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Star Tours final flight evokes emotion from D23 members and guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

in Disney, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Events, Featured, Movies, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

More than 20 years after first launching, Star Tours closed its Starspeeder 3000 doors after a final flight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On Tuesday night, September 7, 2010, a select group of D23 fan club members and their guests became the last passengers to ride Star Tours one final time with the eternally-rookie RX-24 droid pilot, Captain Rex. It was a night of excitement and mixed emotions as a classic attraction shut down to pave the way for newer technologies to take guests further into the Star Wars universe when a new 3D experience premieres next year, dubbed “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue.”

To ensure an orderly night, Disney enlisted the help of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers to escort attending guests to and from the attraction – even riding inside the Starspeeders during the final flight. The event went off without a hitch and all left smiling, with fond memories of more than two decades of botched trips to Endor.

The Star Wars 6-film series is indeed an epic saga, so I thought it would only be appropriate to tell the tale of the final flight of Star Tours through an equally epic video. Embedded below is a 10-minute, 30-second recap of the Star Tours final flight event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which comprises an attempt to capture the emotions I felt throughout the night.

The video includes the approach to Star Tours, highlights of the queue (with several especially poignant lines of dialogue such as Threepio uttering to Artoo, “Get back to work before they deactivate you.“), a full final ride on Star Tours featuring binaural audio (wear your headphones for the best experience), and a few other surprises.

Please enjoy:


Now that you’ve vicariously experienced the night’s activities through the video above, here are some of the more exciting and amusing moments from the final flight aboard Star Tours:

Upon arrival, guests were given collectible boarding passes and a humorous Fastpasses (“Another Fastpass ticket will be available in 2011!”):

Star Tours D23 Exclusive Final Flight Boarding Pass

Special Star Tours Final Flight Fastpass

100 guests also received a “vintage” 2007 Star Wars coin set:

2007

After a slow, Stormtrooper-escorted walk from the turnstiles to Star Tours, guests stopped to take pictures of the X-Wing and Rebel pilot parked outside the attraction:

X-Wing and Rebel pilot outside Star Tours

Those who attended the Last Tour to Endor event a few weeks ago recognized the stubby X-Wing as part of the “Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom” stunt show. Of course, name aside, that event wasn’t truly the final flight on Star Tours. This night marked that occasion.

Stormtroopers continued to entertain (and guard) guests as we traversed the Star Tours queue one last time:

Stormtrooper keeps guests in order in the Star Tours queue

Stormtrooper aims at guests in the Star Tours queue

The Stormtroopers were around every corner. I felt like I was back at Star Wars Celebration V all over again. They were there at the ride’s loading area and even joined each Starspeeer 3000 for the final flight:

Stormtrooper keeps guests in order at Star Tours

Stormtrooper joins guests for a final flight on Star Tours

After we safely returned from our last trip into these Star Wars galaxies, I used the time for a few unique photo opportunities, including a moment to relax and reflect in my own private Starspeeder 3000:

An empty Starspeeder 3000 after the final flight

Ricky gets comfy in a private Starspeeder 3000 after the final flight
(Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com)

But the Stormtroopers didn’t want us sticking around for too long. The Starspeeder doors shut and we were prodded out by the blaster-weilding troop:
Stormtroopers leave the Starspeeder 3000 for the last time

Stormtroopers exit Star Tours for the final time

Wrong way! Stormtroopers wouldn't let us pass

Stormtroopers menacingly urge guests out of Star Tours

My attention-grabbing “O, Lando!” shirt from Celebration V (still available at StarWars.com) didn’t interest the Stormtroopers. They were all business.

Stormtroopers urge Ricky out of the Star Tours building
(Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com)

Well, almost all business…
Stormtroopers have a sense of humor

Just outside the now-closed Star Tours exit doors, a small duel broke out between a cast member and a Stormtrooper:

Cast member duels with a Stormtrooper

On the way out, guests had a chance to pose with light saber-armed Star Tours cast members:

Ricky with Star Tours cast members after the final flight
(Photo by Denise Preskitt of MouseSteps.com)

The Stormtroopers assembled and posed outside the attraction alongside the X-Wing, Rebel pilot, and D23’s Barry Jacobson:

Stormtroopers pose with X-Wing outside Star Tours

But it was time for the festivities to end, as the last straggling guests (myself included) were urged out of the park, nearly two hours after the event had begun:

Stormtroopers in front of the Sorcerer Mickey hat

Stormtroopers exit Disney's Hollywood Studios

Stormtrooper guards the Crossroads sign

Stormtroopers guard the Disney's Hollywood Studios exit

It was over. Star Tours was closed. And without a Starspeeder to take them home, these cast members had to wait for a bus:

With Star Tours closed, cast members take the bus instead of a Starspeeder 3000

The Star Wars-based theme park attraction first premiered at Disneyland in California in 1987, expanding to Tokyo Disneyland, then Walt Disney World in Florida, and finally Disneyland Paris. The original “flight to Endor” story has now “powered down” in the United States parks. A new experience is on the way in 2011, promising more Star Wars locations, 3D visuals, and a different ride every time. But the classic Star Tours attraction will live on in the hearts of fans who always looked forward to the boisterous voice of Captain Rex exclaiming, “Welcome aboard!” We’ll still be welcome when the attraction reopens, but our flight destination will likely take us to an entirely different galaxy far, far away.

As one final editorial note, I am not a D23 member and I must thank Lee for bringing me as his guest to this event. But if D23 were to hold more inexpensive and extraordinarily fun events like this in Orlando, and fewer like the upcoming $85-$185 “Sip & Stroll” at Epcot, I would join in a heartbeat. But for now, I remain a non-member, happy to have still attended this one rare casual gathering.

More photos from the Star Tours final flight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

6 Comments

  1. Peter

    Awesome post! What an excellent recap.

  2. dee

    Ricky the editing on this video was excellent. It made me sad at the end, but I cant tell you how greatful I am that you were able to record that last flight. I was at the 1987 opening day of Star Tours in DL and will never forget how cool star tours was to me then (or how long I waited in line for it…lol)

  3. AC Walker

    I enjoyed the editing of the film, but I have to admit that if I’d been there I would have been really annoyed with the other douchebags on the ride. I go on rides to experience the ride, not people who think they’re more amusing than they actually are.

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