Star Tours is the original Star Wars attraction in the Disney Parks. However, the two most common questions about the attraction are when it takes place in the Star Wars timeline and whether Star Tours is canon. Determining when the Disney parks motion simulator Star Tours takes place is relative to which version of the attraction and the exact experience you have. While the original version was set shortly after Return of the Jedi, the current version is more vague. Whether Star Tours is canon is even more complicated. Here are the basics to understanding when Star Tours takes place and whether Star Tours is canon.
When Does Star Tours Take Place in the Star Wars Timeline?
Where Star Wars takes place in the Star Wars timeline is a simple question. But like so many other things in the Star Wars universe, the answer is less than simple.
The current version of the attraction, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, was originally set between the Prequel Trilogy and the Original Trilogy. However, the addition of the Sequel series scenes makes this less clear.
Mimicking the release of the movies, the current version of the attraction is actually a prequel to the original attraction.
When Does the Original Star Tours Take Place?
The original Star Tours attraction released in 1987 takes place shortly after the events of the Return of the Jedi. Leland Chee, the keeper of the Holocron continuity database, tentatively dates the Star Tours as taking place in 4.3 ABY. However, this is only a rough estimate since neither George Lucas nor Disney officially placed the attraction on the Star Wars timeline.
While the inclusion of the Death Star is confusing, it is somewhat explained in a 2013 StarWars.com article written by James McFadden. McFadden explains that Star Tours encounters “what appeared to be a third Death Star.” The article offers an in-universe history of the fictional travel agency Star Tours as well as some real-world background about the attraction.
Around the same time, Leland Chee revealed that the Death Star wasn’t really a Death Star. Instead, it was actually a habitation sphere disguised as a Death Star by an Imperial warlord to distract the New Republic. And yes, these are really the type of retcons that occurred within the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
When Does Star Tours – The Adventures Continue Take Place?
The current version of Star Tours, called Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, takes place at a vague point in time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
While guests never see an opening crawl on the attraction, Lucasfilm actually created a backstory to explain the new attraction. Set after the dark times, Captain Antilles has lent C-3PO and R2-D2 to Star Tours to assist inauguration of the spaceline. You may remember that Senator Bail Organa placed the droids in Antilles’ custody near the end of Revenge of the Sith.
Given the experiences and locations in Star Tours, the actual time could vary depending on your exact ride experience. For example, it could be only a year or two after Revenge of the Sith if you visit Kashyyyk and Coruscant. However, it could be much closer to A New Hope if you visit Hoth.
While Hoth is the lone Original Trilogy location in the attraction, George Lucas himself actually solved this contradiction in the Star Wars timeline. He suggested that the Rebels could have first used Echo Base on Hoth years before The Empire Strikes Back. If the Empire already assaulted the base, it would then seem extremely unlikely the Rebel Alliance would eventually return.
The Sequel era segments make dating the attraction even more difficult. The updates for each movie clearly highlight locations and conflicts directly related to those movies. While it’s conceivable there could still be conflicts on Jakku during The Rise of Skywalker, it doesn’t actually explain Finn’s involvement.
Ultimately, it’s nearly impossible to accurately date the Sequel segments since they cannot take place at the same time. There is no way that Rey, Finn, or Poe could be in multiple locations at basically the same time.
Is Star Tours Canon?
Whether Star Tours is canon is perhaps even more complicated than when the attraction takes place. While neither version of Star Tours attraction is considered canon today, both versions were originally considered canon as a part of the Expanded Universe when they first opened.
As with most things within the Expanded Universe, Lucasfilm Licensing, and later the Lucasfilm Story Group, retconned certain details to keep continuity within the universe. This includes retconning the origin of the Death Star in the original and explaining how the Hoth segment makes sense in the second version.
Both attractions have been considered Star Wars Legends since the Lucasfilm Story Group reset the canon timeline in 2014. Part of the reason that both versions are considered Legends has to do with their ambiguous placement within the Star Wars timeline.
Yet, the Star Tours travel agency is actually canon within the Star Wars universe. The in-universe version of Star Tours was referenced in The Clone Wars. Additionally, an unknown model of StarSpeeder appeared during the end sequence of The Rise of Skywalker.
DJ R-3X from Oga’s Cantina on Batuu, who is actually an RX-24 model pilot droid, originally appeared in a Rebels episode. In the episode, they pilot a Star Commuter 2000 shuttle which appears to be connected to the StarSpeeder 1000 and 3000 ships that appear in Star Tours. In fact, both the Star Commuter line and the StarSpeeder line are made by Sacul Industries, with Sacul spelling Lucas backward.
What is the Canonicity of the Original Attraction?
The original Star Tours attraction was considered canon when it first came out. It was set shortly after Return of the Jedi in a time when space tourism was considered safe. The inclusion of the Death Star was retconned as a fake space station used to distract the Rebels. It was moved to the Legends timeline in 2014 when the Lucasfilm Story Group reset the official canon continuity.
What is the Canonicity of The Adventures Continue?
When Star Tours – The Adventures Continue first came out in 2011, it was also considered canon. It was originally set at a vague point in time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The Coruscant sequence places the timeline much closer to the Prequels, while the Hoth sequence suggests a time much closer to the Original Trilogy.
However, it was later moved to the Legends timeline in 2014 to resolve issues with the attraction’s timeline. While this was originally done to clear up issues with visiting Hoth, it was later used to deal with issued created by adding the Sequel era scenes.
Despite its popularity with the Imagineers, the Hoth sequence almost wasn’t used in the final attraction due to the confusion about the timeline. George Lucas himself actually suggested a retcon where the Rebels used the Hoth base years before the events of The Empire Strikes Back.
While these retcons kept the early versions canon, they do not explain how Original, Prequel, and Sequel trilogy stories appear together. Moving Star Tours to the Legends universe ultimately resolved this issue and allows content from all three trilogies to appear together in the attraction.
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