The Force Awakens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with More Star Wars Fun

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In case you’ve been living inside the belly of an asteroid-bound space slug, The Force Awakens has ignited moviegoers and burnt down box office records ever since the long-awaited Star Wars sequel hit screens nationwide on December 17. Right now, there’s no better place in Orlando to celebrate The Force Awakens than Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has spread new Star Wars stuff to every corner of the park. In this follow-up to my first look at the recently added DHS Star Wars offerings, we’ll check out additional attractions, edibles, and entertainment engineered to take you to that galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars Launch Bay and Chase Disney Visa Private Meet and Greet

Let’s start with a walk around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I originally broadcast on the Touring Plans Periscope channel.


Now, let’s check out the recently opened Star Wars Launch Bay walk-through exhibit.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Disney's Hollywood Studios

Since my first visit to the former Disney Animation attraction, additional signage has been added to the entrance indicating wait times for the introductory film and meet and greets inside. If you simply want to skip the movie clips and enter, stay to the right.


On my first visit, I overlooked this replica of Rey’s speeder from The Force Awakens, photographed here with J. J. Abrams-approved lens flare:


My primary destination inside the Launch Bay was the Chase Disney Visa private meet and greet, which is open daily to cardholders from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


In late afternoon, the wait for the private meet and greet was just under 30 minutes, which ironically was almost identical to the posted waits for the public meet and greets.


It was worth the wait, because at the end of the queue was the same interactive Darth Vader encounter available to the public, with the added bonus of free PhotoPass pictures of your meeting instantly added to your online account.


If you aren’t already eligible for unlimited Photopass via a purchased package or annual pass, the free photos are worth a few extra minutes wait. If you have a Chase Disney Visa but already bought Photopass, pick whichever line for Darth Vader is shorter, since the experience is identical.

Incidentally, FastPass+ is not yet available for the Darth Vader and Chewbacca meet and greets, but it is obvious that equipment has been installed to support the service.


A couple more fun details from inside the Star Wars Launch Bay:

Themed trash cans!


Parts of G2 droids from the original Star Tours queue.


Outside, First Order stormtroopers patrol day and night, warning local citizens to stay in line.


Star Wars Food at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

New Star Wars food items are being sold across Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with some menus being tweaked within the last few weeks. After my experience with Darth Vader waffles, I threw caution to the wind yet again and sampled a Royal Guard burger from Backlot Express.


Much to my surprise, this turned out to be one of the best quick service burgers I’ve ever had inside a Walt Disney World park. The dark brown pumpernickel bun had a welcome heartiness that held up well to the saucy barbecued beef brisket piled on top of the burger patty; better yet, they don’t make green poop, as Burger King’s black Halloween Whoppers did.


The Chewbacca cupcake, on the other hand, wasn’t worthy of its heroic Wookie namesake. Though advertised as “German Chocolate” flavor, it was just Disney’s typically tasteless cake and overly sweet frosting with a coating of coconut. If it wasn’t for the detailed chocolate replica of Chewie’s face (down to his baby blue eyeballs) this dessert would have been a complete disappointment.


Strictly in the interests of journalistic research, I took one for the team and sample one of the signature Star Wars alcoholic cocktails. Blue Harvest (named after the shooting pseudonym for Return of the Jedi) is allegedly made of Makers Mark, Cointreau, and Blue Curaçao, but it sure tasted like Windex and gasoline to me.


Here’s a tip: if you really just want one of the cool glow cubes — available in Millennium Falcon, X-Wing Fighter, and Death Star shapes — simply order the non-alcoholic punch and you can buy extra glow cubes for $4 each.


Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner, which is one of the locations selling exclusive Star Wars eats, recently revamped its menu with new boxed meals.

Incidentally, if you are interested in buying a Star Wars Souvenir Stein, you can save a few cents buy buying them inside a restaurant like Backlot Express as opposed to an outdoor cart.


Symphony in the Stars Star Wars Fireworks

Disney’s Hollywood Studios wasn’t originally supposed to debut their new Symphony in the Stars fireworks show for a few weeks, but popular demand pushed them to premiere it alongside the opening of The Force Awakens.


I was a big fan of the old Symphony in the Sky fireworks, but with the addition of new music and dialogue from The Force Awakens, this new version does it one better. Putting aside multimedia spectacles like Disneyland Forever, this new version of Symphony in the Stars may be my favorite pure fireworks show in any Disney park.


The grand finale seems to use more pyrotechnics than all of Illumination put together!


Photos alone can’t do this show justice, so check out this full video from our friends at Attractions Magazine:



The Symphony in the Stars fireworks are launched from behind the Great Movie Ride’s Chinese Theater. Since buildings and trees along Hollywood Boulevard can block your view, the best perspective is from the central plaza in front of the Holidays Happen Here dance party stage. You can also get a good view (albeit and off-centered one) from certain spots across Echo Lake.


Finally, be aware that due to safety reasons, some attractions must close early before the fireworks. Toy Story Midway Mania closes its queue 45 minutes before the show; the Great Movie Ride closes 75 minutes before the fireworks, and the Osborne Family Spectacle shuts off its lights one hour early.





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Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

5 thoughts on “The Force Awakens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with More Star Wars Fun

  • December 23, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Just wondering is anyone knows how long the fireworks will be going on for. We’ll be going nag in June and I really want to see them.

    • December 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      They haven’t announced an end date, should go until spring but June might be pushing it.

  • December 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    How are the First Order stormtroopers being portrayed in the parks? Same as the Imperial versions, or a bit more serious as they are shown in The Force Awakens?

    • December 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      From what I’ve seen so far, when the First Order troopers talk they are intimidating & in character, not slapstick like the old stormtroopers.

  • December 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Is the free photo pass picture a voucher like the other Disney picture promotion? Thanks!


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