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More lights, more sounds and plenty of action await guests at the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!”. Following the installation of all new state-of-the-art lighting, sound and other technical show enhancements, Indy and crew are wowing audiences with earth-shattering crashes, fiery explosions and other glimpses into the art of movie-making.

“Guests see completely rebuilt scenes -- we even have a new airplane,” says show producer Joe Kivett. “But mostly, the show reflects the incredible technical advances that weren’t around when the show opened in 1989.”

Inspired by the blockbuster film “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” the show recreates edge-of-your-seat scenes with 17 stunt performers demonstrating techniques Hollywood uses to fool moviegoers into thinking a favorite celebrity has taken a punch, fall or bullet. The sequence of scenes lasts 32 minutes and is staged in a 2,000-seat amphitheater allowing guests a close-up view of the action. From the audience, 9-10 volunteers are selected at the beginning of each show to participate as extras.

Professional stunt performers are joined by the “extras” wearing costumes native to the Middle-Eastern setting. They act as bystanders while Indiana saves Marion, the heroine in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” from the machine-gun fire of German soldiers and an out-of-control truck that explodes on impact.

A few tense moments. One happy ending.

In addition to the revitalized show elements, the revolutionary Disney’s FASTPASS has been added to the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!” Guests can choose to wait in line, or they can obtain a FASTPASS ticket -- free of charge -- with a designated return time when they can enter the theater with little to no wait.

The wildest galactic journey ever to depart from this side of the continent transports Walt Disney World Resort guests on a rocking, rolling, uproarious flight to the Moon of Endor in Star Tours, presented by Energizer.

Drawing upon the imagination and wizardry of George Lucas, Industrial Light & Magic and the Walt Disney Imagineers, Star Tours combines flight-simulator technology and an action-packed, thrill-a-second motion picture to create a “Star Wars” experience that transforms the audience into passengers aboard a careening spacecraft.

It’s a new generation of thrill ride that doesn’t rely on tracks, wheels or rocket engines to propel guests into the middle of a memorable journey. Rather, the creative team began with the technology of a flight simulator, utilized by the military and airlines for training pilots, and took it into the world of “Star Wars.” Synchronizing a stunning film with the virtually limitless gyrations of the simulator, the experience leaves guests actually feeling what they see -- a hair-raising, light-speed trip to the Moon of Endor.

The time is following the “Return of the Jedi,” third chapter in the “Star Wars” trilogy. The adventure begins on a woodland path beneath the arboreal village of the Ewoks, who have built their homes overhead among the redwoods, sequoias and pines on the Moon of Endor. In Ewok Village, a battle-disabled, 35-foot-tall Imperial Walker malevolently but helplessly looks down on the Ewoks’ treetop homes.

The path leads to a futuristic maintenance hangar. Inside, guests see the famous Lucas Droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, working for a galactic travel agency servicing the Star Tours fleet of StarSpeeder 3000 spacecraft.

After passing information boards touting a variety of galactic tour packages and walking through a high-tech “nuts-and-bolts” Droidnostics Center, guests reach the boarding ramp for the StarSpeeder spacecraft. The fleet includes five ships, each with a 40-passenger capacity . . . and a droid pilot named RX-24 (Rex for short).

With seat belts securely fastened and the lovable chrome-dome captain at the controls, the adventure takes a quick detour from the experience of a usual flight -- simulated or otherwise. Usual flights have a skilled pilot controlling the action. Rex, it turns out, is . . . well, “a rookie.”

Flight ST-45, launched non-stop for Endor, begins calmly. But in just seconds, the spacecraft is catapulted into the vastness of space. Trouble is on the horizon as the ship is drawn into an asteroid-like field of frozen ice fragments that collide against the ship.

Passengers barely catch their breath when their craft is drawn into combat with a massive Imperial Star Destroyer. Rex turns to the passengers and says, “I know this isn’t on the tour . . . but it’s pretty exciting, isn’t it?” As he turns back to the controls, he sees the Empire’s fearsome Death Star battle station come into view. Rex panics and the ship rolls out of control toward the surface of the station.

As the StarSpeeder darts and weaves its way across the top of the Death Star, Rex shouts to the passengers, “I’ve always wanted to do this! We’re going in!” Joining the rebel alliance in battle against the dark forces, the spacecraft dodges oncoming laser blasts and narrowly escapes almost certain destruction by veering up and away from the Death Star, suddenly rocketing into hyperspace . . . and safety.

Seconds later, the StarSpeeder decelerates for touchdown, skidding into the landing bay. The ship’s overhead monitor pops on with the image of C-3PO, who is obviously unaware of the harrowing experience as he cheerfully says to guests, “We do hope you enjoyed your tour to Endor and will come back soon.”

Star Tours is the second collaboration with filmmaker Lucas, following the spine-tingling “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!”

 
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