Star Wars Weekends
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-May through early June
Star Wars Weekends is exactly what it sounds like. Thousands of fans of the timeless sci-fi franchise are drawn as if by tractor beam to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for several weekends each May and June to celebrate the phenomenon that is Star Wars. Since 1997 guests to Hollywood Studios have expressed their inner wookies with a special parade, dance parties, and celebrity guests. Star Wars Weekends also bring out all the Star Wars characters from the movies as well as the popular Clone Wars television show. You too can learn the ways of the Jedi at Star Wars Weekends, which, in 2014 was held every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May 16 through June 8 (2015 dates should be similar). You can also dress up like your favorites as this is one of the few times the general ban on costumes is lifted although masks are still not allowed on guests…sorry Darth Vader.
Definitely make rope drop. The opening show that the Storm Troopers put on is hilarious.
- Heather P.
Star Wars Weekends Characters
Some of the most fun comes just in seeing the multitude of characters that are rarely, if ever, seen in the park outside of Star Wars Weekends. As you might expect, the well-known celebrities from our favorite alternate universe are on hand such as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, and the Ewoks. Of course, if the minor characters are more your thing, there are also plenty of Jawas, Tusken Raiders, and more Storm Troopers than you can shake a light sabre at.
Don’t fret though if you or your children are fans of the animated television show Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as there are plenty of those characters about as well. Ashoka Tano, Aurra Sing, and Shaak Ti are just a few you may bump into.
If you thought Mickey and friends were going to be left out of this Star Wars-centric fun than I have some real estate on Alderaan to sell you. The ever-popular Disney gang always gets in on the fun by dressing up as some of their favorite characters. In the past you would have seen Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, and Darth Vader Goofy and this year promises to be just as great a photo opportunity.
Symphony in the Stars
New for 2014 was a fireworks spectacular that was shown nightly on each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during Star Wars Weekends. With a Star Wars inspired score and appearances by favorite characters, these fireworks will surely be popular and fun. Sadly, this show seems to be a replacement for the ridiculous and ridiculously popular Hyperspace Hoopla dance party, but as they say on Alderaan...the show must go on.
Star Wars Themed Character Dining
Another new thing for 2014 was two new character dining experiences that were both hot tickets.
Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast was held each morning during Star Wars weekends at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater. From 8am until noon you could enjoy the atmosphere of Sci-Fi with special Star Wars clips being played on the big screen. You also got to interact with all of your favorite characters, well, assuming you enjoy your characters a little more on the dark side. Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Greedo, Jawas, and Boba Fett were all be present all for the expectedly pricey cost of $47.99 for adults and $29.99 for children. Just do us a favor and don't let Greedo shoot first.
The other new character meal was the wordy Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine. This dinner started seating at 4:15pm nightly during the Star Wars Weekends festivities and had a few prices in 2014. If you wanted reserved seating for Fantasmic! you could get a package for $59.99 for adults and $36.99 for children. Without the Fantasmic! package those prices are $55.99 and $32.99 respectively. This meal allowed you to meet all your favorite Disney characters dressed up as their favorite Star Wars characters. You could see Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Stormtrooper Donald, and Ewok Chip and Dale at this interesting event.
For the parade make sure you are on the shady side of the street.
Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome
The Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome, which parades up Hollywood Boulevard every day during Star Wars Weekends, contains just about all of the characters and allows you to finally find the droids you’re looking for. The Motorcade starts at 11am and this is another event that people line up for well in advance, so get there early for a curbside spot.
Jedi Training Academy
The popular Jedi Training Academy, which is held several times daily near Star Tours, naturally continues during this special event, although with quite a few more showtimes. Kids from 4 - 12 can participate in the show in which they will don a Jedi robe, learn a few killer lightsaber moves, and eventually have to face the lure of the dark side.
If your kids are interested in some Padawan training make sure you sign up for the Jedi Training Academy as early in the day as you can. Even with all the extra showings, the extra Star Wars fans make this just a hot a ticket as always. Your best bet is to ask a Cast Member on your way into the park where the signups are taking place that day.
During most Star Wars Weekends the Premiere Theater (behind Muppetvision 3D heading towards Lights, Motors, Action) hosts seminars involving various Star Wars personalities. We don’t yet have the details for the 2014 Star Wars Weekends, but in 2013 there were shows such as tales of voice acting with Clone Wars actors and martial arts techniques with Ray Park (Darth Maul).
Padawan Mind Challenge
During the day the main stage is home to a Star Wars trivia challenge specifically for those age 4-11. Space is very limited, so if your little one is a sci-fi savant show up early and ask a Cast Member to point you towards the signup location.
The cleverly named Darth’s Mall is the center of the merchandizing universe when it comes to Star Wars Weekends. Center is a figurative term of course, because this temporary retail palace in reality is hidden way over behind Rock N’ Roller Coaster. If you are at all interested in the unique and limited edition merchandise that is often available this is definitely a spot you will want to seek out.
