Star Wars Archives

May 24, 2018

Spoiler-free review of Solo: A Star Wars Story


Solo: A Star Wars Storyofficially opens in theaters nationwide tomorrow, and Star Wars fans have to be excited about getting a second new movie in six months. Other moviegoers may wonder if it’s overkill. Do we really need Han Solo’s back story in “Solo: A Star Wars Story”?

The answer to that is “yes.” Although some may see this movie as “Star Wars Lite” because it doesn’t delve into The Force or develop new jedis and move the saga forward, it does deliver adventure, a little suspense coupled with a romance and quite a few fan moments – many of the qualities that make summer movies successful.


What makes this movie golden, though, even for the most casual of Star Wars fans, is the collection of moments that reveal objects and relationships in the Star Wars universe that we take for granted. How did Han Solo come to own to the Millennium Falcon? And how did Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) become his faithful sidekick? Plus, the more you know about Star Wars, the more subtle references you are likely to catch. These little gems, along with some other surprises, make “Solo” a movie worth watching, despite its missteps.


The story opens with Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) trying to escape the planet Corellia. As we already know, Han is a hustler and he must rely on those skills when the pair is separated. And although the action sequences are exciting, the chemistry between the two is not. The sizzle between young Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher is not duplicated here – not by a long shot. Nor does Ehrenreich have that undefinable quality that makes an actor a star. Sure, he’s good enough in the role of Han Solo, but he doesn’t have that space cowboy magnetism that Ford did in his Star Wars films.


One of the most brilliant casting decisions, though, was to place Woody Harrelson in the role of Tobias Beckett, a fellow smuggler that Solo decides to work with. Harrelson commands the audience’s attention, unlike Ehrenreich. As Solo’s mentor of sorts, Beckett leads the young pilot and the audience through a plot full of twists and turns. Another smart casting choice was Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian. He is clearly able to mimic Billy Dee Williams’ smooth moves and charismatic personality in this role in the earlier movies.


And it wouldn’t be Star Wars without a faithful droid, would it? L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is a feminist droid with witty quips and a true love for Calrissian. We are left to wonder if that love goes both ways, though Glover has insisted in interviews that his character is pansexual. As for C-3PO, yes, Anthony Daniels continues his streak of being the only actor in every single Star Wars movie, but I won’t give away how the droid fits into this prequel.


Despite taking over midway through production, Director Ron Howard has given us a satisfying addition to the Star Wars saga in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It may not be the same sci-fi drama we’re used to – the absence of The Rebellion and its purpose is clearly missing -- but this version is still worth a look. It doesn’t stray from Star Wars canon, but at the same time, it does answer many of fans’ most burning questions – and plenty they didn’t even know they had.

Solo: A Star Wars Story” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence. There is mild foul language, and use of alcohol is depicted in the movie. Parents will want to take note that “Solo” does have explosions and character deaths, some of which can be disturbing for young children. This violence is on par with what is shown in all the Star Wars movies.

My 13-year-old daughter, who is a huge Star Wars fan, was not bothered by these themes or images. In fact, overall, she loved “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and had very few criticisms. She astutely noted that, without giving too much of the plot away, L3’s spirit is captured much liked Baymax’s in Disney’s “Big Hero 6.” And little touches like that not only evoke the audience’s emotions but they provide continuity in the story – something “Solo” is very good at.

Chewbacca Plush - Solo: A Star Wars Story - MediumHan Solo and Chewbacca Poster T-Shirt for Adults - Solo: A Star Wars StoryHan Solo and Chewbacca MagicBand 2 - Solo: A Star Wars StoryChewbacca T-Shirt for Adults - Solo: A Star Wars Story

DISCLAIMER: I viewed “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at a media screening before its official release. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.

April 10, 2018

Kids rise to STEM challenge with Star Wars Droid Inventor Kits from littleBits


For Christmas, my 13-year-old daughter received the award-winning and oh-so-popular littleBits Droid Inventor Kit. I chose this as one of her gifts not only because she loves all things Star Wars but also because of the excellent reviews of this STEM-related toy. It combines fun with education, which is a winning combination for most parents, including me.


Recently, littleBits collaborated with Lucasfilm to challenge kids to invent their own custom Droids using the Droid Inventor Kit.

