Star Wars Weekends 2014 Strategy, Characters, Fireworks, Crowds, Merchandise, etc.

by josh on May 19, 2014

Week 2 Map:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/sw2frontbig.jpg

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/sw2backbig.jpg

Arrival

Hollywood Studios officially operates from 8am – 10pm on Star Wars Weekend dates except over Memorial Day Weekend, when it closes at 11pm.  Despite the official 8am opening, cast members  will begin letting guests inside the Park between 7:15am and 7:45am.  There are two sets of bag checks.  The two on the far right are designated for those seeking celebrity autographs.  However, anyone can use these bag check lines if they’re shorter.  If you don’t want an autograph, you can simply duck under the ropes.

Each guest is allowed one autograph FASTPASS and each celebrity has an individual line. There is generally one in-demand celebrity per week and you’ll need to arrive by 4am or 5am to secure a FASTPASS. For week two, it’s Warwick Davis. For three, Ray Park. For Four, Mark Hamill (heaven help you), Ray Park, and Billy Dee Williams will all be immensely popular and nearly impossible to get without camping out overnight. For week  5, it should be easy to secure an autograph FASTPASS for the celebrity of your choice with a 6:30am arrival.

Your FASTPASS is good for a small window during one of the celebrity’s autograph sessions.  You should be able to request a later time, but they distribute FASTPASSes for the earlier times first by default.  A cast member will put a wristband around the wrist of each FASTPASS holder to make it more difficult to give away/sell their FASTPASS.

If the Star Wars Weekend events are a priority, consider taking a cab to the Studios or drive yourself. There are few things more frustrating than waiting for a Disney bus to pick you up early in the morning as you envision all the people arriving in front of you. Buses begin picking up guests from their resorts around 6:15am, but it’s impossible to know when your bus will arrive. Have the concierge call a cab or call Mears transportation at 1-855-463-2776 to schedule a ride. Or visit http://www.mearstransportation.com/taxi-services/ to do so online. There is a taxi fare estimator and your ride should cost around $15 – $25 with tip. It’s well worth it for the peace of mind.

If you’re not interested in a celebrity autograph but would like to visit a priority character or two (discussed below), arrive no later than 7am.

Jedi Training Academy

Jedi Training Academy signups are at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular during Star Wars Weekends.  Walk up Hollywood Boulevard toward the Sorcerer’s Hat, take the first left, and continue forward.

If you would like your child to participate, it is imperative that you head straight here first thing after the Park opens.  The participating child along with an adult must be present at signup.  Above is the line at 8:06am.  Yes, this is just six minutes after official open and you would be waiting 30 to 40 minutes to sign up if you got in line now.  The line stretches back past Hollywood & Vine.

There are 19 shows during the day.

The show is similar to the one that’s scheduled every day of the year, only there are additional characters to fight in an attempt to increase capacity even further (Darth Maul or Assaj Ventress usually). Shows are a bit more crowded with more kids participating. If you can participate in Jedi Training on a non Weekends date, you’ll be in better shape and can instead move to another priority first thing.

This is the end of the line at 8:38am back at the entrance to Hollywood & Vine.  Guests lining up now are told by this manager that the wait is 30 minutes and all shows will most likely be full by the time they get to the front of the line.  These people are waiting to add their child to the standby list.  Star Wars Weekends are serious business and this should be the first indication.

Padawan Mind Challenge

Padawan Mind Challenge signups are located outside the old Sounds Dangerous Building across from Indiana Jones.

Like Jedi Training, a parent and child must sign up together.  Because of the proximity to Jedi Training signups, it should be relatively easy to sign up one child for both if two adults are present.  Despite far fewer slots, Padawan Mind Challenge fills up slower because fewer people are familiar with it.  If possible send the child and a parent to Padawan to quickly sign up while the other parent rushes to Jedi Training. Once the speedy Mind Challenge sign up is complete, the child can join the other parent in the lengthy Jedi Training line.  If you’re among the first people to arrive at Jedi Training or only have one adult in your party, then it’s safe to sign the kids up for Jedi Training first and then move to Padawan after.

Padawan shows are scheduled at 1pm, 2:15pm, 4:15pm, and 6:30pm daily at the stage in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat.  The show is basically a trivia challenge. Questions are asked and the kids hold up their blue or green lightsabers depending on what they think the answer is.  Most questions are easy, but they do become more challenging as it goes on.  By the end, all kids are invited back to the front of the stage and receive a small prize.  The show is not particularly entertaining unless your child is participating and there’s no hurry to arrive for a spot as the show is sparsely attended. In 2014, a family edition was added with more Disney characters and a better script.

