The return of the late Michael Jackson's 3D movie Captain EO to Disneyland is edging ever closer, with previews for Disney staff strongly rumored to be starting today (February 12).

The POParitaville blog has published an e-mail that it claims was sent to Disney Cast Members yesterday. The e-mail invites Cast Members to take part it in a soft opening of Captain EO between 3.30pm and 4.30pm today.

Assuming the preview is a success, it is possible that a soft opening of Captain EO to the general public could take place within the next week. The aim of the soft opening period is to check that the show's special effects are functioning correctly, although it is not yet clear whether all of the special effects from the original show (which included complex laser beam effects) will return.

Disney is yet to reveal a specific date for Captain EO's return, although it has confirmed that the show will be back some time in February. The company is also yet to confirm any plans beyond the initial "limited" run of Captain EO, and whether the closed Honey, I Shrunk the Audience will return or be permanently replaced.

Captain EO originally opened at Disneyland in 1986, finally closing in 1997. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and executive-produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas, the movie was produced when Jackson was at the peak of his fame. The show's story sees the eponymous Captain EO (played by Jackson) and the crew of his spaceship travelling to deliver a message to the wicked Witch Queen.

At just 17 minutes long, the film cost a massive $30 million to produce. It included "4D" elements such as lasers, smoke effects and starfields. At the time it was the most expensive film ever produced if measured per-minute (at $1.76 million), however this has since been topped by Universal's Terminator 2: 3D at $5 million per-minute.

Captain EO reached number 7 in Theme Park Tourist's recent list of the 10 most exciting new theme park attractions opening in 2010.

You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions over at Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section.

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