Happy Anniversary to one of my favorite rides, Star Tours! The original Disneyland version opened on January 9, 1987. I have a bit of a story that I’d like to share.
If you’ve read anything that I’ve ever written, you won’t be surprised when I say that I’m a Star Wars mega fan. The original came into my life at a time when I needed something to focus on. To me, it wasn’t just a movie. I was an awkward band geek teenager, and Luke Skywalker was my inspiration in a way. I of course knew that he was fictional, but seeing how Luke’s life turned around gave me a new hope, pun intended.
I followed Luke and company through the next two adventures; many, many times. By the time Return of the Jedi was released I was in college and I was still hooked. I’d rather watch one of the Star Wars movies another time than see something new. It was like spending time with friends.
A couple of years later, I heard that a Star Wars ride was in the works for Disneyland. I looked for information everywhere! Since there was no such thing as the World Wide Web at that time I looked mostly in the local newspaper and magazines.
When opening day for Star Tours grew near, I learned that there was to be a television special. We lived in a small town, and we didn’t have cable. One channel came in well, and it wasn’t the one that would carry the special. Sometimes the right channel would come in if we moved the antenna to the perfect spot, but the picture wasn’t clear.
My parents bought their first VCR just days before the special was to air. I bought the tape, they were insanely expensive at the time. I was able to get a snowy picture, and I recorded the special. It was the first thing that I ever taped from TV, and I watched it over and over again.
I never made it to the original Star Tours at Disneyland. We did ride the Disney’s Hollywood Studios version. Our first trip to Walt Disney World was a gift; we were given two day tickets without Park Hopper. Magic Kingdom was the first park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios the second, specifically because I wanted to ride Star Tours. We were the first on the ride that day, and I think we rode it six times.
We never rode the original again. By the time we moved to Florida and bought Annual Passes, it had closed for the reimagining.
I love Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. My daughter and I together have ridden it 265 times! Yes, I keep track of these things. That doesn’t include the times we’ve ridden without the other.
We’ve also finally ridden the updated version at Disneyland. The first time I stepped inside the building, a wave of excitement swept over me. Even though it was a ride that I already knew well, all I could think about was how long I had wanted to ride in that location.
Disney Parks Blog added a nice tribute to 35 years of Star Tours. You can read it here.