Star Wars “Legends of the Force” Motorcade Parade and Celebrity Welcome

Seeing the Star Wars Parade is one of the two biggest hassles of Star Wars Weekends.  The Parade is scheduled one time daily at 11:30am and runs from the main entrance to the Sorcerer’s Hat.  This is what you can expect crowds to look like:

It’s not a coincidence that I’m on this side of the street – it’s much more shaded and “feels” much cooler.  For front row spots on this side, you need to arrive by 10am for the 11:30am Parade. By 10:30am, people are three to four rows back.  The Parade is simulcast on the screen outside American Idol Experience.  If you don’t want to deal with the crowds, but want to see the Parade as it happens, plan to watch the screen.  Like other Parades, it is imperative that you find your spot and fortify it by standing firm, placing the kids down on the curb in front of you.  People will try to slither around you or put their child in front of you on the curb as the Parade draws nearer.

Or you can watch a video.

Disney was offering reserved viewing for the parade and fireworks for $54/adult and $32/child under a “Feel the Force” package, but all dates have sold out. While the parade viewing area is roomier, it was still necessary to arrive no later than 10:15am for front row spots, negating much of the benefit. Bottled sodas, Mickey Bars, and strawberry popsicles are complimentary for Force package goers. See http://www.mousesteps.com/dining-mainmenu-84/dining-reviews-mainmenu-89/park-dining-mainmenu-90/1310-review-feel-the-force-motorcade-dessert-party-event-at-star-wars-weekends-2014 for a more detailed review.

Symphony in the Stars Fireworks

Symphony in the Stars is the “new” fireworks show. The pre-show featuring a range of characters begins at 9:30pm and lasts about 10 minutes. The fireworks begin at 9:45pm. Expect people to begin staking out spots 2+ hours early. The best fireworks views are actually further back on Hollywood Boulevard toward the main entrance/exit, but your view of the stage show will rely on the large screen and the sound isn’t piped in well. Your options are to wait the 2+ hours for a prime spot close to the stage and risk someone’s kid or camera will suddenly be in your face come show time or hang back.

The reserved Feel the Force viewing location is close to the Sorcerer’s Hat and includes the same desserts they’re serving at Hollywood & Vine for dinner. It offers a nice view of the stage show, but is lousy for the fireworks as it’s too close to take in the show.

Note that Toy Story Mania and Great Movie Ride close at 8:30pm on Weekends dates to prepare for the fireworks and don’t reopen.

If you don’t want to deal with the crowds at all, you can do what Kendra does and watch from across Crescent Lake. See several more shots on her Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hintofspy/.

From the Studios exit, walk straight toward the bus stops and stay to the left toward the charter bus lot.

Then continue on and you’ll have a great view. You could also swing over here via the International Gateway after seeing IllumiNations if you hustle a bit. It’s about a 20 minute walk to this location from Epcot. Or take the bus from anywhere else to the Studios. It’s sort of like watching Wishes from the Polynesian Beach only there are far fewer people there and the soundtrack isn’t piped in at all.

Stormtrooper Welcome

Stormtroopers are the first characters most guests will see upon entering. This is them taunting guests in the morning.

Later in the morning, stormtroopers patrol on stage, reminding guests of the Star Wars Weekends hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

And Boba Fett returns with his five to seven pre-recorded sayings.

Premier Theater Shows

The Premier Theater is located on the Streets of America near Mama Melrose, Muppet Vision, and the Phineas & Ferb Meet and Greet. Somewhere between three and five shows are scheduled daily, usually beginning at noon with the final show beginning at 7pm.

People begin lining up for the Premier Theater shows 90+ minutes early.  I recommend arriving 45 minutes early, which should guarantee that you’ll be waiting in the cooler, covered waiting area pictured above and be able to find a seat in the lower section in a comfortable chair.  The overflow seating is bleacher-style in the back and much less comfortable.

The line spills outside down the Streets of America in the sun, which is less than ideal. The end arrow marks the end of the line at 1:25pm for a 1:45pm show and it’s unlikely these people will find any seats at all.

FastPass+ strikes again here at the Premier Theater shows. Each is a Tier 1 selection, which means your one selection goes head to head with the likes of Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The FP+ return location is located just outside the entrance on the left.

