More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For!

Tom Fitzgerald

by , Portfolio 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!


  • PEOPLE, PEOPLE, PEOPLE!!! What’s with all the sadness? In case you haven’t noticed…THINGS CHANGE AT DISNEYLAND! Star Tours was do for a change 10 years ago! Yes the original was great…TIME TO MOVE ON TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS! Remember, classics have the opportuninty to return…can you say PEOPLEMOVER?

  • I agree Lindsay!

  • TOTALLY AWESOME they look like something you would find at the old WDW Tommorrowland

  • Gosh, sad to see so many negitave comments. I don’t look at it as Disney taking away something good, I see it as Disney adding in something better! There’s always room for improvement, new ideas, and inovation! I’m excited! it’s something new to experience!

  • I love that you mentioned the star tours attraction as we have known it was ““6.5,” since it takes place time-wise after Episode VI Return of the Jedi.” Can you tell us more about that? Like where did this third Death Star come from? Was it supposed to be an actual last gasp of the empire? Or was it more like a “re-enactment” like we have folks today that re-enact battles of the American Civil War, or the American Revolutionary War. If it was a reenactment of some type then I imagine the backstory would make the death star some sort of sophisticated hologram, perhaps with a few areas actually built to enhance the hologram ( like the trench perhaps) either way it was a great part of the original attraction, but I very much look forward to the new things this “prequel” to “6.5” brings us!

  • Please tell us you contacted Patton Oswalt to voice the new droid…

  • In case anyone has not heard;

    At the Destination D event, Disneyland president George Kalogridis revealed that the new Star Tours will have 54 different experiences possible.

  • By the way Tom, thanks so much for doing this blog series.

    I’m really looking forward to your next blog post! 🙂

  • I am all for the new ride! Loved the old ride, loved Rex, but it is time for a change. Bravo Disney & Lucasfilm!

  • …I have the same question as Brian;

    Will C-3PO and R2-D2 still be seen the in queue?

  • Awesome, looking forward (or backward in timeline speak) to the new ride.

  • Yea! My family is so excited. Although my children were disappointed to learn that Star Tours would be closed for so long, they are excited to read about the updates! Thanks for sharing =0)

  • Who is the voice of Ace?

  • I have to add that I agree; it would be great if there was some kind of visual tribute to Rex in the new ride.

  • At least part of Rex will be there! Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with them! 😀

  • …I agree with Terry. 🙂

  • Everyone, given the fact that the original Star Tours took place after “Return of the Jedi”, and the new Star Tours will take place in-between the two Star Wars trilogies, They had to create a new droid pilot.

    Notice that Ace’s head and neck resemble that of Rex.

    At Destination D, Tom Fitzgerald said that there will be things that WILL NOT change, such as the Star Tours video chimes.

    Remember that Walt wanted the park to change. Change is not necessarily a bad thing.

    It was sad to see the original leave Disneyland, but I am excited about the new ride.

  • I can’t wait to see the new ride!

  • I love the new robot’s but I have to say it’s a shame for Rex to be replaced I like him alot…I don;t think I’ll have the same feeling as I did when I was 7 on the ride though :(…then again sometimes change is good 🙂

  • I heard the opening speech of Rex for the first time at the 10th anniversary SW con in 1987. First they played it as spoken by Billy Barty, then by Paul Rubens in his Pee-Wee voice. Both were hilarious but so not right. Then they played it was we were to hear it on the ride.

    I’m going to be sad for Rex to go, but I’m looking forward to the new journey!

  • “‘Aly San San’ Star Tours ‘spokesbot’ will greet passengers next summer in the Star Tours terminal”

    Does this mean that C-3PO and R2-D2 will no longer be in the queue?

  • Out with the old and in with the new! We are very excited to see the new ride. That’s what I love about Disneyland…always reinventing itself!

  • Great work, Ace looks like he could be the predecessor for Rex in the Star Wars universe. I can’t believe there are naysayers before people even experience the ride. I am super psyched to ride this.

  • Suggestion. Maybe there should be a portion in the line que showing Droids being assembled and one of those happens to be RX.

  • They look great! At first I was worried about the change but more and more its looking like the new ride will be just as good if not better!

  • Thanks for anothe great update…already!

