This year I was determined to make it to Walt Disney World to experience Star Wars Weekends. Being a Disney fanatic and a Star Wars fan – it’s the perfect combination of those two worlds.
My travel party for the first Star Wars Weekend of 2015 had 5 adults and 2 children (7 & 9) and we thought we were prepared to experience a very different Hollywood Studios than we have before. Were we prepared? Sort of… in the wise words of Yoda “always pass on what you have learned”.
Here’s what worked for us and what didn’t … and some stuff in between:
We checked things out on the Friday afternoon and knew that the Saturday would be a little crazy. A couple of the adults (okay, one of them was me) were determined to get a picture with Chewbacca – but the lines were so long and it was HOT. We arrived on Saturday morning with the mission – walk straight over to where Chewbacca was on Friday and get in line before the sun got too hot and the line got too long. We arrived around 7:45am to find a line of probably 45 people already waiting (Chewbacca wasn’t set to come out until 8am). We got in line… and waited… and around 9:15 we were finally at the front of the line. YES, MAJOR SCORE – he’s got an Ewok with him! We got some great pics and well worth the wait in my opinion. It was a great thing too that we got through the line at 9:15 – because our breakfast was at 9:20!
Booking the character breakfast was a great idea.
We booked the Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at Sci-Fi thinking it would save us lining up for some characters. When we arrived we took a family photo with Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Once inside the restaurant you find that it’s like an old drive in movie – you’re seated in one of the ‘cars’ facing a movie screen that is playing all Star Wars stuff. I wasn’t a big fan of the cars for this experience as it made it difficult to get in/out of our seats to see the kids with the characters, but we made it work. During breakfast we got to meet some Stormtroopers, Jawas and Greedo! The kids were thrilled and some of our ‘big kids’ just loved the Jawas! The food was okay – some great pastries and sweet stuff, but we were in such a rush to make it to the parade that we didn’t get to enjoy it.
The Feel the Force Package was worth it.
Along with our character breakfast we purchased the Feel the Force package so that we would have reserved ‘spots’ for the parade and fireworks. With two little ones, we were nervous about the crowds and having to find a spot hours before the parade. We left breakfast and headed over to check-in for the reserved area for the celebrity motorcade. While we didn’t have a clear view (we were a little late arriving) – you could see it all on the big screen and it was nice not to have to be packed in with the rest of the parade watchers. This was okay – but the real value came during the fireworks.
Celebrity Talk Show – I probably wouldn’t do that again.
We attended one of the Celebrity Talk Shows in the Theatre of the Stars that was hosted by James Arnold Taylor who is the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” It was nice to sit in a shaded theatre to get out of the heat for a little while, but I found the show was really for ‘super fans’ that follow all things Star Wars including the cartoons. I obviously didn’t research this piece too well – I thought they all had the singing Stormtroopers I had seen on YouTube before – we were a little disappointed that this one didn’t.
The elusive merchandise – know before you go!
I am a huge fan of Han Solo so I really wanted the Han Solo popcorn bucket! Some of the Star Wars merchandise was available in the regular stores (got the Stormtrooper Magic Bands!), but the more sought after stuff was in ‘Darth’s Mall’. I went over a few times over the weekend to see if I could get in, but the shortest line I saw was 90 minutes. That was the line to get IN to the store – I can only imagine there was another one inside to PAY for your merchandise! Needless to say, you really needed to be there first thing in the morning to go shopping – but I thought the pic with Chewbacca was a higher priority! I didn’t get my popcorn bucket, but I did get glow cubes in the shape of the death star in one of our drinks and the kids did get the Boba Fett Steins. All in all, it was probably best that I couldn’t get in to the shop and spend more money!
The Energy, the costumes – wow….
I have to say, I didn’t expect so many people to be dressed up for Star Wars Weekends! I wasn’t prepared to have to guess if someone was a ‘Disney person’ or just another guest dressed up! I saw the absolute cutest 3 year old dressed as Darth Vader but I also saw a few Princess Leia’s walking around in her slave costume that maybe should have covered up a little! Walking around and having R2-D2 roll past me was very exciting and made me feel like there was so much I hadn’t seen yet! The energy from the fans was infectious, seeing them dance and celebrate their love of Star Wars was awesome – it felt good to be a part of it and you could feel the excitement building for the fireworks!
Fireworks – Disney does it best!
We spent over 13 hours in the park that day, in the sun – with 2 small kids. I was worried that they weren’t going to make it to the fireworks as they were starting to get pretty tired. As part of our package that we bought we had reserved spots for the Symphony in the Stars fireworks dessert party. Once we arrived we picked our table and then started checking out the desserts. There was so much to choose from and we were happy to give the kids a little extra sugar to help them keep going just a little longer. The Jabba the Hutt cupcake was by far my favorite! After a few trips to the dessert bar I noticed that they had a Han Solo in carbonite under the table! The details were amazing! The kids started to perk up as the show started on the stage – it was amazing. Seeing all of the characters come out on stage followed by a full fireworks event set to music from Star Wars was incredible. I couldn’t figure out where to look – at the fireworks, or at the look on the kid’s faces as they sat in amazement and awe (that includes the big kids too in our party!). I took a picture or two – but I was so engrossed in the experience that I didn’t want to miss a thing trying to get a shot. I was so glad we had the reserved space as it kept us out of the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that had gathered to watch it. When it was over, we waited a little while to let the crowds thin out before we made our way to our cars.
Overall, the experience at Star Wars Weekends was incredible and I’m so glad that I did it! The crowds can be intense, but take some advice from Yoda and you'll enjoy it:
“Patience you must have my young padawan”.