and playing with Spiderman and He-Man, though mostly with Teela to tell the truth. Because she was the girl.
That is, of course, when I wasn't forcing my poor sister to play with Barbies or My Little Pony and trying to convince her that it was her idea in the first place. Star Wars wasn't really on my radar.
My first time really stepping into the Star Wars universe was actually on Star Tours in the Nineties at what was then Disney-MGM Studios. I'm pretty sure it was on a trip there with my middle school drama club, the Junior Company. We decked ourselves out in purple ringer t-shirts with our names emblazoned on the back, packed ourselves into a couple of large vans and made the four hour trek to Orlando from Tallahassee.
We were a gaggle of over-the-top teenage misfits, spending the trip down talking deeply about the deep things that middle school misfits who have found their kindred talk about. That and looking for the Cafe Risque billboards featuring a woman, probably named Desyre, with hair that belonged squarely in 1986 and cherry red lips declaring "We Bare All!" For a not yet out of the closet gayby, those billboards were both fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. Gay males have an odd pull towards with overly done up, overly sexualized women, from Mae West to The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to Lady Gaga. Don't ask me why. Facts is facts. Pigs is pigs.
But the most exciting part for me would always be when Desyre would finally fade into the distance and the billboards for the latest Disney concoctions would begin to pop up. They were always clever and did such a good job representing the amazing experience that you were sure to have on the attraction.
I would be hard pressed to fully explain the wonderfully exhilarating knot that forms in your stomach as a kid driving to Disney and seeing those billboards if you didn't experience it for yourself. It was a pure rush of anticipatory joy to have those high flying ads whet your appetite for what's to come. Honestly, for me, seeing those billboards is still one of the best highs in the world. Those moments full of the promise of things to come are some of the most magical.
Undoubtedly, the new hot ride was Star Tours. And I'm sure that we waited in the pre-Fast Pass era line and gossiped the time away. And when we finally hopped into our StarSpeeder 3000, I was blown away. This was before you could go to the mall and ride a motion simulator. This was the kind of thing you could only do at Disney. I believe there was also the now defunct Body Wars, where you were shrunk down to the size of an atom and shot into someone's body, at the time. Which I assume is akin to a high tech version of what it must have been like on Adventure Through Inner Space at Disneyland.
Even with no emotional ties whatsoever to the characters or knowledge of the backstory, the ride did exactly what Disney attractions excel at. It took me to another world where I could suspend my imagination and do something I could never do in the real world. It did not birth any more interest in Star Wars in me, but I'm sure that for superfans the feeling they get is exponentially more intense. Riding it for them must be what it was like for me to ride the Alice in Wonderland ride at Disneyland for the first time last year. It was like they had created an attraction- a whole world- just for me. I almost piddled myself. That's part of the genius of Imagineering. They can create a land engineered to accommodate thousands of people that feels like they had no one else but you on their minds.
I say all this to say, they have released a new video that shows a day in Disney with Darth Vader. It made me laugh out loud. Whoever is producing these promo videos is really hitting 'em out of the park lately.
I love when he pulls the light saber on the ghost in the Haunted Mansion especially, but kudos to them for making comic gold out of the juxtaposition of the character (who I know is a bad guy and- spoiler alert!- Luke's father) engaging in typical Disney activities. Genius.