Friday, May 20, 2011

Ride: Star Tours The Adventure Continues

Depending how into Disney you are, you may/may not know that Star Tours closed for renovation some time ago. The grand re-opening is set for June 3rd, but today me and 2399 other people (1200 winners and their guest) got to head out to Disneyland before dawn to take a special preview of the ride.

Let's take a look!

After walking through an eerily empty park - they let us in before the park opened, we were taken through a ridiculously long queuing area (which for sake of park guests hopefully won't be quite as insane when the ride proper opens) we were greeted with the "Private Event" sign; it felt kind of neat to walk past it (and it explained to other Guests in the park just why there were tons of camera crews and the like)

Once you made your way into the main waiting area, you got to see your new StarSpeeder, complete with C3PO and R2D2! They took the notion of a spaceport to heart - there was an arrival/departure board, announcements about the baggage claim, an illegally parked rental craft outside (with license plate THX for the insiders who get the joke) and even TSA-like announcements reminding you to not take packages from strangers. Deeper into the waiting area, Captain Rexx from the original ride was even there for you to view for those who have fond memories of your former captain - it was a nice balance of new and nostalgia.

This time around there are 4 40-person shuttles, so loading goes pretty quick. I'd say we were in the second group of shuttles to ride: they started operating the ride about 8:55 and we were out of there by probably 9:10 or so at the latest, so they load pretty quick.

The big hype behind this ride is that there are 52 alternate options available. I think this is a good thing and a bad thing. On the bright side, it'll definitely give the ride some extra life as you have incentive to ride it again and again. On the down side, I thought the story felt much more disjointed than the previous ride did. It had a funny moment or two, but I couldn't tell you exactly what had happened, unlike the previous version which really did feel like a properly told story.

The 3-D was beautifully rendered, though those who get motion sick may want to be weary, I found myself closing my eyes for a few minutes towards the end trying to calm my stomach a little.

All in all, the experience itself is very much a new, shinier version of the original. Fans of the original should enjoy this, and die-hard fans of the original should warm up to. Personally, I enjoyed it enough that when the line calms down (i.e. I can get on it in an hour) I'd go on it again, but I wouldn't wait in the super-long lines that you know are going to occur this summer.

Whether you should make the wait I'd say depends on how much time you have at the park and how much you liked the first. It's a fun ride, but not necessarily worth spending half your day waiting for.

My grade: B

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