In a few short months the always popular Star Wars Weekends event is returning to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I have attended the event twice, and have absolutely loved it. I grew up as a major Star Wars fan thanks to my older brother, and my love for the franchise has only increased in my adult years.
This year promises to be one of the most exciting years of Star Wars Weekends ever thanks to the building excitement for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In past years, when Star Wars Weekends occurred, the prequel movies had been released in theaters that same month; but this time the anticipation for December is still building! Will we see a trailer? Will any spoilers be leaked by actors? Will there be any exclusives for fans at the park?
If you are considering a trip down there, or already have one booked, be aware of some of the positives and negatives of the event. While most of Star Wars Weekends will bring delight to any Star Wars fan, there might be other things to keep in mind that you may not have anticipated. Here is my list of pros and cons:
While other Disney events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Villains Unleashed require a ticket to attend, Star Wars Weekends is open to everyone who has a park ticket to Hollywood Studios. If you’re a Star Wars fan on a budget, this will be great for you! You won’t need to fork over extra money unless you want some additional perks.
Con: This is not a hard-ticket event!
Yes, this means not forking over extra money, but it also means the park will be crowded, especially on the Saturdays of the event. A hard-ticket event allows Disney to regulate how many people are in the parks, but events included in park admission can mean extra long lines. Not only that, regular park-goers will also be filling up the restaurants, shops, and attractions.
While a few of the more popular characters will have specific locations and queues set up, there are other characters (clone troopers, storm troopers, etc.) that roam around. While it does spread out the crowds, there are still queues, so pick the ones you want to see early and make sure you’re right where they’re going to be. Pro tip: If there’s a queue by the time you see a character and they’re going to be around all day, check back in the late afternoon or evening – the queue sometimes shortens later in the day.
Con: You need to beware of the heat.
May and June aren’t the hottest months in Florida, but they are still hot! Get to the park early in the morning, drink lots of water, and stay out of the sun in the afternoon. Pro tip: Go to one of the shows offered during the afternoon, but make sure to get in the queue early if you like a close seat!
Pro: Merchandise lovers will be in heaven.
There is so much Star Wars Weekends (and Star Wars in general) merchandise offered that they make a store (Darth’s Mall, get it?) just to hold it all! Pins, t-shirts, posters, and more are available around the park, including some collectibles that might be pretty hard to find.
Con: Popular merchandise can sell out quickly.
The best items will likely sell out in the first weekend, so if you have your heart set one of the more popular items, be sure to purchase it quickly.
Beginning last year, Hollywood Studios presents “Symphony in the Stars”: a brief character introduction show followed by fireworks over The Chinese Theater. Hollywood Studios is a park that doesn’t have fireworks on a regular basis, so any chance to see fireworks there should be taken.
Con: Ideal locations for shows or the motorcade mean long waits.
If you’re okay with views a bit further from the action, then you should be able to catch everything without having to wait too long. But most of us like to have unobstructed views (especially in this world of iPads and selfie sticks), and because of that, the wait will probably be longer. My friend and I waited an hour for the motorcade, and we still didn’t have the best spots at Echo Lake.
Pro: You can meet actors from the films and cartoons!
Actors are available every weekend, but they don’t usually appear on all the listed dates, so be sure to check the schedule before you make your plans to meet them. (It should be up soon, and new ones could be added at any time.) But if you are the kind of person that fills up posters or books with autographs, show up to the entrance early (as early as 6:00 a.m.). You can get a single FastPass for an actor, and you should be able to meet them.
Con: That might be the only thing you do for Star Wars Weekend.
If meeting the stars of the series is the main goal for you, then you might be waiting in lines for them all day. Try to diversify the day if you can.
Pro: Entering the park will be extra entertaining.
What has been known as “Storming the Park” is also one of my favorite things. Storm troopers used to be perched atop the entrance and comment on various things. This moved to the front of the park over the past couple of years, but it’s still great to watch.
Con: Star Tours will have a longer line.
It’s understandable that an attraction like Star Tours: The Adventures Continue would have a longer queue thanks to the large crowd of Star Wars fans descending on the park. But smaller aspects of Star Wars – stuff that is there year-round – will also have long lines and large crowds. I remember seeing a short queue just to get a shot on the speeder bike! The rest of the year this is a walk-on.
The same idea applies to the Jedi Training Academy. This is not something that is only during Star Wars Weekends – it runs all year! Pro tip: Save the year-round attractions for Monday-Thursday, or just wait to do them on your next visit.
If you can’t make it to Star Wars Weekends in May or June, consider the Disney Cruise Line!
While some of us aren’t going to make it this year to Hollywood Studios for Star Wars weekends, a new feature on the Disney Cruise Line is Star Wars Day, which will begin in 2016 on the Disney Fantasy. There will be special activities, food, and screenings of Star Wars movies and shows. I know I’m thinking seriously about a cruise next year!
Do you have any pros and cons to add? Do you have any great (or not-so-great) experiences you’d like to share about Star Wars Weekends? Comment below!