Top Ten Coolest Things About Star Wars Weekends
To say that I am a Star Wars fan would be an understatement. The movies have been an obsession of mine since 1977. I’ve seen them countless times, I’ve bought the toys, I have met many of the stars at conventions, I proudly wear my Star Wars T-shirts. I don’t even mind Jar Jar Binks…too much. Yes, I’m one of those. It is no surprise that the four Star Wars Weekends are four of my favorite times of the year. They combine my Star Wars obsession with my Walt Disney World obsession. There are some major continuity errors that make the weekends work, but overall I’m a happy camper.
In 2014 Star Wars Weekends will be held for four consecutive weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The dates are May 16-18, May 23-25, May 30-June 1, and June 6-8. All activities are included in park admission. Food and merchandise will, of course, cost extra. Disney has not yet released much information about the 2014 event. There is also no word on how FastPass+ will affect the activities. All things listed here are looking back over past years, mostly 2013. When more information is available, we will let you know.
10) Dressing Up
Most of the year Disney frowns upon people over the age of 12 dressing up in costume. During Star Wars Weekends, costumes are encouraged. You can dress up as a favorite character or just design something that has a general science fiction feel. In 2013 there was someone dressed as Lando Calrissian who looked so much like the character that many people asked for pictures. Another favorite from the past were two adorable little girls who dressed as Jabba the Hutt and Slave Leia (the costume was appropriate). If you plan to dress in costume remember that Central Florida is hot and humid by mid-May. You might want to rethink that full Wampa costume and dress as a moisture farmer from Tatooine instead.
9) Riding Star Tours With Other Fans
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue is a fun ride no matter what time of year you ride it. Even people who are not fans of the movies will enjoy it because passengers get to head into two unique worlds on each trip. There are over 50 different combinations available, making for a new adventure each time that you board. The ride is even better when your Starspeeder 1000 is filled with people who truly appreciate each moment of the ride as much as you will. Glance around when you board and see if you can figure out who the rebel spy is. Or maybe the spy is you.
8) Star Wars Themed Treats
If you’ve always dreamed of defeating Darth Vader you can do it in cupcake form. In the past Darth Vader cupcakes have been for sale in several places throughout the park. It’s a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter filling and chocolate frosting. There’s an edible likeness of the famous Sith Lord on top. In the past the park has also sold Kids Power Packs and other items in R2-D2 buckets. There have also been alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages called “The Force” and “The Dark Side”. Chances are that 2014 will have similar creations.
7) Jedi Training Academy and Padawan Mind Challenge
Star Wars Weekends give your younglings a chance to get involved! Jedi Training Academy is held all year long, but the number of shows daily is increased for Star Wars Weekends so that more children can participate. Children ages 4-12 can learn the ways of the force and even have a chance to battle Darth Vader. Even if you don’t have a child involved, take the time to watch the show. It’s a lot of fun. Padawan Mind Challenge is another chance for your kids to be part of a show. Children under 12 take part in a trivia game based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. There are prizes for all and C3PO might stop by to take part in the fun. If your child is interested in being in either activity sign up as soon as you enter the park. Spots will fill up early.
6) Special Event Merchandise
Each year there is a special design for the Star Wars Weekends logo. You’ll find it on T-shirts, mugs, hats, blankets, bags, posters…you get the idea. The design for the 2014 logo has not yet been released. The 2013 logo featured Mickey on a speeder bike and Chip ‘n’ Dale as Ewoks. There is plenty of other merchandise for sale as well. If you’re interested in event pins, they go fast! Event merch is sold all over the park, but if you want to find the good stuff head to Darth’s Mall. It’s a huge store that is set up behind Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. In the past Ashley Eckstein from Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been a celebrity host for the weekends. She is also the creator of the “Her Universe” clothing line for women. It’s sold at Darth’s Mall. You can find artwork, more T-shirts, hats, passmember only items and thousands of other things in the store. Darth’s Mall is also where you can have a personalized name tag made in Aurebesh and where, in 2013, you could “Cast yourself in Carbonite”. Darth’s Mall is also a character meet and greet area, and in 2013 you could face a “life sized” rancor. The lines for Darth’s Mall are extremely long early in the day, especially the first weekend. Unless there is a must-have item you might want to wait until the end of your day to visit.
5) Hyperspace Hoopla
What better way to end the day than with an intergalactic dance party? Hyperspace Hoopla takes place at the Sorcerer’s Hat and it is unlike any dance party that you have ever been to before. Popular characters from the saga will compete on the stage in a dance off. There are new surprises each year, so even if you’ve seen it in the past you will want to experience it again. Good viewing spots go early, so plan to arrive well in advance. In 2013 the show was held at 8:00pm. You’ll have a great time and leave the park with a smile on your face.
4) Legends of the Force Parade
Weather permitting, the celebrities for the weekend and other Star Wars characters will be marching from the park’s entrance to the Sorcerer’s Hat each day. You’ll see members of the 501st Legion, Jedi Mickey and friends, and plenty of characters associated with both sides of the force. When the parade is over there is a celebrity welcome on the stage. Some children and their families are picked to take part in the motorcade as well, making it a true fan event. In 2013 the parade was held at 11:00am each day. If seeing the parade is in your plans (and it should be) make sure that you arrive very early or you won’t get a good spot.
3) Live Celebrity Shows
While the celebrities who will attend Star Wars Weekends in 2014 have not yet been announced, live shows featuring the actors should be held throughout the day each weekend. In 2013 the entire event was hosted by James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein, and they were involved in several of the live shows. Stars of the Saga is a show that will allow guests to learn a little more about the celebrities that are featured that weekend. Make sure that you arrive early for the preshow, it’s always hilarious. Sometimes the celebrities will also have special panels of their own. If James Arnold Taylor is invited back, make sure that you catch Obi-Wan and Beyond. It features his vocal talents. You’ll be surprised by how many characters he has played that you did not know were him.
2) Celebrity Autograph Sessions
The celebrities who attend the event each weekend will be available for autographs. There is a catch, you will need a ticket. In the past there have been cast members handing out autograph FASTPASS tickets outside the park entrance before it opens. There is no word on how it will be handled this year with FastPass+. In the past, the tickets went very quickly, they would usually be gone long before the rope drop. There were also a limited number of standby tickets given out once all of the FASTPASSES were gone. The standby ticket did not guarantee that you would get an autograph, but if the FASTPASS line moved quickly you would have a chance. There were no autographs without one of the two types of tickets. Star Wars celebrities have a reputation for being friendly to the fans, so for many people the autograph session is a highlight of the weekend.
1) Star Wars Character Greetings
It is always fun to get a picture and an autograph with any character at Walt Disney World. There are plenty of opportunities to get a special picture or two at Star Wars Weekends. There will be many of characters that you will not normally find in the parks. You can meet Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Queen Amidala, Bobba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Anakin, and a slew of other favorites. Also on hand will be Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and Stormtrooper Donald. The lines for the characters get long (as you would expect them to) but you can still get great pictures without waiting in a long line. In the past Jawas, stormtroopers, Cantina band members, Tusken Raiders, and others have roamed various areas, posing for pictures as people walk by. Make sure you pick up a special event map when you enter the park. The character greeting areas will be clearly marked. You’ll end up with so many great pictures that you’ll have a hard time deciding which one you want as your new Facebook profile picture.