On the first day, Disney let in standby users at the same time as FP+. With standby users streaming in without the need to stop and scan their MagicBands/tickets. the theater was largely full by the time most FP+ users entered. Disney changed that on Saturday and FP+ users were let in first.

FP+ does guarantee entry into the particular show, which is key Stars of the Saga along with Ray Park and potentially Warwick Davis. I would not use FP+ at the other shows as arriving 20 to 30 minutes should result in seats, particularly for the voice actor shows early in the day and the James Arnold Taylor show in the evening.

Otherwise, the Premier Theater shows are air-conditioned and seating is comfortable in the lower section.  Remember that highs in May and June are 90+ degrees and it stays hot and humid all day.

The stormtrooper pre-show before Stars of the Saga begins at 3:15pm. It’s hilarious and one of the highlights of Star Wars Weekends – not to be missed:

Here they are discussing how The Empire is its own worst enemy.






Perhaps the funniest clip of this year’s show is JJ Abrams, the director of the new Star Wars film, saying he would be at Star Wars Weekends if he weren’t busy in London shooting the movie. I laughed until I realized nobody else realized he was lying.

In related news, how many of you would have guessed this hunk is the voice of Jar Jar Binks?

I enjoy Star Wars, but am not particularly rabid about it and I’ve enjoyed every Premier Theater show I’ve experienced.

Characters (In Order of Priority)

Meeting characters is where most guests get bogged down as they’re extremely popular, in limited supply, and generally take a ton of breaks. Recommended meeting times are bolded. Arrive 10 minutes before this time to minimize waits as much as possible.

Chewbacca:

Location: Across from Star Tours.

Line: Backs up toward Sci-Fi Dine-in and around to the back side of American Idol Experience.

Meet Times:

  • 8am – 10:55am
  • 12:20pm – 8:30pm
  • He meets for 15 minutes and then takes a 10-minute break

Tips: Ideally, someone will head here first thing in the morning if you’re interested in the Meet and Greet.  This is an easy line to save spots in because the entire queue is accessible. Otherwise, plan to arrive around 7pm to guarantee a picture.

Waits: Waits by 9:30am will be 100 to 120 minutes. Seriously. In the blazing sun.

Darth Vader:

Location: Across from Studio Catering Company in the Streets of America.  The Monsters Inc. Meet is to the right.

Line: Darth’s queue is at least covered and winds around in front of him  His interactions with other guests are visible and usually very funny as Darth does not do hugs.

Meet Times:

  • 8am – 8:50pm. Darth meets for 15 minutes and takes a 10-minute break.

Tips: It’s either this or Chewbacca first. Arrive around 7:30pm to guarantee a meet or a bit later if you want to try to sneak in and not meeting him isn’t the end of the world.

Waits: Waits hit 45 minutes by 8:30am and peak in the 90 minute range.

Leia, Luke, C3PO, R2D2

Luke, Leia, and the droids meet where Mickey and friends used to meet between ABC Commissary and Great Movie Ride. It’s basically behind Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat on the left.

Line: Ugly.  It’s completely uncovered in the blazing sun.Meet Times:

  • Luke and Leia switch off greeting guests alone mostly without interruption from 1pm – 3:45pm
  • Leia: 4:50pm – 5:05pm
  • Luke: 5:20pm – 5:35pm
  • Leia: 5:50pm – 6:05pm
  • Luke: 6:20pm – 6:35pm
  • Leia: 6:50pm – 7:05pm
  • Luke: 7:20pm – 7:35pm
  • Leia: 7:50pm – 8:05pm
  • Luke: 8:20pm – 8:35pm
  • C3PO appeared twice and R2D2 three times each day on the first Weekend and are basically impossible to time. R2 appeared from 1pm – 1:15pm, 2pm – 2:15pm, and 8:20pm – 8:35pm. C3PO from 230pm – 2:45pm and 7:50pm – 8:05pm.

Tips: Get in line at 12:45pm or at a minimum before 2:45pm. After that it’s a lot of breaks. Second best time is 4:40pm and then after 7:30pm.

Waits: 35 to 45 minutes in the middle of the afternoon – longest from 5pm – 7pm.

Darth Maul

Location: To the right of the entrance to the Studio Backlot Tour

Line: Maul’s line is deceptive because it begins out in front of him.

And then winds behind him.

Meet Times:

  • Exact meet times currently unavailable.