"Our mission at littleBits is to inspire kids of all backgrounds and genders to get excited about STEAM," Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, said in a press release. "We made the Droid Inventor Kit not as a finished toy for them to play with, but as a launchpad for creativity and invention. We're thrilled to have won the Toy Industry Association's Creative Toy of the Year, but we are even more gratified to see our vision carried out by these creative kids as you see in the competition."

The littleBits Competition: Droid Inventor Kit invited kids, families, and Star Wars fans in the U.S., U.K., and Canada to share their own unique Droid creations with the global inventor community. Of more than 300 creative submissions received during the competition, more than 50 percent were from young female inventors. Each submission was judged on creative use of materials, inventiveness and a video presentation. The panel of judges comprised accomplished female business and entertainment role models including:

** Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO at littleBits

** Kathleen Kennedy, president at Lucasfilm

** Daisy Ridley, the actress who portrays Rey in the current Star Wars trilogy

** Kelly Marie Tran, the actress who portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

"I was really struck by how innovative and creative these kids are, and what a fantastic sense of humor they have," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a press release. "The submissions were truly inspiring, and I'm hopeful their enthusiasm for inventing will become a lifelong passion."

Three winners were chosen in each of two categories -- beginner, or "Padawan Learner" and advanced, or "Jedi Master." Two first-prize winners received all-expenses-paid, VIP trips to Lucasfilm and $500 littleBits bucks; two second-prize winners received an R2-D2 replica signed by the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and a littleBits Code Kit; and the two third-prize winners received a $200 Disney shopping spree and littleBits swag.

Take a look at the winners of the littleBits Competition: Droid InventorKit:

Beginner: Padawan Learners Category

R2-RockLifter: Carter B., age 11, uses the Droid Inventor Kit's Force Mode to lift "rocks" (i.e. balloons) at her command.

This is the Droid You're Looking For: Riley M., age 13, recreates the iconic X-wing using cardboard, clothes hangers, duct tape, and a Droid Inventor Kit.

R2BCalm: Hollister M., age 8, helps children with autism stay calm in challenging situations by sensing noise and sharing tools like fidget spinners or headphones.

Advanced: Jedi Masters Category

MSE-BBIN: Sunil J., age 38, creates a custom Droid for home surveillance.

O2: Graciela L., age 13, works with her custom Droid to recognize harmful gases in the atmosphere.

Coding Art Bot: Sylvia D., age 13, combines her love for coding and art to program her Droid to create a secret message.

There were hundreds of submissions from cities like Denver, Colorado to Etobicoke, Ontario. Fifty-one percent of the entries featured female inventors, whose entries pointed to some unique trends. For example, girls like to create a storyline: rehearse a script, play a role, add drama. Many of their projects were meant to help their siblings, create art, take care of pets, or assist with household chores like cooking or cleaning.

December 12, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi ticket offers, giveaways and celebrations



For Star Wars fans, this wait is almost over! The Last Jedi finally hits theaters this week, and there are several special offers that give fans some extras along with their movie tickets.

On Thursday, December 14 -- ahead of the movie’s official opening on December 15 -- fans can be among the first to see the film by attending one of three events: An Opening Night Fan Event; A Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi Double Feature; or a Star Wars Marathon featuring all eight movies.

These premium events will include exclusive content, Star Wars collectible cards, and a special concession offer of a free drink and popcorn combo with collectible cup. Plus, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will start at 6 p.m. local time, one hour earlier than regular public showtimes.

Every Sunday from December 17 to January 7, guests who purchase a ticket to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi in IMAX at AMC Theatres will receive an exclusive print from artist Dan Mumford, while supplies last. A new poster will be revealed each week.

Each Saturday from December 16 to 30, the first 500 guests who experience Star Wars: The Last Jedi in IMAX at Regal Cinemas will receive an exclusive collectible ticket featuring unique art, while supplies last. New art will be revealed weekly.

On Fandango, each fan who buys Star Wars: The Last Jedi tickets will receive a complimentary Star Wars: The Last Jedi poster from Fandango FanShop, while supplies last. Fans can also order Star Wars: The Last Jedi Fandango gift cards and Star Wars gear and collectibles at

For a limited time, Connections loyalty members can purchase a Star Wars: The Last Jedi RealD 3D ticket to unlock a free pair of 3D Star Wars glasses.

