Today's post comes to you direct from California, with Chuck Canzoneri (of the fantastic Disneyland Gazette) providing us with his review of the thrilling new Star Tours ride update.
Star Tours is back with a bunch of new upgrades that will definitely increase my desire to ride the attraction, and not just because of the different destination possibilities. This was a much needed refurb, since the original Star Tours was beginning to film like a rickety nostalgia piece. While it's fun to help lead the rebel troops in an attack on the Death Star, by this point I'd run out of small details to discover.
Now there's a lot to look for, and with two possible introductions, six destinations (of which you get 2 each ride) and a brief hologram intermission, it'll be a long time before I get tired of the journey(s).
As for the overall ride mechanics, your ship gets rocked around, but it's much smoother than before. Plus, with the hologram break in the middle, I expect there will be a lot fewer "protein spills". There's a new pre-show, with some amusing droid comedy. A new queue, including a very funny intergalactic potato head type to help your wait. There's even a new pilot, one of the series classic favorite characters.
Of course, with all the different possibilities, everyone will have their favorite combination ride experience. Here I will have to get spoilery, so if you want to go in fresh I'll end by saying that Star Tours: The Adventure Continues is once again an E Ticket Attraction.
Still With Me... Okay... Now I'm still not going to give everything away, but here's my brief breakdown of your adventure possibilities.
Your adventure begins with either Stormtroopers or Darth Vader himself. Now the Stormtroopers is fun because you quickly become part of a battle against Tie Fighters, but with Vader your only escape is to blast BACKWARDS. That's right, you quickly leave the ship bay in reverse which is really neat. This one is close, but I give the slight advantage to Lord Vader.
Then you go to one of your first three planets and get involved in a podrace, help out some Wookies or take part in the Hoth Ice Battle that opens Empire Strikes Back. The podrace is okay, but not much different from a 3D version of the scene from the movie. The Wookies are very disappointing. Aside from a hilarious bit involving Chewbacca, you just fly around for a bit and then leave. The Hoth ice battle is easily the best option here. You fly around and under AT-ATs as the rebels make you part of the attack formation.
Next up, you get a message from one of three holograms. Admiral Ackbar is fun only to listen and see if someone in the vehicle says "It's a Trap!". Leia is weird because it's obviously not recent, probably an image from the film with a digital voice, which doesn't sound a thing like her. (She does deliver her "you're my only hope" line, but it's a groaner.) I guess the best one here is Yoda, who looks and sounds perfect.
Then comes your final destination, which are all quite good. Perhaps most disappointing is Death Star because it's full of Lucas' recent overstuffed CGI, so the whole thing looks like a cartoon. You even face off against Boba Fett, but he's kind of dumb and a really poor shot. I would have preferred the original Star Tours Death Star battle to this. Another possibility is a giant space battle above Coruscant. I got this one twice and grew to like it more the 2nd time. It's still too cluttered, but there's a great power dive into the crowded skies of the city and some exciting close calls.
Strangely, my favorite destination was underwater Naboo. And yes, the moment our ship flew past a waving Jar Jar I rolled my eyes. Disappointingly, the vehicle does not run him down. The constant nattering of the Gungans is annoying, but the journey (complete with bigger fish) is exciting and it has what is easily the best of the possible endings.
So my ultimate Star Wars ride experience is Vader, Hoth, Yoda, Naboo. I hope as people ride they email back with their favorite combinations.