In a galaxy not so far away … Star Wars is being re-imagined and celebrated as only The Walt Disney Co. can do.
Although my family enjoys visiting Star Wars Weekends each year at Disney's Hollywood Studios, this year, we were really excited about seeing the fireworks show, Symphony in the Stars, which has replaced the HyperSpace Hoopla as each day's finale. Symphony in the Stars actually debuted in 2010 at the theme park's Last Tour to Endor special event. Since then, an abridged version has been shown as the entertainment at other one-offs, such as the Star Tours Galactic Party in 2011 and on May the Fourth in 2013, but it has not been shown regularly as it will be this year.
The 2014 version of Symphony in the Stars begins with a short pre-show led by James Arnold Taylor, voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in “The Clone Wars” and the celebrity host of Star Wars Weekends. He pays tribute to many of the Star Wars fans in the park that day with a slide show of photographs of guests interacting with characters. (To be considered for your 15 seconds of fame, tag the Star Wars Weekends photos you post on social media with #swwfinale.)
Next, Taylor introduces popular characters from both the Rebel Alliance and the Empire, giving guests a final look at the some of their favorites. For those who are close to the stage in front of Sorcerer Mickey's hat, it's an excellent opportunity to get multiple characters in one photo.
Finally, it's time for the fireworks, which take place above the iconic symbol. Unlike at Epcot or the Magic Kingdom, fireworks are not presented regularly in this central location at Hollywood Studios. Even the casual observer will notice the differences in sight lines and crowd control when guests fill up Hollywood Boulevard, a noticeably smaller space than, say, Main Street U.S.A. or the promenade around Epcot’s World Showcase. Plus, at just over seven minutes, Symphony in the Stars is shorter than Wishes or IllumiNations.
Still, it's difficult not to get excited when the familiar sounds of John Williams' original music fill the air. Show Director Mark Renfrow recently was quoted on the official Disney Insider blog about his role in creating Symphony in the Stars:
"This music touches people. Everybody knows it, and when you hear it you suddenly go to a place. You go to the movies, and you remember these scenes, but you also remember how it felt when you first saw 'Star Wars.' Somehow, this particular show with this particular score feels like a reunion to me. I think that the audience will feel reunited and reconnected with this music – most shows are not like that, you’re just watching the show. In this show, you’re connected to it. And then because Star Wars takes place in space, you’re already looking up into the sky. When the music comes to life in fireworks, you just can’t help but visualize some of the things you’ve seen from the movies. You’re immediately connected – and filled with wows.”
To be sure, there is something magical about seeing such a different kind of fireworks show in an unusual location at Walt Disney World. Guests can see Symphony in the Stars during the remaining Star Wars Weekends: May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 6-8 and June 13-15.
** My family and I underestimated how crowded Hollywood Boulevard would be. We arrived 30 minutes before the start of the pre-show, and the street and curbs were already filled from the stage to past the intersection with Sunset Boulevard. If taking photos of the characters is important to you, arrive even earlier and claim your spot up front. Otherwise, know that it might be difficult to see the pre-show, even on the larger screen, but viewing the fireworks will be fine anywhere on the street.
** Glow With The Show mouse ear hats work with this show, though we didn't see very many on the night we viewed the fireworks.
** Check the Times Guide when planning your day because some of the attractions close early for the fireworks.
** Be prepared to sit in traffic as you and your fellow fireworks fans leave Hollywood Studios at the same time. Star Wars Weekends and the fireworks are very popular, so there will be a mass exodus. Just don't count on the The Force to help you if decide to skip the bathroom break on the way out!
The previous post in this blog was Details revealed about the new Club Disney child-care center at Polynesian Resort.
The next post in this blog is 'Disney on Ice presents Frozen' to debut in Orlando in September.