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"Star Tours" Secrets

"Star Tours" Secrets

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Are you enjoying Jim's new "Star Tours" series? I know I am.

In fact, in reading about the early development of this Disney theme park attraction, I was inspired to do some digging through my photo archives. To see what sort of "Star Tours" related photos I could uncover. I think you'll be pleased with some of the images that I was able to dig up.

First up, here's an official Disneyland promotional shot of the StarSpeeder 3000 in the attraction's queue area.


Copyright 1987 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Now -- at first glance -- you'd think that this mock-up of a spaceship must be made of metal or at least plastic. But it's not. It's just artfully painted wood.

But as for the droids in the droidnostic center ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

As well as R2D2 ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

And C3PO ...


Photo by Jeff Lange

Well, they're real. As in: These were the real costumes and props that were used in the making of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. George Lucas wanted "Star Tours" to look so authentic that he actually gave the Imagineers all these items to place inside the attraction.

And the guys from WDI (just to return the favor) got obsessive when it came to getting all of the details right for this Disneyland attraction. How obsessive? Take a look at C3PO's right leg in the above photo. From the knee down, it's silver-colored. Just as it was in "A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."

And as for C3PO's golden hue ... Well, for the movies, that was accomplished with gold paint & mylar. But for "Star Tours," to make sure that C3PO always looked his best, the Imagineers actually had Anthony Daniel's old costume gold-plated. So the AA figure in this photo is actually covered in about $16,000 worth of gold foil.

Of course, not all the droids that you see in "Star Tours" were actually props that were used in the making of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. Some of these robots are ringers. Take -- for example -- this G2 unit.


Photo by Jeff Lange

The "G" in "G2" actually stands for "Goose." As in: Back in the 1970s, this Audio Animatronic figure used to be covered with feathers. It was originally one of the singing geese in Tomorrowland's "America Sings" attraction.

Don't believe me? Then check out that particular droid's feet. Yep, they're webbed.

And some of the mysterious creatures that add some much color and movement to "Star Tours" 's droidnostic center aren't really robots at all. Take -- for example -- that parasite unit that periodically scurries across the factory floor.


Photo by Jeff Lange

The flash from my camera reveals this creepy creature for what it really is. It's just the redecorated engine from an electric train set. Pretty clever idea, don't you think?

Anyway, when "Star Tours" finally opened on January 9, 1987, there was -- of course -- the star-studded premiere. With Princess Leia herself -- the lovely Carrie Fisher -- taking part in the festivities ...


Copyright 1987 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

As well as a certain Mouse. Who insisted on getting his picture taken with R2D2 and C3PO.


Copyright 1987 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Speaking of C3PO ... There's kind of a funny story about Michael Eisner at the grand opening of Disneyland's "Star Tours." Disney's CEO was supposed to introduce each of the "Star Wars" characters as they came on stage. But -- for the life of him -- Michael couldn't get C3PO's name right.

So -- whenever Eisner tried to introduce the gold-plated droid -- it would always come out as PC3O. Which -- for some odd reason -- sounded vaguely obscene.

So -- all through the rehearsal of the grand opening ceremony for "Star Tours" -- the Imagineers tried to drill this into Michael's head: "It's C3PO. C3PO. C-3-P-O."

And Eisner would say right back to them: "Right. I've got it now. PC3O."

Finally -- with the hope that a visual aid might help out Michael -- WDI had a cue card made. Which spelled out -- in 2-foot tall letters -- "C-3-P-O."

And then -- when the crucial moment came in "Star Tours" 's actual grand opening ceremony -- an Imagineer held up the card so Eisner could clearly see how the droid's name was pronounced. Michael still managed to get it wrong.

Which just goes to show you : Just because you're a CEO doesn't mean that you actually know your C3POs from your PC3Os.

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