As part of the advanced ticketing promotion, you can add exclusive Star Wars: The Last Jedi collectibles to your Alamo Drafthouse ticket purchase, including a commemorative all-Star Wars issue of Birth.Movies.Death, and three incredible Mondo-designed glasses. Available for a limited time only.

Star Wars fans in the Orlando area also have opportunities to celebrate all things Star Wars at Walt Disney World. Galactic Nights returns to Hollywood Studios on Dec. 16 for the second year. Deb Wills will be attending and covering this one-night event for AllEars.Net. Plus, the Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire experience opens Dec. 16 at Disney Springs. It’s described as a “multi-sensory, untethered hyper-reality adventure.”

Are you looking forward to The Last Jedi? Tell us about your favorites in the comments.

July 17, 2017

Disney's new Star Wars hotel to allow guests step into story and role-play


“Immersive” has been a buzzword in the theme-park industry for years, especially since Universal Orlando allowed its visitors to step into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010. The Walt Disney Company quickly followed suit a couple years later with Cars Land at Disney California Adventure and new Fantasyland attractions in the Magic Kingdom.


Now, Disney Parks and Resorts are taking immersive to a new level with the Star Wars-themed hotel that is being planned for Walt Disney World. The announcement came at the D23 Expo over the weekend in Anaheim, Calif. Details were not plentiful, but here is what we know so far:

** The hotel will be a luxury hotel. Many are assuming that means it will be on par with Disney World’s deluxe category.

** The hotel is a large part of the experience, not just a place to stay. Guests will feel like they are stepping into a place in the Star Wars story, not just a Star Wars-themed hotel.

** To accomplish that feeling of immersion, each guest will be given a storyline that shapes his or her experience.


** Guests will wear Star Wars costumes during the experience.

** Hotel employees will play characters in the Star Wars story while performing their duties. That’s different from other Walt Disney World hotel staffs.

** This is advertised as a “multi-day adventure,” and it likely will be priced as such. Surveys given to guests visiting Walt Disney World indicated the price point could be $1,000 per person for three days and two nights. Disney has not announced an official price for the experience.


** The hotel will be a spaceship in the Star Wars fleet. As such, there won’t be windows looking out to Walt Disney World grounds. Instead, each window will show space scenes. Some are speculating these fake windows could be like the popular magic portholes on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships that show changing scenes from the ocean.

To many, the opportunity to participate in this type of continuous role-playing in the Star Wars universe is a dream come true. Others – even those who enjoy Star Wars – may not be certain they want to spend their Disney vacation holed up in a hotel experience. So, I’m curious what YOUR family would do. Would you like to experience the Star Wars hotel? Will your family split up so certain members can enjoy it? If you do the experience, would you stay on afterward to go to the other theme parks? Tell us about it in the comments below.

April 10, 2017

Star Wars fans have slew of bonus features on Rogue One Blu-ray, DVD to enjoy


Just in time for next week’s Star Wars Celebration in Orlando and Galactic Nights at Walt Disney World comes the Blu-ray and DVD release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One has become the seventh highest-grossing film of all time in the United States, garnering two Academy Award nominations.


For Star Wars fans, it’s felt like a long time since the movie left theaters. But this week, Rogue One was released On Demand and as a Blu-ray DVD Combo Pack with plenty of bonus features. Here’s a look at what you’ll get:

** A Rogue Idea – Hear how ILM’s John Knoll came up with the movie’s concept and why it’s the right film to launch the Star Wars stand-alone films.

** Jyn: The Rebel – Get to know Rogue One’s defiant, resourceful survivor, and hear what it was like for Felicity Jones to bring her to life onscreen.

** Cassian: The Spy – Diego Luna shares insights into his complex, driven character, who becomes a hero through selflessness, perseveranc,e and passion.

** K-2SO: The Droid – Explore the development of this reprogrammed Imperial droid, from initial pitch and character design through Alan Tudyk’s performance.

** Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills – Go deeper into the relationship between these two very different characters, with Chinese superstars Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.

** Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & The Revolutionary – Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed reflect on Saw Gerrera, the broken Rebel leader, and Bodhi Rook, the Imperial pilot who defects.

** The Empire – Meet a dangerous new Imperial adversary…and cross paths once more with the most iconic villain of all time.

** Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One – The filmmakers describe the challenges and thrills of developing a bold new look for the movie that can fit within the world of the original trilogy.

