09 August 2010

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

When I was a child we didn’t have lightsabers with light and sound effects, instead I had a really long stick that I forced through a belt loop in my shorts. I didn’t have a Jedi robe, I had a blanket with a knot in it. And there were no realistic Stormtroppers or Darth Vader figures in a video game, but I did have a lot of trees that didn’t mind being whacked by a stick. The one thing I did have, around the time I was eight, was Star Tours.

As soon as I could get through the turnstiles, I would race the precariously perched feet of the AT-AT Walker guarding the entrance to Star Tours, where I would wait impatiently for my parents and sister, while other families arrived and walked on by me and into the ride. In those days, Star Tours was not a five minute wait, so I would spend the time watching he travel advertisement videos, waving and trying to get the attention of the Mon Calamari that I was convinced was Admiral Ackbar, examining the droid components filing by in baskets, and marveling at C-3P0, R2-D2 and the other droids that populated this world I had only seen in movies and cartoons. As we approached the flight terminal, I would beg my father to tell tem we wanted to sit in the front row, and then position myself to be as close to the center of the row as possible, even if it meant facing my fear of sitting next to a stranger.

Then, RX-24, or Rex as he is commonly known as, would lower the shield and the entire world beyond ceased to exist. I would clutch at my armrests, they were after all the steering mechanisms that I used to pilot the Starspeeder 3000 through comets, light speed, and the battle of the Death Star. Coincidentally, the light speed tunnel was new to me, since in the movies ships only ever jumped into or out of light speed and we never saw what it looked like from the inside, but I handled it like a pro, a screaming this-is-the-coolest-thing-I’ve-ever seen pro. When I had finally landed us relatively safely, the next logical thing to do was to ask if we could go again.

Over the years, the attraction itself has lost a bit of its luster for me, but not much as I am a child of the Force. Each trip requires a flight aboard the Starspeeder 3000 to Endor, which is my favorite planet from any of the Star Wars films (this is not the time and place to discuss the expanded universe of Star Wars). I can usually persuade myself to watch a performance of the Jedi Training Academy (and wonder aloud where was this when I was a child), and I love watching a whole new generation of padawans start down the path of the Force.

This weekend is the Last Flight to Endor event, an event I will unfortunately not be able to attend. For me, this is the morning, when I am at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, that I will take my last flight to Endor. Appropriately enough, I will have my father with me for the flight, and if I’m real lucky I’ll be sitting in that front row. As I leave, I’ll be sure to mutter a thank you to Rex and Artoo for all the flights through the galaxy they’ve given me.


DizWiz said...

Well said. Have a great time on your last flight. My last flight was with my 5 year-old daughter on 6/25. It was her first and last trip, and she had a blast. I'm so glad she had a chance to ride the original at least once.

Jason G. said...

Awesome. I'm in a similar boat, er, speeder as you. Star Tours needs a tune-up but it is very much in my DNA as a huge Star Wars fan. What's lost a little now is that when it first came out, it was all we had. That and some Timothy Zahn books and a whole lot of imagination. Since then prequels, video games, Internet communities, cartoons and Expanded Universe books have helped fill in every last vacuum of the imagination. It's made Star Tours seem tame in comparison but people have to remember how important and vital it was to a Star Wars fan back in the early 90s.

Sadly, they announced the Last Tour after i booked my trip for October, so i'll be about a month and a half too late to take one last trip. I'm very sad about that. As excited as I am about giving the place a fresh coat of paint, I wanted to give a proper goodbye to Version 1.0