Star Tours was Disney’s first modern simulator ride, and based on the Star Wars saga it was (as Yoda would say). Thanks to over 700 possible scene combinations in the high-def 3-D film at the heart of the attraction, you could ride all day and not have the same experience twice! Read on to learn more – or if you’d rather zip through hyperspace to the nuts and bolts, here’s your shortcut.
1. You enter the spaceport under an AT-AT.
Your Star Tours adventure begins outdoors, where the surroundings have been designed to resemble an Ewok Village (as seen in Return of the Jedi). You get to pass under a full-size AT-AT walker to get to the entrance of the ride’s building, which in and of itself is pretty cool.
Once indoors, you’ll find yourself in a spaceport where C-3PO and R2-D2 are working on your ride vehicle, the Starspeeder 1000. These life-size audio animatronics look and move exactly like their cinematic counterparts. The queue captures the familiar feeling of a train station or airport of today, but as it might exist in a galaxy far, far, away. It’s complete with a flight status board, weather reports, even a luggage scanner.
Just before you board, you’ll watch on overhead screens as C-3PO gets trapped in the Starspeeder cockpit while doing maintenance. After you enter the simulator and don your 3D glasses, the doors shut on C-3PO’s complaints about accidentally becoming the pilot, and your Starspeeder takes off.
2. You won’t know who you’ll see or where you’ll go.
The ride’s plotline comprises five general segments: an escape scene, a destination, a mission, another destination, and a concluding scene. Disney has multiple film clips from all nine episodes of the Star Wars saga that can be used for each segment of your journey, which creates a different experience each time you ride. So basically, you won’t know where you’ll go or which Star Wars characters you will see!
There are some limitations on how the scenes can be mixed, for instance, characters and scenes from Episodes 7-9 are not mixed with those from earlier movies. Still, it’s been noted by Star Wars purists that the randomized scenes can create a confusing timeline. Probably because of this, the ride experiences are not considered canonical in the Star Wars universe. But that doesn’t make them any less fun!
3. You may be the Rebel Spy!
In the escape scene at the opening, a villain (maybe Vader, maybe Kylo Ren, or ???) is searching for a Rebel Spy. A picture of an actual guest riding with you is shown onscreen and they are identified as being the spy. They’re chosen randomly or by a Cast Member and it can add a bit of fun if it’s someone in your own group – maybe even you!
Once you’ve made your escape, you may find yourself attacking AT-ATs, joining a pod race, being pursued by Tie Fighters, or more. The simulator is modeled after those used for training pilots and astronauts, so you’ll experience real dips, turns, twists, and climbs. It can be a little rough, but all the bouncing around helps to create a pretty realistic experience.
You’ll make it back into hyperspace and the action will pause for a moment. You can catch your breath, and receive your mission from a Star Wars character who appears as a hologram. Sometimes the mission is just to deliver the Rebel Spy to safety, but there are other plotlines. Then you’ll take off and visit another planet for some more action.
Your adventure ends after a jump to hyperspace and a landing on Batuu, or possibly Spaceport THX1138 (the number is a nod to George Lucas’ first film), or one of a few other conclusion scenes. The entire attraction lasts about 7 minutes, the ride portion is about four and a half minutes. You’ll exit through the space terminal and into the Tatooine Traders gift shop, designed to suggest a desert outpost in Mos Espa.
4. It was different, a long time ago…
The first Star Tours attraction opened in 1987 at Disneyland, four years after the release of Return of the Jedi. Disney World’s version came two years later, in 1989. Since there was no Galaxy’s Edge at that time, it was placed in the Echo Lake area of Hollywood Studios.
This original version only had three movies (Episodes 4 through 6) to work with, and the premise was clear and simple. Star Tours was a transportation agency offering trips to Endor. However, according to the droid pilot R-3X (“Rex”), it was his first day on the job and he wasn’t used to his programming. As a result of his mistakes, guests never made it to Endor. But their ride did include crashing through comets, jumping to light speed, and the classic trench run on the Death Star.
Star Tours closed in 2010 for updates, and reopened as Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in 2011. Rex was retired from this version, but later became a DJ. You can see him today at Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Fun fact: R-3X was voiced by the late Paul Reubens.
Today’s version offers 3D film and randomized scenes, and Disney updates the adventures with newer characters. A Jakku scene was added in 2015 for The Force Awakens, Crait was added in 2017 for The Last Jedi, and the planet Kef Bir was added in 2019, after the release of The Rise of Skywalker. As Disney continues to add new scenes, the number of possible adventures changes over time.
5. The Nuts and Bolts.
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Echo Lake between the Backlot Express and Grand Avenue. Since the attraction is indoors, it is not affected by weather, although part of the (covered) queue is outdoors.
You’ll be seated in rows in the Starspeeder 1000 simulator. Each of the five rows has 8 padded seats with a fabric lap belt and a shared armrest. A net bag below each seat holds your stuff.
Guests must transfer to a wheelchair and then to the ride vehicle. Disney advises that you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
Guests must be at least 40″ tall to ride, and as with all attractions that have a height limit, Rider Switch is available. It’s worth noting that flashing lights, the use of weapons, loud sounds, and the appearance of aliens or intimidating figures may frighten or disturb some guests, especially the younger set. Service animals are not allowed. Video Captioning and Handheld Captioning are available.
Wait times for Star Tours are very low in the first two hours the park is open. It’s also a good choice between noon and 4 p.m. Alternatively, you can secure Lightning Lane entry via Genie+. Star Tours: the Adventures Continue is also open for both Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Theme Park Hours.
The Bottom Line.
Our recommendation: Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is not to be missed. Would it be nicer if it were in Galaxy’s Edge? Maybe. Nevertheless, it offers a great experience from takeoff to landing. No matter where you go or who you see!
Have you ridden Star Tours? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.