Star Tours Original Press Kit – 1987

By Keith Mahne

As we inch closer to the release of the long awaited Star Wars Episode VII, let’s travel back in time to the Disneyland Star Tours opening from 1987. A video press kit for the then-new Disneyland attraction, hosted by C-3PO himself was created to stir up excitement and anticipation for the new attraction. It features a canned “news” piece about the ride for broadcast outlets, some great shots of the attraction and its queue, and several interviews with key creative personnel including Imagineers Tony Baxter and Tom Fitzgerald. Also, there’s an interview with a beardless George Lucas – as well as a clever one with C-3PO. Who knows, maybe you’ll remember watching this local affiliate broadcast back in 87′ on your local morning program. Have a look after the page break…

Michael Eisner and George Lucas Open Star Tours

The Star Tours debut at Disneyland in 1987 was the first Disney attraction based on what was then a non-Disney produced film. 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 and George Lucas 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, Disney Imagineers purchased four military-grade flight simulators at a cost of $500,000 each and designed the ride structure.

The crowd on Star Tours opening day

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.

Below is the video press kit that accompanied the debut of Star Tours in 1987, and features interviews with key creative personnel as well as video coverage of the attraction. Enjoy!

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