We haven’t spent a park day at Hollywood Studios since Disney acquired Lucasfilm. We had seen through others pictures and from the additional stage shows and fireworks that Star Wars was becoming a large presence at the park. We couldn’t wait to see everything that was Star Wars on our last vacation. So much so that I dedicated a whole day to it. The plan was to do all the character meet and greets, watch the stage show, ride the attraction and take in the fireworks at the end of the day. It was planned to be a much more relaxed day then our other park days of our vacation. Where we would stop when we wanted to interact with Storm Troopers, watch the Jedi Training, peruse the many Star Wars shops. The day was everything we could have hoped for.
The first thing we did was head toward Star Wars Launch Bay. This is the old Magic of Animation in Animation Courtyard. It doesn’t really fit in this area of Hollywood Studios, being surrounded by Disney Junior, the Voyage of the Little Mermaid and the Disney Studio Store. But let’s just say Star Wars is really found in every part of this park now, save for around Toy Story Mania! At the Launch Bay you can meet Chewbacca, which we snuck in on our other Hollywood Studios day, Kylo Ren and BB8. When you go meet Kylo Ren it’s as if you’re on a First Order ship. With red and blue lights up near the ceiling. A window looking out into space. It’s the real deal friends. This meet and greet is very intense. Kylo Ren speaks to you. He preyed upon our little guy, which luckily he ate up. Kylo Ren challenged him to come over to the dark side.
The BB8 character experience was as though you were on a Rebel ship. He’s up on a platform so kids are able to interact with him perfectly. His head moves around a little and he makes his droid noises. Like all other Star Wars characters he’s not able to give autographs for obvious reasons.
When exiting the character experience you walk through a very impressive and pricey shop called Launch Bay Cargo. Where you can find your very own Kylo Ren winter jackets or bomber jacket like Finn wears in the film The Force Awakens. Some pretty amazing threads that you’d only find here.
To continue our Star Wars theme we watched part of the March of the First Order, where Captain Phasma marches her Storm Troopers down Hollywood Boulevard and then to the front of the Chinese Theatre for inspection. The first time you see it it can take your breath away. To see that many storm troopers marching at the same time, feels like a scene straight out of the Clone Wars.
At the base of Hollywood Boulevard, in front of the Chinese Theatre, is a stage where Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away plays throughout the day. We stationed ourselves in the centre at the rope to give the kids, and really us, an unimpeded view of this new stage show. It’s become a new favourite for our littles, on constant request for Parade Day. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away reenacts short scenes from various films, bringing out some of your favourite characters. C3P0 and R2D2 on Tatuin, Darth Maul performs with his lightsaber, and Darth Vader appears on stage as though it’s the beginning of A New Hope. This show is out in the open, giving absolutely no shade. You want to make sure to enjoy this early in the day before it gets too hot and you can’t see because of the sun and the sweat in your eyes. This stage show really brought the characters to life for our kids. Up until this point they’d only read stories about these characters, coloured their pictures and played with them as toys. Seeing them in real life gave this saga a whole new life.
It was time for Star Tours, which we had conveniently reserved FastPasses for. Now we had three adults and two kids. One 44inches, one 38inches. So one could ride, one could not because of this attraction’s height requirement. My mom and I rode Star Tours while Jeff and the kids watched Jedi Training. Jedi training is a guest participation event which requires registration. To participate in Jedi Training you need to be 4 years old, so we chose to not have the kids participate this round. The next time we vacation at Walt Disney World and both kids are 4 years and older we will be sure to add that to our Star Wars day. Having this training going on though provided wonderful entertainment for the kids while my Mom and I went on Star Tours. Once we were done, Jeff and M jumped on for their turn on the ride.
Star Tours was revamped, I’d say 5 years ago. Making each time you rode the attraction unique, instead of the same sequence over and over. From what I remember you’d go on and you could end up in scenes from Empire Strikes Back, Clone Wars, Phantom Menace, and there were a variety of characters too that were featured. Right now the scenes that come up through the attraction all draw from the latest movie, The Last Jedi. So if you ride it more than once you won’t get as much variety as you once would have. It’s a perfect addition to your Star Wars day at Hollywood Studios.
By then it was time for some lunch. BackLot Express is conveniently located beside Star Tours, where they have Darth Vader Waffles. For lunch and dinner? Yes! They go along with Chicken Breast Nuggets. There’s maple syrup right at the condiment kiosk. The perfect meal! I ordered the Galactic Salad. It had a Crisp Wonton with R2 pressed into it! The cherry on top of a great morning.
Throughout the park you’ve got Storm Troopers wandering around, interacting with guests. It’s the best! There’s something about seeing these guys in real life that gives me chills. Our youngest, Lincoln, was all about it. Going up to them many times. Our daughter on the other hand couldn’t get further away from them.
With the afternoon wide open, it was the best park day. We had one Star Wars thing left and that wasn’t until park close, which meant the rest of the day could be filled in with the last few things we hadn’t done yet. Off we went to Rock n Roller Coaster, while my Mom stroller napped the kids, grabbed some delicious snacks from Beverly Sunset (crossing items off the food goal list), and caught another showing of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing a Long. We even had time for Indiana Jones: Epic Stunt Spectacular before riding with our now 5 year old for her first time on Tower of Terror.
There are two screenings that you can add to your Star Wars day, one at Launch Bay, telling of the creation of Star Wars and one across from BackLot Express called Path of the Jedi. I took the kids to see Path of the Jedi, which is the story of Luke Skywalker. It’s a short 12 minute film, where we sat with 5 other people in an empty auditorium. For most people it would be nothing new, a basic montage of your favourite parts of the Episode 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. The film suited us though because the kids hadn’t seen any of the films and it was the perfect dose for them. Seeing familiar faces with small amounts of dialogue. Putting some of the pieces into place. I wouldn’t recommend it to many people but it was a good addition to our day.
We dined at 50’s Prime Time Cafe and then jumped onto Toy Story Mania! with our last FastPasses. Day was turning to evening so it was time to claim our spots for the Star Wars fireworks show called Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. We still had a Rider Switch Pass from Star Tours so M and I went for one more ride on our final night of this Disney vacation.
Again, like every one of our Disney days, we had a great time with the family beside, while we waited for the fireworks to begin. The eldest son entertained our kids with his BB8 bubble machine and they all played their own version of Star Wars. It was beautiful.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is truly that, Spectacular. The show is projected onto the Chinese Theatre but the music is all around you. The lights are all around you. The fireworks are all around you. It’s overwhelming and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. We had a great viewing spot with no one in front of us. Which allowed us to see all that was being projected but also seeing all the fireworks. I was impressed.
Any Star Wars fan can’t wait for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to open in 2019 but for now there is lots for you and your family to do and enjoy at Hollywood Studios. The Star Wars elements at Hollywood Studios do draw more from the newer films, as you’d expect, but there are still some older faces that turn up now and then. It’s a day that can mark the beginning of Star Wars fandom in your young ones. Happy Planning, Friends.