** The Princess & The Governor – See what it took to bring the vibrant young princess of Star Wars: A New Hope—as well as one of her most memorable foes—back to the screen.

** Epilogue: The Story Continues – Filmmakers and cast celebrate Rogue One’s premiere and look forward into the future, to the Star Wars stories yet to be told.

** Rogue Connections – Uncover Easter eggs and film facts hidden throughout the movie that connect Rogue One to the Star Wars universe.

Perhaps most exciting is the Epilogue: The Story Continues, which gives fans a glimpse at what might coming in future projects. Disappointingly, there are no deleted scenes, even though the film was reworked at the eleventh hour so there should be a lot left on the cutting room floor.


Standard packaging is available as well as these retailer exclusives:

Target Exclusive: 5-disc set includes collectible packaging with interchangeable character covers and exclusive bonus content (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + DVD exclusive content – 2 additional bonus features + Digital HD + collectible packaging)

Best Buy Exclusive: 4-disc set with exclusive SteelBook packaging (Blu-ray 3D + two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + SteelBook packaging)

Walmart Exclusive: 3-disc set with exclusive K-2SO packaging and two Galactic Connexions trading discs (two Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD + K-2SO packaging + two Galactic Connexions trading discs)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also is available to own on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere.


February 18, 2017

Disney, Lucasfilm bring back Force Friday merchandise event for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'


Disney and Lucasfilm want to make sure the force is with all Star Wars fans well before “The Last Jedi” – the ninth movie in the saga -- is released on Dec. 15. To that end, they have announced a sequel to 2015’s Force Friday on Sept. 1, 2017.

The hoopla begins at 12:01 a.m. when stores around the globe will open their doors with toys, collectibles, books and apparel related to the popular franchise on their shelves. The products will not be revealed ahead of time, and the Force Friday II celebration will continue all weekend.


“The first Star Wars Force Friday event was truly unique, uniting fans across five continents in an unprecedented global live unboxing event ahead of thousands of midnight openings at retail,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, in a press release. “We’re excited to confirm that Star Wars Force Friday is back for ‘The Last Jedi’. Plans for this year’s worldwide event are top secret but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the Star Wars saga.”

As well as introducing new characters from the movie in toy form, the line will build on the success of products like Sphero’s BB-8, introducing more innovative technology to bring the characters and stories from the film to life in unique ways, according to the release.

“Toys play a unique role in the Star Wars universe, and we’re proud to have been part of that incredible legacy for the past forty years. The new line for ‘The Last Jedi’ is our most innovative yet, and we’re excited to unveil it on Force Friday II,” said Samantha Lomow, Senior Vice President at Hasbro, in the news release.

Also being revealed today is a first look at packaging for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” products which feature leading heroes: Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn. The packaging gives fans the first glimpse at what the heroes will look like in “The Last Jedi.”

Fans can stay tuned to for more details on Force Friday II events and can follow the conversation on social using #ForceFridayII


December 3, 2016

Star Wars fans can see Rogue One unlimited number of times with Regal's Ultimate Ticket



Talk about knowing your audience! Regal Cinemas is offering Star Wars fans the opportunity to see the upcoming “Rogue One” as many times as they want while it is in its theaters with one all-inclusive ticket.

Limited to 1,000, the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Ticket costs $100 plus shipping and allows its owner to see “Rogue One” one time each day through June 15, 2017, or the end of the movie’s run in Regal theaters -- whichever comes first. The card will be accepted for all film formats, including 3D, RPX and IMAX.

The Regal Ultimate Ticket is only available for sale online at (Crown Club members can cash in their credits to enter for a chance to win a Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Ticket by visiting The collectible ticket features the movie title laser cut through anodized steel, plus gold etching and the distinctive black gloss Rebellion insignia. Each card is personalized, with the cardholder’s name inscribed permanently on the back.

Here is the fine print:

** Allow 2 to 3 weeks for personalization and shipping.

** Limit one card per order. Due to personalization, multiple cards require separate transactions.

** Your "shipping" contact name will be the personalized name etched on the card.

** Photo ID matching that name will be required for redemption.

** Cards are not transferable to another individual.

** Present card at the box office for admission ticket. Not valid for online ticket purchases.

** Replacement cost is $50 plus shipping and handling.

** Regal Crown Club members earn 10,000 credits (per ticket) with purchase. As long as you use the email address associated with your Regal Crown Club account, points will be added to your Regal Crown Club card 3-4 weeks after your receive your Rogue One Ultimate Ticket.

Directed by Gareth Edwards, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters Dec. 16. The official description reads, “In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something bigger than themselves.”


September 6, 2016

Sept 30 marks release of 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' toys, start of contest


Star Wars fans and collectors will be able to purchase a new line of toys based on the upcoming movie, “Rogue One,” at Toys ‘R’ stores in the United States beginning Sept. 30. Like last year’s Force Friday, Toys ‘R’ Us stores across the United States will open at 12:01 a.m. EST that night and transform into Destination Star Wars: Rebel Base.

In addition to shopping opportunities, the stores will host exclusive events for participants. Night owls will enjoy giveaways including a poster and T-shirt (while supplies last) and will be the first to shop “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" merchandise, including Star Wars figures, construction sets, accessories and more. And, for those who wish to shop from the comfort of home, the line also will become available at beginning at 12 a.m. EST.

For Star Wars fans visiting Walt Disney World, the closest Toys ‘R’ Us stores in Central Florida are at Florida Mall, 1631 Florida Mall Ave., and Orlando Outlets, 8200 Vineland Ave.


Some of the new “Rogue One” toys are available now for pre-order: Star Wars Force Band by Sphero, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story The Black Series Sergeant Jyn Erso from Hasbro, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Rebel U-Wing Fighter Drone from Hasbro and Star Wars The Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper Electronic Voice Changer Helmet from Hasbro.

In addition, on Sept. 30, Star Wars fans are invited to share their own short stories or skits set in a galaxy far, far away. … Teen and adult fans can enter the Go Rogue contest on Kids ages 8 to 12 in the United States and parts of Canada can participate in their own contest on For both contests, participants have until Oct. 21 to submit a 2-minute video for a chance to see to win a trip to LucasFilm in San Francisco and attend a screening of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and see their video on the big screen. Videos should be an original story, an original parody or documentary pertaining to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Music or scene background images can only be selected from those provided in the asset pack.


Winning entries will be chosen by a panel including "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" director Gareth Edwards. Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

** A clear grasp of animation and/or filmmaking as an art form (20%)

** Quality of storytelling (20%)

** Character development and character design (20%)

** Originality (20%)

** Overall entertainment value (20%)

Three grand-prize winners will be chosen; limit one entry per person. Official rules can be found at and for the respective contests.

To reveal the new “Rogue One” toy collection and contests, a team of superfans created animated shorts that have launched on the Star Wars YouTube channel. As part of a competition in collaboration with creative network Tongal, a team was assembled to write, direct and produce original, fan-made stop-motion shorts starring key toys from the new line to kick off the contest that asks fans to share their own "Rogue Stories."

The stories follow the adventures of "Rogue One" toys from Hasbro, LEGO, FUNKO, JAKKS Pacific, Mattel and Disney Store as they try to track down the building instructions to the LEGO Star Wars Death Star set which have been misplaced by the Empire.

"These fan-created shorts are a tribute to the incredible content that the Star Wars community posts online every day," said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.

When Star Wars news breaks, many fans worldwide react by sharing their own videos online. According to a press release, fans posted over 838,000 pieces of Star Wars-related content on YouTube in the past year alone, which is more than 2,296 per day and nearly 96 per hour. Star Wars fan-generated content is also incredibly popular, accruing more than 16.3 billion views in the last year – equivalent to everyone in the world viewing at least two fan-created videos.


August 30, 2016

What you need to know about Disney World's Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show


This past weekend, my family and I finally had the chance to see the new evening show at Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. And, let me tell you, the force is strong with this production. You won’t want to miss it!

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular took over in June for the previous version of Star Wars-themed fireworks, Symphony in the Stars. This version got a major upgrade with the addition of lasers, light projections and other special effects combined with music and iconic characters and scenes from all seven films in the “Star Wars” series.



Here are a few tips for parents and others interested in seeing Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios.

** First, know that you don’t have to be a diehard Star Wars fan to enjoy this evening show. My almost-14-year-old son is not enamored with the saga, and he still was amazed by what he saw. He pointed out more than once that there was so much to look at that he wasn’t sure where to look next.

