Today In Disney History ~ July 27th
Star Tours was a motion simulator attraction at several Disney theme parks, based on the successful Star Wars film series created by George Lucas. Set in the Star Wars universe, the attraction sent guests on a excursion trip to Endor, whilst being caught in an altercation between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. The attraction featured Captain “Rex” RX-24 along with series regulars R2-D2 and C-3PO.
At its debut at Disneyland in 1987, it was the first attraction based originally on a non-Disney licensedintellectual property. The first incarnation of the ride appeared in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in 1987, replacing the previous attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space. The attraction had subsequent openings at Tokyo Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disneyland Paris.
The attraction at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed in 2010 to allow conversion for its successor attraction, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. The latter location was completed on May 20, 2011. Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris closed their versions for conversion in 2012 and 2016, marking the original ride’s final run of 29 years.
The ride that became Star Tours first saw light as a proposal for an attraction based on the 1979 Disney live-action film The Black Hole. It would have been an interactive ride-simulator attraction where guests would have had the ability to choose the route. However, after preliminary planning the Black Hole attraction was shelved due to its enormous cost—approximately $50 million USD—as well as the unpopularity of the film itself.
Instead of completely dismissing the idea of a simulator, the company decided to make use of a partnership between Disney and George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, that began in 1986 with the opening of Captain EO (a 3-D musical film starring Michael Jackson) at the California park. Disney then approached Lucas with the idea for Star Tours. With Lucas’ approval, Disney Imagineers purchased four military-grade flight simulators at a cost of $500,000 each and designed the ride structure.
Meanwhile, Lucas and his team of special effects technicians at Industrial Light & Magic produced the first-person perspective film that would be projected inside the simulators. When both simulator and film were completed, a programmer then sat inside and used a joystick to synchronize the movement of the simulator with the apparent movement on screen. On January 9, 1987, at a final cost of $32 million, almost twice the cost of building the entire park in 1955, the ride opened to throngs of patrons, many of whom dressed up as Star Wars characters for the occasion. In celebration, Disneyland remained open for a 60-hour marathon from January 9 at 10 a.m. to January 11 at 10 p.m.
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