Star Tours Reopens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

George Lucas (above right) was among the first to see the reopening of the Star Tours motion simulator ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios today. The 67-year-old “Star Wars” creator came to the park to celebrate the ride’s 25-year-old story as it has been updated with a new tale, a digital projection system and 3-D effects. Lucas even armed himself with a light saber to share a stage with surprise guest, Disney CEO Robert Iger, (above left),  as Darth Vader and other movie characters watched. “Lord Vader, prepare to meet your maker,” Iger cracked.

Pictured above, left to right, are James Arnold Taylor, voice actor from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”; Dave Filoni, director of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”; Iger; Lucas; “Star Wars” character C-3PO; Anthony Daniels, the actor who portrayed C-3PO in “Star Wars”; Ashley Eckstein, voice actor from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”; and Daniel Logan, who portrayed Boba Fett in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.”

The reopening of the “Star Wars”-themed rides in both Disney Hollywood Studios park in Florida and at Disneyland in California brings a new wave of attention to the franchise, which will get another boost and more than likely gain new fans in 2012 when all six original movies are re-released in theaters as a 3-D feature.

Lucas said the movies have now been around so long that they’ve become “part of the social culture.” “In the end, you do the best you can telling a story, and you hope people will come and see it,” Lucas said  in an interview at the park. “Once in a while, you get something like this, where people love it, they can’t get enough of it, they take it in as part of their lives.”

He said the return of the movies to the big screen will give parents a chance to share with their children something they experienced when they were young. “It’s a chance not only for people to see it in 3-D, but more importantly it’s chance for fathers to take their sons and they’ll say, ‘I saw this when I was your age. You’ve only seen it on television,'” Lucas said. “And if the father isn’t doing that, the grandfather is doing that, because it’s been that long. We’re in our third generation now.”

The Star Tours ride at Disney takes place somewhere between the third and fourth movies in the series … confusing , I know … and it features the droid C-3P0 as reluctant pilot of a star cruiser on a deep space adventure. To keep things fresh, Disney created more than 50 different versions of the five-minute ride, each featuring various “Star Wars” characters and locales, so that riders have a completely different experience each time they go.

Lucas added that he’d been pushing to get the ride updated for years. “I was pretty much hands-on everything,” said Lucas, who’s ridden the revamped attraction a number of times. “When we did the first ride, which was 25 years ago, I have stayed working with Disney over the years. We started like three or four years ago saying now’s the time to do a new re-do on the attraction. We’ve been wanting to do it for a long time.”

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