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Tokyo Disneyland is the third Disney theme park to get the Star Tours 2.0 upgrade (Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland are the other two). The actual ride mechanics is the same, with over 50 possible ride combinations, but the setting and queue is very different. This gave Imagineers a chance to do what they do best, play. For instance, do you recognize the robot tribute to the Hitchhiking Ghosts?

Also inspired to add his two cents was George Lucas. We have his video and more below the jump:

Tony Baxter, Senior VP Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, recently chatted with the ForceCast, one of the more respected Star Wars fan podcasts, about Star Tours. They discussed the new version a bit, but Baxter was really excited to explore some of the history of the original Star Tours attraction, including tidbits I’ve never heard before.

You can listen to it here, or I’ve included some of my notes below the jump:

Part of what makes the new Star Tours so awesome, for me at least, is the incredible level of inside jokes, easter eggs, cookies, remnants, and homages. Probably this is because I publish a book of such tributes (Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes).

Here’s what we’ve been able to find so far, listed “chronologically” as we progress through the queue and ride. It should be noted that numerous posters on a couple Disney fan sites helped me by adding to my initial list with new items, that are now folded in:

Queue

THX1138. On the terminal boarding announcements, watch the bottom of the screen for Flight 1138 to Chandrila. There’s also a verbal announcement for landspeeder THX1138, an echo (though a new recording) of a similar announcement pre-rehab.

Fantasy in the Sky fireworks. One video on the large viewscreen mentions Fantasy in the Sky, a reference to the longtime fireworks show at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

George Lucas. One verbal terminal announcement pages Egroeg Sacul (George Lucas), a holdover announcement from the ride’s previous incarnation.

Tom Morrow. Another verbal announcement mentions Mot Worrom (Tom Morrow backwards), which honors an Audio-Animatronics figure from Tomorrowland’s past (at Disneyland, more than one!)

NCC-1701. Just before reaching the large overhead screen, look to your right for white circle designs in the wall. One is labeled in red font with N1C7C01 – an ‘every other letter’ cipher for the number designation of Star Trek’s Enterprise, NCC-1701.

C3PO and R2D2. Another circle design in this same location uses a backward cipher for the droid names.

Tony Baxter. In the corner just below (just after) the overhead screen, look for lettering in dim light saying TWB3000. This is in deference to Senior Vice President of Creative Development at WDI Tony Wayne Baxter, and the old Star Tours flight number 3000.


Bob Iger, George Lucas, and Anthony Daniels enjoy a first ride on Star Tours after the dedication ceremony

When Star Wars Episode One was under production 14 years ago, word leaked out from George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic that they were working on a segment, based on the pod-racing segment, that they wanted to use to update Star Tours at Disneyland. At the time I remember thinking that, it was nice to know that someone remembered how Star Tours was designed to be easily updated with new destinations all the time. Alas, nothing happened at the attraction, but there was a new hope in the air.

I started to let myself dream about what an updated Star Tours would be like. It would have multiple destinations, new characters from the films, include some of the best sets from the movies, and utilize 3D technology. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue meets all my dreams and more.

Friday May 20th marks a big day in Disney themepark history. It’s the official opening for the first 3D motion simulator attraction. Star Tours – The Adventures Continues. A lot of big names are expected (Anthony Daniels, George Lucas, Bob Iger to name a few) and the legions of fans are many. To add an extra level of craziness to the big event, it’s the first day of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

They’ve added a queue to the Streets of New York (excuse me, America) that looks like it could stretch for hours. At least they’ve provided shade, fans, and a big screen TV for some entertainment value. The stand-by queue will probably be a little longer than expected because they’re also doing fast pass today.

Which leads me to a small bit of excitement. I have two Star Tours 2.0 Fast passes for the first person who finds me in Disney’s Hollywood Studios today.

In the meantime, check back throughout the day as I’ll be adding photos and more details of the event to this post.

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The park has prepared for a 6 hour queue. However as of 12:15 the wait was only 100 minutes in standby. That will likely be a lot longer tomorrow since it’s a Saturday.

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The had a big screen on a truck for overflow crowds at the grand opening ceremony.

More images from the grand opening below the jump: