•In retrospect, it might not be clear from the article that I did get to take one ride on new Star Tours (You'll note Disney isn't calling it Star Tours 2). Also on board were Imagineer Kathy Rogers (a great explainer) and a handful of Disney World execs and folks who have been doing work on the attraction.
What stands out for me was the crisp clarity of the film, almost breath-taking. It's like going from your grandpa's crappy TV to today's big-screen HDTV … and in 3-D. The three-dimensional tricks were fairly standard fare yet effective, especially the break-through-the-glass finale.
•The motion was well-timed with the film's action, smooth sailing when appropriate, bumpy when it needed to be. It's the same ride system as before but each planet visited has its own unique maneuvers and experiences, Rogers assures.
•Another stand-out impression of the entire attraction is how jam-packed with Star Wars characters it will be. For big fans, it will be somewhere between a "Where's Waldo" and Hidden Mickeys. And some of them are aimed at big fans. One of my fellow riders was happy to spot the semi-obscure Sebulba from "Episode I " in action.
•But there's a new "real people" element to it as well. One passenger is singled out — on screen — as a "rebel spy" after entering the StarSpeeder 1000.
•The 3-D "flight glasses" are black and sleek. I felt a bit Terminator in them, but mostly I was glad they weren't the bendy yellow variety from "Honey I Shrunk the Audience."
•In the security area (the second part of the queue), a bot called G2-9T scans luggage and interacts with guests. Higher up, G2-4T scans humans, and you'll be able to see a thermal-scan version of yourself on screen. (Fun side activity: Grab the cold hand rail, then hold your hand up to the camera.)
•Film length is 4 minutes and 20 seconds, just as before, "down to the frame," Rogers said.
•The queue area has been refurbished, but if you were expecting the building to be gutted for a new layout, you're going to be disappointed. There's new paint, technology and other elements to observe, but the layout of the path to the loading area is unchanged.
•In the coming weeks, there will be scores of secret/significant sightings from within the attraction. Here's one to get you started: What's the (Disney) significance of it being Flight 1401?
The address of Walt Disney Imagineering headquarter in Glendale, Calif., is 1401 Flower Street.