The Star Wars Experience at Disney Hollywood Studios
I was lucky enough to get to spend a day of my Spring Break at Hollywood Studios (yes, the old Disney MGM Studios, and hold onto your hats, it’s getting ready for another name change). There are so many things to do and it’s changed a lot in the years since I’d last been. Star Tours is still there, of course!
Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s what:
Jedi Training “Trials of the Temple” – only available to Younglings (ages 4 -12), much to the disappointment of my Padawan. It’s really cute to watch and they have several times to watch each “class”. Each Youngling gets the opportunity to battle the enemy. It’s all choreographed and the Master and his Padawan walk through it with them through out the skit. The Younglings are provided lightsabers and robes to use in the training. In the skit, the Younglings meet Darth Vader, a Seventh Sister (from the Disney XD show Star Wars Rebels, they have really sweet lightsaber hilts by the way) and Kylo Ren. The storyline is a bit contrived but plausible for the age group in which it is directed. There is also a bit of audience participation. I enjoyed watching it even though my Padawan and I would have rather participated in the lightsaber battle.
Star Wars Launch Bay – This is where the character experiences are and I do mean characters. We encountered Stormtroopers from the First Order on our way in. Too late did I realize and didn’t get a picture! You can choose your path here. The more of a fan you are, and the more of the experience you want, I advise choosing the theatre experience. You’ll sit through a 10-minute video before going through to the courtyard and the displays, which welcome you to the character experience. There was a short wait for Chewbacca and no wait for Kylo Ren. (But we went and got these done first thing in the morning as we had Fast Passes scheduled for 10:15 at Star Tours!)
Beware the sneaky Jawas wandering the premises. They are cute and will most certainly interact with you and your party. One tried to look in my daughter’s cross-body wallet but gave up as it was uninteresting because it couldn’t find the zippers to open it!
The Launch Bay had lots of props as well as other Star Wars memorabilia. I took pictures of the costumes, because my other love is costuming. One day, I will have a set of Jedi robes and a Mara Jade costume but that’s for another time! The Launch Bay empties out into what used to be the “Cargo Bay” back in the day. In other words, it’s the gift shop. For a hefty price you too can have your own replica Han Solo, Imperial Officer or Stormtrooper costume. We did a custom BB-8 phone case for my nephew because it was tough to find BB-8 on anything that wasn’t too “little kid”. (My nephew will be 21 this year. He’s getting ready to pass from Padawan to Knight and I couldn’t be more proud!) They also had the awesome lightsaber umbrellas that I know everyone has seen the ad for online. I should have bought one. They had the lightsaber hilt lamp, books, figurines, signed art and so much more!
Star Tours – A staple of the property since the 80s (yeah, hush, I know I’m showing my age) this was overhauled when the prequels came out and (apparently closed for overhaul in November) and will continue to be overhauled as the Star Wars cinematic Universe expands. One can only hope that the new Star Wars Land that Disney is supposedly breaking ground on this month (more on that in another story) will see the transfer of the ride to location that will allow for a longer ride experience. I will caution, it’s now in 3D! I am ever so glad that I had my contacts in or it would have been miserable. The glasses didn’t fit very well over the eyeglasses of one of my party members but she had fun on the ride despite that. (She rode it once, back in the day when it was R2 and C3PO that greeted you and not 3D. Yes, yes, be quiet, I’m old.) I do recommend Fast Passes for this, as the line can be longer later in the day. We went on a Saturday; I can only imagine what it was like the first Monday of Spring Break… You’ll exit the ride into Tatooine Traders.
Tatooine Traders – This is as it suggests, shopping!! You can build a droid here. Don’t get excited. It’s a small 2-3” figure and they have a deal 2 for $21.95. Great if you need to make souvenirs. You can also make your lightsaber here. You can custom build your own or you can pick your favorite character’s saber. It can get really packed and the wait time can be long, so I recommend doing this first and EARLY! If you stay at the resort and are staying a couple of days (you’ll find out why you really should later) you can have all your goodies shipped to the your resort. Convenient!
Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular – This tends to start at 9:15 or 9:30 (dependent upon the hours of the park on the day you go) So totally worth it! It is a fantastic journey though the epic music of Star Wars accompanied by a massive fireworks display. They do have a dessert option available but you must reserve your spot for this activity weeks in advance of your trip. This was brand new, so when I made the arrangements it wasn’t even a blip on the radar. I cancelled our reservations at the Sci-fi Drive-in Theatre so we could watch this show. Again, it was totally worth it!
Disney Springs (aka Downtown Disney) – This isn’t necessarily Star Wars BUT they have a huge Disney merchandise store there and it’s broken out by theme. It has a lot of Star Wars merchandise there that’s not in the park. Apparently, on the West side of the shopping area they now have the Star Wars Galactic Outpost. (It could have been there when I was there. To be honest I didn’t pay attention to shop names!) Here you should be able to create a droid and a lightsaber in a less crowded environment.
Oh, and before I forget, geek girls … if you like shiny stuff … Alex & Ani has teamed up with Disney and Lucasfilms to create a few Star Wars bracelets: the Imperial symbol, the Jedi symbol, the Rebel symbol, Princess Leia, “I love you” “I know”, “May the force be with you”, and Yoda. Psst… you can download the Shop Parks app and buy them without having to go! You’ll also notice Her Universe, Dooney & Bourke and Loungefly.
Now, here’s why you should stay at a Disney Resort, or specifically the Walt Disney World Resort. They are having a Star Wars deal this summer across the resorts and parks. If you book soon you can save 30%. No, I don’t book trips. No, I don’t get compensated for this. I just get the emails from spending all of my income tax return on vaycay! Which means I won’t get to go enjoy the fun this summer but you can! Don’t forget to download the My Disney Experience App and hook it up to your Magic Bands (which you can so totally customize with Star Wars stuff by the way, if you have enough time) and everything is much more convenient with the app. You can track and change your Fast Passes and maps, dining, and shopping. It was a life saver.
Oh, and since it’s Florida, take rain gear. May the force be with you!
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