***UPDATED May 18, 2015***
A long time ago (actually, it started in 1997), in a galaxy, far, far away (well, at Hollywood Studios in Florida) thousands of Star Wars fanatics from across the world came to Disney World for the most exciting event of the year: Star Wars Weekend! (Cue the dramatic Star Wars theme music here). This year, many come dressed as their favorite characters, get pumped up to meet their personal heroes (or villains) at celebrity meet and greets, and get to hang out with other hard-core fans from all over the world. The weekend also features parades, trivia contests, and even dance parties!
DVC Member Benefits
This year, DVC members and Annual Passholders can claim a free, limited-eidtion, commemorative Star Wars poster! There will be five different posters offered, one during each weekend. The posters depict different characters such as: Chewbacca, Darth Maul, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, and Boba Fet! DVC members can get their free poster at any of the three DVC information booths that are located throughout the park. You must present your Disney Vacation Club Member ID and it is limited to one poster per family member.
This year, the dates for Star Wars Weekend 2015 (Friday through Sunday) are as follows:
Every morning during the Star Wars Weekend, two Storm Troopers give a hilarious “screening” of guests prior to opening the park. They look down on the crowd from atop the Pan Pacific turnstiles and shout jabs and jokes at the audience. In order to experience this opening show, plan on arriving around 8:15 a.m. before the park opens. Known as “Storming the Park,” this entertaining improv routine sets the precedence for the day, and also serves as a great photo-op!
Special Events and Attractions
There are tons of events happening every day during Star Wars Weekend, one of the most exciting of which is the motorcade that snakes through Hollywood Studios! Be on the lookout for Mickey and his crew disguised as various Star Wars characters. The parade also features celebrity guests from the Star Wars movies and members of the local Star Wars Fan Club who design and wear their own impressive costumes. More than 60 characters from all six Star Wars films are featured in the parade.
The parade occurs each day of the event at 11 a.m. and travels up and down Hollywood Boulevard for about an hour. Because the parade is so popular, it is crucial to arrive early. Getting a spot close the action is important, but keep the weather in mind and find a nice spot in the shade if it all possible. Since the event is so awesome, you won’t want to abandon your vantage point, even for a water break!
Perhaps the greatest part about this year’s Disney World Star Wars Weekend is the opportunity to meet all of your favorite Star Wars characters and celebrities! You have the chance to meet real actors from the movies (and spin-offs) right there in Hollywood Studios. Disney never spills the beans too early about who will be on the celebrity list each year, but we have a few good guesses. Last year in 2014, Mark Hamill, the actor who portrayed Luke Skywalker in Epsiodes IV-VI, was in Hollywood Studios chatting and mingling with his fans! While he isn’t on the list for this years’ celebrities, you never really know what Disney could have up their sleeve! However, there are plenty of other characters from the movies and even the animated series. Check out the 2015 list here!
Just wandering around the park, you will see Disney Characters dressed up in costume, too! Over the years, there have been plenty of sightings of Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, and Darth Vader Goofy. You might run into Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, Sith, wookies, galactic bounty hunters, storm troopers, and even Ewoks. However, make sure you keep in mind that celebrity appearances aren’t every day or even every weekend. They are completely sporadic and random, so there is no guarantee that your favorite celebrity will be there the day you visit. Check out the official 2015 celebrity lineup (listed above) to plan your disney vacation better and ensure that you make the most of Star Wars at Disney World!
Celebrity Meet and Greets!
There is no doubt that the celebrity meet-and-greets are definitely the most popular attractions at the event. However, since there is such a high demand, there are some rules that go along when waiting for a signature. The first step is to wait in the corresponding line of the person you want to meet. While in that line, you will receive a wristband which will allow you to get a FASTPASS+ with a return time to meet the celebrity/celebrities of your choice. Additionally, there is usually a standby line for other celebrities, but it doesn’t guarantee that you will get to meet them. You’ll definitely want to get there very early in order to improve your chances of meeting the celebs!
Did Somebody Say ‘Autographs’?
Here’s some good news: for the first time ever, the autograph sessions will be held indoors just off Commissary Lane near the Star Tours ride. This is a huge relief for everyone since the Florida heat can be pretty brutal, especially if you’re decked out in Star Wars gear! Even though some people have been known to camp out overnight for their favorite celebrity, it really isn’t necessary to do so. However, if there is a big celebrity attending the event that day, getting there at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. and waiting for the park to open isn’t such a bad idea.
Speaking of getting there early, it is definitely something you want to consider if your kids want to attend the Jedi Training Academy. The Academy training is held several times a day near the Star Tours ride. Children ages 4-12 can participate and will get to wear Jedi robes, learn lightsaber moves, and eventually face the lure of the dark side. Make sure to sign up as early in the day as possible. Even with the extra showings, the classes can fill up quick. The best advice would be to find a Cast Member when you first arrive and ask where the sign-up station is for training. This will allow you to get your child’s name on the list right away and ensure the ultimate Star Wars Disney World experience.
