The Secret Death Star Disney Destroyed From Star Wars History

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Death Star

One of the hackier things about the Star Wars films is that we keep getting Death Stars…one in A New Hope, one in Return of the Jedi, and one in The Force Awakens (assuming you count Starkiller Base, which you should). However, what most fans don’t realize is there was yet another one of these killer space stations that was once a part of the official canon. The Death Star 3 was the name given to canonize an encounter in the original Disney Star Tours ride, and it got its own insane backstory before losing its canon status.

Disneyland’s Star Tours Ride

This all goes back to the original Star Tours ride at Disneyland. The way the ride works is simple: park guests would queue up as galactic tourists getting ready to take a trip through the stars as navigated by Rex, a pilot droid voiced by Paul Reubens. The actual ride involves getting inside a cabinet that moves in different directions while footage of your Star Tours adventure is projected onto a screen.

The ride went live at Disneyland in 1987, and part of its charm is that it let guests experience a new Star Wars adventure four years after Return of the Jedi ended. However, fans had continuity questions about this ride from the very beginning. That’s because early promotional materials for the ride claimed that it took place after ROTJ, but the ride involved the destruction of another Imperial space station near Endor, one eventually dubbed Death Star 3 in the continuity.

Death Star 3 Plot

Death Star

In the Star Tours ride, the attack on the Death Star 3 is relatively simple. Your pilot droid Rex helps to shoot down some TIE Fighters on your own little trench run, making it easier for an X-Wing pilot to do his best Luke Skywalker imitation and fire a perfectly-aimed proton torpedo into the space station’s thermal exhaust port. After this climactic moment, the ride ends with Rex jumping guests right back to where they started.

Continuity Doesn’t Make Sense

star wars the acolyte

Obviously, the primary goal of this early ride was to give guests a taste of the Star Wars experience, and helping to blow up the Death Star was a great way to do that. However, fans still had a sticky narrative question to ponder. Disney had insisted all along that this ride took place after Return of the Jedi, so what the heck was up with blowing up a third Death Star that also just happened to be located near Endor?

A Decoy Death Star?

Death Star Explosion

We didn’t get an answer until many years later when the events of the Star Tours ride were made canon. The space station in the ride was retroactively labeled Death Star 3 and given a story that it wasn’t a real space station but a worldcraft that the Emperor’s personal hitman Ennix Devian made to look like the Death Star. While the good guys made what was meant to be a heroic attack against yet another Death Star, Devian used the distraction of the battle to steal ships from various New Republic shipyards.

Eventually Removed From Canon

In retrospect, it took an impressive amount of effort to make the Death Star 3 from an old Disney ride into Star Wars lore. Eventually, it was removed from canon status by Disney, and parks like Disneyland and Disney World got brand-new Star Tours adventures and an overhauled ride. Older fans, however, will always remember blowing up the Death Star on the original ride before Disney turned off their targeting computer and blew this space station out of the official canon.