On July 30, 2023, we awakened to the sad news of actor, comedian, and all around showbiz talent Paul Reubens’ passing. Of course, most people know him as Pee-wee Herman, but Disney parks fans know him beyond the gray suit and red bowtie.
In 1987, the ionic attraction Star Tours opened at Disneyland. This state of the art simulator ride introduced Star Wars fans to a new droid named R3-X, better known as Rex. Rex might not have been the most proficient Star Tours pilot, but guests immediately fell in love with this fun character.
1987 was during the height of the Pee-wee Herman character’s popularity, so it wasn’t immediately known that it was the same actor portraying both Pee-wee and Rex. But once it was discovered by Disney fans, it seemed to make the character even more lovable.
With the closure of Star Tours in 2010 and the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in 2011, we lost the original attraction pilot, Rex, who was replaced by the more recognizable C-3PO. But it seems that the Disney Imagineers were also fans of Rex and Paul Reubens voiceover work for the character.
To this day, Rex can be found in the queue for the updated attraction. But it’s not simply the Droid figure. There are moments when you can hear the character utter some of his dialogue from the original attraction
Beyond that, Rex lives on with additional dialogue recorded by Reubens for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The story goes that Rex crash landed onto Batuu and was reprogrammed into DJ Rex. The character now works inside of Oga’s Cantina spinning tunes for visitors.
Even if you knew all of that up to this point, I bet you didn’t know how Paul Reubens could once be found in his most famous form inside of another Disney theme park. In the early days of Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios), you could see Pee-wee Herman onscreen during the backstage tour.
In the approximately two-minute video, Pee-wee explained how voice tracks are worked into film. That feels fairly fitting considering how Reubens ultimately voiced numerous different characters for various pieces of Disney media.
Overall, the shocking news of Paul Reubens passing is still hard to believe. But his work currently lives on in Disney theme parks, and Pee-wee Herman will live on in the public conscience for a long time.
I’d love to read about some of your favorite Paul Reubens memories in the comments.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.