    I understand that people are sad to see favorite characters like Rex go away but look closely at the pic. Its the same robot! You can clearly see the head of Cap’n Rex there.

    Star Tours was a great, fun and loved attraction but it did need an update. The concept will basically be the same only now there will be more worlds to explore and they’ll be in 3d!

    So for anyone or their kids who are upset about that you really need to get over it and accept change. This is going to be awesome and I think that everyone will really enjoy it.

  • Love these blog entries, Tom. Looking forward to your insight on such a COOL project! Naysayers be darned, while Star Tours was cool, it was starting to show its age. Can’t wait for the update.

  • Cant wait to see the new star tours! I was there as a kid for the opening & cant wait to see the new one!!

  • …Also, there seems to be a typo in this sentence;

    “But by the time Episode I hit the screens, we were all anxious to know what would surface in Episode III…”

    I think you mean “surface in Episode II” 🙂

  • Hi Tom, I was at the Destination D event where you revealed this info. 🙂

    This are some cool looking droids.

    And everyone please note, that Ace has the same head and neck as Rex. So it is reminiscent of the RX droids.

  • It’s really intriguing that you have the opportunity to tell a story specific to the new attraction but also one that bridges the different eras of the ride’s existence. It sounds like a real treat for long-time fans to see Star Tours in its golden age while aware of its eventual rough-around-the-edges future with Rex and the rest of the 6.5 gang.

    I’m curious about how much of a Hollywood movie set vibe the new version will give off in Florida. I know it was always part of the show at the start of the queue, but I’ve always felt that the transition from movie set to ‘actual Star Wars universe’ was too subtle and poorly told.

  • pLease keep disNeyLaNd the same :/

  • -__- pLease keep disNeylaNd thee same.

  • Sigh… I think I have to agree with Meliza on the “DISLIKE” …

    I’ve high hopes but low expectations for this new star tours…

  • In the words of my kids:

    Does NOT WANT!


    Very upset that the changes are going to take out a much loved character. Why not have it be a continuation? I knew they were going to use the disappointment of the ‘new’ movies…why mess with what works? Those movies were a slap in the face to all real Star Wars Fans. So sad. Glad we got to go on the very last day to say goodbye to a much loved attraction.

  • I think it would have been to cool to have RX t-shirts or statuettes or SOMETHING to commemorate the closing of the first Star Tours. It’s like losing an old friend.

  • Your going to destroy everything we loved about Disneylands classic ride Star Tours! Should have only updated, not changed the ride. This is Sucky!!!! RIP RX-24

  • It’s sad to see Rex go, but these new characters seem promising, provided they’re lovable (like Rex) on top of a good storyline.

  • I’m very biased on the Aly San San name…I love it!! Can’t wait to see the new ride. I hope it becomes as memorable as the old one. RIP Rex. It would be cool if they could sneak some sort of homage to Rex in the new one, like how Mr. Toad hands a deed to Owl in the Winnie the Pooh ride.

  • as long as Star Tours don’t have Jar Jar Binks I will be loyal regardless the changes.

  • My little dude will be devastated to see Rex go! I’m sure the new attraction will be swell, but Rex’s charming ineptitude was part of what made the ride so funny and fun–and not too scary–for the young ones. Hope that part doesn’t change! Glad we bought the toy with Rex while we still could!

  • I don’t agree that Imagineering starts with story – some of the greatest attractions are devoid of what one would consider a story, storytelling, or a form of plot structure.

    However, the best attractions do all share thematic continuity, which can include story as an aspect – not the total sum – of the experience.

    A solid theme or thematic statement is at the beginning of a great attraction design. Story evolves from that, much the same way as great literature.

  • Sad to see Rex go, was hoping for an earlier version of his droid line. However, I do like the name Ace and the look of the robots. Can’t wait to hear more about Star Tours: The Adventures Continue!

    Club D23

  • Wy am I logged on as Chauntel from CA?

  • Cool!

  • DISLIKE! The only good thing to come out of this is Allison Janney being involved.

  • Please please please don’t mess up Star Tours it is my favorite ride!

  • RIP REX. :'(

  • Hi

  • Sad to see RX go, but I love that there’s a bunch of new characters!

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