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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Mele Kaliki Tiki at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort

posted on December 1st, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Mele Kaliki Tiki at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort

In my role as creative executive for the Disneyland Resort, I get to work with our Disney Imagineering teams on so many cool things! In addition to the re-launch of Star Tours this year, it’s been really fun working on the renovation of the Disneyland Hotel – especially my favorite, Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar!

Mele Kaliki Tiki at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort

Starting today, you’ll find some new holiday surprises from Sam, including décor, music, and some special new drinks that will be unique to the season.

Mele Kaliki Tiki at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at Disneyland Resort

So, as Sam would say, “Head on in for the holidays!”

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Blackbeard Comes Aboard at Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom Park May 20

posted on May 6th, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Rendering of Ian McShane as Captain Blackbeard in the Pirates of the Caribbean Attractions at Disney Parks

On February 11, actor Ian McShane appeared on a soundstage in Los Angeles for a very special “head shot” – one that will soon be featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at Disneyland park and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort.

Captain Blackbeard will make his appearance on the ghostly waterfall in the grotto scenes of the park attractions beginning May 20, coinciding with the release of the new film, “Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides,” in which McShane plays a starring role.

Walt Disney Imagineering writer Michael Sprout (who wrote the script for Bill Nighy as Davy Jones several years ago) was on hand to direct the special shoot with Ian McShane. Michael said, “He came in wearing his complete Blackbeard costume, including the sword, saying it helped him stay in character!”

Look for Blackbeard soon in this classic attraction, and the return of Davy Jones later this year.

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May the Fourth Be With You!

posted on May 4th, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Today, May 4, we unveiled a stunning new piece of Star Tours art which serves as the attraction poster at Disneyland park and the marquee at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

'May the Fourth Be With You'

Designed by Imagineer Scot Drake, the piece features the new Starspeeder 1000 surrounded by many of the planets, vehicles and characters from the show. Look for Darth Vader lurking in the shadows.

The photo below shows the new marquee as it was being installed just this morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The marquee is installed at Disney's Hollywood Studios - May 4, 2011

The Adventures Continue – only weeks away!

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Star Tours: Where in the Galaxy Are We Going?

posted on April 1st, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


It won’t be long now before Star Tours re-launches and “The Adventures Continue” at both Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California! But where in the galaxy are we going?

We know a lot of you have been wondering and asking, and today we are happy to reveal the final destinations you can expect to visit when Star Tours resumes service. You already know we’re going to Tatooine for the Boonta Eve Podrace and to Coruscant.

Star Tours: Where in the Galaxy Are We Going?

Additional destinations include a visit to the beautiful planet of Naboo, a rare tour of the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk, and a trip to the icy planet Hoth (seen above in a still image from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back).

Of course, no Star Tours adventure would be complete without an unexpected visit to the Death Star, this time above the planet Geonosis.

In addition, we’ll be departing from a spectacular new Spaceport, created just for the new Star Tours voyages.

Star Tours: Where in the Galaxy Are We Going?

As revealed earlier, these destinations will be combined in more than 50 different story adventures, so you’ll never know where the Force will take you!

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New Star Tours Destinations to be Announced Soon

posted on March 29th, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Star Tours Departure Board

Recently, we talked about the characters you’ll meet in Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. Since then, there’s been a lot of speculation about where we’ll meet those characters. Well, stay tuned. While the Star Tours Company does fly to many destinations (as you can see in the attached image – especially if you read Aurebesh) we’ll soon give you the flight list for our show!

For more information on Star Tours, see these previous updates:

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The ‘Stars’ of Star Tours

posted on February 11th, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


One of our goals for the new Star Tours show was to pack as much Star Wars into the attraction as possible. That meant traveling to different planets, and meeting up with classic characters from the saga.

Of course you already know that R2-D2 and C-3PO are back, reprising their roles in the pre-show, and taking on bigger roles (especially C-3PO) in our Starspeeder adventures. And some time ago, we introduced you to two new droids in our show…Star Tours Pilot Ace (AC-38) and Spokesbot Aly San San.

So who else is joining the cast?

Admiral Ackbar

Well, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars adventure without Darth Vader. The Dark Lord of the Sith will be accompanied by legions of stormtroopers and some new “skytroopers,” designed especially for our show. Boba Fett, everyone’s favorite bounty hunter, also will be after us, as well as an assortment of nasty droids and creatures.

Balancing out the villains are some classic good guys – and even a princess! Master Yoda, Admiral Ackbar (pictured above in a still image from Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi) and Princess Leia will appear in the show to help guide our adventures. We may even run into Chewbacca along the way!

