Disney Legend Tony Baxter, the Imagineer behind many iconic Disney attractions like Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and The Indiana Jones Adventure, recently sat down with WDW Magique to share the history behind one out-of-this-world attraction: the original Star Tours.
Baxter discusses Disneyland in the ’70s, during a slow period for Disney as a film studio, and how the park needed to include new attractions inspired by films that were relevant to kids at the time, like “E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Star Wars,” which had just released in 1977.
He then goes on to explain how Disney and George Lucas joined together to create not only Star Tours, but the iconic 3D film “Captain EO,” starring Michael Jackson … and tells how Star Tours went from almost becoming a roller coaster-type ride with a Dagobah-themed load area to the flight simulator we know today.
In the original plans, Star Tours was going be a roller coaster-style ride, similar to Space Mountain. Guests would get on their ride vehicles in a load area themed to the planet of Dagobah, all set up in an elevator-style room. Yoda would have been there, looking out over the riders in their ride vehicles, saying, “Feel the Force within you, it’s strong with this group.” At that point, the room would lower, making it feel as though the ride vehicles were rising up into the air before heading into the first launch.
As exciting as this sounds, it ended up not coming to fruition, as the original idea was not practical and limited the Imagineers’ use of the vast Star Wars galaxy and its traits.
Baxter also shares his belief that we will see the current form of the simulator attraction, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, stick around for a good while despite the recent opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, as well as the news that there will be new sequences added to the ride to coincide with the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” this winter.
You can watch the full story from Tony Baxter himself in the video below: