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Star Wars Experience – Touring the Stars - Star Tours, Paris
by Joris De Smet

Spring 2005
     Ever trusted your life into the hands of an erratic pilot droid with a suicidal attitude? If you are a sound person, this probably sounds like the purest of horror to you. On the other hand, if you're a bit of a Star Wars geek, you'd probably want to sign up immediately.

     Welcome to the Star Tours adventure!

     Star Tours tells a tale about a part of the Star Wars world that we didn't see a lot about so far … interstellar public transport. And not very surprisingly, there’s some adventure to be had in that sector as well.

     When you join the ride, you are actually supposed to be a space tourist wanting an easy and comfy flight aboard one of the Star Speeder 3000 spacecraft to the Forest Moon of Endor. Instead, you'll end up chasing after X-wings and Tie Fighters around the third Death Star*. However, ingenious as you are, you “don't know that yet” and so you enter the Star Tours Company’s premises using the front gate, as befits an exemplary space traveller in George Lucas’ Universe. Anyway, so did I …

     Before you'll be allowed to board the space bus, you'll have to walk a fair bit, though. And very likely; wait a fair bit too. Luckily, the Star Tours Company’s management realized that waiting in line is not a very exciting pastime and so they decided to turn the wait itself into part of the experience: you'll get a tour of the company while doing so!

     As such, I passed from a corridor with a star map into the docking bay and then into the repair workshop. Along the way, I was greeted enthusiastically by a number of the company’s employees, which include some Mon Calamari flight controllers, the infamous droid duo Threepio and Artoo and yet more droids, listening to enchanting names such as WEG-1618 and G2-4T. The latter are, in general, quite busy with nothing else but chatting. It is here that I realized that they resembled the public service of my home world very well.

     I remember hearing some announcements over the PA system during my wait in the holding area: “Mr. Egroeg Sacul” was called up for something and then there was a twit who had illegally parked his speeder. No, mine wasn't the one with license place “THX-1138”, so nothing I could do about it… At the head of the line, I was treated to a little movie (2MB - Quicktime required) about the safety regulations aboard the transport ship and then I was ushered aboard. From there, REX-24, Rex for friends, took over and announced that he'll be the pilot for this flight. Hey! Does that red tag on his torso say “Warning! Remove before Flight.”?

     Rex confided us with the thrilling information this was his first flight, which somehow filled me with a sense of impending doom. I really had a bad feeling about this! And sure enough, the bulb-headed pilot didn't even manage to get out of the docking area without scaring off a serious amount of ground personnel! But it didn't stop there … instead of stopping quiet and nicely at my intended stop, the stupid droid pulled out of hyperspace too late and we ended up first in a meteor field and then in the thick of the space battle I mentioned before. We only survived because an X-wing pilot was kind enough to provide us with the necessary assistance…

     I should probably be telling you not to trust the Star Tours Company even a little bit, but fact is that I quite enjoyed the thrill of it all. Even if I didn't end up where I wanted to go … I really had hoped I could have met with some of those cuddly, furry Ewoks, but alas. We ended up in the very same building where I took the ride! Now where did I park my speeder again?

     * The third Death Star indeed. There are quite a few theories going around trying to explain how this ride would fit into the canon of the Star Wars trilogy, but none of them are waterproof. Considering the fact that Artoo is flying the Star Speeder 3000 and we see Threepio in the holding area; it is not possible that this is the Death Star we see in ANH as their whereabouts are accounted for during that battle.

     The RotJ Death Star is not even finished when it’s destroyed, but the one we see in the ride is, so they can't be one and the same again. Besides, also in this case, Artoo and Threepio were known to be somewhere else at the time of the artificial moon’s destruction again. Our only refuge would seem to be the Death Star prototype that is mentioned in the Expanded Universe novels “Jedi Search” and “Champions of the Force”, but unfortunately that theory doesn't withstand close scrutiny either: also the prototype is far from being finished when it is destroyed, just barely a skeleton. Moreover, the prototype is said to be under construction in the Maw, somewhere in the Kessel Sector. The one we see being destroyed during the ride, however, has to be located close to the Forest Moon of Endor, which is several light years away from the Kessel Sector. Besides, also in this last case, our infamous droid duo was known to be living adventures in a different place at the time.

     All well considered, this Death Star couldn't have been anything else but yet another space station developed by the evil Empire; a third Death Star, so to speak. Luckily, the X-wing jocks already had ample experience destroying those things in the meantime. It all took considerably less effort to do it this time around.

     Another fact that is bugging me about the ride is the fact that every Star Tours visitor seems to experience the same events and that every time, a Death Star is blown up. I have an explanation for this strange phenomenon, but it includes some nasty astrophysics and it requires proving that parallel universes exist, so I will not elaborate on it here … but it works, believe me!

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