This past Saturday (June 5) my wife, her brother, and I headed down to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to experience Star Wars Weekends for the first time. Despite the heat, humidity, and crowds, it was an unqualified blast! The best thing about Star Wars Weekends is the wonderful sense of humor the event has.
The fun starts about fifteen minutes prior to park opening when two Stormtroopers appear atop the turnstile plaza and entertain the crowd with their humorous banter. This year, they were joined by Boba Fett:
Throughout the park, there are several Star Wars characters doing meet-and-greets. Some, like Darth Vader and Chewbacca, have designated greeting areas. Others, like Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders, and Gamorrean Guards, roam freely.
Here’s a picture of my brother-in-law and I with a Stormtrooper:
And here’s a Tusken Raider clowning around Darth Vader’s greeting area while the Dark Lord was on a 5-minute break:
One cool thing about Star Wars Weekends is the fans in costume. Usually, Disney prohibits guests from wearing costumes in the parks, but this policy is relaxed for certain events. We saw several people in very authentic-looking Jedi costumes, one guy in an excellent Lando Calrissian outfit, and someone dressed as Han Solo from The Empire Strikes Back, complete with the late-70s/early-80s hairstyle!
There was also a rather large gentleman I saw sitting on a bench, wearing a white T-shirt, white shorts, and a Clone Trooper helmet. You know how Stormtroopers have different outfits for different environments? There are sandtroopers and snowtrooopers and swamptroopers and even spacetroopers. Well, this guy must have been dressed as a Floridatrooper. You’ve got to admit,the T-shirt and shorts are way more practical than that hot plastic armor! And yes, I do have a picture of him, but to avoid seeming mean-spirited I’m not going to post it.
One feature of Star Wars Weekends that’s become a regular thing at the Studios is the Jedi Training Academy for kids:
I wish the photo op portion of the show was available for adults; I imagine there are lots of guys in their 30s and above who would love to get a picture of themselves crossing lightsabers with Darth Vader. I know I would!
The highlight of Star Wars Weekends, though is the Hyperspace Hoopla show that closes out each day:
It is, in my opinion, one of the best shows at Disney World. Hyperspace Hoopla’s only problem is that not a lot of people are able to watch it in its current venue. The stage is not that far off the ground, so anyone farther back than about three people deep has trouble seeing. The terrace of the adjacent Backlot Express restaurant is a good place to watch from (that’s where we ended up) but again, there’s not a lot of room there. I really hope that the upcoming Star Tours 2.0 refurb addresses this. Alternately, the show could just be moved to one of several locations in the park that are better suited to handling the large crowds that Hyperspace Hoopla always draws.
So, my final verdict: despite the crowds and the Florida heat and humidity, Star Wars Weekends are a can’t-miss event.
One other thing: I may have mentioned in the past that I’m not a big fan of thrill rides, especially roller coasters. My phobia of coasters is matched only by my phobia of large spiders. However, at the urging of my wife and several friends, I decided to take the plunge and ride Rockin’ Roller Coaster. After all, it only lasts one minute and five seconds, how bad could it be? Well, here’s a picture of me after the ride was over.
I’m not vomiting, I’m kissing the ground. More accurately, I’m pretending to kiss the ground for comedic effect. No, roller coasters still do not agree with me. Still, the experience got me thinking about the popularity of thrill rides, what people consider to be entertaining, and how that relates to EPCOT, so that will be a subject of a future post.
Lastly, in three weeks, I’ll be spending three days in Orlando on business, and after trashing the Coral Reef Restaurant a couple of times on this blog, I thought it only fair that I at least eat there one time to
see if it really sucks as bad as I think it does give it a fair shake. Hey, I survived Rockin’ Roller Coaster didn’t I? I feel brave. So I made a dinner reservation there, and I’ll be writing about that experience, too. It’ll be my first-ever restaurant review.
Until then, happy trails and thanks for reading!