Star Tours The Adventures Continue began soft opening this afternoon around 2pm. I got a text that they were about to begin and sprinted from Epcot to Hollywood Studios in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm. Not my most pleasant moment covering Disney World news, but sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team. They weren’t allowing photographs inside the attraction and I didn’t want to risk getting arrested by the Disney CIA (have you heard of Cletus Smithweahter, the guy that used to run this site? No? Exactly). It isn’t really my intention to spoil the attraction anyway. If you would like more specifics about Star Tours, including photos and video from inside the queue, head over to these Orlando Sentinel articles: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/the-daily-disney/os-disney-star-tours-opening-20110512,0,5335016.story and http://www.orlandosentinel.com/the-daily-disney/os-disney-star-tours-details-20110513,0,162264.story. I’m sure even more information will be coming out as more people ride and express their opinions.
I did shoot a couple of pictures as Disney finally began letting people enter the queue. There would be more if it wasn’t pouring rain and I wasn’t soaking wet.
The exterior queue is basically the same and winds around the same area as before. The interior queue has been refurbished a bit with new surprises and clever touches.
Hoods up and no one on the walkways. It began raining around 2pm, stopped every 15 minutes or so for a little while, then started up again. Rain was constant from 4pm onwards.
Disney Cast Members finally able to smile and welcome riders. I bet they were pretty tired of repeating the company line a thousand times a day.
The good news is that Star Tours The Adventures Continue is an excellent attraction. The 3D effects are subtle and the new animation is magnificently sharp. There are fun interactive elements with the audience on every ride and familiar (and not so familiar) Star Wars characters appear at every turn. While each ride isn’t completely different than the last, there are enough unique elements that most people will want to ride more than once. Although the simulators are very similar to the previous iteration, the movement is smoother and less jarring. Reports from others that are more prone to motion sickness may have a different opinion though. The motion in the original Star Tours didn’t bother me either, so I may not be the best judge. While more sleek than your usual pair of Disney 3D glasses, I found that they didn’t fit particularly well over regular eyeglasses, though the effects worked just fine.
Overall, Star Tours 2 should not disappoint, even with all of the positive hype. I’ll be following wait times and crowd patterns as the attraction begins to run a more normal schedule. At the moment, Toy Story ought to remain the Park’s most “popular” attraction, with the long wait times to match. We’ll see whether it’s necessary to head to Star Tours immediately after. Once the ride is running at full capacity, it should be possible to collect FASTPASSes for Toy Story Mania, ride Toy Story Mania, ride Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster, ride Tower of Terror, and then collect FASTPASSes for Star Tours (or even ride standby). Star Tours FASTPASSes should be plentiful and it should be easily FASTPASSed a second time later in the day. Others may prefer to head to Toy Story Mania and then visit Star Tours immediately after. That advice will change depending on Star Tours’ capacity, how many simulators are operational, and how many FASTPASSes are offered. Of course, you’ll want to head straight to Star Tours if it’s the most important ride on your itinerary. You ought to be able to ride at least twice with short lines after Star Wars Weekend conclude in June. Until then, expect Star Tours to be even more popular than it would be otherwise as Star Wars aficionados and locals descend on the ride.