** On the other hand, if you are a big Star Wars fan, like my almost-12-year-old daughter, you most likely will enjoy the fact that all the movies play a part in this show and favorite characters are represented not just on the screens but in unusual ways, as well.

** The single most important tip I can give you for viewing this show is that you really need to be standing in front of the last two screens on the sides of Hollywood Boulevard in order to be able to fully experience the show. And, believe me, it is worth it to be in that “hub” during Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.

** Of course, to find a spot at the front of Hollywood Boulevard means planning to get there early to secure a space – unless you opt for the dessert party, which guarantees its participants a prime viewing area. (More on that to come.) That begs the question of “How early is early enough to secure a decent viewing spot?” Not to dodge the question, but that all depends on the crowds at Hollywood Studios. One way to judge crowd levels is by the standby wait times for attractions. On Saturday, crowds were lighter, and we walked up to a spot on Hollywood Boulevard just past the screens about 30 minutes before the start of the show.

** At the time, the street was taped off with designated waiting and walking areas. That’s a routine crowd-control method at Walt Disney World theme parks. However, much to our surprise, about five to 10 minutes before the show’s start, the tape was removed by cast members and guests were encouraged to move forward and fill in all the spaces. When we all moved forward, my family and I ended up standing in front of the last screens. Perfect!



** If you find that you have arrived on Hollywood Boulevard too late to secure a viewing spot up front, your next best bet is to see if you can skirt the crowds by walking the perimeter and scout any openings by Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner. That’s because the majority of the show takes place with projections on the center-stage and side screens and fireworks appear in the sky above the right screen. So, if you stand at Min and Bill’s you’ll be directly facing the fireworks.

** Want to skip the waiting and positioning on Hollywood Boulevard? Then the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party might be for you. The party takes place inside Star Wars Launch Bay, and 15 minutes before the fireworks show, guests are escorted to a VIP viewing area. The party features a selection of sweets, fruit, alcoholic beverages for those 21 and older and a souvenir stein featuring Chewbacca. The price is $69 for ages 10 and older and $39 for ages 3 to 9; tax and gratuity are included.



** Parents of young children should be aware that some parts of the show are loud, but otherwise Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is not scary. When my son was little, he was fascinated by all the fireworks shows at Walt Disney World, but he could not tolerate the noise levels, so we always carried earplugs. They seemed to do the trick; he happily enjoyed the shows without the worry of the next loud boom. Headphones might serve the same purpose.

** Check the Times Guide early in the day for the schedule for nighttime entertainment. There will days when times for Fantasmic! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular overlap and you will have to make a choice about which show you want to see. On some days, it may be possible to see both.

** Finally, if you are trying to decide whether to wait for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular or the stage show, Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, I’d recommend the former, hands down. The stage show is little more than a glorified pageant of Star Wars characters, while the nighttime show truly is spectacular.


April 12, 2016

'Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away' show begins at Disney's Hollywood Studios


It’s been almost a year since Disney’s Hollywood Studios hosted the last of the now-discontinued Star Wars Weekends. And just when many fans were missing the annual opportunity to immerse themselves in the sci-fi galaxy, the park has introduced two new experiences for Star Wars fans.

A new stage production – “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” – and a stormtrooper procession debuted last week as part of the summer’s “Star Wars Awakens” entertainment offerings. My family and I were in the park and experienced both this past weekend on our own, not as part of a media event.


Although there are no published times for the stormtrooper procession, we happened upon it at 4 p.m. when we were arriving near the stage at the end of Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Chinese Theater. Captain Phasma from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” leads a platoon of First Order stormtroopers on a march from Star Wars Launch Bay to the stage multiple times each day. Once there, she instructs the stormtroopers about what is expected of them -- sort of a training exercise, if you will. The whole “show” lasts about five minutes, but it does give guests and Star Wars fans a sense of the foreboding First Order.


“Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” revisits iconic moments from the film saga with movie clips and appearances from popular Star Wars characters like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, C-3P0, R2-D2 and Chewbacca. However, the only characters from the most recent installment are Kylo Ren and BB-8. Although that is somewhat disappointing to fans of the newest trio of heroes, it is the lovable droid’s first appearance as a character at Walt Disney World. My 11-year-old daughter was really happy to see BB-8, but she would have loved to see Rey, as well.


