The Starcade opened on May 27, 1977, along with Space Mountain. The games in the arcade used tokens, each one equal to the value of one quarter.
Though its signage is still intact and powered on as of 2018, the Starcade ceased to function as a video arcade in 2015 and has since been used as a space for Annual Passholder events and as a private venue for corporate events.
In 2018, the Starcade's upper level was converted into an indoor queue space for Space Mountain.
Since the late 1990s, the second story has been vacant and off-limits to guests. The speedramp escalators leading upstairs are still visible to guests but blocked. A large X-Wing starfighter from Star Wars was previously hung from the ceiling above the speed-ramp escalators, but was moved to the more visible location of the Star Trader, following the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue in 2011. The second story is currently used as storage space for arcade games from Flynn's Arcade, a feature of Disney California Adventure's now-defunct ElecTRONica nighttime entertainment. A large mural also covers the walls of the second story, which can be seen through the windows adjacent to the outdoor queue for Space Mountain. Windows alongside the PeopleMover track treated that attraction's passengers to views of the upper levels of the arcade until that attraction's closure in 1995. Since the PeopleMover's conversion to Rocket Rods in 1998, those windows have been blacked out.
In recent years, the lower level has been used as character meet-and-greet locations promoting Wreck-It Ralph in 2012 and Big Hero 6 in 2014. Overflow retail space from the adjacent Star Trader has gradually taken over much of the lower level, with far fewer arcade games offered than in previous years. Until the release of Wreck-It Ralph, the Starcade hosted mainly contemporary/modern arcade games. Since that film's release, the Starcade has hosted primarily retro arcade games from the 1970s and 1980s. By 2015, the Starcade ceased to function as a video arcade. In 2017, it was used as a welcome center for annual passholders on AP Days, featuring button distribution and meet-and-greets with retired character. A few of the old retro arcade games (including Pac-Man, Galaga, and Fix-It Felix Jr.) could be found in the Welcome Center, the last remnant of the Starcade's original function.
As of 2018, the Starcade is not accessible to regular park guests and is now offered by Disney Meetings as a private event space available to rent for corporate functions. In July 2018, the upper level was converted into an extended queue for Space Mountain, still featuring the original mural, as well as several displays that expand the attractions' lore.
Tokyo Disneyland's Starcade opened along with the park as an opening day attraction on April 15, 1983. The attraction operated for 24 years, closing on November 15, 2007.