James Arnold Taylor Hosts
This year, James Arnold Taylor, the voice of hundreds of Clone Wars animated characters including the renowned Obi-Wan Kenobi, will host the Stars of the Saga talk show. Due to its overwhelming popularity, this year the talk show will take place in a new, larger location at the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard. You’ll want to get there a little early in order to get good seats. Mr. Taylor will be the host all month long, so you won’t have to worry about catching him on the right day.
A classic crowd-favorite event is the Padawan Mind Challenge. This trivia-style contest allows kids (ages 11 and under) to demonstrate their knowledge on all things Star Wars. As most of the events at Star Wars Weekends, you’ll need to sign your kids up early. The registration begins at 9:00 a.m. at the information desk, and the actual Challenge takes place at the Star Tours ride later in the day.
Dining at WDW during Star Wars Weekend
Another event you and your kids will enjoy is the Character Meal Dining Experience. The Galactic Breakfast takes place every day of the week and is located in the Sci-Fi-Dine-In Theater.It is definitely a magical experience that you and your family will want to partake in. Below you can find a little more information on the different dining experiences (including a dinner package). It is highly recommended to make reservations for these experiences since they are so popular and can book up quickly.
Star Wars Weekends 2015 Prices and Admission
Attending Star Wars Weekend 2015 only requires a regular admission ticket to Hollywood Studios. However, since more guests will visit the park on any given Star Wars day than any other day of the year, it may be in your best interest to purchase one of the special VIP packages that are being offered. Of course, they are a bit expensive, but the perks are really worth the money.
The Ultimate Day VIP Package
This package costs $499 (not including tax). This certainly sounds a bit pricey, but can you put a price on unforgettable Disney vacations? If you purchase this package, you will get a VIP Tour Guide, premium seating for the seminars, expedited access to the attractions, continental breakfast at the Brown Derby, reserved viewing location for the parade, and table service lunch.
Feel the Force Premium Package
This one is much more affordable than the Ultimate Day VIP Package ($69 for adults and $39 for children), and you are still getting tons of cool perks! This package offers special viewing for the parade with soft drinks and water, reserved seating for one of the Celebrity Talk Shows in the Theater of the Stars, a private area to watch the fireworks, and tickets to the dessert party after the show!
Feel The Force Deluxe Package Star Wars Weekend
This package is basically everything that comes with the Premium Package, however you do get a little bit more. You receive all the perks from above, in addition to priority access to Darth’s Mall (the merchandise mecca which is in a new, bigger location this year) throughout the day of the package purchase, AND your own commemorative lanyard with credentials that will honor and preserve that special day forever! You can purchase an adult ticket for $99 and a child’s ticket for $64.
To kick off the entire Star Wars Weekend, Disney Theme Park Merchandise is hosting a special ticketed event called “Galactic Gathering” which will be held on Thursday May, 14, 2015 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Hollywood Studios. Tickets are a little steep at $250 a person (theme park admission is not included), but this is a party that you don’t want to miss! If you do sign up for the event, you will get some amazing goodies! Guests attending this exclusive event will receive:
- An Exclusive Rebel or Empire MagicBand (Guests can choose their side when registering online)
- Exclusive commemorative trading pin
- Exclusive Darth’s Mall Light Speed Pass which gives expedited entry into Darth’s Mall for all five weekends.
- First opportunity to pre-purchase select merchandise including personalized Aurebesh nametags, D-Tech phone cases, Dooney & Bourke handbags, Galactic Gathering Disney Gift card, retail MagicBands, limited edition pins and Vinylmation.
- First opportunity to purchase the new designs of Star Wars-themed Disney Gift Cards.
- Han Solo inspired popcorn bucket with popcorn
- Opportunity to meet Disney characters, Disney Design Group Artists and Ashley Eckstein from Her Universe.
- Be among the first to purchase the new figures for Star Wars D-Tech Me including a Jedi Knight and a TIE-Fighter pilot.
Registration started on March 4th, but since Star Wars Weekend doesn’t begin until May 15th, you still have some time. Here is the link to help you sign up for this event.
Star Wars Weekends for DVC Members
Of course, having a DVC membership is great all the time, but if you happen to be using your membership during these times, you’ve definitely hit the jackpot! Most people unfortunately try to cram in an entire weekend of Star Wars Weekend into one day, and that’s just not possible.
There is no way you can see everything featured in this event during a single day. As a DVC member staying at a Disney World resort, you have the opportunity to make the most of this event!
Disney World 2015
If you wanted to, you could go experience Star Wars Weekend every day for the whole duration of your Disney World 2015 vacation. One of the great things about staying at Disney World resorts is the ability hop on the monorail and take a quick nap in order to recharge after fighting against the Dark Side all day so you are ready for more lightsaber training when you return to the park later in the day! Plus, as a DVC member, make sure you take advantage of the perks and discounts you are entitled to.
Need More Star Wars?
Check out our previous blog post regarding DVC Member benefits in order to help you save a few bucks on your Disney World vacations!
The grand finale to your incredible day (or days) at Star Wars Weekend is the “Symphony in the Stars” Fireworks display! Walt Disney World is obviously very well known for their amazing nightly fireworks show, and SWW is definitely no exception! They sync up the fireworks to the music from the Star Wars movies and the experience couldn’t be more amazing. It is definitely something that you and your family will not soon forget!