A long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away… (sorry, I just had to do it!)
I’ve just returned from another fantastic Disney World vacation! The most anticipated part of our trip was the new Star Wars Experiences. When Disney does something, it’s always out of this world! When we entered Hollywood Studios on December 18th, everyone received a collectible BB8 pin.
The new Watto’s Grotto, located in the back of the park near Lights, Motor, Action, was filled with merchandise. Before you enter the store, there is a T-47 Airspeeder (best known in its modified Snowspeeder form) parked out front—a vital vehicle for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War. They had a Disney photographer that took our family photo.
Once inside the store, you are immersed in the world of Star Wars. The back half of the store has a floor to ceiling Sand Crawler that is built into the wall. The store offers tons of t-shirts, purses, pins, housewares and even a Darth Vader antenna topper. (This was the only place that I was able to find it!) Of course, they had a wide variety of Lightsabors. Itseemed that the new Villain. Kylo Ren, was the most popular. While we were in the store, they had a BB8 on demo. The droid is a remote control that was driven by an IPad. It was a cute little guy that made noise and was sneaking up on shoppers.
If you are familiar with Hollywood Studios, you will remember the Tatooine Traders that sits outside of the Star Tours ride. It is still the same store with some new merchandise. The rear of the store was the most crowded. It was filled with kids (of all ages) creating their own droid. They have several bins of heads and bodies to pick from. There is also a build your own lightsaber area. This was pretty popular too. This is where you must choose the dark side or to be part of the resistance and join the Jedi.
Speaking of Jedi, Disney has a thrilling experience for children called Jedi Training:Trials of the Temple. The young Padawans sign up at the Indiana Jones store. From there, they are lined up and given their brown robes. Under the tutelage of a Jedi, the recruits learn how to use the Force and to wield lightsabers. Now that the Empire has driven the Jedi to the distant corners of the galaxy, the training must proceed in secret at ancient Jedi temples.
After a short training session, the Jedi come face to face with the evil forces of the dark side. They must battle Darth Vader and the new villain, the Seventh Sister Inquisitor (from Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels) . There are several shows throughout the day, so there are opportunities for everyone to become a Jedi. There can never be enough good in the galaxy!
The other new and very exciting Star Wars feature is Star Wars Launch Bay. The huge building is located next to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. During our visit, we stopped by this attraction several times. We were greeted by Stormtrooopers, soldiers of the Empire. They posed for photos but were very strict about it. They decided who they would pose with and exactly how each person would stand. These guys were not to be messed with!
Once inside, you entered the Launch Bay Theater. The 10 minute movie offered insight from writers and directors of past and present Star Wars movies. One of the most exciting parts of the movie said that they will be releasing 3 movies in 3 years. That means 2 more in the near future!
After the movie, you are free to explore the area and get an up-close look at replica props, models, costumes and artifacts from the Star Wars films. One room is set up like the Mos Eisly Cantina from Episode IV, A New Hope. Here, you encounter Jawa traders roaming about. I was told that if I offered them something to trade, they would give me a trinket. So, I dug through my purse and found a nail file. I handed it to a Jawa and he looked it over very closely. After a minute, he looked up at me and nodded. He gave me a robot head! So, I lost my finger nail file but gained an exciting experience with a Jawa.
What was the best new Star Wars feature, you ask? It was a meet and greet with the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader. This entire visit, from start to finish was fabulous! The Empire staff was stern and to the point. We were told that it will be at Lord Vader’s discretion if he speaks with us. We were taken back to the room and Vader was on the bridge, looking out the window. Truthfully, I was a bit terrified! He was huge and frightening. He turned to us and pointed to my sons. They went over and he walked around them just looking and breathing that deep raspy breath. He said “I sense great pride with you two. This could be good or it could be used for evil. We will meet again”. Next, was my turn. I stood next to him, cowering. Like I said he is HUGE! After that encounter, we were able to meet Han Solo’s trusty sidekick, Chewbacca, He was everything that I’d expected him to be, sweet hug-able and furry!
After a grand day at the Studios, it all ended in a blast! Disney has concocted a fantastic mixture of original score from the Star Wars movies and dynamic fireworks called Symphony in the Stars. These were so good that I think they rival Wishes in the Magic Kingdom! Btw, the best place to view is on Hollywood Blvd, in front of Starbucks.
So, if you’re planning a visit to Disney World, be sure to check out the Star Wars areas. I promise that you won’t be disappointed. Follow the force and you will find all of the characters and new merchandise.