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George Lucas Visits Star Tours at Disneyland Park

posted on February 2nd, 2011 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


George Lucas visits Star Tours at Disneyland Park

It was a big day for Star Tours recently, as Star Wars creator George Lucas, joined by producer Rick McCallum, paid a visit to Disneyland Park to take a few test rides on the attraction with our Walt Disney Imagineering team. After experiencing adventures to several of the Star Wars worlds aboard the Starspeeder 1000, George and Rick gave the team a big thumbs up on their progress. George even took a moment to pose with the Audio-Animatronics figure of C-3PO in the Starspeeder cockpit!

Stay tuned for more Star Tours updates.

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Who’s Flying This Thing?!

posted on October 26th, 2010 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Guess Who

It was great to read your comments about the pilots of Star Tours on my last post. Some people really want to see Rex again in the new show. Others are excited about the introduction of the new character “Ace.” And then there are those who are speculating about a bigger role for Threepio. So, I thought it was time we set the story straight about just who will be in the cockpit in the new show. And guess what? You’re all right!
Read the rest of this entry »

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On the Set of Star Tours with C-3PO

posted on October 13th, 2010 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Things are very busy in the world of Star Tours, both here in California and in Florida as well!

A few weeks ago I shared a first look at two new characters joining Star Tours, and today, I want to take you behind the scenes and show you what we were working on back in April 2009. We occupied a large soundstage in Hollywood to film a key sequence of the new show. Anthony Daniels flew in from London to bring C-3PO to life on the stage, as well as workshop the script with our writer Steve Spiegel.

I spoke with Anthony Daniels the other day about what it felt like to be back working on Star Tours.

“Wow! Back in the gold suit for the first time since ‘Revenge of the Sith,’” was Anthony’s reply. “But on this occasion in front of a beloved Starspeeder, a bit like the one R2 and I’d repaired every day since Disneyland first opened the Star Tours Spaceport all those years ago. I’d enjoyed being a part of the original Star Tours, one of the most wonderful jobs I ever had. I’d been alerted that amazing things were in store for passengers on the new Starspeeder – and for me too – and so here I was again, working with many of the same creative teams, with even more spin and excitement than the first time.”

On the immense soundstage, our production team re-created – full size – a portion of the Starspeeder 1000, so we could film it from multiple angles. Later, the effects wizards at ILM, under the direction of Bill George, completed the scene, adding in a whole range of droids and characters, and expanding the scale and scope of the scene.

Here, for the first time, are some photos from that soundstage shoot. More on Threepio in our next post.

Starspeeder 1000

C-3PO Next to the Starspeeder 1000

Anthony Daniels Bringing C-3PO to Life

C-3PO

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These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For!

posted on September 24th, 2010 by Tom Fitzgerald, Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering


Since everything we do at Imagineering starts with the story, it probably comes as no surprise that one of the first things we set out to do with the new Star Tours show was to figure out when our story should take place within the Star Wars timeline.

The existing Star Tours show we internally refer to as “6.5,” since it takes place time-wise after Episode VI Return of the Jedi. Story development for the new show began “a long time ago,” back in 1998, and a story treatment from that year carries the title “Episode 7 – A Star Tours Classic” – referring to the Boonta Classic race that was to be the main feature of the show.

But by the time Episode I hit the screens, we were all anxious to know what would surface in Episode III that we might build on for the show. Naturally, we were then curious how Episode III would complete the series. In the end, after numerous discussions, we decided to place our storyline between the two sets of Star Wars trilogies, giving the project the working title “Star Tours 3.5.”

AC-38 - 'Ace' for short - is one of the latest AC series Tour Droids piloting the Starspeeder 1000

This time period gave our show team the ability to tap into the very best of the Star Wars characters and adventures. But turning the clock back also required some interesting changes for the Star Tours show. The Starspeeder 3000 would need to be an earlier model, the Starspeeder 1000, with a new pilot (especially since Rex, the original pilot, opens the original show saying it’s his first flight!)

Our design team created a new Tour Droid for the show, an AC Series pilot we dubbed “Ace,” with a personality as different from Rex as you can imagine.

We also created a new “spokesbot” for Star Tours, modeled after the WA-7 “Waitress Droid” from the Attack of the Clones. George Lucas suggested the name “Aly San San,” in reference to Allison Janney, the wonderful actress who provides the voice for this new character. We had a terrific time with Allison in the recording sessions for the show – she brought a lot of warmth and humor to the part.

'Aly San San' Star Tours 'spokesbot' will greet passengers next summer in the Star Tours terminal

These are just two of the droids you can expect to see in Star Tours “The Adventures Continue” next year. And in our next blog, I’ll tell you about a droid who really steals the show in the new attraction!

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