Star Tours Ride-A-Thon
Yes, we're not ashamed to admit it -- your stalwart PassPorter authors did the Star Tours Ride-A-Thon at Disney-MGM Studios on Sunday, May 14, 2000. What did we think? We had a blast, and it was easily one of the most memorable events of our trip!
The Star Tours Ride-A-Thon is offered during the Star Wars Weekends at Disney-MGM Studios. The Star Wars Weekends are held during the month of May and there are only two left now: May 19-21 and May 26-28. We discovered the Ride-A-Thon listed in our guidemaps when we arrived at the Studios on Saturday, May 13 -- here's the descriptive text:
"How much hyperspace can you handle? Register for the Star Tours Ride-A-Thon and you can win fabulous Star Wars Weekends merchandise. 9:00am-11:00am - Registration outside of Tatooine Traders (open to the first 100 guests)"
We were intrigued! No, it wasn't the prospect of winning prizes, but rather the challenge: just how many times COULD we ride Star Tours? We decided to give it a try the following day, arriving at 8:45 am to register. A small table was set up in the overflow queue for Star Tours and folks were already lined up to register. They handed us all a sheet with details and rules (see
below), then had us read and sign a waiver form (yes, you may take my photograph and use it for publicity, and no, I won't sue Disney, no matter what happens). Registration consisted of agreeing to the rules, giving your name, and getting a wristband bearing a barcode. Only 47 people registered that day, so there wasn't really any need to get there early.
How does the Ride-A-Thon work? The idea is to ride Star Tours as many times as you can between 11:00 am and 5:30 pm (yes, six-and-a-half hours). Each time you ride a cast member scans your wristband's barcode, as if you were a piece of plush merchandise (what price glory?). You don't have to wait in line, however -- everyone with a wristband is allowed in through the FASTPASS queue and up the wheelchair ramp for quick access. One "ship" is set aside for the Ride-A-Thon participants, to make it easier to scan wristbands and so no one falls behind in the event of an equipment breakdown or loading delays. When everything is working smoothly, the Ride-A-Thon participants take every other "trip" that their ship makes to Endor, missing one trip while they exit the ride, carefully make their way through the crowds and walk back up the wheelchair ramp. And yes, you must exit the ride each time, you must walk (you'll be disqualified if you run or push), and you must wait if anyone is in the wheelchair line in front of you. They say the most trips Ride-A-Thon participants can manage to take during the six-and-a-half hours is 32, but that's only on a quiet day. We made 27 trips, which was the maximum possible that day.
How do you win? First, you need to have the highest number of recorded trips. Since everyone rides the same vehicle, there WILL be a tie -- we had a 12-way tie the day we rode. To break the tie, everyone who tied is called up during the Cantina Street Party at 6:00 pm (right outside Star Tours) for a Star Wars Trivia contest. The first, second, and third place winners of the trivia contest win Star Wars prize packs. No, we didn't win -- our Star Wars trivia skills are pathetic! But we did get a consolation prize: a limited edition Star Wars Weekend pin (ours has Chewbacca on
it) worth $8 retail.
Was it worth it? Yes! We had fun joking around with the other participants, we enjoyed challenging ourselves, and, hey, we got to ride Star Tours 27 times in one day (just how many arms does Captain Rex have?)! The drawbacks? In order to ride the maximum number of times, you really don't have time to take a break -- it can be a long six-and-a-half hours! Jennifer did manage to sneak in one two-minute restroom break and then had to work hard to catch back up to Dave, who did not take any breaks at all.
Do we recommend it? Yes, but only if you've got the time to ride, the inclination to see Star Tours at least 25 times, and the stamina to keep going without breaks. We wouldn't recommend this for kids under 13 or anyone who gets queasy on simulator rides. On the other hand, you could register and simply ride Star Tours as many times as you please without waiting in line, not worrying whether you'll win or not (if this interests you, please wait until closer to 11 to register to allow those who are planning to ride all day the chance to register first).
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Photos, and Rules
- Wear a waist pack rather than a backpack -- you can stretch your safety belt across your lap and under your waist pack, making it easier to get in and out of the seats.
- Bring a bottle of water -- you'll get very thirsty and the nearest water fountain is one minute away. But don't drink a lot -- a long rest break can take you out of the running.
- If you want to win the Star Wars prize pack, bring a Star Wars trivia book with you to read while waiting or even riding. The trivia questions come from all four Star Wars movies.
- If you're worried you'll get sick riding Star Tours over and over, be sure to sit in the first or second row. The back row jostles and bumps you around MUCH more.
- Have fun! Talk to the other participants and enjoy the privilege of riding without lines!
- Be nice! There will be non-racers on the ride with you, who want to hear all the dialog and experience all the surprises. Don't spoil their fun.
- Be careful and courteous! There will be lots of people shopping in Tatooine Traders and wandering the walkways -- even though you don't push or shove you may still seem rude and inconsiderate as you try to hurry and weave your way through the crowds.
Dave getting "scanned" before riding Star Tours
The tie-breaking trivia contest during the Cantina
Star Wars Weekends
Star Tours Ride-a-thon
Registration -- 9am-11am
Ride-a-thon -- Begins at 11 am. Last riders may enter no later than 5:30
Participants -- Limited to first 100 people to register
1. For safety and comfort, you should be
in good health and free from heart, back or neck problems, motion
sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this
2. Expectant mothers should not ride.
3. Young children should be accompanied
by an adult.
4. You must be at least 40" tall to
5. You must complete all registration
requirements to participate in the "Ride-a-thon":
- Read and sign waiver
- Put wristband on at time of registration
6. Your wristband must be worn at all
times and is not transferable.
7. You must enter and exit the Star Tours
Attraction without causing injury to another person.
8. You must exit the attraction after
each ride and re-enter at the designated entrance.
9. No running is allowed.
10. One credit only is received for each
ride. It is your responsibility to verify with the Cast Member scanning
the Ride-a-Thon wristbands that your ride has been registered
11. Failure to follow any of the rules
listed above will result in disqualification.
12. Winners will be announced and prizes
awarded at the Star Wars Cantina Party at 6 pm. You must be present and
wearing your wristband to claim your prize.
13. First Prize includes: Black Mickey
bag, Star Wars Weekends T-Shirt, Star Wars Weekends Poster, Star Wars
Weekends Logo Pin, What's What Episode 1 Book, Who's Who Episode 1 Book,
Star Wars Monopoly, Star Wars Character Pins, and Two Parkhopper
14. Second Prize includes: Mickey
"Shorts" bag, Star Wars Weekends T-Shirt, Star Wars Weekends
Poster, Star Wars Weekends Logo Pin/Current Weekend Pin/ What's What
Episode I Book, Who's Who Episode I Book.
15. Third Prize includes: Disney 2000
Back Pack, Star Wars Weekends T-Shirt, Star Wars Weekends Poster, Star
Wars Weekends Logo Pin/Current Weekend Pin.
16. There will be one (1) first prize,
one (1) second prize, and (1) third prize awarded each day. In the event
of a tie, a tie-breaker "competition" will be held at the
Cantina Party to determine the final winners.
(May 13, 2000)
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