The Awesome Star Tours Moment That Was George Lucas’ Idea

Star Tours concept art

Decades before Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge was even a pipedream, Disneyland and George Lucas came together to create the first Star Wars theme park attraction. Star Tours was a one of a kind ride that brought guests into the world of Star Wars in a way that no movie ever could. It was such a popular attraction that, despite plans to upgrade the ride over time, the original concept stayed in place for over 20 years.

However, in 2011, Star Tours finally saw a major upgrade. While the core ride and concept were the same, everything else was fresh and new, including one moment that has become a hallmark of the current attraction, which was actually the idea of George Lucas himself. As part of the new Disney+ series Behind the Attraction, Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald explained that the Rebel Spy being a guest on board the ride came from George...

George wanted us to have a spy in the audience. What if, actually, we could take a picture of someone in the cabin and put it up on screen and really let a guest see themselves as a rebel spy.

The rebel spy moment is one of the best on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. In the first story sequence, the Empire stops your Starspeeder because they're looking for a rebel spy. A picture is flashed up on the screen and the rebel spy is revealed to be a random person, frequently a young child, on the ride itself. Nobody, including the spy themselves, is ever aware they were chosen until they see their picture, so it's always fun for the person, and their friends or family to discover they're a rebel spy. If you've been on the ride enough times, and due to the variety of experiences, there's every reason to do that, you've probably been chosen as the rebel spy at least once. They even sell t-shirts allowing guests to advertise they they were chosen as the rebel spy.

George Lucas was actually behind a lot of the ideas that lead to Star Tours, including using the motion simulator technology that was the core of the original ride as well as the updated version, but this little item shows just how important he found the details to be. This idea of taking a guest's picture and making it part of the ride isn't simply a "Star Wars idea" it's the sort of element that you might expect out of a Walt Disney Imagineer. It's about enhancing the guest experience on the attraction.

In the Star Tours episode of Behind the Attraction it's clear that Walt Disney Imagineering and George Lucas worked really well together. It's likely for this reason that they were able to create an attraction that has been around for so long. Even after the development of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Star Tours is still incredibly popular with guests and shows no signs of going anywhere.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.