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Star Wars Weekends Archives

June 12, 2014

Disney-themed ideas for Father's Day gifts kids can make at home

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Father's Day is just around the corner, which means moms of young children everywhere might be scrambling to finish those homemade gifts featuring handprints and footprints or kids' artwork. We all cherish those, to be sure. But if you're looking for some new ideas for crafts -- especially those with a Disney theme -- let me offer some easy and inexpensive ideas that can be completed in time for Sunday's celebration.

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For the Star Wars fan, Freeze Pop Sabers will help banish The Dark Side and keep everyone's hands from freezing in the process. No Carbonite here! This clever idea is in the June/July issue of FamilyFun magazine.

The directions:
For each, cut a 3-inch by 4-inch rectangle from gray felt. Fold it over a freeze pop and use fabric glue to seal the side and bottom edges. Clamp the fabric closed with binder clips or clothespins, if needed. Slip the felt off the pop. Glue on stripes and dots of black and colored felt. When your pop is frozen and the glue is dry, you're ready to battle the heat!

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I can't tell you how much I love this next gift, which is a free sheet of printable coupons. Dads who spent their vacations criss-crossing the theme parks of Walt Disney World to gather the old paper FastPasses will appreciate this present, as well. The twist on the time-honored tradition of giving fathers the gift of doing his household chores is that the coupons are designed to look like paper FastPasses, which were retired earlier this year.

The directions:
On Disney's Spoonful.com, go to this printable PDF, which includes six DadsPasses. You cannot edit the file, but there really isn't a need to. The expiration date is 2112, meaning the passes are good for Dad's lifetime. Just don't give him any trouble when he's ready to cash them in!

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Does the father in your family enjoy video games just as much as the kids? If so, the kids can create a personalized storage box for all your Disney Infinity figures and discs.

The directions:
This craft can be as simple or elaborate as you choose. Start with a box that is the size of a shoebox or larger. Cover it in plain craft paper or construction paper of various hues. Then, let your child decorate it. You can use pictures from the game pieces' packaging, stickers that show Disney characters or your child's own artwork. The possibilities are infinite!

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Turn an ordinary visor into a mouse-ear hat. Whether you're planning a trip to Walt Disney World or just want to show your appreciation for The Mouse, this hat will provide protection from the sun and rock Dad's Disney side at the same time.

The directions:
Purchase an inexpensive plain foam visor and a sheet of self-adhesive black foam from your local craft store. Cut out four circles of the same size and two small rectangle tabs. Place the rectangles between each pair of the circles on the edge and stick together. The rectangles will serve as tabs to be inserted through small slits on the visor. Once the ears are in place, tape the tab on the underside of the visor with colorful duct tape. This idea is modified from one on Disney's Spoonful.com

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Of course, no celebration is complete without cupcakes! Disney's Spoonful.com features these adorable beach-inspired Mickey Mouse cupcakes that are perfect for any summer holiday.

The directions:
Cut a square of freezer paper that is slightly bigger than the top of your cupcake -- about a 3.5 inch square. You'll notice that one side of the paper is shiny and one side is matte. On the matte side, draw or trace your design. Using a sharp craft knife, cut out your design. (This is a job for adults!) Frost your cupcakes with a knife or spatula. Lay your stencil, shiny side DOWN, on top of the frosting and press gently around the edges to prevent leaks. Pour graham cracker crumbs all over the top of the cupcake and then shake it gently over a bowl to remove the excess.

Happy Father's Day!



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May 15, 2014

What you need to know about 2014 Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World

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The galaxy has expanded with new offerings this year for Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World. Advance planning definitely is key to experiencing all that Disney's Hollywood Studios has to offer from May 16 to June 15. So, if you're prepared to master The Force, read my tips below and start scheduling your day to oppose the forces of the Dark Side. Or join Luke's father. Your choice, of course.

