Star Wars Guide Map - Very large file
I went to Disney's Hollywood Studios today to check out the opening of Star Wars Weekends. I arrived at 8:30am and the lines to get into the park were already long. This picture was taken five minutes later. I was standing at the ticket booths and as you can see, the lines extend all the way to the security check point.
To keep the crowd entertained, Storm Troopers were on hand taunting and threatening us.
While waiting for the park to open, I struck up a conversation with some folks in line. I learned that if you want an autograph and/or photo opportunity with the “celebrity of the day,” you need a FastPass. These are handed out on a first come, first issued basis at the far right side of the ticket booths (outside the park) starting at around 8:15am. The people I was speaking with told me they were in the FastPass line at 5:30am and they were definitely not the first to arrive.
A limited number of these “celebrity” FastPasses are available, but if you’re lucky enough to secure one, you’re guaranteed the opportunity to see your favorite Star Wars hero. Just show up at the designated location during your 15 minute window. After all of the initial FastPasses have been distributed, a limited number of Stand-by FastPasses will be handed out. However, these “secondary” tickets do not guarantee you an autograph or photo session – but it’s worth a try.
The celebrity of the day will autograph their photograph and any merchandise you bring with you. A number of people brought in posters to be signed.
Also handed out early in the morning outside the park are color coded wrist bands. These allow shoppers priority entrance into Wicket’s Warehouse where you can buy limited edition and collectable Star Wars merchandise.
Located through out the park are various Star Wars character meet-and-greet locations. Unlike the celebrity sessions, you do not need a FastPass for these photo ops. But be warned, within minutes of the park opening, every one of these venues had a long line.
Star Wars T-shirts are seen everywhere and some folks pull out all the stops and dressed to the nines.
Here is yours truly as a Storm Trooper. Not to menacing, am I?
Always a favorite, but especially during Star Wars Weekend, is the Jedi Training Academy. Here kids can find out if they have what it takes to become a Jedi Warrior. Children are selected at random and it’s best to arrive early (at least 30 minutes during Star Wars Weekend) if you want your little one selected.
Some of the other activities include the “Padawan Mind Challenge.” Here, Younglings use their “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” knowledge to pass the trivia trials and become an official Padawan learner. This event is for children 11 and under and registration begins at the Star Wars Information Desk beginning at 9am.
At the Premiere Theater you can see host Ashley Eckstein in “Clone Wars: Behind the Force” – a show that explores the excitement of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with a fascinating look behind the scenes led by the voice behind “Ahsoka” and other guest celebrities.
Since this blog is all about Star Wars, I thought I’d share some Star Tours trivia with you.
When you enter the building, the queue makes a switchback or backwards “S.” You know why?
Because this section of the queue was loosely based on the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland in California.
But do you know why the queue follows this configuration at Disneyland?
It’s because the Disneyland building originally housed Adventures Thru Inner Space. When the attraction was retired to make room for Star Tours, there was no reason to rip out this perfectly good walkway so the Imagineers just did some retooling with the props that surrounded it.
And while were on the subject of Adventures Thru Inner Space, did you know you can see a section of the Mighty Microscope from that attraction on Star Tours?
When Disney replaces an older ride with a new attraction, they try to leave some sort of legacy behind. In other words, gone, but not forgotten. For example, in the Winnie the Pooh attraction at Walt Disney World, there is a picture of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to the property to Owl. And at Mission: Space in Epcot, the old Horizon logo can be seen on the rotating space station in the queue area. The same is true for Star Tours. This attraction pays homage to Adventures Thru Inner Space. Here’s what to look for:
As you begin your Star Tours adventure, you unexpectedly take a wrong turn. Then your vehicle drops off the edge of a platform and plunges downward. As Captain Rex regains control of the craft, he pulls you out of your freefall. At that moment, if you look to the right-hand side of the screen, you can see the Mighty Microscope. You must look quickly, but once you know what you’re looking for, there is no mistaking it.
And here’s a bit of personal trivia for you. I went to school with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) in Yokohama, Japan. We were even in a school play together. It’s not a very good picture, but I’m on the left and Mark is on the right.
Star Wars Weekend is very popular. If you’re visiting Disney World over the next several weeks and you’re a Star Wars fan, then you should definitely visit Disney's Hollywood Studios during one of these days. But if you’re not a Star Wars fan, visit other parks on the weekend and save the Studio for a Monday through Thursday.
May the force be with you.
The previous post in this blog was SeaWorld – Manta.
The next post in this blog is Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs.