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Star Wars Weekends 2011

Ashleybanner.jpg

Star Wars Weekends (SWW) began in 1997. However, the SWW did not become a regular, annual event until 2003. Since then, each year has had exclusive merchandise and a logo, a motorcade and other events. The Weekends feature celebrity guests who are on hand to sign autographs (FastPasses are a MUST if you want an autograph... more on this later), participate in a motorcade and be part of an interview session. Since the Clone Wars series started, there is now a Behind the Force show where the voice talents of the Clone Wars discuss the show and demonstrate how the scenes are acted out.

This year for SWW, Jedi Training Academy is performed much more often during the day. Numerous shows have been added to the schedule.

SWW 2011 began on Friday, May 20. Most of my day was spent on the Star Tours events on the 20th. I caught the opening ceremony (see Deb Koma's pictures here), rode Star Tours a few times (it's just as awesome the 20th time as it is/was the first) and a few other things and then the heat ran me out of the park. The event got started much later in the day because of the opening ceremony and by the time everything was underway, I was done for the day.

On Saturday the 21st, I got to the Studios just before park opening. There is an information booth set up just inside the main gate.

Info booth

The stage was still set up for use for the Hyperspace Hoopla each evening during SWW.

Stage

There was a sign near the tip board pointing the way to the SWW store, appropriately called Jabba's Hutt.

Sign for store

To get to the store, go to the Rock 'N Roller Coaster courtyard and keep right. There is a gate open and the store is behind that gate. You'll have a fantastic view of Tower of Terror and the store is in the big white tent. It's very spacious and air conditioned. As of 8 AM Saturday, the only thing that was sold out was the opening day Star Tours pin.

Store

Artist signing
Artist Signing Station

Store

Star Tours shirts
Star Tours shirts

Luke and Leia
Luke and/or Leia meet-and-greet

Photo station
Photo station

Maquette
Maquettes

Maquette
Maquettes

Boxed pin set
Unframed, boxed pin set. This has the completer pin in it.

Pin set
Framed pin set

Jumbo pin
Jumbo pin.

Travel poster pin set
Travel poster pin set

Star Tours opening day shirt
Star Tours opening day t-shirt

Stitch
Stitch as Yoda

Mimbots
Star Wars Mimbots

Poster card
Silver poster card

Lights Box
Olszewski Gallery of Lights Box - Star Wars Mickey and Donald

Watches
Watches

Paper art
Paper art poster

Passholder shirt
Passholder t-shirt

Since the store is called Jabba's Hutt, it is only fitting that Salacious Crumb and Boba Fett keep watch over things.

Salacious Crumb

Boba

Outside the store, this stand has been set up.

Stand

We loved this kid's costume.

Costume

Banners were set up around the Star Tours area.

Banners1

Banners2

Banners3

Banners

Banners

Directional signs were out around the park to show guests where they could meet their favorite characters.

Direction signs

Sign

Sign

Queen Amidala's backdrop was lovely.

Queen Amidala

FastPasses are currently being distributed outside the main gate. When you approach the main gate, look to the right, near the big sign (it currently has the Star Tours logo on it). The queues begin in that area. All theme park tickets are being scanned prior to a FastPass being handed to the guest. They are also handing out wristbands with the FastPasses. You *cannot* receive an autograph without a wristband AND a FastPass. Each member of your party must be present to receive the wristband and FastPass.

Anthony Daniels' autograph station is inside Sounds Dangerous. Only the FastPass holder is permitted inside. The Cast Members inside will use your camera to take a photo of you and Anthony.

Anthony Daniels

Sunshades were up on Streets of America and a queue was in place for Star Tours if they needed it. The queue also extended to the San Francisco portion of the street. The sunshades were very effective. They used this queue on Friday but I don't know if they did on Saturday.

Sunshades

The rest of the autograph stations are at the Lights, Motors Action! end of Streets of America. Daniel Logan was very popular.

Daniel Logan

Daniel Logan

James Arnold Taylor is very friendly.

James Arnold Taylor

Just around the corner, near San Francisco, Anakin was greeting guests. Jedi Masters Mace Windu, Shaak Ti and Kit Fisto also greet guests at this location.

Anakin

My friends and I caught the Behind the Force show. Host James Arnold Taylor introduced Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano). She spoke to Supervising Director Dave Filoni about his work on the Clone Wars. They went through how a scene is created and did a voice demonstration. They also selected someone from the audience to try it out.

Behind the Force

James Arnold Taylor

James and Ashley

Ashley and Dave

Scene

Asajj Ventress and other Clone Wars characters were greeting guests near the Premier Theater.

Ventress

The Legends of the Force Motorcade is now happening at 12:40 PM. We were able to catch it near the beginning of the parade route.

Mickey

501st stormtroopers

Rebel Legion

Chewbacca

R2-D2

Daniel Logan
Daniel Logan

Anthony Daniels
Anthony Daniels

Dave Filoni
Dave Filoni

Ahsoka

Ashley Eckstein
Ashley Eckstein

bounty hunters

James Arnold Taylor
James Arnold Taylor

Darth Vader

The motorcade stopped at the hat and the characters and celebrities took the stage.

Stage

Boba Fett was greeting guests on Pixar Place when I went by.

Boba Fett

Darth Vader was greeting guests near Studio Catering Company.

Darth Vader

The booth was set up for Dave Filoni when we went by and we noticed this sign for the Disney Racers.

Racers

We saw the Stars of the Saga show at 3:15. Note that the schedule says 3:15 but the celebrities don't take the stage until 3:30.

Stage

The stormtroopers do a 15 minute pre-show. Their dialog was updated to include Star Tours. They were amusing, as always. This trooper and his Mickey ice cream bar was a crowd favorite.

Mickey bar

Stormtrooper

The troopers had captured Chewbacca. Hopefully they know now that it's always wise to let the Wookiee win. :)

Chewie

Host James Arnold Taylor introduced and interviewed the two guests, Daniel Logan and Anthony Daniels.

James

Daniel

Daniel

Anthony

Ears

Unfortunately, the heat had gotten to me after Stars of the Saga and I didn't stay for Anthony Daniels' show or James Arnold Taylor's show. I hear that James Arnold Taylor's show is fantastic.

SWW is better than ever this year. I had a great time, especially because I was with family and friends.

May the Force be with you!

The previous post in this blog was D23's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt.

The next post in this blog is BOOK REVIEW: " From Screen to Theme " by Brent Dodge.

Comments (9)

sandi:

thanks for a great report on opening weekend. Loved the pictures. We are going to go on passholder lanyad day. now we know exactly where to head first before they are all gone.

Alpha Gollihugh:

Thanks for the wonderful report. I felt I was there with you. Hoping to ride Star Tours soon.

Angi:

O.M.G! GREAT report - thanks for all the details and pictures. I have been a SW fan for 30 years and I'm a new Disney fan. This is such a great event. We went to SWW in 2009 and had a great time. We couldn't go this time, so I really appreciated this blog. Star Wars Land @ Hollywood Studios anyone?

Heather Macdonald:

I can't wait to buy yoda Mickey Ears in just a few days!

Patrick:

I am coming the last day of SWW, are they usually sold out of items or do they stock enough for the full time? Also wondering if they have any star wars mickey plush dolls? I would love to get one of minnie as well for my daughter.

Thanks...Love your blog

ASHLEY:
A lot of the SWW specific merchandise is limited edition. However, some of it might still be available on the last day. As of Saturday morning, the only thing that was sold out was the opening day Star Tours pin.

I did see the Jedi Mickey plush doll. I didn't see a Minnie one but that doesn't mean they don't have it. Enjoy SWW! :)

Zach!:

I was at the Anthony Daniels show on Saturday. It was awesome. He showed clips from commercials he had done and had a small skit showing what it was like to get the calls and work on the movie, explaining how hesitant he was to do it.

He was hilarious the whole day and made the meet and greets more than just walking in for an autograph. Star Tours was of course great.

Stacey:

We lined up on Thursday to get celebrity fastpasses on Friday. When the wristbands were handed out the cast members told everyone we did NOT need these to get an autograph, but on Friday (after most of us took off our wristbands) the cast members at the actual signing locations said we had to have the wristbands. After getting some managers they finally decided the guests on Friday could get an autograph with just the fast pass (thank goodness because we lined up at noon on Thursday). Please let everyone know that even if the cast members handing out the wristbands say you do not need them... you do!

Joe:

The first Star Wars weekend was great, and the new Star Tours is Awesome.

However, I am very disappointed with the changes Disney has made to the autograph process. In the past you lined up outside the gates and roughly an hour before the gates opened they handed out fastpasses for each celebrity. After receiving your fastpass you could then go back and get into another line to get a fastpass for a different celebrity. I was very skeptical when I heard about this process, but after experiencing it I found that it worked great. Star Wars Weekends 2010 the 2nd weekend I was able to get fastpasses for all 5 celebrities by myself. Didn't have to wake any of my kids up early, and each of them were able to meet a celebrity and get an autograph.

This year I arrive and find out that they have implemented this wrist band program. So I get my wristband and now I get into another line where I have to actually enter the park to receive my fast pass? In the past you received your fastpass while still outside the park. Luckily I did have my annual pass with me. Now theoretically you could exit the park and try to get a second wristband for another celebrity, but by the time you did that pickens would be pretty slim. I have never had anything bad to say about Disney, but I think they layed a big egg on this one.

I really hope that someone from event planning reads this blog, because for the first time guest services was totally unhelpful! What's worse is they change the process and don't announce it to anyone. Disney expects you to plan well in advance, I mean if you want to eat at table service restaurant you better make reservations well in advance. However, they make a fairly substantial change and they don't bother to notify anyone! From talking to people during the day I found out that on Friday they actually did it the old way handing out the fastpasses (with wristbands) outside the gate? I didn't arrive until Saturday so I can't verify that.

