Walt Disney World Throws a Midnight Preview Party for Star Tours Fans

As mentioned previously, the renovated Star Tours attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios officially opened on Friday, May 20.

A few days prior, the Disney Parks blog gave notice there would be a sneak preview event at midnight for a select group of fans that would be determined by an online lottery of sorts. Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off, but my friend Angie made it and was kind enough to invite me along as her guest.

We arrived around 11pm on Thursday (5/19) at Blizzard Beach, got our wristbands and got on one of the shuttle busses that would take us all to DHS.

Since the park itself was closed, our bus caravan wound around backstage and deposited us right next to the Star Tours attraction at midnight. As soon as we got off the bus, Angie and her hubby went off to do the ride. I decided to go slower and photograph as much as I could.

The backstage area had a few Star Wars Imperial signage, as well as light globes that resembled multi-colored planets. Right before the entrance into the guest area of the park, a red carpet led us into a smoke filled tunnel where we exited into the Star Tours area. It was so smoky, I actually ran up upon a member of the Mos Eisley cantina band.

I was then accosted by a Jawa, who tried to trade me a space candy bar for my R2D2 phone. No trade, sorry. I tried to take a self-portrait of myself with the cantina band, but only succeeded in getting my head in at one corner of the shot.

I wandered around taking photos of other characters in attendance: Storm Troopers, Chewie, Ewoks and a Gamorrean Guard. I also watched a bit of a Q&A session with Disney Imagineeers about the newly enhanced Star Tours.

I did this for two reasons – I wanted to document the event for you readers, and I figured most people would race to get on Star Tours but once they got through, there’d be less of a crowd for the ride.

My strategy paid off. Not only was I able to walk straight on to the starspeeder, but I even was practically alone as I walked through the pre-show, taking photos. By the time I took my seat, I was the only person in the back row.

The starspeeder portion of the ride is where the biggest changes took place. The original version was a solid film from start to finish. This new version is now like a slot machine with four windows, allowing different portions of the film to come together in different combinations. I got different outcomes both times I rode.

During the two hour event, WDW served up complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and make-your-own ice cream sundaes. At the end, we danced along with the cantina band (backed by a pro-DJ) toward the exit, where we were given a parting gift of a Star Tours poster. I got Bespin; others reported Hoth, Coruscant and Naboo.

Walking to the bus, we were joined by Chewbacca, who escorted us onboard.

All in all, it was a fun event – especially being both a Star Wars and a Disney fan.

Here are some of the photos I took:

Mos Eisley Cantina Band Members
A Sneaky Jawa Accosts Me in the Fog
Chewbacca Poses for Photos
A Gamorrean Guard Patrols the Party

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