Last week, I wrote about my experiences from previous Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and told you what to look out for, things you had to see and things you ought be able to skip. Now that I have attended the first weekend of this annual event, let me go back and fill in the gaps, because this year’s event has some interesting things to offer and new ways to navigate.
Crowds – I said before that if you are in the Studios for only Star Wars events you will face heavy crowds, but if you are touring the regular park attractions you won’t notice the crowds. That’s been my experience for several years and was definitely that way on Friday, the first day of the event. That morning I was able to walk on to Rock and Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror with no problems, and use Fastpass to ride Star Tours. Even the wait at Toy Story Mania on Friday was low, less than 45 minutes in the standby line.
Saturday was a different story. Crowds were so heavy that cars were being turned away from the parking lot and forced to park at Epcot. Our bus from the Magic Kingdom sat for 25 minutes trying to turn into the Studios gate. Attraction lines were very long, and waits for Star Wars shows were very long. If you plan to attend one of the upcoming weekends, I’d advise getting to the park early on Saturdays, and concentrating on only a few things you really want to do. Crowds were very intense.
Shows – There are really two show locations for Star Wars Weekends, the Premiere Theatre at the end of the Streets of America and the main stage in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat. As before, I still think the best plan of attack is to look for the shows that interest you and make time for those. However, I will caveat that by saying that after attending all but one show this past weekend, I must say they are all rather enjoyable.
The Premiere Theatre hosted four shows throughout the day. The first show runs twice, and is called Legends of the Force, and features stars of the Clone Wars cartoon series talking through how an episode is created, plus a sneak peek at Season 5. I don’t watch the show, but the actors were very enthusiastic, and made the show a lot of fun.
The second show was Stars of the Saga, a talk show style format featuring the weekend’s celebrity guests. The best part of this show, however, is the cadre of Stormtroopers who invade the first 15 minutes. This is some of the most hilarious stuff you will ever see, and well worth catching.
The final show I caught was Obi-Wan and Beyond, where voice actor James Arnold Taylor, voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Clone Wars, shows you how a voice actor works and runs through hundreds of voices he has done. This is one not to be missed. It’s funny, endearing and uplifting all at once.
I did not catch the final show in the Premiere Theatre, which was a martial arts demo by Ray Park (Darth Maul), because I had to make my way to the main stage for the Hyperspace Hoopla, the last show of the night. I lined up for a spot for the 8:00 pm show at 6:20. If you will remember, last week I said you could linepup about an hour ahead of time. At least on this past Saturday, that was not enough. Disney will have to rethink things if the crowds keepgrowing, because it was a miserable, hot and uncomfortable experience waiting for the show. However, seeing the StarWars characters dancing to modern tunes was well worth it. Just make sure you plan on grabbing your spot at least 90 minutes ahead of time if you want a good view.
Merchandise – As expected the lines for merchandise at Darth’s Mall, located behind Rock and Roller Coaster, were very long in the morning on Friday as fans rushed to get limited edition merchandise. However, by mid-afternoon they had died down and things were a little calmer.
The hottest items I saw aside from the limited editions were the all new line of clothes from Her Universe, the female clothing line by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano on the Clone Wars. She debuted hoodies that let women and girls dress up like Ahsoka or Princess Leia along with several other shirts. Aside from that, the R2D2 buckets with snacks or drinks inside were also big items and caused long lines at the locations that served them. Over at Tatooine Traders, the all new Droid Factory was the big hot ticket, as kids lined up to build their own droid toys.
Characters – As expected, there were an abundance of characters in the park, and it seemed as though they were everywhere. On Saturday, with the record crowds, it definitely appeared as though Disney was putting more characters on the streets outside of assigned locations to bleed off some of the crowds. But no matter who you wanted to find, from Anakin to Zam Wessell, they were there. Lines were very long, so if you have a character you want to see, make sure to locate them on the guide map or ask a cast member and get it taken care of early.
So that was my experience at the first Star Wars Weekends of 2012. Basically, I spent most of my day on Saturday going in and out of the Premiere Theatre and had a very enjoyable afternoon, but I know not everyone will want to do that. What about you? Did Ny of you experience thfirst weekend, and what tips would you have?