This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one for you, Dear Reader, as it is an invaluable guide that will show you How to Survive Star Wars Weekends in Six Easy Steps. Now of course we are huge fans of the various events at Walt Disney World including Flower & Garden and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but Star Wars Weekends is close to our heart because of how much we love those films. In fact, the greatest Christmas gift Your Humble Author ever received was Han Solo’s blaster. However, this annual event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios can be challenging if you don’t know what you are getting into ahead of time. So today we are going to give you the road map to success in navigating Star Wars Weekends in six easy steps, starting with…
# 6 – Watch the original Star Wars films before Disney adds even more stuff to them
Not surprisingly, Star Wars Weekends is filled with references from the original Star Wars trilogy, the three prequels, and even the Clone Wars cartoons (which has actually had six seasons of episodes despite the fact we don’t know anyone who has watched it.) You’ll want to watch the movies so you are familiar with the main characters, but also get a chance to see the films before Disney makes even more changes to them.
You see, Star Wars fans have had to watch their beloved films be tinkered with for years, and almost always in a frustrating way (Greedo shoots first in A New Hope, young Annakin added to end of Jedi.) However Disney fans have had to sit by as their company became the worldwide leader in unwatchable sequels (we’re still waiting to see if anyone can explain the plot to Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End or tell us why Little Mermaid 3 and Brother Bear 2 exist.) Now that Disney has bought Star Wars we may see the darkest of all timelines come true, Disney changing the original films.
# 5 – Bring Your Own Food
A certain boy wizard changed the game when it came to themed food and beverage in the theme park world. In fact, the popularity of Butterbeer paid for the entirety of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village in an astounding six months. Meanwhile guests are opening up their wallets in Diagon Alley to get a cup of Tongue Tying Lemon Squash or finally try a treat from the Weasley Twins’ Skiving Snackbox, both of which were mentioned in the source material.
Clearly Disney wants a piece of that action, but unfortunately the Star Wars movies are a little light on the food and drink options outside of Aunt Beru’s blue milk in A New Hope. That didn’t stop Star Wars Weekends from offering a whole bunch of food and drink “themed” to Star Wars, including Chips & Sith, Yoda Key Lime Cake, and “The Dark Fried” (chicken and Darth Vader waffles.) Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine charges $57.99 for adults, so if you’re running low on Imperial Credits, you may want to consider bringing your own Star Wars themed food to the park.
# 4 – Figure out which character’s autograph are worth waiting in line for
Who doesn’t love a good Meet and Greet? Star Wars Weekends offers you the ability to meet several of your favorite characters as well as get an autograph. However, do you want to wait in line for Chewbacca and Darth Vader, or do you want the ease of just walking up to Ki-Adi-Mundi and Zeb Orrelios (don’t feel bad, we had to Google who they were too.) Star Wars Weekends is all about Time Management, so figure out who is on your “must get” list before coming and concentrate on them.
# 3 – Save your money for Merch!
One of the
only biggest reasons worth fighting the crowds at Star Wars Weekends is the opportunity to buy unique Star Wars items. While Spaceballs made fun of the fact that Star Wars had too much merchandise almost 30 years ago, more and more stuff has come out each and every year since then. In fact, shopping at Star Wars Weekends has become so popular that guests who want particular items are encouraged to buy a $99 Feel The Force Deluxe Premium Package to “skip the line” at Darth’s Mall or $250 Galactic Gathering ticket that gives you first access to spending even more money.
# 2 – Be familiar with Star Wars Weekend’s #STORY
Disney loves its backstories, so make sure you research them before going to Star Wars Weekends, as not knowing them will more than likely ruin your entire vacation. For example:
DARTH’S MALL – When Darth Maul was a teenager, he was petulant and filled with angst. He spent most of his time hanging out at The Mall at Mustafar. Bouncing between Hot Topic and his favorite eatery S’Barro, Maul could also be found bumming cigarettes off retired Gamorrean Guards near the mall’s fountain. After Obi-Wan cut Maul in half during The Phantom Menace, his parents created Darth’s Mall in his honor. (In fact Walt Disney Imagineering takes #story so seriously that there is a subtle nod to Darth’s Maul death itself. Why else would there be two different areas to get your merchandise when it would make life easier if there was just one? Now you know the backstory of Watto’s Grotto and X-Wing Collectibles too.)
# 1 – Know your way around Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Hollywood Studios wasn’t the easiest park to navigate even during the best of days, and has become harder and harder over the years. Stage shows such as Obi-Wan and Beyond and An Ewok’s Tale take place at the Theater of the Stars, where you normally find Beauty and The Beast – Live on Stage. The Rebel Hangar is located at Backlot Express. You will find Darth Vader and Darth’s Mall where the Studio Backlot Tour was. So keep your wits about you, and grab a park map on your way in to ensure you don’t miss anything.
So there you have it: How to Survive Disney’s Star Wars Weekends in Six Easy Steps. See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the Pardon the Pixie Dust podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan)
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, photo wunderkind Mike Sperduto, Master photo manipulator Matt Cleary, director of photography 1 Year at Disney, and Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and Brian Carey.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. PRE-ORDER this baby now! (For every copy sold, a percentage of the profits* go towards buying a DVD of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rap video.)