More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Tom Fitzgerald

by , Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering

Tom Fitzgerald and George Lucas

Twenty five years ago, fellow Imagineer Tony Baxter and I flew to London, to experience a new ride system and determine whether it might have application for attractions in our Parks. The system was a flight motion simulator used to train professional pilots to fly jet aircraft, and as soon as we took our first thrilling ride, we were convinced it had tremendous potential.

Shortly thereafter, back at Imagineering in California, George Lucas spent the day with us, brainstorming ideas for potential projects we could work on together. When he happened to see a storyboard in the hallways for a show based on the simulator technology, he instantly saw a perfect fit for a Star Wars attraction.

The rest, as they say, is history. Star Tours as it soon became named, has carried guests into the world of Star Wars in Disney Parks around the world. I was fortunate to be part of the original Star Tours team, as the show’s writer/producer. Later this month at “Destination D” I’ll be taking Star Tours fans behind the scenes of the creation of the original show “a long time ago!”

But today’s post is really more about “a short time ahead,” as we announce our blog series on the re-Imagineered Star Tours attraction that opens next summer at Disneyland Park in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida!

This time around, I’m the creative lead, and over the upcoming months, will be sharing stories about the new show’s creation, production and installation, You’ll meet some of the characters in front of – and behind – the cameras, and learn just what we mean when we say “The Adventures Continue!”


  • Any idea on the date the new star tours will open in Disney World Orlando. We are planning to go there in last week of June 2011. So we can plan accordingly.

  • I wish there was more info here because this looks pretty cool so far 🙂 I don’t understand everyone being grumpy about the original Star Tours changing and Rex going away… Walt Disney used to say that the parks were living things and he was constantly tweaking and tinkering with things… of course we can all remember the old Star Tours (and Rex) and all the good memories, but it would be foolish to not be EXCITED and looking forward to a BRAND NEW attraction and all the NEW FUN that’s going to bring! Sounds like Tom F is doing great with this and I can’t wait to see it.

  • I’m really looking forward to hearing more about this as well. Itss great that Star Tours is finally getting an update. Its such a huge universe and such a big part of our culture, Star Wars really does deserve a great, updated representation in the parks.

    The other thing that is *very* badly needed is a Mos Eisley Cantina Restaurant. If something like that was made, I’d literally start crying when walking into the place! Please make the Cantina!

  • TOM!

    Please tell us that there will be MULTIPLE RIDE EXPERIENCES in the new attraction. Not just a few, but many! So many people know the enomity of Lucas’s Star Wars universe.

  • We’re really looking forward to the new version. My husband is a HUGE Star Wars Fan. I’m a huge Disney fan, so Star Tours makes BOTH of us happy! 🙂 However, he cannot ride Star Tours – of all things, its’ the only ride that makes him sick! He’s hoping they improve the technology enough that he can go on the ride and enjoy himself. We’ll just have to try it and see! Good excuse to plan a trip to the parks!

  • Thanks for sharing.

    Many hardcore Disney purists hate on Tom Fitzgerald today and enjoy depicting him in a bad light.

    Maybe if they saw these articles, perhaps they’ll learn to be nicer to Fitzgerald.

  • I have enjoyed the Star Tours ride countless times but I am sure that the new ride will be as good or even better. Can’t wait for next summer!!

  • I am a huge fan of the Star Wars trilogy and I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to experience that at Disneyland through the Star Tours attraction. I have also been fortunate enough to have shared this experience with my niece and nephews ranging from the ages of 13 yrs old to 4 yrs old, the 4 yr old rode Star Tours for the first time this past summer and he loved it. Disney many thanks for this ride, the original will be missed but we look forward to what is coming that will keep fans like us coming back for more.

  • It’s hard to believe that the original Star Tours debuted so long ago! I am so excited to see what is coming, it will only make the attraction more fun!

  • As a huge fan who rode the WDW version 51 times on the final day including being the very first and last regular guest to ride that day I am very excited to hear more about what is to come for 2.0

  • Will miss the old one, but can’t wait to hear more about Star Tours 2.0 – and please don’t take away the Wookie village!

  • Thousand times thank you .
    For what I believe you years ago and for continuing with this project.
    Thank you very much from Spain

    Disney + Star Wars: ” mas it is not possible to ask “

  • I too will miss the original. I rode it on opening weekend all those years ago. I am from George Lucas’s home town, I’m a THX certified A/V technician, and I’m a huge fan of Disney, Lucas, and Star Tours. I must say though, I am excited for an update to the attraction. How about three or so different adventures (programs)? PS, I love Goerge’s cast member badge in the photo above. Priceless!

  • And yes, I have to say that while I really liked the original ride, and it does feel like the end of an era in a lot of ways, it was time for a change, and I am really looking forward to the new ride.

    I was actually on the last official ride for regular guests at Disneyland.
    I didn’t make in into the D23 Star Tours event at Disneyland, but I still had a blast! That last official ride for regular guests was awesome!

  • You have the best job in the world, sir. That is all.

  • Thank you for this wonderful history of the Star Tours ride! I enjoyed it alot. And I’m very excited to hear your news about the new Star Wars! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!
    I was wondering; will Rex still be included in the new ride?

  • What about Star Tours’ cousin, Body Wars?

  • Is that… George Lucas without a beard?!?!? I didn’t know that was possible. That picture blew my mind, haha.

  • I can’t wait to hear more. Fellow lover or the original ST and anxious to hopefully try ST2 @ DHS in May 2011!!!

  • Thanks for this post Tom.

    I’ll be at Destination D and I’m looking forward to the Star Tours presentation.

    I can’t wait to hear updates on the new Star Tours!

  • I’m in complete agreement with Tom: while I’m sad that the original attraction that I rode on countless times is now gone, I’m eagerly awaiting Star Tours 2.0! Looking forward to all of the little tidbits & sneak peeks that you’ll be dropping along the way!

  • I will miss the original dearly, but I could not be anymore excited for the updates! Good luck on the project, I can not wait to see what to see what’s in store for Star Tours!

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