Caution: this thread contains SPOILERS!
Part of what makes the new Star Tours so awesome, for me at least, is the incredible level of inside jokes, remnants, and homages. Here’s what we’ve been able to find so far, listed “chronologically” as we progress through the queue and ride:
THX1138. On the terminal boarding announcements, watch the bottom of the screen for Flight 1138 to Chandrila.
George Lucas. One verbal terminal announcement pages Egroeg Sacul (George Lucas), a holdover announcement from the ride's previous incarnation.
Captain Rex. As you cross into the second queue room, look to your left to spot Rex, our former pilot. He’s now marked “defective” and is being sent back for repairs. Listen for a while and you’ll hear some audio from the original ride. I love this tribute, but I’m aware that it’s anachronistic. We’re in the time frame between Episode 3 and Episode 4, so the Rex pilot we know and love hasn’t even been installed yet—having a joke about him is a bit “out of time.” I suppose this is an “even earlier” version of Rex we’re looking at? It’s weak, but it’s the only way to make sense of it.
Robot Birds. In the original Orlando queue, robotic birds sat atop the entry door just after the second G2 droid—they looked a bit like Salacious Crumb, the lackey “monkey” near Jabba in the movies. They are now encased in a cage near Rex, no longer animated.
TK-421. The Stormtrooper who “wasn’t at his post” in the original Star Wars movie is honored here with a sign just above Rex and the other droids. Note: TK421 is again referenced by the luggage droid, but I haven't seen exactly where/when yet.
Star Tours-Anaheim’s Opening Date. Star Tours in Anaheim opened on January 9, 1987 (I was there!), so the mention of 109.87 is no accident! This number appears on the front side of the “suitcase tube” behind G2-9T (the “take a picture it will last longer” droid).
Movie and character references. The suitcase scanner looks inside baggage to illuminate what’s inside, and there’s often a joke here, like Madame Leota, C3PO’s head, Wall-E’s eyes, the Aladdin lamp, Mouse ears, Chip and Dale, or the Incredibles outfit.
Ellen's Energy Adventure. G2-9T (the luggage droid) says "you just think about that!" in a way reminiscent of Ellen's preshow.
Hidden Mickey R2. The shadow figures at the bend in the upramp include an R2 with Mickey ears.
K-DROID. In the original Star Tours queue in Anaheim, a radio sat opposite G2-9T on the first upramp, displaying “107.9” (it was different in Orlando) with the announcer calling it K-DROID every few moments. In the new queue, wait until you are on the second platform, looking down at G2-9T, and you’ll spot a panel labeled KDRD 107.9.
Alison Janney. Ali San San’s name can be traced to its voice: actress Alison Janney (the ‘sound’ of the name is similar).
Inappropriate flash photo. In the 1987 safety video, a little boy turns around to the row behind him and takes a flash photo of Chewbacca, causing Chewie growl in protest while a nearby Calamarian threatens the boy with a backhand. In the 2011 safety video, a different little child does the same move, and again Chewie reacts while the Calamarian threatens a backhand (a little more subtly than in 1987).
Crazy haired safety spiel lady. The lady with the wacky hairdo in the old ride's preshow is still around, as party of the group getting onto the speeder in the safety video, though she doesn't have a speaking role.
WDI Street Address. We’re on Flight 1401. Sound familiar? WDI is located at 1401 Flower St in Glendale, CA.
PeopleMover. Vehicles at the start of the movie moving luggage are shaped like Orlando’s PeopleMover TTA cars, but they are colored white (with a blue stripe) like Anaheim’s PeopleMover.
Wilhelm Scream. The speeder bike clone trooper who crashes into a tree (just after the wookie slides off the viewscreen) gives the famous Wilhelm scream.
Mission Space homage. The finale of the Mission Space ride at Epcot includes a moment where the spaceship teeters at the edge of an icy canyon, and our host Gary Sinise says “Don’t move a muscle.” A similar phrase is used when our Starspeeder-1000 teeters on the edge of an icy canyon on Hoth.
Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leia’s famous phrase is here relayed as “Help me, Star Tours. You’re my only hope.”
What message? C3PO’s famous phrase is also repeated here (and Threepio is still talking to R2D2!)
Rex’s Death Star run. In the original movie, Rex claims “I’ve always wanted to do this! We’re going in!” In the new movie, C3PO says something similar in Tatooine: “Oh a podrace! I’ve always wanted to do this!”
Rex’s lack of brakes. In the original movie, Rex ends by screaming “Brakes! Brakes! Where are the brakes?!” C3PO says the same exact phrase at the end of the Naboo sequence.
Mighty Microscope. Inside the Death Star (Mustafar/asteroid scene) is hidden the Mighty Microscope, on the left side of the screen just after C3PO says "I know exactly what I'm doing". The Mighty Microscope was a prop/element in Adventure Thru Inner Space, an Omnimover ride that preceded Star Tours in Anaheim. When Star Tours moved in (1987), the Microscope showed up as a prop in the hangar of the movie (also true of the Orlando attraction, which used the same film).
FUEL Truck. We almost crashed into a truck labeled FUEL (all caps) in the original movie, and a similarly-named truck can be seen at the end of the Coruscant sequence.
Hidden Mickeys. Look to the back wall in the last scene of Coruscant for a whole row of Hidden Mickeys.
What’s missing? Well, there used to be a Hidden Kermit in the queue—it was a 3 foot robot shaped like the famous frog. I couldn’t find hide nor hair of him in the new queue… I hope he’s preserved somewhere!