1. I can't say this enough: Get to Disney's Hollywood Studios before it officially opens at 8 a.m. if you want to sign up for children's events or get FastPasses for celebrity encounters. The Jedi Training Academy and Padawan Mind Challenge require registration, which is available immediately after the rope drop and are located in front of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Theater and ABC Sound Stage, respectively. Both kid events typically are full and have waiting lists by mid-morning. The system for distributing FastPasses for celebrity autographs begins outside the main gates to the right where guests must line up. You may not save a place in line for other party members, and distribution may begin before the park opens. (For more details about the celebrity meet-and-greets, see the AllEars.Net resource page.)

2. Because FastPasses for many attractions can be booked in advance online at My Disney Experience, be sure to schedule times for the Star Tours ride, and any Star Wars-themed stage shows featuring the celebrity guests, such as "Behind the Force," that interest you. For the first time in the event's history, Mark Hamill, who everyone here on Earth and in all the universes far, far away knows played Luke Skywalker in the original film trilogy, will be the celebrity guest from June 6 to 8. Guests staying at Disney resorts can book these FastPasses up to 60 days in advance, while other guests can book at 30 days out from their visit. Also, if you plan to have a table-service meal, make those reservations, too, because the theme park will be as busy as a Mos Eisley cantina during Star Wars Weekends. Resort guests can book dining reservations 190 days from the day they check in, and all other guests can book at 180 days prior to their visit.

3. Several special Star Wars-themed dining events were introduced this year. The Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant features favorite characters from the Dark Side, while Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine offers interactions with Disney characters dressed as Star Wars characters during a buffet dinner. The Feel the Force Premium Package includes reserved premium seats for the celebrity motorcade with snacks and drinks and a reserved viewing area and dessert during the fireworks. Most of these events sold out quickly, but you can always call 407-WDW-DINE to check for cancellations. (They do not show up on My Disney Experience.)

4. Don't leave Hollywood Studios early! The evening entertainment has changed from the popular Hyperspace Hoopla stage show to the new Symphony in the Stars fireworks. This state-of-the-art evening finale is expected to feature favorite Star Wars characters, a frenzy of fireworks and Glow with the Show elements at 9:30 p.m.

5. If you're a Florida resident, you can take advantage of the 3-day Discover Disney Ticket, which costs $129 and gives you admission to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks for three separate days. It's good through June 6, which means you could choose to use it at the first three Star Wars Weekends or the first day of the fourth weekend. There is also a four-day option for $149. If you don't have a seasonal or annual pass, this is a great alternative because the regular price of one day's admission is almost $100 for an adult.

If the worst-case scenario comes to pass and you forgot to pre-book FastPasses, you couldn't secure reservations to Star Wars character meals and you ran into some serious delays on the planet Mustafar, there still are plenty of ways to make the day special for the Star Wars fans in your family. First, when you arrive at the park, go directly to Guest Relations and see if there are any openings for the meals you're interested in. While you're waiting in line there, use the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone to book any available FassPasses for attractions, including Star Tours. Then, stake out a place to see the Celebrity Motorcade at 11 a.m. There are so many Star Wars characters in one place that you can't help but feel immersed in the story universe. Afterward, be sure to stop by Darth's Mall for event merchandise and special interactive activities, including character meet-and-greets with Luke, Princess Leia, R2D2 and C-3PO. You will find other Star Wars character locations throughout the park, too. Treat your child to a Star Wars themed lunch pack or an amazing dessert at the counter-service locations. Finally, wrap up your day with the new fireworks show. If you're willing to brave the lines, The Force surely will be with you at Star Wars Weekends.



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May 21, 2013

Tips for kids at Disney World's Star Wars Weekends

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Disney fans, who also are Star Wars fans, know that for four weekends in May and June, Disney's Hollywood Studios turns into a mecca for all things related to that galaxy far, far away. As the event has grown, so have the number of things that are geared toward kids.

