Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who have some news about Star Tours 2 ?

Some years ago, in 2005, Georges Lucas himself announced at the Star Wars Celebration III event: "Star Tours will be getting an overhaul soon". Since then, we heard some infos or rumors and then, nothing. It's just like if the project had fall into a black hole! So, let's have a look back to this Star Tours 2 saga, a story by itself.

Ten years ago, i was at WDI doing some Imagineers interviews and, back in 1998 or so, the imagineers were already thinking about a story line for a Star Tours 2 attraction. At that time the script was basically that the StarSpeeder on the road for Tatooine would be trapped in one of the Pod race, and there we go. An interesting idea was about the ride beginning: In Star Tours first version, if you remember well, the Star Speeder has a sudden left turn and a "fall" - inside the huge room where we can see the Adventure through Inner Space mighty microscope - before ho goes in outer space at light speed. Rex, the driver robot, excuses himself for his mistake, etc...

Now, in the 1998 script, the beginning of the Star Tours 2 movie would have been the same, but instead to wrongly turn left the Star Speeder would have take the right way, i.e moving straight ahead. A way for the imagineers to do a wink of an eye to the first version.

And then we know what happened: Eisner and Lucas relations were supposedly as bad as possible and we had to wait for the end of the Eisner's era and better relations between Lucas Film and Disney new CEO to have the project on the road again.

After Lucas announcement to the fans, everybody was expecting Star Tours 2 for 2007 - as the year was at the same time the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars movie AND the 20th anniversary of the first Star Tours. But we're now in 2009 and - correct me if i'm wrong - but i don't think we've seen the opening of a Star Tours 2 attraction two years ago.

However, since then, exciting news were released more or less unofficially : Anthony Daniels who played C3PO announced in May 2007 at the Adventure Con comic book convention in Knoxville said that "he just got finished filming the new digitalized upgrade for the ride". He also said: "this update will start up around the end of the year and from what he has seen it looks very, very exciting". Good. Happy to know that.

Then we learned more about the future new special effects:

- Each Star Speeder simulator would be equipped with five 3D retro-projectors screen using the Disney Digital 3D technology. A big screen in the front and two smaller one on each side. The screens on the side are supposed to give complementary views.

- Another source said that imagineers may use lenticular screen for the smaller "3D" scren on the left and the right of the main screen in the front.

- The simulator would have also an additional hydraulic system with the ability to lift up part of the Star Speeder's roof during some sequence or special effects of the movie.

- 3D polarized glasses would have a Star Tours theme.

- The front projection system would be changed to allow the perception of landscapes in 3D. It should be a a double projection of high-definition film on a hemispherical screen - like the one you have in Omnimax theatres. Right now, the projector is inside the simulator, but in this case it may be located outside to cover the whole screen surface, and more, like when the roof will be lift.

- A DTS audio system will equipped each shuttle for a better realism of sound effects, and others loud speakers could be put outside the simulator for other sounds effects.

- Finally three Audio-Animatronics would be part of ride. Two of them would have a "walking" simulation although you will see only the upper part of their "body", and the third one won't walk but would move thanks to its computer program or eventually could have a "live" animation for a better interaction with the guests inside the Star Speeder.

If all of this is really part of a Star Tours 2 experience, it will be great, isn't it? But still, the main question is: when?

In a May 2007 interview about his CGI effects in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, ILM wizard Hayden Landis said that “Next up (for him) is another nostalgia-oriented project a redo of the Star Tours ride at Disneyland”.

Last year a Screamscape source said that "WDI has been playing around inside the cabin after hours and playing It’s Tough To Be a Bug footage of all things. While this seems odd at first, apparently they are doing it to test a new 3D projection system they are working on for the cabins for the new Star Tours" and other rumors also said that Imagineers were using the Epcot's Body Wars simulators for some tests which i must say would make sense as they can do them secretly in the now closed Wonders of Life pavilion.

And for on opening date, fall 2009 was envisioned, but an opening in 2010 should be more consider if the "Tomorrowland 2010" project that may see the entire land refurbished again for Disneyland's 55th Anniversary is still in the plans. It would be perfect, and also explain why we waited so long as obviously Disney - on a marketing point of view - will need not only a re-theming of the land but also a new attraction.

Now, i must say that the secret is perfectly kept at WDI because none of my sources or imagineer friends know anything about a Star Tours 2 opening date - or, of course, they keep it secret. Anyone out there who have more real news - not rumors - about it is very welcome!

Pictures include in this article including that fake new DLP Star Tours outside decor - and the opening date on the top image which is pure wishful thinking - are not Disney or WDI pictures but were done by two talented members of the french Disney Central Plaza forum - BIX! and McFLY - whom i thanks a lot for their authorisation to post them here.

Thanks also to my friend Pascal Pinteau for some technical infos from his excellent EffetsSpé web site


Matt said...

awesome - so glad the screen/projector will be outside of the shell, and that there will be small complimentary side "windows". obviously will a give a more realistic impression. can't wait to see this update in real life!

thanks alain!

Anonymous said...

If they have a large viewing screen on the outside, then this would be a major upgrade, wouldn't it?

The simulators are now located in a row back-to-front: 4 in Disneyland and 6 in all other parks inside a large hall.

If you want to project something on the outside, this hall needs to be divided and a screen and projector must be installed in every compartment or else just the first simulator in the row will actually see anything, the rest will be blocked by the other simulators or would be much to far away from the screen to be anything near immersive.

Installing a spherical screen for every simulator seems challenging at the least. You also need one screen per simulator, because all simulators run on their own loop, which results in a smooth visitor flow.

Other simulators that use a large spherical IMAX screen such as Galaxy (now Atlantis) in Phantasialand use a different setup. They play one movie for all simulators at the same time, and all simulators face the same screen. The effect is not very convincing to be honest.

Star Tours is an outdated simulator ride, but the extraordinary theming as a star port makes it special. Let's hope they manage to keep the story and the great pre-show intact. I also do not like the proposed pod race element to be honest, because as far as I'm concerned, it touches some bad parts of "Star Wars history". ;)

Alain Littaye said...

The Pod Race concept is an idea which is now 10 years old, and frankly, i think the imagineers will use a totally different theme, which is good news.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally confident the imagineers will come up with something exciting and original as they almost always do.

It's George Lucas and the suits at Disney who worry me though ;).

Anonymous said...

I apologise, but it does not approach me. Who else, what can prompt?