Jar Jar Binks Takes Spotlight in Star Tours Upgrade

Fan-favorite Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks has been elevated to an expanded role in the 4-year-old ride Star Tours ride, thanks to the Disney marketing machine.

This move is no doubt intended to counteract the potential fall-out from another recent change to the ride: The addition of an entire sequence based on a scene from The Force Awakens, which is a low-budget art-house movie that Disney dumped into its late-year release slate, presumably so it could write off the loss.

One can certainly question the wisdom in updating an acclaimed classic ride with material from a potential box office flop. It smacks of desperation. Most visitors have spent thousands of dollars for a chance to explore the Wookiee homeland or win the Boonta Eve classic, and the move is sure to outrage some passionate and vocal opponents.

To rub salt in the wound, Disney also added a hologram sequence of cloying droid BB-8, a character many Star Wars purists find “jarring” and “offensive.”

The jury is still out on whether or not The Force Awakens will eventually become the kind of financial and critical success that some in the company hope it will achieve. Meanwhile, they are leaning on the larger role of Jar Jar Binks to deflect criticism.

Jar Jar Binks has appeared in the ride ever since it opened as Star Tours 2: The Adventures Continue back in 2012. He appeared as a glorified cameo in the “Naboo” sequence of the film, in which your ride vehicle plunges into an alien ocean. Mr. Binks could be seen waving off in the corner among some seaweed, and ducking as your ship passes overhead (at 3:08 in the video below):

But in this latest incarnation, Jar Jar Binks now swims directly in front of your Starspeeder, offering riders a titilating glimpse of the Gungan’s hind quarters. And in the kind of hilarious comic hijinks which has made the character beloved the world over, he finds himself plastered like a bug on the windshield, unable to move. We even get a flash of that trademark Jar Jar Binks tongue.

Here is the best video I can find, which is in full-on blur mode, right up until Jar Jar slides off the windshield. The Starspeeder is entering the water at about the 3:12 mark.

The expanded role of Jar Jar Binks has been mysteriously downplayed. In fact, it seems to have come after the The Force Awakens portions were added to the ride. Note that the first video above contains the new The Force Awakens scenes, but also contains the original Jar Jar Binks sequence.

It’s unclear why Disney opted to modify only the Naboo sequence of the ride, while leaving the other existing scenes untouched. One can only surmise that building a wooden statue of Anakin Skywalker to recreate Hayden Christensen’s performance was simply not cost-effective, given the budget.

In the meantime, audiences will just have to be satisfied with the expanded role of Jar Jar Binks, doing a nice tribute to Dory’s surprise appearance in Turtle Talk.

Dory Smashed by Whale

Shane was raised on a steady diet of EPCOT Center and Kenner action figures. Parkeology is the happy result. He is the creator along with his friend Ted of the WDW47 Challenge — featured by such media giants as CNN, ABC, FoxNews, and the in-flight magazine for Norwegian Air. With his brother Tristan, Shane is the author of the adventure fantasy novels Arabian Heist and Johnny Shipwreck. He currently resides in the Swiss Family Treehouse.

5 thoughts on “Jar Jar Binks Takes Spotlight in Star Tours Upgrade

  1. There’s also a variant of the Vader opening with Boba Fett in the group and an alternate Coruscant ending with Chewbacca waving from the parked Falcon instead of the Starspeeders parked there. The Pit Droid with paint is also a new addition, rotating out with the Naboo ship tail crashing through the window from the original.

    • Some of those are very minor randomizations. For instance, I noticed Boba a couple weeks ago during the Vader sequence, but just assumed he had always been there. And since I got new Jar Jar with old Naboo windshield breakage, it’s fascinating that there are now randomizations even within the sequences themselves.

      Also, for what it’s worth, I love that in the new Jakku scene, one of the scavengers rips off the hood ornament to your star speeder.

  2. Shane,

    I think the wooden statue of Anakin Skywalker would outperform Hayden Christian’s performances in Episodes II and III.

  3. Jut came off the ride for the 5th time in a row this week. Got the same goddam sequence every time. First part the scene from force awakens (*yawn) and then the stupid Naboo battle. I would’ve gotten up and walked out if I could. I went and asked a cast member what the deal was. He said you actually have a 4 out of 7 chance for Naboo, 2 out of 7 for Coruscant, and a 1 out of 7 for the Death Star. I don’t understand why they don’t keep them equal, but my guess is that the other variations are more exciting and require your “ship” to jolt around more which would create more wear and tear on the machine as opposed to just floating around in the ocean with Jar Jar and taking it in the ass.

    Oh he did mention there are slight variations to the Naboo battle such as the part at the end. You could get paint splashed on your screen or a ship could pierce the windshield. Such excitement!! Disney totally jewed people out on this one after the Force Awakens came out.

    • You may be onto something with the theory that certain sequences that produce less wear and tear are now being offered more frequently. That is truly sad, but seems to match the general attitude that they have.

      While I like the Naboo sequences in Star Tours, getting them 5 times in a row is a complete joke.

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