Last week, seemingly without much attention or fanfare, a new series dropped on Disney+ called Behind the Attraction.
Like the popular The Imagineering Story that came before it, this series takes a behind-the-scenes look at Disney Parks, and each episode looks at a different attraction, telling the history behind it in a fun way. The first batch of episodes featured looks at Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Space Mountain, and one that will particularly catch the attention of Star Wars fans, Star Tours.
I haven’t watched the other episodes yet, so I’m not going to be talking about the series as a whole, but I did watch the episode on Star Tours and thought I’d review it here!
In short, I thought it was well done. The episode gave a very thorough and comprehensive look at how Star Tours came to be, including interviews and clips from many of those involved, all while keeping a lighthearted and humorous program moving along at a good pace. There are some Star Wars clips interspersed throughout as well that I found great (Palpatine saying “no” was placed at such a great spot that I just had to laugh). And then it even explores briefly bringing Galaxy’s Edge to life, which takes the idea behind Star Tours – immersing the park-goer into the Star Wars universe – and builds upon it in incredible ways.
The episode covers George Lucas’s appreciation for Disney Parks, as a young George Lucas visited on the second day Disneyland opened and is heard in an old interview here expressing his love for what Disney was able to do with it. Years later, when Lucas would have a surprise mega-hit on his hands in Star Wars, Disney – like other studios – wanted to get in on it. I was a bit surprised how open and honest this episode was about some things, most prominently Disney’s attempt to create a successful franchise like this with their release of The Black Hole in 1979, which was a flop. (Or maybe the most surprising was that they actually included the clip of the premiere, with dancing Vader and all!). The people behind the park attractions were honest with the company that they couldn’t build a ride off of that.
So, instead, Disney turned their attention to trying to partner with either George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, and Lucas was the obvious choice for them. Given his love for Disney Parks, Lucas agreed, and all of the sudden work on Star Tours began. It’s interesting to hear the backstory to all of this and hear how the concept came about for the ride, for the story, for DJ R-3X, and for the technology to bring it all to life. And then, years later, how there was an effort to update Star Tours to accommodate the newer Star Wars films.
This all was the precursor to Galaxy’s Edge, which the episode explores as well. But many Star Wars fans, including myself, have fond memories of riding Star Tours, and I found this to be a very fun, enjoyable, and informative look at how it all came to be.