Why Star Tours Is Now Better Than Ever

Jakku Star Tours

In the summer of 2011, Star Tours–The Adventures Continue opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Florida and at Disneyland in Southern California. (The new attraction opened in 2013 at Tokyo Disneyland.) This high-tech update of the original 1987 attraction features a Dolby 3D screen, new animatronic characters, in-ride effects, and improved motion simulations. But the greatest add-on to the attraction was a randomization of two segments; instead of simply visiting Endor like in the original attraction, it now makes a stop at two planets, meaning there are dozens of possible experiences. It also meant that, in the future, sections of the ride film could be swapped out for new segments. That hasn’t happened … until now.

As part of the Star Wars Awakens event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Season of the Force at Disneyland, a new destination has been added to Star Tours. On your next trip around the galaxy, be ready to make a pit stop on the junk-strewn desert planet of Jakku, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But that’s not all: You’ll also see appearances from John Boyega’s Finn (who pilots the Millennium Falcon), everyone’s favorite new droid, BB-8, and a scavenger that looks eerily like Rey (played in the film by Daisy Ridley). The Jakku sequence is really wonderful, smart, and fun—perfectly fitting into the world of Star Tours (even though it takes place outside of the newly established timeline, which puts Star Tours in the in-between-Episode III-and-Episode IV era, making it concurrent with Star Wars Rebels and the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and adds to the raucous fun surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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The most important aspect of the new Jakku sequence, though, is that it showcases the seemingly unlimited possibility of the new ride’s configuration. Not only can additional sequences be inserted into the attraction’s ride film, but with these new sequences, the number of possible ride experiences will grow exponentially. Considering how many live-action films are being released in the next few years, there could be tons of new stories and planets that Star Tours might touch upon. When Star Tours–The Adventures Continue opened, the mix-and-match ride experience seemed nifty and unique, and a way to inject fresh blood into a favorite attraction. But now, with the addition of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens-inspired sequence, the different configurations seem downright revolutionary.

And that’s not all.

Back in 2011, there were additional flourishes that were added to Star Tours–The Adventures Continue but had never been turned on. Imagineers spoke about these embellishments when Star Tours–The Adventures Continue opened, but a timetable for when they would be activated was never announced. With the introduction of the new Jakku sequence, those randomizations have also been implemented. That means that you’ll get new things: When Darth Vader stops your StarSpeeder 1000, the galaxy’s most fearsome bounty hunter (and fan favorite) Boba Fett joins him. Elsewhere, the Hoth, Coruscant, and Naboo sequences have been, in Walt’s words, “plus-ed.” As to how they have been expanded, well, you’ll just have to experience Star Tours–The Adventures Continue again and again and again. Some of the new additions will be very obvious, especially if you’ve ridden the attraction dozens of times (like us). Others will be more obscure, (like when your StarSpeeder lands in a particular section or what indigenous life forms you encounter while you’re on a certain planet). The big takeaway here is that Star Tours–The Adventures Continue has changed well beyond the addition of the Jakku sequence. It’s an entirely new ride … again.

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Because, like we said, it’s not merely the new embellishments or the addition of the Jakku scene that makes Star Tours the best it’s ever been, but it’s the combination of these elements, which creates even more combinations, that really makes the experience so special. Because sometimes you’ll get the Darth Vader and Boba Fett sequence, but sometimes it’ll just be Darth Vader. When Star Tours–The Adventures Continue opened, no one understood quite what a blank canvas the attraction would become; it was so full of possibilities that it was almost unfathomable. Now that those possibilities are beginning to reveal themselves, it’s never been a better time to love Star Tours. The future for this attraction has never been brighter.