I just spent a brief weekend down at Walt Disney World for Star Wars Weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For those not familiar with it I thought I’ve give a rundown of what went on…
Star Wars Weekends first started in 1997, and has been an annual event since 2003. It currently consists of four consecutive weekends, with events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – the same events each day in general.
Throughout the day, characters are available at various locations in the park for pictures and autographs. Some will even wander around in character – stormtroopers and bounty hunters are frequently menacing guests.
Guest stars also appear at SWW, different guests each week. They aren’t typically top-line guests, but they are at leat well known to Star Wars fans. Warwick Davis and Ray Park are frequently there, and were there the first weekend. This particular weekend we saw David Prowse (Darth Vader) and Jeremy Bulloch (the original Boba Fett), and Matt Lanter (the voice of Anakin Skywalker in The Clone Wars, and Brody Mitchum on the first season of Heroes).
Hosting each weekend this year was Jay Laga’aia (Captain Typho, and most recently as Chase on Legend Of The Seeker). Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars) also appears each weekend.
Most of that weekend’s guests also have some autograph signing sessions, which are completely free, but you have to obtain a Fastpass (Disney’s don’t-wait-in-line system used at attractions) for a particular signing session. You get those before park opening – and those lines get long VERY early. According to one report, people were lined up at 10pm the night before!
Some of the daily activities include:
Park Opening – two Stormtroopers are stationed on the canopy of the turnstiles while guests wait to enter the park. They perform a fun routine keeping guests minds off the fact that its 90 degrees and they are standing in a line with thousands of others. And you certainly aren’t going to get by them while they are on duty…
Stars Of The Saga – a once-daily show hosted by Jay Laga’aia where he interviews the other guests in a question and answer session. Jay may not be the best interviewer, but he is at least a friendly person. Prior to this show, the Stormtroopers also come in to do crowd control, although more time is spent making fun of each other.
Behind The Force – A look at how voice acting in The Clone Wars is done, hosted by Ashley Eckstein. Ashley was joined by Matt Lanter this week.
Padawan Mind Challenge – A quiz game for kids on their Star Wars/Clone Wars knowledge. I believe you have to register first thing in the morning to take part.
Jedi Training Academy – This is now a daily attraction at the park that started a couple of years ago at SWW, but during SWW they pick more kids, and Darth Maul is added in addition to Darth Vader for younglings to fight against.
Celebrity Motorcade – A short parade featuring all the guests, Disney characters in Star Wars costumes, various additional characters and members of the 501st Legion.
The day’s Star Wars festivities end with the Hyperspace Hoopla, a hilarious song and dance routine with various characters on stage. Each year the songs change. The problem is that it is so popular and the area it takes place in so small that it gets EXTREMELY crowded, and near impossible for younglings to actually see what is going on.
All in all it was a fun time. We didn’t need to stay in the park all day – we actually did a few things on arrival on Friday, came back Saturday morning for the earlier stuff, and spent time at the other parks. But you can expect to stand in lines if you want pictures and/or autographs with the characters.