My children, who are ages 8 and 10, now enjoy the excitement of the special event weekends, but there was one year when my son joined the ranks of the intensely fascinated. That was the year his night-owl parents took him to the theme park before it opened in a bid to get Jake Lloyd's autograph. (You can read about our experience here.)

This year, we had a more casual approach to our arrival time because we weren't seeking an autograph. That was a mistake, though. The Force is not with families who do not line up outside the turnstiles at least an hour before park opening.

The two kid-centric events -- Jedi Training Academy and Padawan Mind Challenge -- require registration, which is available immediately after the rope drop in front of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Theater and ABC Sound Stage, respectively. On Saturday, all 19 sessions of the training academy and two trivia games were filled by mid-morning and the wait list halted at 70 hopeful kids, a cast member told me. So, my top tip for families who have children eager to take part in the Star Wars activities is to plan for an early arrival.

Here are our favorite must-dos for families who want to maximize their Star Wars fun:

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1. Legends of the Force Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome -- Even if you're not a Star Wars fan, it's difficult not to get excited when you see this parade kick off. The familiar music and array of elaborately costumed characters create excitement, for sure. Plus, the celebrities and event hosts ride in a motorcade that culminates in a ceremony on the main event stage in front of the Sorcerer Hat. Guests wanting a curbside seat line up for this parade at least an hour ahead of time. We lucked into a spot this year about a half hour before the parade's start that wasn't half bad. Areas are blocked off near the right side of the stage for the parents of kids who are chosen for the parade, but there are spots behind them that line the front of the stage. We could not see the parade from that point, but half of the characters walked past us on their way to the stage, high-fiving my kids, and then we had a decent view of the ceremony on stage. It worked for us.

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2. Jedi Training Academy -- Kids ages 4 to 12 learn how to wield a light saber from master Jedi instructors on an outdoor stage next to Star Tours. Once they've mastered the basics, they take a turn battling someone from The Dark Side. Sign-up is required for this event, but the good news is that it is a permanent feature at Hollywood Studios. If you miss it during Star Wars Weekends, the event is available year round. Robes similar to the ones the kids don for the academy can be purchased in nearby Tatooine Traders for about $50, and there is a build-your-own light saber station, as well.

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3. Padawan Mind Challenge -- In this trivia contest, kids ages 4 to 11 use their mental forces to keep up with two galactic hosts on the main event stage in front of the Sorcerer Hat. Guest C3PO provides some laughs and encourages the kids as they use their light sabers to indicate answers. Registration is required for this event, which has two afternoon sessions.

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4. Merchandise and character photos -- Take time to visit Darth's Mall, the huge merchandise tent that is set up back behind Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Here you'll find limited edition Star Wars items; Star Wars Weekends 2013 merchandise; photo opportunities with Luke, Leia, R2D2, C3PO, and the Rancor; and the "cast yourself in Carbonite" experience that was inspired by a scene from "The Empire Strikes Back." My daughter loved being able to meet Leia and R2D2, who played along when she gave him her princess crown, and my son added to his collection a special Jedi Mickey plush that marks the 30th anniversary of "Return of the Jedi." There also are many character meet-and-greets with those from The Alliance, The Empire and Mickey and pals seen dressed in Star Wars costumes throughout the park.

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5. HyperSpace Hoopla! -- End the day by viewing this hilarious dance competition in which Star Wars characters try to outdo each other in a dance-off set to popular music hits. This event has become so popular over that years that guests line up in front of the main stage well beforehand. (See the AllEars.Net Hyperspace Hoopla! video.) Disney also broadcasts the Hoopla on the large adjacent screen at American Idol Experience, and folks sprawl out on the cement to watch. My son and I were among them, and it was a pleasant way to see the show without being sandwiched in between all the other guests.

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Let me know your tips for kids at Star Wars Weekends, by leaving a comment below.


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About Star Wars Weekends

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

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is the previous category.

The Legend of Jack Sparrow is the next category.

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