Massive “Star Wars” celebration taking Disney by storm(troopers)

By Sean O’Connell We vacationed in Orlando this summer, spending a few days at Walt Disney World. We’re a Disney family, and we try to spend a few days in “the happiest place on earth” every year. Yes, it’s insanely crowded and more expensive than we’d like. But we have our favorite attractions, restaurants and exhibits that keep us coming back year after year.

One of them, “Star Tours” in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM Studios), has not aged well. The ride “transports” you to the Endor moon. But because your pilot is a rookie, you end up rocketing through the tight corridors of the Death Star so you can fire the fatal blast that concludes George Lucas’s original “Star Wars.”

It’s an adequate diversion, and it’s air-conditioned. But it’s also inexcusably outdated. My six-year-old son doesn’t care, of course. He sees C3PO, R2D2 and a few lightsabers, so his day is made. But a close friend who’d also recently vacationed at Disney couldn’t stop ripping on “Star Tours,” and Lucas, for ignoring the ride for so many years. There are no references to Lucas’s three prequel films, all of which came out after “Star Tours” opened. The videos shown to patrons as they wait haven’t changed in decades. In general, the ride isn’t a fair representation of the “Star Wars” world.

At least, it wasn’t. Until now.

“Star Tours” in Orlando is shutting down for renovations, but not before “Star Wars” fans send it off with a stellar party. “Last Tour to Endor” will be held on Saturday, Aug. 14, at Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World.

According to a release, the exclusive party will allow fans one last time to experience the attraction before it “powers down” in preparation for a new, 3-D Star Wars adventure that will open in 2011 at Disneyland park in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

“Last Tour to Endor” will be an after-hours, private event that will feature live entertainment, Disney characters in their favorite Star Wars attire, a special Star Wars-themed fireworks spectacular, the “Death Star Disco,” Jedi Training Academy, Star Wars trivia challenges and more.

“Last Tour to Endor” tickets are $75 in advance, and will be $89 at the gate (if available). Advance tickets may be purchased online at

Here are some other fast facts about the “Last Tour to Endor” party:

— This is the largest private party ever held during a Star Wars Celebration.

— Fans are encouraged to get into the Star Wars spirit and dress in their favorite Star Wars costume for the event.

— Special Star Wars-themed entertainment, created just for this party, will be showcased throughout evening.

— “Last Tour to Endor” event-exclusive memorabilia, collectibles and merchandise will be available for purchase at the party.

— Just like during Star Wars Weekends, Mickey Mouse and his pals plan to join the fun by dressing up as their favorite saga characters. Mickey Mouse becomes Jedi Mickey; Donald Duck becomes Stormtrooper Donald; Goofy does his best Darth Vader

impersonation and Minnie Mouse dons a honeybun-style wig and white dress in honor of Princess Leia.

— Free roundtrip shuttles to the event from the Orange County Convention Center will be offered for Star Wars Celebration attendees.

— A salute to the Star Tours attraction will cap the evening in grand fashion.

— While the party officially begins at 8 p.m., “Last Tour to Endor” ticket holders can get a head-start on their theme park fun and enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios as early as 4 p.m.

— “Hyperspace Hoopla” will feature Star Wars characters stepping outside of their galaxy and putting on a display of dancing like never before. Here’s the lineup scheduled for the “Last Tour of Endor” party:

— Chewbacca, Han Solo and the Jawas put on their dancing shoes (except Chewbacca of course, who will be frantically moving his furry feet) and perform a tune from the 1978 hit movie-musical Grease. In fact, Rebel spies have provided initial intel that Chewbacca’s fur will be fashioned into a 1950’s pompadour hairstyle just for the occasion.

— Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia will go back to the 1980s with a dance number from the box-office hit “Dirty Dancing.”

— Some of the most famous females from the Star Wars saga — including Queen Amidala, Ahsoka Tano, Zam Wessel and Aurra Sing — will join forces for an ensemble dance number set to one of the biggest pop hits by the “material girl” herself, Madonna.

— Returning by popular demand will be Darth Vader and his crew of dancing stormtroopers, cutting a rug (and no, not cutting it with a lightsaber) to a hit medley from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. At previous “Hyperspace Hooplas,” the Dark Lord has been known to even don a single, sequined glove as he channels the iconic music superstar.

For tickets and more information about the “Last Tour to Endor” event, guests may visit

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