How early should you arrive? Well, guests have been known to camp overnight for their favorites, but that isn’t often necessary. If it is someone who is a big draw (like Billy Dee Williams), getting to the park around 5 or 6 am is the only way to make sure you get that wristband.
Without a doubt one of the biggest draws for many diehard Star Wars buffs is the opportunity to meet actual stars from this everlasting franchise. The lineup for 2014 may be the best ever as there are plenty of fan favorites and secondary characters along with a few of the legitimate stars of the original movies. Here was the schedule in 2014 so you can get an idea of what to expect:
Weekend One: May 16-18, 2014
- Ahmed Best: Jar Jar Binks
- Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca
- Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)
Weekend Two: May 23-25, 2014
- Warwick Davis: Wicket (Ewok in Return of the Jedi) and Wald (The Phantom Menace) (Mr. Davis has been in a ton of other things too such as the Harry Potter movies as Professor Flitwick)
- Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett
- Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)
Weekend Three: May 30-June 1, 2014
- Ray Park: Darth Maul
- John Ratzenberger: Was technically a Major on Hoth, the ice planet in The Empire Strikes Back but you know his as Cliff Clavin from Cheers or as a voice actor in every single Pixar movie.
- Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)
Weekend Four: June 6-8, 2014
- Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker (let us repeat that...Luke Skywalker!)
- Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian (Luke and Lando!)
- Ray Park: Darth Maul
- Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)
Weekend Five: June 13-15, 2014
- Dee Bradley Baker: Captain Rex/the Clones (Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series)
- Tom Kane: Yoda (Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series)
- Matt Lanter: Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series)
- Steve Blum: Zeb Orrelis (Star Wars Rebels)
Due to the high demand, In order to meet any of these celebrities guests must follow a strict set of instructions. To start, find the line corresponding to the person you want to meet. From that line you will receive a wristband, which will later enable you to get a FASTPASS for the celebrity meet. Like other FASTPASSes, this one will have a return time on it, which is naturally when you will be allowed to meet the celebrity of your choice.
There is usually a stand-by line for celebrities as well, but they do not guarantee a meeting. In fact, for many popular celebrities very few, if any, guests are allowed in from the stand-by line. So if you are adamant about meeting your favorites, you’ll want to show up very early to ensure you get a FASTPASS.
The Ultimate Day VIP Package
If you love Star Wars Weekends, but want to avoid the crowds...and have a few hundred dollars burning holes in your pockets, the Ultimate Day VIP package may interest you. For the decidedly not low cost of $499 per person (not including tax) you can get premium seating for the seminars listed above, expedited access to attractions, a continental breakfast at the Brown Derby, a reserved viewing location for the parade, and a table-service lunch. While having a VIP guide and some special seating sounds nice, we would probably recommend a much more cost-effective Star Wars Weekend Touring Plan.
Feel the Force Dining Event
If, like us, you balked at the price of the VIP experience above, the Feel the Force package may be a little more reasonable for you. This event package offers a special viewing area for the parade as well as a dessert party and a private area to see the fireworks. While not cheap at $54 for adults and $32 for children, it is hardly as shocking as the VIP price above for not much less.
It has been said many times above, but get there early. These events draw very large crowds and things like FASTPASSes for celebrity meetings, spots in Jedi Training Academy, and opportunities to be in the trivia contest are all often gone prior to or just after the park opens. Be standing at the turnstiles a minimum of 30 minutes before the park opens (unless you want to meet a popular actor, then see the Celebrities section).
Another reason to be at the turnstiles early is the fantastic welcome show that Disney breaks out for Star Wars Weekends. Stormtroopers stationed atop the entrance marquee keep the atmosphere light while spreading their brand of mischievous menace.
Once you are in the park there will still be crowds and lines to deal with for things like the Motorcade, Hoopla, and shows in the Premiere Theater. Make sure you arrive plenty early for anything you want to see.
If meeting costumed characters is your goal (or the goal of your children), pick out a few that are most important and focus on those. There are so many characters around you could spend most of your day in lines to meet them. Zeroing in on the crucial ones will allow you to enjoy everything else Star Wars Weekends has to offer.
As you have undoubtedly noticed while perusing the above, Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is very, very busy. More guests will visit the park on any given Star Wars day than just about any other day of the year. The good news is that most of the guests are focused on the Star Wars related events meaning that attraction lines are often unaffected, and in some cases lower than normal.
Lines user logan7 gets right to the point concerning which day to visit Star Wars Weekends:
go friday. seriously.
That doesn’t mean you should visit Hollywood Studios on a Star Wars Weekend day if you are not interested in Star Wars. Fighting through the hordes of Sith, Jedi, and unidentified “other” is not worth the possibility of a shorter-than-average wait for Toy Story Midway Mania. If you will be in the park anyway however, it is worth checking on the lines now and again.
Last updated on June 10, 2014