In a move as surprising, if not more surprising as when Disney announced they were purchasing Marvel in 2009, today Disney announced they have come to an agreement to acquire Lucasfilm LTD. Even more surprising is an announcement that they are planning on releasing Star Wars Episode 7 feature film in 2015, followed by more Star Wars films. [Read more…]
ALthough not scheduled to be a part of Star Wars Celebration VI at the Orange County Convention Center, George Lucas made a surprise appearance. [Read more…]
This weekend, Star Wars Weekends 2012 will kick off at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As they do each year, Disney released some promotional images that combine both Walt Disney World and Star Wars elements, plus some very funny videos taking a look “behind the scenes”. [Read more…]
May 27, 2011 – Join hosts JD Trussell and Samantha Sanders as they bring you the latest Orlando theme park and attraction news and more on this week’s episode. [Read more…]
With a cast of hundreds of Star Wars characters and some celebrities, Disney opened the new Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a bang – literally. Read on for our photos and full video of the ceremony. [Read more…]
The biggest Star Wars fan event of all time is coming to Orlando. Star Wars Celebration V will be held at the Orange County Convention Center from Aug. 12 to 15, 2010.
This year’s event will commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and the ongoing, weekly adventures of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Featuring celebrities, costumes, live entertainment, screenings, autographs, collectibles, panels and more, Star Wars Celebration V is the official Lucasfilm convention. [Read more…]
Captain EO, the 4D movie staring Michael Jackson and Anjelica Huston, with Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas working behind the scenes, has returned to Epcot. The 17-minute film originally played at the park from 1986-1994. It’s now playing once again in the same theater with some new effects. [Read more…]
Former Walt Disney Imagineer Mark Eades (pictured here) was the media producer for the original Star Tours attraction, which first officially opened at Disneyland in California in 1987 and later at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then Disney-MGM Studios) in Florida in 1989.
With Disney’s announcement that they will be revamping the attraction into Star Tours II, we asked Eades to tell us a funny story or two about the creation of Star Tours:
Casting Captain Rex
The toughest thing was finding the voice of Rex [the robot pilot seen in the attraction]. We kept trying different people and couldn’t hone in on it. We knew it had to be the right voice. We tried male and female voices. Frank Welker [“Transformers,” “Aladdin,” “Inspector Gadget”] came in a couple times. Billy Barty [Mickey Mouse shorts, Figment at Epcot] recorded.
I happened to go see “Flight of the Navigator” while we were still trying to settle on a voice, and we were really getting to the point we had to have it. Well the voice of the flying ship sounded like the right kind of voice that could be on the edge of out of control, yet be able to find itself. I watched the credits and it was Paul Reubens, also known as Pee-wee Herman. This was before “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” had hit the air, and who knew.
Anyway, the next day I came into the office and was waiting for [Imagineer] Tom Fitzgerald to get in. His office was next to mine. I told him I thought I had found the voice and told Tom to drop whatever he was doing and go out and see the film. Tom did – I think he went out at lunch time. He was back later that day as I recall and came in with that smile on his face and said, “You’re right. Book him, Mark.” I managed to get ahold of Paul on the set of his new show and he agreed in principle to do the voice. It was a protracted negotiation, but he ended up being the voice of Rex.
A Different Name
Even though we had come up with the “Star Tours” name, [then-Disney CEO] Michael Eisner wanted the name to have the word ride in it. He was insistent for the longest time, and we had to call it “Star Rides” for the longest time. But Tom kept bringing it up again and again, as we on the team really thought it was the right name. He finally agreed a few months out.
George Lucas in Disguise
We opened the attraction for a couple hours a few months out from opening. We wanted to see what people think, and also check on what we called the “barf factor.” Motion sickness was a real concern, and Tom Fitzgerald, the show producer, was our best guinea pig as he has a real problem with motion sickness. Anyway, George [Lucas] flew down so we could walk him through the attraction too. He had shaved off his beard at the time and no one really recognized him.
Amusing Guest Reactions
We rode it, then opened it up to guests and stood in the exit area to listen to reaction. One person said, upon exiting the attraction, “Can you imagine how many miles of track Disney had to build underneath the park to handle this ride?”
Another person came up to me and asked if I had worked on the attraction. I told him I had. He sidled up to me and asked, “Tell me something, you don’t really go anywhere do you?”
You can read more of our interview with former Imagineer Mark Eades in the Winter 2010 issue of Orlando Attractions Magazine. Also included in the issue are details surrounding the upcoming Star Tours enhancements.
Mark Eades currently writes for the Orange County Register in California, often covering theme park news for their Around Disney section. You can read his recent articles here.
The above image, released by Disney as part of the long-awaited Star Tours update announcement, may offer some clues as to what destinations guests will be traveling to when the popular Star Wars-based ride is updated in 2011.
Seated at a table in front of boards of concept art are Walt Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald (left), Industrial Light and Magic VFX Supervisor Bill George, and Star Wars creator George Lucas.
Here’s a closer look at the images behind them:
Here’s a list of Star Wars locations we’ve been able to identify as possible future Star Tours destinations based on the above image:
- On the far left, the round platform resembles something from Kashyyyk, the Wookie planet seen in Episode III.
- There are several images of forests above and around Tom Fitzgerald’s head. Perhaps Endor or Kashyyyk?
- The image above Bill George’s head looks like the waterfalls of Naboo, Queen Amidala’s home planet.
- The images between Bill George and George Lucas appear to be the nighttime streets of Coruscant, as seen in the speeder chase in Episode II.
- The Death Star is pictured above the head of George Lucas.
We’re a little rusty on our prequel Star Wars trilogy, so we’d like your help in identifying all of the locations seen in these blurry pieces of artwork. If you look at the full-resolution version of the image above, you’ll notice that the art is not simply out of focus but rather blurred out on purpose (most obvious if you look at the areas around each of the men’s heads). That indicates to us that perhaps these are indeed locations considered for Star Tours II and not just random storyboards placed to look nice in the photo.
Of course, the appearance of any of these locations in the above image in no way indicates that they will definitely show up in the new version of Star Tours when it reopens in 2011, but at least it shows that more is being considered than just pod-racing.
After years of rumors, a much-anticipated makeover of the Star Tours attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland is on the way. The announcement was made at the Disney Parks & Resorts presentation at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif. on Sept. 12, 2009.
Details are scarce at the moment as Disney’s Imagineers are working hard with Star Wars creator George Lucas and his team to create the new experience.
The rides will close in 2010 to reopen in 2011 at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios with a new 3D experience bringing guests to new Star Wars scenes. 3D footage of a pod-racing scene was shown to the audience at the Expo after Stormtroopers and Darth Vader joined in the fun.
We’ll have a video of the Star Tours reveal online soon. In the meantime, here’s the scene that Disney showed the D23 Expo audience (shown in 3D at the Expo):