BEHIND THE SCENES: Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald on 2019 updates for STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE
This morning, MouseInfo had the very special opportunity to check out the updated STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE attraction at Disneyland with Disney Imagineering Creative Executive Tom Fitzgerald. Starting today, the attraction is sporting new destinations to locales seen in the new STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER which lands in theaters officially today and he was happy to talk about what it took to bring the newest version to life.
If Tom Fitzgerald‘s name sounds familiar it’s because you’ve definitely heard it before as he’s been working with Disney for more than 35 years — he was even part of the team that brought the original incarnation of STAR TOURS to Disneyland Park in 1987! Today, he seemed visibly emotional to be bringing this latest update which wraps up the Skywalker saga in theme park form.
Enjoy now a few of the great tidbits we picked up from him today for STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE!
There are two stops on the updated version of the attraction, the first is on the ocean moon of Kef Bir diving through the wreckage of an old Death Star where we’ll encounter some former inhabitants in the water which Fitzgerald humored were probably IN the Death Star and continue flourish in the wreckage of it today. You’ve seen the creepy Dianoga creatures in the films and park before but not like this!
The second stop in the voyage takes us right into the action from the new STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER in the heat of an epic Star Destroyer battle. The addition of this location was a last minute change to the attraction flow although he didn’t comment what other scenes might have been in production.
A New Transmission
Disney was able to coordinate schedules with Billy Dee Williams during production to film a new transmission sequence for the attraction. They filmed his portion in Los Angeles, it will now find itself in permanent rotation with the other transmissions that already exist.
Rey is Coming Soon!
In addition to adding Lando Calrissian, Imagineers took the opportunity to add Rey into the fold, as well. Although the attraction is currently only showing the new RISE OF SKYWALKER scenes, it eventually return back to its normal randomized voyages where we’ll find the Jakuu sequence updated with new footage of Rey filmed specifically for the attraction. She will not feature on the main screen, though, we’ll see her presence through the side screen in the cabin.
The new additions make for more than 100 different ride combinations once the it resumes operation in it’s randomized format.
John Williams was utilized once again to create the score for the new portions of the attraction along with William Ross for the orchestrations at Abbey Road. The new music was recorded with musicians who were actually part of creating the very original score.
Because the attraction deadlines hit sooner than the film, they actually had to reschedule time to start making music for the attraction!
When Are We?
Fitzgerald talked about working on the original relaunch of the attraction and getting confirmation from George Lucas that there’s creative license and different “rules” for the universe between the films, books, and theme parks.
The attraction is a bit of a “greatest hits” from the Star Wars films because ultimately they wanted to create experiences that guests really want to see from the films.
Put a Bow on It
In the same way that THE RISE OF SKYWALKER in effect wrapped up and “put a bow” on the Skywalker Saga, Fitzgerald and team also aimed to do the same with the new “tag” for STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE. While this in no way means the attraction will never see another update, it is the end of updating the attraction for the Saga films.
- Starting at the END, this voyage is the first time since the original Star Tours attraction that we actually end up back at the Star Port. Since the reboot, the misguided adventures always end in different locations but for this final Saga iteration, the ship comes back home.
- The silly pit droids we see from the pre-show also make a cameo in the finale and we see a payoff with the pilot droid Ace from whom our ship was accidentally stolen by C-3PO.
- At one point in the adventure, we hear C-3PO exclaim that we’ve just flown “past the Endor Moon” which is a nice call-back to the very first iteration of the attraction.
It’s easy to take for granted the amount of work, commitment, and dedication that go into making a Disney Park experience, even something as “simple” as adding new scenes to Star Tours comes with hours and hours of hard work. Hearing first hand about these experiences really helps build a whole new appreciation for the work that the Disney Imagineering is able to accomplish and we’re thankful to Mr. Fitzgerald for his time to share some of his passions.
See it for Yourself
STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE is exclusively showing the new scenes for a limited time at Disneyland and other Disney Parks around the world.
There’s no official end-date before it switches back to the randomized “jukebox” mode.