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t its debut at Disneyland in 1987, it was the first Disney attraction based on what was then a non-Disney produced film. However, in October 2012, the Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm, and in turn, now owns the Star Wars franchise.

The ride that became Star Tours first saw light as a proposal for an attraction based on the 1979 Disney live-action film The Black Hole. It would have been an interactive ride-simulator attraction where guests would have had the ability to choose the s route. However, after preliminary planning the Black Hole attraction was shelved due to its enormous cost—approximately $50 million USD—as well as the unpopularity of the film itself.

Instead of completely dismissing the idea of a simulator, the company decided to make use of a partnership between Disney andGeorge Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, that began in 1986 with the opening of Captain EO (a 3-D musical film starring Michael Jackson) at the California park. Disney then approached Lucas with the idea for Star Tours. With Lucas’ approval, DisneyImagineers purchased four military-grade flight simulators at a cost of $500,000 each and designed the ride structure.

Meanwhile, Lucas and his team of special effects technicians at Industrial Light & Magic produced the first-person perspective film that would be projected inside the simulators. When both simulator and film were completed, a programmer then sat inside and used a joystick to synchronize the movement of the simulator with the apparent movement on screen. On January 9, 1987, at a final cost of $32 million, almost twice the cost of building the entire park in 1955, the ride opened to throngs of patrons, many of whom dressed up as Star Wars characters for the occasion. In celebration, Disneyland remained open for a 60-hour marathon from January 9 at 10 a.m. to January 11 at 10 p.m.

The photo above is from opening day of Star Tours! 

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    So cool.
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    This ride is LITERALLY my childhood. When I think of great attractions at theme parks there’s only a handful: The...
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    So THAT’S why Rex always reminded me of VINCENT! (Also funny note when I Googled “Star Tours Robot” my first page of...
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