One other note regarding Anthony Daniels, this blog is the only positive thing I have heard about him. Everyone I spoke to had a very poor opinion of him. I won't go into details because it is all second hand, and I plan to find out first hand on Friday 5/27. However the single most common complaint is that he will only sign the photos that they give out during the session. Which means the poster we get each year and have the celebrities sign will, I guess, not have his autograph on it! Nor will my copies of the original scripts that I already have signed by several other actors from the original trilogy. The reason for this is because he is afraid someone will sell his autograph. I will post again after I see how weekend 2 works out. Disney, Please go back to the old autograph system, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

May the Force be with You!

Joe:

I woke up 3 of my 4 children early to get in line for weekend 2 of Star Wars weekends. My Daughters Tine 19, and Miranda 11, and my oldest son Joe 9. all got up and headed out with me. we arrived at Hollywood studios around 0520. To my suprise Bruce Spense's line was the longest, followed by Dee Bradley Bakers, and the Anthony Daniels. The lines for the hosts Ashley and James were virtually non existant at that hour. Since we meet Ashley and James the week before our targets were Anthony Daniels, Dee Bradley Baker, and Bruce Spence. Here is the first problem I have with this new autograph system. To meet more then 1 celebrity I have to split up my family into different lines. I sent my oldest Daughter to Bruce Spence's line because I knew it would be furthest from me. I got in Anthony Daniels line and my other 2 kids got in Dee Bradley Baker's line. The 2 lines were relatively close in length so I could somewhat keep an eye on them. Plus by being in the shorter line I knew I could get through the gates and then be able to watch for them. By the way, at 0530 I was 18th in line for Anthony Daniels, my younger kids were 33rd and 34th for Dee Bradley Baker, and my oldest was we think 57th for Bruce Spense. Around 0700 cast members went down the lines and put wristbands on your arm color coded based on who's line you were in. I noticed that some of these cast members were checking for tickets, however, the one that put my wristband on did not. Around 0815 they advanced each line to a specific turnstile. From there we watched the storm trooper skit that takes place on the roof above the turnstiles. Around 845 they opened the park. as you went through the turnstile you received your fast pass. (no finger printing when you entered I assume so they could keep the line moving) I was able to speak to a few of the event planning staff regarding the changes. The answers were rather inconsistant. One said they changed it to cater to families, that couldn't get up early and get in line. This answer made no sense to me. When you have an event like this the die hards are going to show up early and camp out. By 0800 3 of the 5 lines were past the bag check area. Another Cast member told me that it was changed to cater to those that were staying at Disney resorts because the buses don't run early enough. Suggestion: run some early buses on event days? A third cast member said it was to make the fast pass autograph process more in line with the fast passes for rides (you can only get one every 2 hours). All of the answers had merit, but to me the changes were geared to penalize the people that got up early and cater to those that came late. If Disney wants to go this route in the future then I suggest they start actually using fast pass machines to distribute the passes. You have to use your ticket to get one, and you can't get another one for 2 hours. Don't open them until 0600, then the die hards can get their fast passes and decide; do I want to stand here and wait 2 hours for another pass, or should I go get some breakfast and come back when the park opens. Now you are still limiting the fast passes and giving families that come late an opportunity, But you are also helping out those that got up early by allowing them to get thir pass and leave if they want. If there is a concern regarding people selling passes then have cast members at the autograph sessions scan the ticket to match it with the fast pass. OK, OK, I will get off my soapbox about the autographs now.

The Celebrities were all great as usual. I finally had a first hand experience with Anthony Daniels. My earlier post was both right and wrong. Personally I found him to be an absolute gentleman to talk to and very personable. However, he will only sign the black and white photo that is given out at Star Wars weekends. In fact you can't even take any personal items up to see him. When you enter they ask you to put everything except your camera on a table. Noone except the fast pass holder is allowed in, and only 5 people or so were allowed in at one time. He also does not like anyone taking pictures while they are in line. When you go up to meet him a cast member takes your camera and takes 1 (and only 1) picture of him signing for you. Then the cast member takes 1 (and only 1) picture of him posed with you and a cardboard stand up of C3PO. He personalizes the picture for you and then hands it to you after taking the pictures. This is also the only way you can get one of these pictures. Most other celebrities you can walk up and get them even if you don't have a fast pass, but his are only handed out to fast pass holders and only 1 per person. Bruce Spence and Dee Bradley Baker were both set up by Echo lake near the 50's prime time cafe. Both were very personable and signed virtually anyhing. We ended up with a Star Wars Weekends poster signed by all the Celebrities from week 1 and week 2 minus Anthony Daniels of course. But it was definately a worthwhile experience. I hope this information helps anyone out there seeking autographs at Star Wars weekends.

May the force be with you!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 22, 2011 5:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was D23's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt.

The next post in this blog is BOOK REVIEW: " From Screen to Theme " by Brent Dodge.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.