Overall, “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” was not what my family and I were expecting – or hoping for. The production is heavy on movie clips and the characters don’t do much more than a few poses on the stage. There isn’t a lot of interaction between the characters, and it feels pretty superficial. I guess we had been spoiled by “Hyperspace Hoopla,” a stage show that capped off each day during Star Wars Weekends. That show included a large number of Star Wars characters in a mashup of dancing and pop-culture references. It was very creative and well-executed. And the new show just isn’t.

It feels like a placeholder until the new immersive and detailed Star Wars Land opens. The best thing I can say about “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” is that it does give audiences the opportunity to see some of the beloved Star Wars characters that otherwise won’t be making appearances (as far as we know) this summer.

For its first week, “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” took place five times a day – at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. at Center Stage. Be sure to get there early, especially if you have small children, because it will be tough for them to see the stage from more than a few rows back.


April 9, 2016

Ideas for celebrating the DVD release of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'


As "Star Wars” fans surely know, the newest movie, “The Force Awakens,” was released on DVD and Blu-ray this past week. And that has many of us eager to enjoy the film again at home and perhaps escape to the Death Star or the Millennium Falcon, depending which side you identify with.

Young children have the opportunity today to take on their favorite "Star Wars" personas at Disney Store locations nationwide, which are hosting a free Star Wars Adventure Event for children ages 3 and older. “Join the Resistance and take part in defense training with Stormtroopers, Millennium Falcon flight training and more,” according to the official description. The Star Wars Adventure Event will take place at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Central Florida’s only Disney Store at Florida Mall will be offering the event. Lineups are not allowed more than 30 minutes before the event begins.

For older children, like my own, the "Star Wars" celebration will be centered on a family movie night. We’ll pull out the sleeping bags and blankets and pop popcorn for the experience. Of course, my husband and I will pause the movie at certain points to tell the kids what it was like when we saw the original “Star Wars” movies in theaters in the 1970s and ‘80s.


But I also found some clever Star Wars-themed ideas on the Disney Family Fun website that I plan to incorporate in our evening, as well. Families can print out Star Wars Bingo cards and use their own coins or pebbles for markers. But instead of calling out a letter, players will mark a character’s image the first time he or she is spotted on screen. I like this idea because it might help maintain interest in a movie for family members who have already seen it and have different levels of devotion to the franchise.


Disney Family Fun also offers simple recipes for Star Wars themed desserts, too, that go beyond just a cupcake. How about an R2-D2 Berry Parfait? I know my daughter will love this treat, and it’s healthy, too! Here’s how to create your own droid dessert:

1. Start by putting 3-4 spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt into the bottom of the jar.

2. Next, put a layer of blueberries. Try to keep the layer of blueberries even from the front to the back so your layers stay straight.

3. Put another layer of vanilla yogurt (2-3 spoonfuls), then another layer of blueberries.

4. You'll need one more layer of vanilla yogurt (2-3 spoonfuls), then 1 more layer of blueberries.
5. Now, you'll need to make the vanilla yogurt gray for the top (and last layer) of yogurt. In a small mixing bowl, scoop 2-3 spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt. Add 5 drops of blue food coloring, 5 drops of yellow food coloring, and 5 drops of red food coloring. Mix the yogurt and coloring together until you get a nice gray color.

6. If the gray looks too dark, add 1 spoonful of vanilla yogurt at a time until you get a light gray color.

7. Then, put 2-3 spoonfuls of the gray vanilla yogurt as the top and final layer of your parfait.

8. Take a napkin, wrap it around 1 finger, and clean off a small space near the front of the jar.

9. Place a raspberry or strawberry in the clean space you just made. Your R2-D2 Berry Parfait is complete!

10. Optional: Place the lid on the jar. Take a piece of blue felt and place it on top of the lid. Trace the top of the lid onto the felt. Cut out the circle you just made on the blue felt. Take a piece of tape and tape it to the top of the lid.


Of course, if you are in Orlando and want to immerse yourself in the galaxy far, far away, Walt Disney World is the place to go. Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to the Star Tours simulator attraction, which has a new sequence from “The Force Awakens”; Jedi Training Academy, where young padawans can find out if they can command The Force and challenge Darth Vader; Star Wars Launch Bay, where guests can meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren; the new stage show “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” which debuted last week; and the night-time fireworks, “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular.

