I am sharing our day at Hollywood Studios during opening weekend for Star Wars Weekend. We got to experience the Jedi Training Academy, meet Queen Amidala and have the Jedi Mickey character dinner. Of course, we finished off the evening with the Symphony in the Stars fireworks.
Going into the vacation, this was the day that I stressed the most about. We had never attended a Star Wars Weekend day and this was opening weekend. This is when the hardcore fans were going to be out. Plus there was a great guest with Ian McDiarmid who played Senator Palpatine, aka The Emperor.
I did the bulk of my research in 2 spots. Kenny The Pirate and the Disboards. My boys are huge Stars Wars fan, so we naturally thought that they would love meeting the characters. We asked them several times before vacation about if they wanted to meet the characters and who their favorite would be. Queen Amidala was the favorite, but they pretty much said they wanted to meet them all. However, that was pre-vacation. Once we were actually in the park, meeting the characters took 2nd place to riding rides, so the queen was all we met.
Here is how the day went.
We arrived about 20 minutes before official park opening. We missed the Stormtrooper park opening that everyone raves about. We were held on Hollywood BLVD and there were 2 Stormtroopers doing a skit up at the front, but we were only here for about 5 minutes at most when they started letting people into the rest of the park.
Since our boys wanted to do the Jedi Training Academy (JTA), that is where we needed to head first to sign them up. Even on a non-Star Wars weekend day, JTA is the first thing you need to sign up for. The process was that we headed over to the Indiana Jones theater (cast members are directing people to the proper location) to sign up for a time later in the day. Your children must be present! You can not just send an adult to do the sign up. The lady in front of us in line didn’t know this and was not able to sign up her children. Just to sign up for the JTA took a full hour. By the time we made it through the line, there was plenty of spots available in the afternoon. We saw many people give up ahead of us in line thinking there was no chance of spots being open, but there were. Don’t give up! We had a 2pm JTA which meant we needed to return by 1:30pm to the ABC Sound Studio to get ready. The process once we arrived was to check in. They give each child a button with their name on it and then have them line up on blue dots on the floor that made 2 lines. The children are then each given a robe to wear. Our class had about 20 students. We walked over to the stage. There was one row of children, who got to be up on the stage and the other row was down on the ground. The children up on stage got to fight Darth Vader and the ones on the ground fought Asajj Ventress. I didn’t realize this and my boys were lucky to fight Darth Vader. I think it could be disappointing to a child if they weren’t prepared.
In the morning after our JTA sign-up we thought we would check out the wait for Star Tours. On the way we ran into Queen Amidala and since she was our main character to meet, we got in line. There was only a 5 minute wait since everyone else was off doing the bigger attractions for the day, like Darth’s Maul (shopping) and celebrity autographs.
The rest of the morning didn’t quite go as we expected. This is where the kids decided rides are more fun than character meets. We walked the scenic route in the Streets of America over to our Toy Story Midway Mania. On the way we stopped for a picture with the golden coach from the live-action feature Cinderella. No one else was doing this so we had a less than 5 minute wait.
At the time of the 11am parade, we missed it. We were at Disney Junior Live On Stage. It was raining buckets at this time, so we were happy to be inside out of the rain.
To keep out of the rain, we decided to go over to the Animation Academy.
We had lunch at Studio Catering Company. It was good. The seating here is outdoors, so the wind kept blowing our napkins. We bought the Darth Vader cupcake and thought it was really tasty.
We then attended the Frozen sing-a-long. Loved it. Even if you are sick of the Frozen songs, the historians who tell the story are so funny.
We then rode Rock n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror
For Star Wars weekend, we did get to experience Watto’s Grotto which was the general merchandise shopping location. There was a lot of fun Star Wars items in there but we didn’t buy anything. We were shopping around 5pm and had about a 20 minute wait to get in.
For dinner we ate at the Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine. This is a character meal with Mickey and friends dressed up as your favorite Star Wars characters: Mickey as Luke. Minnie as Princess Leia. Donald as a Stormtrooper. And Goofy as Darth Vader. For the 4 of us including tip the price was $225.76. My opinion on this dinner is that my boys loved it. It was a great convenience to not have to hunt down the characters in the park to meet them. The food was average. It is still way overpriced but I will admit I am glad we did it. I don’t think we will do it again in the future. A tip if you are going to do this, is that the specialty cupcakes that they had for the weekend were being offered in the dessert area. They were smaller versions, but still it is one less thing to spend your money on in the park. I definitely saw the Darth Vader and Yoda cupcake.
We then went and rode Rock n Roller Coaster one last time.
To end the day we attempted to see both the early showing of Fantasmic! and The Symphony of the Stars fireworks. Fantasmic! was at 9pm and the fireworks were at 9:45pm. We left Fantasmic! with only a couple of minutes left in the show, so that we could be at the front of the crowd leaving the theater. This worked perfectly. We were able to get a spot about halfway down Hollywood Blvd to see the fireworks. The fireworks have a pre-show on an event stage at the end of Hollywood Blvd. We couldn’t really see the pre-show, but we had a perfect view of the fireworks. If we didn’t leave Fantasmic! early, we wouldn’t have been able to be on Hollywood Blvd. I turned around to see the crowd behind us on the street and it looked completely full to the exits. Cast members will only let you stand in certain locations, so I am not certain if people were able to stand and watch the fireworks or not.
We had a great day at Hollywood Studios even if we didn’t get to do as much Star Wars things as we originally intended.
Written By: Kim Slusher
If you would like to listen, click the audio player below to hear the episode I did for the DIStracted Life Podcast.