The first incarnation of the ride appeared in Tomorrowland at Disneyland in 1987, replacing the previous attraction, Adventure Thru Inner Space. Star Tours at Disneyland closed on July 27, 2010, to allow for the conversion to Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Disney's Hollywood Studios closed its attraction on September 7, 2010, in anticipation of the same conversion which was completed on May 20, 2011. Tokyo Disneyland's Star Tours closed on April 2, 2012, to make way for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue which opened on May 7, 2013. No announcement has been made on when the original attraction in France will follow suit.
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, 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, Disney Imagineers purchased four military-grade flight simulators at a cost of $500,000 each and designed the ride structure. The partnership between Disney and Lucas would eventually culminate in the acquisition of LucasFilm by Disney on October 30, 2012.
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 the 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.
On August 14, 2010, Walt Disney World hosted the "Last Tour To Endor" event exclusively for Celebration V attendees at Disney's Hollywood Studios from 8 pm to 1 am. Entertainment features and events at "Last Tour To Endor" included George Lucas, character appearances, Jedi Training Academy, Death Star Disco, Bespin Stage Dance Party, Raiders Of The Lost Jedi Temple of Doom: A Fan Film of Epic Proportions live show, Hyperspace Hoopla, Symphony in the Stars fireworks, and the Star Tours shutdown ceremony. The Star Tours shutdown ceremony was a live show with characters C-3PO, R2-D2, Boba Fett, Darth Vader and a few Stormtroopers, culminating in the official power-down of the original Disney World Star Tours attraction. However, instead of R2-D2 simply shutting it down, Boba Fett destroys using a thermal detonator (achieved using pyrotechnics). The ride was still open after the shutdown ceremony until September 7, 2010, when the attraction held its "Final Flight to Endor" exclusive to D23 members.
Advertised as "The Ultimate Star Wars Adventure!", Star Tours puts the guest in the role of a space tourist en route to the forest moon of Endor, the site of the climactic battle of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, via the Star Tours travel agency. Much is made of this throughout the ride queue, which is designed to look like a spaceship boarding terminal: posters advertise voyages to different planets, and a giant screen informs riders of the benefits of going to Endor. This area is stocked with Audio-Animatronic characters that seem to speak to the ride patrons (including C-3PO and R2-D2), as well as a life-size mock-up of a StarSpeeder 3000, the fictional spacecraft which riders are about to board. According to the book Disneyland Detective by Kendra Trahan, the figures of C-3PO and R2-D2 in the Disneyland attraction are actual props from the original film, modified to operate via Audio-Animatronics.
Guests then enter a maintenance area where an apparently underproductive G2 droid performs repairs on another droid while being distracted by the observing guests, and another droid inadvertently points out all the supposed flaws of the StarSpeeder 3000 and its RX pilots. The G2 droids are in fact the animatronic skeletons of two geese from the defunct Tomorrowland attraction America Sings. A ride attendant escorts guests to one of several loading stations where they wait for their turn to ride.
A television screen posts a countdown to take-off time and shows images of the Starspeeder 3000 spacecraft being serviced. As launch time approaches, a safety video is shown featuring Star Wars aliens, Disney Imagineers, and their families. It instructs guests how to fasten their seat belts and where to place belongings. Once the doors to the Starspeeder open, guests walk across bridges into one of the several StarSpeeders, while C-3PO welcomes the riders and repeats the safety spiel. As the doors close, the bumbling pilot droid of the ship, RX-24 or Rex (voiced by Paul Reubens), chats up the guests about the trip as R2-D2 is loaded onto the spacecraft.
Rex lowers the cockpit shield, and the hangar crew activates the flight platform. All goes well until a slight mistake on Captain Rex's part sends the Starspeeder crashing into the maintenance bay doors, and plummeting into the maintenance yard just barely crashing the control room and colliding with a giant mechanical arm. Once in space, Rex asks R2-D2 to make the jump to lightspeed as well, but accidentally overshoots the ship's hyperdrive, and passes the Endor moon, and instead gets caught inside a comet cluster. The ship gets hit by several comets before getting trapped in one of the larger comets. The Starspeeder weaves its way through the comet and escapes by crashing through one of the thinner walls. Upon escaping the comet, however, the ship encounters a Star Destroyer.
The ship gets caught in its tractor beam, but manages to get loose when a Rebel X-wing fighter provides assistance by destroying the tractor beam's generator. With the tractor beam deactivated, the Starspeeder escapes the Star Destroyer. Soon the ship accompanies the Rebellion on a massive assault on the Death Star. Rex uses the StarSpeeder's lasers to eliminate several TIE fighters while a rebel pilot destroys the Death Star in the same manner Luke Skywalker did, by firing two proton torpedoes into the exhaust port. the X-Wings lightspeed away to avoid the Death Star's explosion, and a final lightspeed jump sends the StarSpeeder back to the spaceport, but not before a near collision with a fuel truck in the hangar. C-3PO then instructs the passengers on the existing procedure before thanking and bidding them farewell.
- Anthony Daniels - C-3PO 
- Paul Reubens - Captain RX-24, a.k.a. Rex (voice)
- Brian Cummings - Vid-Screen Announcer (planetary destinations) (voice)
- Stephanie Taylor - Safety Instructor 
- Steve Gawley - cameo as Red Leader (onboard video) 
- Warwick Davis - cameo as Wicket the Ewok
Muren, Gawley, and Keeler are all Industrial Light & Magic special effects staff. One year earlier, Reubens had voiced the shipboard computer in the Disney film Flight of the Navigator (credited as Paul Mall), in which his character was named Max. Reubens credits this role with his being cast for the ride.
Star Tours utilize hydraulic motion base cabins featuring several degrees of freedom, including the ability to move 35 degrees in the X-Y-Z plane. The simulator was patented as Advanced Technology Leisure Application Simulator (ATLAS), originally designed by Rediffusion Simulation in Sussex, England, now owned by Thomson-CSF. The Rediffusion 'Leisure' simulator was originally developed for a much simpler show in Canada called "Tour of the Universe", where it featured a single entrance/exit door in the rear of the cabin and a video projector. The film is front-projected onto the screen from a 70 mm film projector located beneath the cockpit barrier. The Disneyland original has four simulators, while the shows in Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and WDW Disney's Hollywood Studio each have six motion bases.
- Main article: Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
The successor attraction opened in Disney's Hollywood Studios on May 20, 2011 and at Disneyland on June 3, 2011, replacing the parks' original Star Tours attractions. It features an updated ride system, consisting of a new high-definition video, a Dolby 3D high-definition screen, improved motion simulators and several new special effects and Audio-animatronics.
- ↑ Music by Richard Bellis. Retrieved on May 24, 2013.
- ↑ Script error
- ↑ Star Tours to be Reintroduced in a New Version! - Star Tours: The Adventures Continue - Opening Spring 2013. Press Release. Tokyo Disney Resort (November 16, 2011). Retrieved on November 19, 2011.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Script error
- ↑ Star Tours with Paul Reubens. Disney D23 (9 August 2011). Retrieved on May 27, 2013.
- ↑ Star Tours with Paul Reubens. Interview. D23 The Official Disney Fan Club (August 9, 2011). Retrieved on September 19, 2012.
- ↑ Trujillo, Dara (2010-07-30). Sneak Preview: Starspeeder 1000 Collectible Exclusively at Star Wars Celebration V. Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved on September 25, 2010.
- ↑ Fitzgerald, Tom (2010-10-26). Who's Flying This Thing!?. Disney Parks Blog. Retrieved on October 26, 2010.