For those in a shopping mood, there is plenty of merchandise at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but visitors can also check out the Star Wars Galactic Outpost store at Disney Springs – without paying for Disney admission or parking. Can’t make it there? The Shop Disney Parks app sells 140 Star Wars-themed items directly from the parks. I recently ordered a BB-8 dress and mouse-ears hat for my daughter and they arrived within days. The process was so much easier for me than running around the parks looking for the correct size.

Another unique Star Wars shopping opportunity exists next week at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World. The runDisney Health & Fitness Expo will be held there April 14 to 16 in conjunction with the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side weekend. The expo is free and open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. There will be race-specific merchandise on sale, as well as vendors who sell running gear and all sorts of Star Wars items.

Finally, Star Wars fans got a glimpse into the future of the franchise when the trailer for the next movie, “Rogue One,” was released Thursday. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is a spin-off that takes place just before the original “Star Wars” movie. And isn’t that the perfect excuse for another family movie night to watch the original trilogy?


August 8, 2015

Star Wars fans can buy exclusive merchandise on Force Friday at Toys 'R" Us


Toys ‘R’ Us wants to make sure the force is with all Star Wars fans well before “The Force Awakens” – the seventh movie in the saga -- is released in December. To that end, it is hosting Force Friday on Sept. 4 at all of its stores – worldwide.

The hoopla begins at 12:01 a.m. when stores around the globe will open their doors with hundreds of new products related to the popular franchise on their shelves. Some of the merchandise will be exclusive to Toys ‘R’ Us. In addition, the midnight festivities will feature giveaways, including an exclusive poster and a limited edition LEGO Star Wars Commemorative Brick while supplies last.

For Star Wars fans visiting Walt Disney World, the closest Toys ‘R’ Us stores in Central Florida are at Florida Mall, 1631 Florida Mall Ave., and Orlando Outlets, 8200 Vineland Ave.

The company's international flagship store, Toys ‘R’ Us Times Square in New York City, will host a historic Star Wars toy exhibition leading up to the grandest midnight opening celebration of all, welcoming legions of eager fans with costumed characters, signing events, giveaways and more all day on Sept. 3.

The exhibition, which will be on display from Aug. 26 through Sept. 7, will feature prototypes, originals and early editions of some of the best-known Star Wars toys in the world, curated by Rancho Obi-Wan, Inc., a nonprofit museum that houses the Guinness World Record-certified largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia. Presented prominently throughout the store, "Destination: Star Wars – The Experience," will showcase dozens of notable collectibles based on all six feature films from the Star Wars Saga, including the original first four mail-away action figures from 1978, a large-sized Chewbacca figure in never publicly-released The Empire Strikes Back packaging from Kenner Products and a rare 2003 LEGO Star Wars Cloud City building set.

During the day on Sept. 3, the Toys ‘R’ Us Times Square in New York City will offer:

** A book signing and meet-and-greet with Steve Sansweet, Chief Executive Officer and President of Rancho Obi-Wan, Inc., storied Star Wars author and former Head of Fan Relations and Director of Content Management at Lucasfilm Ltd.

** An art class and meet-and-greet with fan-favorite Star Wars and science fiction artist, Jeff Carlisle.

** Star Wars product demonstrations and activations throughout the store, including Star Wars-themed 3-D action figure creation with 3D Plus Me, video gaming on Disney Infinity 3.0 Star Wars kiosks and experiencing intergalactic sound on Star Wars-themed headphones powered by SMS Audio.

** A LEGO Star Wars make and take for rebels looking to build their toy empire brick by brick.

** A Light Saber Academy with members of New York Jedi, a community of cosplayers, martial artists and teachers who share practical stage combat techniques oriented toward Light Sabers.

** Photo opportunities with costumed characters, including Furbacca, a character versioned after the Hasbro toy that makes wookiee sounds like Chewbacca, and Geoffrey the Giraffe.

** Ice cream flavors inspired by the Star Wars Saga from Scoops ‘R’ Us, the flagship store's in-house ice cream shop located on the lower level.

** Star Wars-themed cookie decorating at a "Wookiee" Cookie Party on Level 1.

** A panel discussion with Steve Sansweet and Jeff Carlisle for select lucky fans, which will also be live-streamed via Periscope @Toysrus on Twitter.

Those who cannot make it to a Toys ‘R’ Us store in person can purchase the new products online at beginning at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 4.


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About Star Wars

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Star Wars category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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