Jay Rasulo, Walt Disney Parks and Resort chairman, gave the announcement today during a presentation at the D23 Expo, a major Disney convention, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida also will be transformed.
Star Tours is based on the “Star Wars” films, taking riders on a simulated journey through space. Guests sit inside a carriage that moves from side to side and up and down, but a movie inside the carriage makes the guests feel like they are zooming forward through space.
The ride opened in 1987. With the makeover, that movie will be in 3D and include other elements.
Rasulo teased the audience in the mostly full 4,000-seat arena, saying he had bad news about Disneyland.
“As of October 2010, Star Tours will be closing,” Rasulo said.
But the audience erupted in cheers and applause, knowing that the rumors of the Star Tours revamp were now true. A group of fans dressed as Storm Troopers joined Rasulo on stage as Darth Vader appeared on a screen above to express his displeasure with the closure of Star Tours.
Rasulo then announced that Star Tours would be closed to create the new attraction.
Audience members put on 3D glasses to take a look at one of the journeys that riders will see on the new ride — the Podrace through the desert of Tatooine shown in “The Phantom Menace.”
“If that doesn’t fire you up, you are in the wrong meeting,” Rasulo said.
In a press conference after the presentation, Rasulo said new destinations, like the one shown, would be part of the new Star Tours. Rasulo said the ride would undergo physical changes, but the simulator carriages would remain. Riders will don 3D glasses for the new experience.
Disney creators are working with director George Lucas on the ride, Rasulo said.
Audience member Jay West, 39, of Los Angeles, said he was excited about the announcement.
“I’m ready to see it change,” West said. “From that standpoint, it’s rudimentary technology. … You want that atmospheric and immersive experience.”
Rasulo also announced an upcoming expansion of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The land would double in size and include a larger Dumbo ride and more interactive experiences with princess characters. The same Little Mermaid ride that is under construction at Disney’s California Adventure will also be added to Walt Disney World.
“It’s the biggest expansion in the Magic Kingdom’s history,” said Chris Beatty, Disney senior concept designer, on Friday. “Within it, we are really kind of focusing on our core brands, taking the princess meet-and-greet experiences, revisiting them and trying to treat more as an attraction.”
Rasulo declined to release the cost of the projects.
Photos by Joshua Sudock, The Orange County Register (top two) / Walt Disney Imagineering (bottom)
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