Tips: Line up at 2:45pm to minimize waits – he should take a long break before that.

Waits: 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Boba and Jango Fett

Location: Across from the entrance to Studio Backlot Tour.

Line: The line is uncovered and wraps around the bank building off to their right.

Meet Times:

  • You could say they switch off from 10am – 11am and 12:20pm – 8:50pm.
  • Jango: 10am – 10:15am
  • Boba: 10:25am – 10:55am
  • Boba: 12:20pm – 12:35pm
  • Jango: 12:40pm – 12:55pm
  • Boba: 1:05pm – 1:20pm
  • Boba: 1:30pm – 1:45pm
  • Boba: 1:55pm – 2:10pm
  • Boba: 2:45pm – 3:00pm
  • Boba: 3:10pm – 3:25pm
  • Jango: 3:25pm – 3:50pm
  • Boba: 4:00pm – 4:15pm
  • Jango: 4:25pm – 4:40pm
  • Boba: 4:50pm – 5:05pm
  • Jango: 5:15pm – 5:30pm
  • Boba: 5:40pm – 5:55pm
  • Jango: 6:05pm – 6:20pm
  • Boba: 6:30pm – 6:45pm
  • Jango: 6:55pm – 7:10pm
  • Boba: 7:20pm – 7:35pm
  • Jango: 7:45pm – 8pm
  • Boba: 8:10pm – 8:25pm
  • Jango: 8:35pm – 8:50pm

Tips: An arrival at 12:10pm is best and you’ll meet Boba, who is more popular.

Waits: 30 minutes.

Chip & Dale

Location: Across from Chewbacca near Star Tours and across from Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant.

Line: The line wraps around behind them along the Streets of America.

Meet Times:

  • 9:05am – 9:20am
  • 9:40am – 9:55am
  • 10:05am – 10:20am
  • 10:30am – 10:45am
  • 10:55am – 11:10am
  • 12:15pm – 12:30pm
  • 12:40pm – 12:55pm
  • 1:05pm – 1:20pm
  • 2:20pm – 2:35pm
  • 2:45pm – 3pm
  • 3:10pm – 3:25pm
  • 3:35pm – 3:50pm
  • 4pm – 4:15pm
  • 4:25pm – 4:40pm
  • 4:50pm – 5:05pm
  • 5:15pm – 5:30pm

Tips: Arrive at 12:10pm or  2:10pm after their long break.

Waits: Typically 15 minutes.

Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Stormtrooper Donald

Location: The good guys meet inside Darth’s Mall, which is located in between Toy Story Mania and Backlot Tour on the Backlot Tour side this year. The merchandise and character line are one and the same at the onset, which extends waits to get inside for both.

Line: Depending on the length of the line, it will be inside Darth’s Mall or potentially spill outside to the outdoor queue.

Meet Times:

  • 9am – 8:35pm – Goofy/Donald and Mickey/Minnie greet together throughout the day with intermittent breaks.

Tips: The characters are best met in the afternoon or evening, ideally after 5pm.  The building is nicely air-conditioned and Darth’s Mall is less busy in the afternoon after the majority of the merchandise collectors move through.

Waits: Generally 15 to 30 minutes.

Queen Amidala

Location: Queen Amidala meets to the left of the old Sounds Dangerous building. You’ll see her on the right before arriving at Star Tours.

Line: Wraps around the old Sounds Dangerous building in front of her.

Meet Times:

  • 9:15am – 9:35am
  • 10am – 10:20am
  • 10:40am – 11am
  • 12pm – 12:20pm
  • 12:40pm – 12:55pm
  • 2pm – 2:15pm
  • 2:35pm – 2:50pm
  • 3:10pm – 3:25pm
  • 3:45pm – 4pm
  • 4:20pm – 4:35pm
  • 4:55pm – 5:10pm
  • 5:30pm – 5:45pm
  • Tips: Get in line at 11:50am or 1:50m.

    Waits: 15 to 20 minutes plus a potential break.

    Anakin, Kit Fisto, Shaak Ti, Mace Windu

    Location: Streets of America.  The entrance to Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is to the left.

    Line: The line wraps around to the right of the meet and greet.



