was being done it was discovered the building itself needed serious reconstruction. ; The simulators were also proving difficult to synchronize to the audio tracks. ; The ride music was changed costing $100,000, and then the buildings facade needed updating. ; Total costs rose to $30 million, then the overrun budget of $33 million, and the opening date slipped back.

    "Star Tours" finally opened at Disneyland on January 9, 1987, four months before the Star Wars 10th anniversary. ; The ride was a smash hit. ; Plans were originally announced for a version to be built in the Magic Kingdom, but instead opened at WDW's Disney MGM Studios on December 15, 1989. ; "Star Tours" at the Studios opened five months after Tokyo Disneyland's version, which opened July 12, 1989.
  2. canadianman30

    canadianman30 Member

    New Disney CEO Michael Eisner was determined to attract the teenage group back to Disneyland in 1984. The park had been loosing guests to other theme parks with Disneyland having a 'boring' reputation. Eisner also wanted to remove some of the older, less impressive attractions. One such attraction which could also make room for a new crowd puller was 'Adventure thru inner space.' Opened August 5 1967 the attraction though once cutting edge was showing its age.

    In 1976 Discovery Bay was proposed for Disneyland, with a simulator attraction. At the time the technology was too primitive. In 1979 the idea sprung up again for a $50 million ride based on the 'Black Hole' but the movies success couldn't justify the price tag. With the technology now feasible, rough plans were made for a space ride or an undersea adventure. Eisner invited George Lucas to imagineering, knowing Lucas from his days at Paramount Pictures. Lucas could help attract teens back to the park if he could be signed up to help. Lucas saw the space simulator plans and decided this was the project to work on. Lucas agreed to help but with a precentage of merchandise fees and a $6 million for ILM to produce the special effects laden film. 'Adventure thru inner space' closed on September 2 1985.

    With the plot settled on an intergalactic travel agency WED could begin designing a spaceport for the existing 20 year old building. Two familiar faces would find themselves the co-stars of the attraction in both the preshow and the mainshow. A new character RX-24 (or Rex) would be the pilot of the adventure. Originally psychotic the mood was switched to simply inexperienced to keep the ride family friendly. Meanwhile Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) were shooting the ride movie. A combination of stop motion models, composites and visual effects the ride was originally a 20 minute extravaganza. This was out to 3 minutes then up to 4 minutes so not to make the guests feel cheated.

    Four, 40 person simulator cabins were installed through the roof and sealed in. Imagineers were having difficulty in syncronising the cabin movements to the ILM film. As programming continued it was found the roof of the building would need to 'be raised' - which would mean major interior structural work as well. Cosmetic work - such as exterior painting - wasn't included in the original budget or time frame. Lucas decided the incabin audio systems needed upgrading - at a cost of $100,000. These delays would add almost $5 million to the original budget, and delay the opening for almost two months. At just under $32 million, 'STAR TOURS' opened on January 9, 1987.

    The park stayed open for a 60 hour celebration from 10 am on January 9 to 10 pm on January 11. Meanwhile 2000 miles away Walt Disney Worlds under construction third gate (park) kept growing and growing. The complex was developing from a small studio with a few attractions to a full theme park. Although planned as a half day park management were worried that capacity would still be too low for the projected crowds. Even after groundbreaking, the tour and the park weere being plussed and added to regularly. With "Star Tours" a smash hit in Disneyland it was an obvious choice to add the ride based on a trilogy of hit movies to a park all about movies. The appeal of the ride being finished also appealed to a park which was already over budget. The exterior would be part stage, part set to match the studio theme. With the project added so late to the Studios, the attraction would not be completed by the May 1, 1989, opening. Although the preshow layout, content and ride would be almost identical to Disneyland, the 1600 people an hour capacity was increased by 50% by adding two extra simulators. "Star Tours" in Orlando opened December 15 1989. In Orlando the original exit store was themed to an imperial bunker.

    In 1999 the original store was rethemed, extended outwards by 20 feet and 1000 square feet, and reopened as 'Tatooine Traders' on September 10. Also in Orlando the entrance - already changed by Fastpass - had a permanent training academy stage added between July and October 2007. The Anaheim "Star Tours" would keep its blue and white decor for a decade.

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