Celebrating 35 Years of Star Tours

On January 9, 1987, Star Tours opened at Disneyland. The ride ushered in a new level of immersion and collaboration for Disney Parks. Guests could enter the ‘Star Wars’ universe like never before, and the ride was an instant hit.

An argument can be made that lands such as Pandora – The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land, and, of course, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would never have been possible if it weren’t for the success of Star Tours. The popularity of the ride showed that Guests wanted to leave the real world behind in ways that had never been reached before.

The original version of Star Tours closed in 2010, and was replaced by Star Tours – The Adventures Continue in 2011. The updated ride features new worlds and characters, and there are dozens of ride combinations. It keeps the thrill and heart of the original version, while taking it to a new level of immersion.

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue fits right in with Walt Disney’s quote, “Disneyland will never be completed, as long as there is imagination left in the world.”

Kelsey Lynch shared more information on Star Tours with Disney Parks Blog:

For some, it may feel like we jumped straight into hyperspace – but believe it or not, this Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, marks 35 years since the original Star Tours attraction debuted at Disneyland park!

Jan. 9, 1987, is the date that’s been long remembered, as it marked the first time guests were able to hop aboard a Starspeeder on Star Tours, blasting off to a galaxy far, far away for an adventurous trip to Endor. Brought to life by Walt Disney Imagineering, George Lucas and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), this was the first time guests could truly step into a Star Wars story. And now, 35 years later, it’s extraordinary to see how far we’ve come in immersing our guests in Star Wars storytelling at Disney parks. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, located both at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort, is the largest single-themed land in Disney Parks history, where you’re invited to live out your very own Star Wars story – whether you’re flying the Millennium Falcon, grabbing a drink at Oga’s Cantina or building your very own droid at Droid Depot. And on March 1, guests can take their next step into this larger world when Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser debuts at Walt Disney World Resort.

For the official grand opening of Star Tours in 1987, Disneyland stayed open for three days and nights with a “60-hour party,” to accommodate the many eager and excited guests that couldn’t wait to experience this immersive new attraction.

The opening ceremony featured Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, several Ewoks, and, of course, Darth Vader and Imperial stormtroopers. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse joined C-3PO, then-Chairman and-CEO of The Walt Disney Company, Michael Eisner, and George Lucas for the official ribbon cutting of the new Star Tours attraction.

2011 saw the debut of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, enhancing the attraction for a new generation with digital 3D technology and new destinations from the Star Wars galaxy. We’ve continued to add even more exotic locales over the past decade, and today, you can experience amazing worlds featured in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” Thanks to the creative forces of Disney Imagineers, Lucasfilm and ILM, guests are able to experience one of more than 100 different storytelling combinations, making each flight unpredictable and thrilling.

The instant and overwhelming popularity of Star Tours spurred expansions to other Disney parks around the world, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

Curious to know even more about the history and creation of this legendary attraction? Tune into the Star Tours episode (episode 3) of “Behind the Attraction” on Disney+ to learn how blue-sky dreaming led to the highly advanced attraction we know and love today.

Happy 35th Anniversary, Star Tours! The Force has been with you … always.

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Paula K

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH, and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married, and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010, we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the Parks. Under the name Paula Brown, I penned the novels 'Dream Wanderers' and 'The Coffee Cruiser'. I also am a co-author of 'Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide'. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida.

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