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The new Star Wars trilogy has been taking many cues from the film's that preceded it. However, it turns out that one element of Star Wars: The Last Jedi actually owes its existence to a Star Wars theme park attraction. Near the end of the movie, during the battle on the planet Crait, we follow the Millennium Falcon as it is chased by a squad of TIE Fighters into a fissure in the planet's surface. In one of the special features included in the Digital release of The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson says the sequence was actually inspired by a similar sequence in the original version of Disneyland's Star Tours attraction. According to Johnson...
And that section where you're flying through these red crystal caverns was kind of inspired by, for me at least, the original Star Tours ride. The very original one where you're going through the comet and you smash out the ice cave at the end.
Star Tours went through a major overhaul that drastically changed the ride starting in 2011, so the original version of the attraction is no longer available to experience, but it involved a tourist transport that was supposed to visit the forest moon of Endor, but got misdirected due to an inexperienced pilot, voiced by Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens. After accidentally flying right past Endor, the craft found itself surrounded by comets, and gets struck by several before actually being trapped inside of one. The ship has to weave its way through the icy interior of the comet before it crashes through the wall and escapes.
Today, Star Tours has several, randomly generated, experiences, so guests can travel to several different planets and experience many different rides. This has also allowed Disney Parks to add new experiences to the ride as new Star Wars films have been released. In a humorous coincidence, Crait is the planet that was added to the attraction from The Last Jedi and the ride actually does fly through the crystal cavern, an irony not lost on Rian Johnson.
To see it all come full circle and be in a Star Tours ride. That was pretty cool.
One of the great things about Disneyland and Walt Disney World is that they're always working on new things to keep the parks fresh, however, that also means that older attractions go away, likely never to be seen again. However, thanks to Star Tours inspiring The Last Jedi, and vice versa, fans can now at least experience something very like the original version of the ride.
With Disney Parks about a year away from adding an entire new planet to the Star Wars universe with the new Galaxy's Edge land, I wonder how it might inspire future Star Wars movies, assuming of course that the land isn't already being designed with future movies in mind. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is now available via Digital and will be released on Blu-ray March 27.
Image Courtesy DisneylandNews.com/Disney