• Thomas Loftin

Star Wars Weekends 2015

As a fan of Star Wars, getting the chance to attend Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a dream come true. It actually came true for me this year as my family and I took the journey to Walt Disney World to partake in the mecca of Star Wars fandom. Force sensitive guests can enjoy unique Disney character dining experiences, snap photos with all types of free roaming Star Wars characters, and engage in exclusive experiences that are offered no where else. We had previously been to Walt Disney World twice before, so we were fairly well versed in how to navigate the parks. My wife takes a very organized approach to our time at Disney. We utilized the FastPass+ system for certain attractions or events and set up advanced dining reservations (ADRs) for the hard to secure destination restaurants. I strongly suggest that you book these fastpasses and ADRs as soon as is allowed to completely enjoy the Star Wars Weekends experience.

To fully get the Disney experience from Star Wars Weekends, my wife booked two themed dining experiences. On our first night, we had dinner at Hollywood & Vine which offers an opportunity to meet Jedi Mickey for a photo op and take table side photos with the rest of his friends dressed as their interpretation of iconic Star Wars characters. With a buffet style dinner, this reservation pleased my whole family. Lots of interactive moments and wonderful characters roaming made this dinner a memory to last. Our second dining experience was a breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine In’s Galactic Breakfast. This meal made our trip worthwhile. To start, our whole family was able to meet and interact with Darth Vader and Boba Fett during a photo shoot prior to being seated. Once we were at our table, a 57 Chevy facing a large drive in movie screen, we were treated to a screening of popular Star Wars moments as well as original content for the event that promoted the characters who were roaming during our dining. We traded shiny goods with the Jawas, searched for rebels with the stormtroopers and debated who shot first with Greedo all before the appetizers. The menu contained a collection of entrees named after the saga’s greatest lore and legends. I chose “the Kessel Run” and wasn’t disappointed, As far as my family and I were concerned, this was the best breakfast we have ever had at Walt Disney World and highly recommend it.

Beyond the normal attractions at Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Weekends offers fans a chance to attend once in a lifetime shows like “ A Conversation with Frank Oz” or “Stars of the Saga”. Both shows were hosted by Clone Wars alumni James Arnold Taylor and were so limited that my son and I were only able to attend via the FastPass+ reservations. We had a great time at both. The Frank Oz show was a 45 minute interview focused on his career in the film industry including his time with Jim Henson and the Muppets, his time as a writer/director, and his role as Yoda. “Stars of the Saga” was a far superior event. In addition to learning even more about Taylor’s influence as a voice actor, fans were treated to interview and exhibition segments by Ray Park and Peter Mayhew. The event ended with a screening of the second “Force Awakens” trailer. Both events were fantastic, with the highlight of both being the Stormtrooper interactions. Those guys are just hilarious and their comic timing makes for a great family friendly experience.

While roaming about the park, fans can easily run into a number of characters just free roaming or in dedicated locales for fans to meet and take photos. Our favorite was Darth Maul. The Disney cast members portraying the roles never break character which can lead to some extremely awkward, yet funny moments. This was such a large part of the experience that it seems improbable that someone could meet all the characters in just one weekend. After a few of these character photo ops, we went to a toy event that my son had been looking forward too. Lego had a large influence with life size sculptures of popular characters from the saga and a Lego builder location. We were able to build and keep, free of charge, a Lego mini Star Destroyer. In addition to the free ship, we also received a complimentary issue of Lego Magazine. It was a good time for all.

To top our weekend off, we were treated to a number of exclusives not available to the general public. During an early admittance to Watto’s Grotto, we gained access to Star Wars Weekends merchandise like a limited edition Jango Fett, Force Awakens T-Shirts, and D-Tech personalized figurines. The whole trip was somewhat of an exclusive event, yet the Disney cast members still made you feel like a VIP with added perks. My family and I spent one evening and a day at Star Wars Weekends. While we did a lot of the events/experiences, we still missed a ton of what was available. In addition to our escapades there was a celebrity motorcade, the Symphony of the Stars fireworks show, and the Padawan Training Academy. Our time was well spent and we look forward to another trip to that galaxy far, far away.

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