Let’s begin the most unique of journeys. Place one foot into ExtinctAttractionLand, one hand in a galaxy far far away, the other on hand in the present, and one foot into Tomorrowland. All set? Then here we go!
Star Tours (version 1.0 that is) launched out of Tomorrowland on January 9, 1987. But before we can embark on a journey with Captain Rex and his first journey (ha ha), let’s consider his predecessors.
Star Tours stands near the entrance of Tomorrowland, near the Plaza Inn on Main Street. Being located near the front of the park, it is a piece of property that has been occupied since Disneyland park opened in 1955. First filling this space came the Disneyland Original, the Hall of Chemistry. From Opening Day, the Hall of Chemistry, present by Monsanto spent 11 years teaching park guests about the wonders of chemistry through textual displays and oversized graphics and electrified wall displays. The big selling point of this exhibit was synthetic carpet, as Monsanto claimed “capret makes it home.” Ah, science.
Science! The key to tomorrow! But before chemistry takes all the glory of tomrrow, consider this: in only six month’s time chemistry’s space was reduced. The Hall of Aluminum Fame moved into the same building space. This walk through exhibit, sponsored by the Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Company leased space to Disney to allow for him to focus on other areas of the park. In return, Kaiser was given space to display an “entertaining exhibit of today’s and tomorrow’s uses of the vital metal.”*
The Hall of Aluminum Fame shut its doors in July 1960, with a Fun Fotos exhibit opening up soon thereafter; guests were allowed to take Polaroid photos in front of Disneyland themed backgrounds. This exhibit would last until 1960. Other sponsors, from the American Dairy Association to the Bathrroom of Tomorrow would occupy this space for the next six years. On September 19 1966, its neighbor, Hall of Chemistry, would also shut its doors.
The reason both attractions were closed were for another remodel inside Tomorrowland. Following the 1959 additions of the Submarine Voyage, PeopleMover and Monorail, Tomorrowland was again looking for something new and exciting. In 1966 Monsanto was able to deliver by introducing the Paul Frees‘ narrated Adventures Through InnerSpace attraction. Via the Omnimover developed by Rollie Crump, Roger Broggie and John Hench, , the constantly moving Atomobile enabled Disneyland guest to experience “magnification” through the Mighty Micrscope and be shrunk to the size of a water molecule. Can we possibly survive? Yes! And thrive! At least, we could thrive until the doors to Adventures in InnerSpace were shut on September 2, 1985.
Adventures Through InnerSpace is one of the most beloved attractions in ExtinctAttractionLand. So why is it there? George Lucas. Following the opening of Captain EO, staring Michael Jackson, in 1986, Lucas and Imagineer Tony Baxter in developing the Star Wars themed simulator attraction Star Tours. Following the closure of Adventures in InnerSpace, work began on a new attraction, a simulator ride based upon the original Star Wars trilogy.
Captain Rex, voiced by Paul Reubens, took his “first flight” on Janurary 8, 1987 during an afte-hours celebration, although the official grand opening would come the next day. Captain Rex, and his navigational droid R2-D2 would continue to make his first flight (ha-ha) to Endor until June 27, 2010. Star Tours patrons would complete their journey in the Star Trader store until July 27, 2010, when Start Tours would enter into ExtinctAdventureland. It would not be a permenante resident, however as Star Tours: The Saga Continues would welcome park guests on June 3, 2011. Park Guests now do not know exactly where they are headed until the StarSpeeder heads off for a journey without a proper captain, but (hint hint) drama will ensue as there is a spy is on board each and every StarSpeeder. But who is the rebel spy? Ah! You tell me…
The Journey continues today at Disneyland Park, and also at Disney Hollywood Studio in Orlando, Florida, and the journey is now in 3-D. As each StarSpeeder seats 40 guests, there is now a 2.5% you’ll need to purchase the above t-shirt following your journey. This does personalize the ride and make it more exciting to some park guests. Star Tours, a partnership with George Lucas, and the recent purchase of LucasFilms by the Disney Company does open the door to future Star Wars expansion within the Disney Parks, but for now, we celebrate the anniversary of Star Tours and a simple navigational droid making his maiden voyage to Endor.
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*The Disneyland Encyclopedia. Strodder. 2012