Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Star Wars Weekends

2012 proved to be a big year for The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilms. In October of 2012, Lucasfilms became an official family member of The Walt Disney Company. The reaction from Star Wars' fans was mixed. But for Star Wars and Disney fans it only felt natural. Lucasfilms was already a strong force in the Disney parks: both Star Tours and Indiana Jones have rides and shows in both North American parks. Oh and let's not forget the epic Captain EO 3D spectacular.

Young Padawans visiting the parks grew up thinking Disney already owned these well-established franchises.

And for those familiar with Star Wars Weekends in Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios, the takeover of the Star Wars empire can only mean one thing: the awesome party just got more personal. We have been fortunate enough to attend Star Wars Weekends for the past two years. We can only imagine the energy that will be in the air this year. Although our plans to attend are still up in the air, if the force is with us, we will find a way. But for now, lets take a look back.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Every Mid-May to Mid-June, WDW's Hollywood Studios is turned over to Star Wars weekends (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays only). If you are even the slightest Star Wars fan, you have to go check this out. Starting the moment you walk up to the entrance, it is evident there is a different force present.

Star Wars Weekend
Stormtroopers greet guests as they enter Hollywood Studios
There is so much to do and see at Star Wars Weekends, we thought we would narrow it down to our top five favourite things to do. We hope you enjoy our list and may the force be with you.

#5: Darth's Mall

Star Wars Weekend

Looking for a souvenir? There is a ton of special merchandise over at 'Darth's Mall'. A clever play on words, the mall is located in the backstage area behind Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. There is something for everyone: collectibles, pins, Vinylmations, toys, clothing (great items from Her Universe) and exclusive Star Wars Weekends items. Here is a sample of some of the treasure we found in previous years:

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Darth's Mall is also home to a Star Wars character meet and greet. Be prepared to wait a long time, but the pay off is worth it.

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend


For a sneak peek at this year's Star Wars Weekends merchandise, visit Disney Parks Blog.

#4: Star Wars Motorcade

Once a day during Star Wars Weekends, guests can see all of their favourite Star Wars characters, Disney characters in Star Wars costumes and Star Wars celebrities drive down Hollywood Boulevard. You will want to arrive early if you want a good spot to view the parade. And once the parade is done, make sure you head to the main stage at the end of Hollywood Boulevard where all the Star Wars charaters and celebrities gather to welcome everyone.

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Silly Goofy! You forgot your lightsaber! 
Star Wars Weekend

The parade includes cosplay fans from the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion - some of their costumes are really quite amazing. The following pictures are some of the highlights from these legions. For more pictures, see our Facebook page.

Keep in mind: these are Star Wars fans! There costumes are made by them - not Disney. Amazing!

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars celebrities are one of the highlights of Star Wars Weekends. The Star Wars Motorcade is a great way to see them all together without having to wait in line for an autograph.

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Ray Park (Darth Maul - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace)

Star Wars Weekend
Andy Secombe (Watto - Star Wars Episodes I & II)
Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Star Wars Weekend
James Arnold Taylor (Obi -Wan Kenobi - Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

#3: Character Meet & Greets

Various meet and greets areas are set up throughout Hollywood Studios for guests to meet their favourite Star Wars characters. Star Wars characters also wander throughout the park and if you ask nicely, they may stop for a picture. But whatever you do, don't comment on a Stormtrooper's height.

Don't forget: there is a meet and greet area in Darth's Mall. See #5 for more details.


Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Only available through the Disney PhotoPass system
Star Wars Weekend
A Stormtrooper walks with a mini-Stormtrooper fan
Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
An Ewok waits patiently for the next guest
Star Wars Weekend

Even the Disney characters get in the spirit and dress up as Star Wars characters. TIP: Be aware that they do rotate, so the character that is there when you get in line may not be the character you will meet. Ask a Cast Member what the rotation is and try your best to plan accordingly.

Star Wars Weekend
It seems that Donald isn't the only one who forgot his pants this time
Star Wars Weekend

We have more character pictures available on our Facebook page.

#2: Snig & Oopla's Hyperspace Hoopla

Star Wars Weekend

There are no words that can describe the evening show at Star Wars Weekends. It is the most ridonculous, hilarious, crazy, stupid, fun show we have ever seen. Shown nightly on the stage at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, this show draws a huge crowd full of repeat offenders and others who have heard about it and want to see it with their own eyes. 

Your intergalactic hosts are Snig & Oopla. Trying to keep the peace between the Dark Side and the Rebel Alliance, Snig & Oopla suggest a dance-off with the Star Wars stars. 

Star Wars Stars

Each side performs to the song of their choice featuring all of your favourite Star Wars characters. What ensues is a ton of hilarity. Here are some pictures and a couple of videos from both 2011 and 2012.

The Rebels

2011: You haven't lived until you have seen Chewbacca perform to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns and Roses!

Star Wars Weekend
Chewbacca rockin' out with "Slash" Ewok
Star Wars Weekend

2012: Going with a more recent and very popular choice this year: "I'm Sexy and I Know it" by LMFAO

Star Wars Weekend

Warning: watching this video may cause abdominal pain from laughing so hard. May also cause a sore neck from shaking it in disbelief
 

 
The Dark Side

2011: Sticking with the rock theme this year, the Dark Side began with "Back in Black" by AC/DC

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

2012: We thought we saw everything, but nothing prepared us for the Emperor rapping to "Mamma Said Knock You Out" by L.L. Cool J

Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend

And to cap it off, Darth Vader (aka Anakin Skywalker) performed to "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Antfarm
 

 
At the end of all this ridonculous showmanship, the audience votes on their favourite performance. Depending on the crowd, this can vary from night to night. Don't be surprised if they get swayed to the Dark Side

#1: Star Wars Celebrities

Definitely a highlight for a lot of people is the opportunity to meet a cast member from the Star Wars movies. Guests can pick up a FastPass ticket for these autograph sessions at special FastPass booths just outside the main gates. Every weekend features different Star Wars celebrities so make sure you check the Disney Parks Blog for announcements and the time guides available at the gate.

The really great thing about the celebrities that are part of the Star Wars Weekends, is that they are huge Star Wars fans themselves. Ashley Eckstein is just as excited to be there as anyone else. And Ray Park is always wearing the newest Star Wars Weekend t-shirt.

TIP: Ray Park (aka Darth Maul) is VERY popular. If you want to see him, you will need to get a ticket well in advance of the park opening. We have heard people picking up passes as early as 5 am!

In 2012, we were fortunate enough to meet Andy Secombe; the voice of Watto from Star Wars Episodes I & II. He was very nice and took the time to have a brief chat with us. 

Watto from Stars Wars Episodes I & II
Star Wars Weekend
Andy Secombe - the voice of Watto

Bonus: Ray Park Presentation

Star Wars Weekend

If you get an opportunity and don't mind waiting in a long line (isn't that what you do at a Disney park anyways?), seeing Ray Park's presentation is well worth the wait, provided it is available when you go. He is a great presenter, performer and a true inspiration. Even Darth Maul couldn't help but ask for his autograph.

Star Wars Weekend
Ray Park signs Darth Maul's (princess!) autograph book
Star Wars Weekend

Star Wars Weekend
Ray Park shows off some of his moves to host James Arnold Taylor
Star Wars Weekend
Ray Park with some aspiring Padawans

For more pictures from our Star Wars Weekend adventures, visit our Facebook page.


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