March 29, 2013

The Original Star Tours: Best Backstory Ever

Star Tours Disneyland Tomorrowland Disney flight simulator
The current, reworked version of Star Tours is a remarkable upgrade. The ride's been improved in nearly every way, but I still prefer the original 1987 storyline, which revolved around the Star Tours company itself. The way their shady business practices slowly unfolded during your wait in the queue was absolutely ingenious.

On the surface, Star Tours presented itself as a professional, well-run, safety-conscious travel company which had set up shop in Tomorrowland to offer scenic vacations on Hoth, Tattooine and Endor. As you entered the departure lobby, everything shined, glistened, blinked and flashed with the excitement of adventure and the latest technology. The promo music, the company jingle, the friendly film clip announcer -- it all seemed so inviting and warm.

But, as you proceeded through the line, you began to notice that Star Tours was not quite the company it pretended to be.

The first hint came with your view of a genuine Starspeeder 3000 -- the one R2-D2 was repairing while bantering with C-3PO. It had laser cannon battle scars all over its hull.

Then you entered the dark depths of the droid repair room. Suddenly all the gloss and sheen disappeared and you got your first look at the company's inner workings. You encountered the friendly-but-scatteredbrained G2 repair droid, who (while demonstrating his inability to concentrate on anything) assured you he'd long ago finished fixing your ship's pilot.

Then came the foreman droid, unintentionally broadcasting his comments (over a microphone he thought was turned off) about the shoddiness and dangerous unreliability of the Starspeeders you were about to board.

As you neared the point where you'd be assigned a seat, it had become perfectly clear: Star Tours was a shady, incompetent operation with no regard for customer safety -- and your ship awaited.

By the time you stood before the monitors, waiting for the speeder bay doors to open, the smiling demeanor of the young woman wishing you a pleasant flight suddenly seemed creepily deceptive and sinister.

Finally, you met your rookie droid pilot, Rex, who seemed completely unaware that he had a long, bright red tag hanging out of him, labeled, "WARNING: REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT."

I miss Rex, and the way he kept oscillating between calm professionalism and shrieking panic.

Star Tours was a wonderful, revolutionary ride when it debuted in 1987 -- and it's still wonderful today. The changes it's gone through have helped keep it fresh. It's hard, however, to improve upon perfection, and I do miss the original presentation of the Galaxy's most untrustworthy travel company, (insert jingle) STAR TOURS!

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