Up until about a week ago I was pretty disappointed with Limited Time Magic. Sure, there were a few fun meet and greets, but nothing that blew me away. But then, they announced May the 4th Be With You at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I am a huge Star Wars fan, so the idea of special meet and greets, merchandise, a dance party with characters, and fireworks surrounding the franchise seemed like a fantastic idea. May 4 has been celebrated as an unofficial Star Wars Day by fans for years (It’s a play on the popular phrase “May the Force Be With You”…Get it?) and a formal celebration seemed like a prime opportunity for Limited Time Magic.
While everything sounded fun, I originally just planned to show up for the end for fireworks, but since I didn’t really have other plans that day and so many friends were going to be in the park, I decided to take my kids out for the whole day. When we pulled into the parking lot at 9am (getting 2 toddlers out of bed has a way of making you miss Rope Drop), I was surprised at the number of cars. I then realized that the park had Extra Magic Hours that morning and that the park had already been open for an hour. Normally this wouldn’t bother me too much, but since there was merchandise and Jedi Training Academy sign-ups that you needed to be there early for, this put us way behind.
When we got through the turnstiles we headed straight for the merchandise area. We got there just after 9am, and managers were announcing to the line that pins were already sold out and that if you weren’t already in line you wouldn’t get them. I understand that EMH is a perk for on-site guests, but when special event merchandise is involved, it seems like an unfair advantage. It was the same with Jedi Training Academy. This was the one day where parents could participate with their kids in the show, but by just a few minutes after nine there was a huge line already, and they were already signing up for the 6pm shows.
While we were in the area my oldest son Malcolm (age 4) asked if he could ride “the Star Wars ride.” I told him he was too little, but he kept asking. I finally told him we could go check and see how far away from 40″ he was (mostly just to get him to stop asking). To my surprise…he was 40 inches! My baby was going to ride Star Tours, a ride I love so much and have a very special connection to, on Star Wars Day! Unfortunately the ride wasn’t operating at that time, so we would have to wait until later in the day.
From there we went to meet up with friends, and for the remainder of the day we were in a group of anywhere from 8 to 50 (yes…50) people. There was a special Darth Vader Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcake for sale at all counter service locations for $4.99. Even though it was only a little after 10, giant cupcakes seemed like a great idea, so we stopped into ABC Commissary. Usually I’m not a fan of the big cupcakes…they are usually dry and not super flavorful. However, these were very good! It was a moist chocolate cupcake with creamy peanut butter frosting covered in chocolate shavings and topped with a chocolate Darth Vader. All in all it was a delicious concoction and a fabulous breakfast.
After that we did some things to keep the kids appeased for a while since I was trying to keep them out until 10pm. We did Disney Junior: Live on Stage, Great Movie Ride, and played in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure. We also wandered around and checked out all the Star Wars characters that were out. The lines were all too long to stand in with toddlers, but it was fun just to see them. We also got some great autograph cards they were giving out at the meet and greet location for the Disney characters dressed as Star Wars characters (Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Storm Trooper Donald, and R2-MK). Also around this time Star Tours had reopened, so we stopped by to get FASTPASSes for my son’s ceremonial first ride. By the time we finished all that it was time to head to a lunch reservation at 50′s Prime Time Cafe.
Okay, I know 50′s Prime Time has nothing to do with Limited Time Magic…but it deserves a mention both because it was very good and because it served as a reminder of how important a break from the crowds and heat can be on a long day. Our server was so in character that we couldn’t tell if he was just playing a role or if he was actually a big jerk. Either way, we got speedy, efficient service and had a wonderful time. As usual the food was delicious. The table shared 2 orders of Onion Rings (there were 10 of us), and I ordered Aunt Liz’s Fried Chicken. The chicken usually comes with collard greens, but if you ask nicely they will replace the greens with another side…I chose corn. Even though I didn’t quite clean my plate, our server brought “Clean Plate Club” stickers for the whole table! I was so excited because last time I actually did clean my plate they were all out and I never got one.
It was now time for Malcolm’s big ride on Star Tours! I had messaged many of the friends who were in the park that day, and we all met up to ride together (Special shout out to Shelley Caran for skipping the ride to watch my other son who is only 36 inches). After a quick group photo outside the ride, we headed in. We knew characters were riding in the speeders with guests all day, and we really hoped to get one. Even though we saw Chewbacca and the Cantina Band going in, they weren’t riding with us. However, there was still a ton of excitement in our group. Malcolm was all smiles and anticipation as we boarded the attraction (Mommy cried…a lot). I was worried the ride would scare him, but the only issue we had the whole time was that that he hated wearing glasses on the ride. I think they were a bit big for him and made it uncomfortable, but overall he had a great time! Getting to experience his first “big boy” ride on Star Wars Day only added to the special event.
After the ride we headed back to the Honey I Shrunk The Kids Playground to let the kids run off any extra energy they had before we went to set up camp for our spot for the Symphony in the Stars fireworks. Okay, I’m kind of a fireworks snob. In each park I have a spot that I like, and I will do whatever I need to do to make sure I can see the show from what I consider an ideal location. On a day like today, they meant getting in place at 4:30. That’s right. We got our spot over 5 hours early (fireworks were at 9:45). You can see our spot in the photo of my youngest son and me to the left. What started as a group of about a dozen quickly became 18, then 25, then 30…up until we had around 50 people in our group! This made it convenient, though, because it meant people could go get food or go to the bathroom, and there were plenty of us there to hold down the fort.
The first 90 minutes was fairly boring, but at 6pm the special Star Wars dance party began. DJ Lobot played remixes of Star Wars, Disney, and popular music while characters danced with the crowd. We were too far back to really be in the mix of things, but every now and then people would split off to go join the dancing up front while several more of us had our own dance party in our spot. It was during this dance party that the most magical moment of my life happened.
I am a HUGE Chewbacca fan. I love him so much! Meeting him and giving him a big hug is always the highlight of Star Wars Weekends for me. A friend texted me and said Chewie was out dancing with guests and that I should head up to the front. I made sure the kids were settled and then rushed off to find Chewbacca for a special dance! Really I was just hoping for a quick photo and a 2 second boogie…but what happened far surpassed my expectations. Chewie kissed and hugged and petted me before dancing with me in an interaction that lasted a full minute. I was the happiest girl in Hollywood Studios! These are the types of things Star Wars fans truly hope for when visiting Star Wars events, and I couldn’t believe it actually happened to me. Luckily, Robert Ashburn was standing nearby and took some wonderful pictures (like the one on the right), and Daniel Andersson got video of my interaction:
After that, it was back to waiting for the show. I’m sure most people think it sounds pretty boring to wait for 5 hours for fireworks, but when you have a large group of friends and fun music, you would be amazed at how quickly the time passes. Even the kids who aren’t usually so good at sitting still had a good time, and it was a real bonding time for us as a family and with our friends. It was so much fun we didn’t even feel disappointed when we realized we could have gotten the same spot if we had shown up just a mere hour before fireworks…the time had been too special to want to change. Even before fireworks, the thing I had most looked forward to, it had been the best day I ever spent in a park.
The fireworks show, which was a shortened version of the one used at Last Tour to Endor, was a perfect finale to a perfect day. This type of day is what I expected from Limited Time Magic, and I can only hope that we see more events like this one.