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First Class to Endor
“Your attention please for the following gate announcements: Flight 704, local service to Endor will now depart from Gate Four.”
In my head, I debated the Endor controversy. “Is a forest moon named Endor? Or is it just a forest moon around the planet Endor?”
Above me on a lift, C-3PO argued noisily with R2-D2. Apparently the little trash-can of a droid had messed up the repairs on a Starspeeder 3000. Sparks flew from the access hatch above the windshield.
I had to admit that the Starspeeders were at least spacious. Basically a cargo container with a cockpit, they were at least the size of a school bus. A blue stripe ran across its side.
Behind us, a massive video screen endlessly played commercials for Star Tours Travel Services. Never understood the advantage to advertising something that we were currently using, but oh well.
Somewhere near the ceiling, a busy control room was headed by Mon Calamari officers. They seemed to be typing into the dozens of monitors around the room.
The line moved forward.
We turned through a connecting hallway, surprisingly clean for being surrounded by a maintenance facility and a junkyard.
It looked like a droid graveyard in there. At least three different levels of hoses, motivator units, and batteries stacked below and above us. Through the ceiling ran a hanging conveyer belt of bolts and nuts, the occasional control panel and still moving robotic foot.
“Quaint. In a scrapyard kind of way.”
R2 units were malfunctioning far below us, some blowing smoke from every crack. We kept moving up the catwalk, chillingly cold. On one hand, it’s rather shocking that they didn’t install a thermostat in here. Then again, why would robots get cold?
A spindly looking piece of machinery was running this particular shop. He stood on a pedestal, commanding all the belts and repair droids, and generally getting disrespect at every turn.
It then occurred to me to wonder why Star Tours had us waiting for a flight through a scrap yard. Probably just hadn’t finished enclosing the queue. Or maybe they just didn’t care.
Another small, gleaming white hallway. Ahead of us was a backlit, wall-length slide of the Starspeeder 3000 blueprints. The hydraulic hatches, the power converters, and every last weld was on the display.
From around the corner, where the light came pouring in, a Star Tours flight attendant came walking. Their standard uniforms could use work. Something about a blue, silver, and orange jumpsuit didn’t shout stylish. Don’t remember any outfits like that anywhere else in the galaxy.
She seemed to be looking through the crowd, trying to pick people out, fugitives maybe. I didn’t pay much attention. Until she pointed at me.
“Yes you. Follow me.” I hopped over the metal railing and tried to keep up.
Finally, something that looked like a terminal.
Painfully blue carpet stretched across the spacious hall of loading doors. Videos overhead played safety precautions with the cheesiest narrator I’ve seen since the commercials ten minutes before.
At a few of the boarding lines, tourists were ready to lift off. But the attendant turned the other way, and led me to a quieter, half-full area. I still didn’t ask any questions.
I got in line and the attendant stepped in front of all of us.
“Hello, space-travelers, and thank you for choosing Star Tours as your intergalactic vacation service.” She stepped back and a Disney pin-clad woman took her place.
“Who knows what year it is?”
“It’s the Year of a Million Dreams.” That was the big annual Disney promotion. Guests would be randomly given gifts, ranging from free soda to a trip through all Disney parks. Guess I won something.
“With that, find your seats.”
I walked to the middle of the back row. Just a note, don’t do that, kids. They tell you not to. There was barely anyone else there, so I cheated. Judge me if you’d like. I don’t mind.
So I buckled in and looked around the highly technical cabin, wires sprouting out of everything. The Disney employee stood in front of the rows of seats.
“You’ve all been picked to participate in the Year of a Million Dreams.” I was excited, to say the least. “Each of you will be getting a Magical Fastpass Card.” I was at least still curious. “These are good forever and allow you one trip to the front of the line for each ride in the park that have Fastpasses.” She passed out the cards.
It was a credit-card plastic deal, with small rectangles poking off a middle card. One for each show and ride. It even came with a lanyard
“Enjoy the rest of your trip here at Walt Disney World, enjoy the Year of a Million Dreams, and may the Force be with you.”
She walked out. The doors closed. We blasted off to Endor.
I’ll never forget that day. Just another magical moment among the stars…