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Star Wars Guided Tour at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

Walt Disney World offers a variety of special tours that will take you behind the scenes. It’s always fun to get a peek at how the magic is made. When Disney recently offered me the opportunity to take the Star Wars Guided Tour as their guest, I didn’t even have to look at my calendar. I’ve been an obsessed Star Wars fan since 1977, and this tour was at the top of my “someday soon” list.

 

The tour I went on took place on February 22, and it started around 8:00, which was an hour before the park opened. Our guides were Hannah and Darion, and they were both fantastic. They explained that they both had to show a real love and appreciation for Star Wars before getting the position. I was glad to learn this, because I think that it gave them a real respect for what they were doing. They felt like it was their responsibility to give those of us on the tour bits of insight that we would not have received otherwise.

Once we entered the park, we headed to Sar Tours – The Adventures Continue. It was pointed out that the trees were not finished and that the back of the AT-AT was also incomplete. That’s because when Disney-MGM Studios opened back in 1989 guests were supposed to feel as if they were in a working studio. The original Star Tours opened that same year, and the attraction was supposed to have the same feel. We then went inside, for the first ride of the day. The audio was off, which gave the queue a different feel. I’ve ridden Star Tours a few times (over 250), but this was the first time without the audio in the queue. Our guides pointed out the pipes in the middle of the first room. They have initials and codes on them, things like HF for Harrison Ford and JEJ for James Earl Jones. We also learned that the two scanning droids have webbed feet and tails, which is a nod to a former attraction at Disneyland. On Star Tours – The Adventures Continue you’ll ride in a Starspeeder 1000. In the original Star Tours ride it was a Starspeeder 3000, making the current version a prequel.

Next we moved on to Star Wars: Path of the Jedi. This is a short film that focuses on the Skywalker Saga. It is a seasonal attraction, and during the off season the only way to see it is to take the Star Wars Guided Tour. The movie is a great overview of both Anakin and Luke Skywalker. If someone has not seen the movies in a while it’s a nice refresher course.

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We then went across the park to Star Wars Launch Bay. If you look at the outside of the building, you’ll notice that it looks dirty. George Lucas wanted things to look realistic instead of shiny and clean within the Star Wars universe, and Disney has kept that going.

Once inside Launch Bay we went to the meet and greets. Our lanyards had planets on the back, and we were broken into three groups, according to the planets. That was because there are three different character greetings in Launch Bay. The park was open by this time, and we had front of the line privileges. We did receive a few dirty looks from those who were waiting, but the groups weren’t big so we weren’t too disruptive. The three characters that you’ll meet inside Launch Bay are BB-8, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren.

We then explored the rest of Launch Bay a bit. We spent some time in the room that is currently featuring Solo: A Star Wars Story. While many of the props and costumes inside Launch Bay are replicas, there are some that were actually in the movie. These are marked with, “loan courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd.” at the bottom of the description plaque. Moving on, we learned that the speeder bike and the pod racer inside Launch Bay were also both used in the films. There’s one display that features Rey and her speeder. These were created on a 3D printer.

Also in Star Wars Launch Bay there is a short film. I believe that they said it is called Meet the Makers. If you haven’t watched the film in a while, make sure that you do. I hadn’t seen it in a couple of years, and a lot has changed.

After Launch Bay we gathered on the side, while our guides talked “in private”. We were wearing ear pieces and they knew that we could hear everything that they were saying. They discussed the big surprise that they had for us. We then went to the front of the park, where our group took part in March of the First Order. To a lifelong Star Wars fan like me, this was one of the best parts of the day. We marched behind the Stormtroopers, then we had a reserved section up front for the stage show. It was exciting.

Lunch was at Backlot Express, and it is included in the price. We placed our orders when we checked in for the tour, and it was brought to us in a reserved seating area. We were also given a couple of gifts; a Darth Vader stein and a BB-8 pin. There was writing in Aurebesh on the pin, but our lanyard included an Aurebesh¬† decoder. (It said “traveler”.) The pins are currently available only on the Star Wars Guided Tour. There was a great surprise at lunch. We were joined by two Stormtroopers. They were looking for Resistance sympathizers, as well as taking pictures with guests. The Stormtroopers are part of the lunch each tour, unless it’s raining. The reason for that is because they need to make their way across the park.

Our tour included a stop at Walt Disney Presents. This is where the partial model of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can be found. We weren’t given any new information on the upcoming land, although our guides did tell us enough information that we already knew to keep us excited. They also mentioned the upcoming Star Wars hotel, and how what you do within the land could even follow you back to the hotel if you’re staying there. For instance, if you failed your mission on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, they will know about it if you’re lucky enough to be staying at the hotel. That’s how immersive the experience will be.

The tour ended with a reserved viewing area for Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. This is the live stage show that features clips as well as characters. It runs several times a day, but the reserved area is only for the one show.

If you have kids the right age with you, their spots in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple are secured with the Star Wars Guided Tour. At the end of the night, tour guests also receive reserved viewing for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. The guides told everyone where to go for that. It is the same place where people who sign up for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party watch, but the dessert party is not included with the tour.

Star Wars Guided Tour takes place each day of the week except for Sundays. It lasts approximately five hours, not including the fireworks viewing. The cost is $99 per person, including tax. Theme park admission is required and not included, and there is no child’s rate. Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, and Disney Visa Cardholders are currently eligible for a 15 percent discount. For more information or to make your reservation, call 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529).

I’d like to thank Walt Disney World for inviting me to join them on the Star Wars Guided Tour. For an obsessed fan like me, it was the perfect way to spend a good part of my day!

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.