This has been a persistent rumor for a number of years. ILM and Disney Imagineers were collaborating on a new version of Star Tours. In fact back when Star Wars Episode 1 came out the rumors even went so far as to outline leaks of the plot involving pod racers from the Lucasfilm/ILM camp. Now C-3PO, or rather Anthony Daniels the actor who voiced and played C-3PO, has added fuel to the fire claiming that he has already taped new voice tracks for a revamped attraction. The details have been reported to Screamscape by attendees of the recent Star Wars Con in Los Angeles. (Note: Wikipedia reports to have confirmation of this rumor from as far back as 2005)
Excited? I was at first too. But then I remembered that C-3PO is only involved in the queue area of the attraction. So there is a good chance that Daniels was just recording new voice parts for that audio-animatronic. They may not be redoing the film portion of the attraction.
Star Tours was designed with the idea that the attraction could change over time. Just switch out the film and reprogram the mechanics and voila, a new destination. Alas, the reality that this is 1989 era technology (with one or two upgrades to the computer system (aside: when I toured the backstage area in the mid 90s the safety system was still running on an 8086)). So just switching in a new film is not practical at this point.
Star Tours 2.0 will likely involve the addition of a digital projector instead of the film projector and loop they use now (unless that changed in the last few years). That will result in a much smoother projection and some weight savings. They could possibly use a giant HD screen too, I suppose. The mechanics and programming would have to be upgraded as well. The actually cabins could be reused if they pass stress tests for the new mechanical systems. But that might be too much trouble, so it is possible we’ll get whole new cabins as well. At that point they might just redo the whole loading zone, capacity, and even the theme.
If the rumors I’m hearing are true, look for this all to be announced in the next few months when Disney-MGM Studios starts its shift to Disney-Pixar Studios. Another attraction based on a successful film series that is in the process of adding a new film is also in the mix. Sounds like Bob Iger might have patched things up with George Lucas. Anyone out there able to ask him about the possible shift in the weather?