    Meet Times:

    • 9:30am – 11am
    • 12pm – 9pm

    Tips: The characters are best met at your leisure, sometime after the priorities. Characters generally greet alone and you’ll need to re-enter the line several times to get pictures with each. Casually let others in front of you as you near the front of the line until the character you want arrives. Shaak Ti doesn’t begin meeting until 1:35pm. If possible, avoid 12:25pm – 1pm, 3:20pm – 4pm, and 6:10pm – 7pm because Lights, Motors, Action letting out increases crowds.

    Waits: 15 – 20 minutes.

    Ahsoka Tano, Asajj Ventress, Captain Rex, Commander Cody – Blister Pack Meet and Greet

    Location: The Blister Pack meet has a new location this year – it’s in between the entrance to Lights, Motors and Studio Catering Co.

    Line: Extends out in front of them.

    Meet Times:

    • Ahsoka: 12:40pm – 12:55pm
    • Cody: 12:50pm – 1:05pm
    • Rex: 1:10pm – 1:25pm
    • Assaj: 1:35pm – 1:55pm
    • Cody: 2:10pm – 2:25pm
    • Rex: 2:10pm – 2:25pm
    • Ahsoka: 2:30pm – 2:45pm
    • Assaj: 2:50pm – 3:10pm
    • Rex: 3:25pm – 3:40pm
    • Ahsoka: 3:45pm – 4pm
    • Cody: 54m – 4:15pm
    • Assaj: 4:20pm – 4:40pm
    • Cody: 4:55pm – 5:10pm
    • Rex: 5:15pm – 5:30pm
    • Ahsoka: 5:15pm – 5:30pm
    • Cody: 5:45pm – 6pm
    • Rex: 6:05pm – 6:20pm
    • Ahsoka: 6:25pm – 6:40pm
    • Cody: 6:55pm – 7:10pm
    • Rex: 7:15pm – 7:30pm
    • Ahsoka: 7:35pm – 7:50pm
    • Cody: 8:05pm – 8:20pm
    • Rex: 8:25pm – 8:40pm

    Tips: The characters here are best met in the afternoon or early evening after the priorities. Line up by 12:20pm for Ahsoka in particular to guarantee a meet with her.

    Cody and Rex are going to be interchangeable for most guests (sorry fans).

    Waits: 15 to 20 minutes.

    Ewoks and Cantina Band

    Location: Outside Star Tours usually to the left of the entrance.

    Line: No formal line, just a clump of people loosely waiting for their turn.

    Meet Times:

    • Cantina: 12:40pm – 12:55pm
    • Ewoks: 12:45pm – 1:pm
    • Ewoks: 1:10pm – 1:25pm
    • Cantina: 1:35pm – 1:50pm
    • Ewoks: 2pm – 2:15pm
    • Ewoks: 2:25pm – 2:40pm
    • Cantina: 2:30pm – 2:45pm
    • Ewoks: 2:50pm – 3:05pm
    • Ewoks: 4:05pm – 4:20pm
    • Cantina: 4:10pm – 4:25pm
    • Ewoks: 4:30pm – 4:45pm
    • Cantina: 5:05 – 5:20pm
    • Ewoks: 5:20pm – 5:35pm
    • Ewoks: 6:35pm – 6:50pm
    • Cantina: 6:55pm – 7:10pm
    • Ewoks: 7pm – 7:15pm
    • Ewoks: 7:25pm – 7:40pm
    • Ewoks: 7:50pm – 8:05pm
    • Ewoks: 8:15pm – 8:30pm

    Aurra Sing, Gamorrean Guard, Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders, Zam Wessel

    Location: Backlot area outside of Pixar Place on the Studio Backlot Tour side.

    Line: None. These casual meet and greets are simply first come, first served.

    ANDY’S COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Meet Times:

    • Gamorrean Guard: 11:30am – 11:45am
    • Gamorrean Guard: 12:20pm – 12:35pm
    • Stormtroopers: 12:40pm – 12:55pm
    • Zam Wesell: 12:45pm – 1pm
    • Aurra Sing: 12:45pm – 1pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 12:45pm – 1pm
    • Stormtroopers: 1pm – 1:15pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 1:10pm – 1:25pm
    • Stormtroopers: 1:30pm – 1:45pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 1:35pm – 1:55pm
    • Aurra Sing: 1:35pm – 1:50pm
    • Zam Wesell: 1:35pm – 1:50pm
    • Stormtroopers: 1:50pm – 2:15pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 1:55pm – 2:10pm
    • Aurra Sing: 2:25pm – 2:35pm
    • Zam Wesell: 2:25pm – 2:35pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 2:45pm – 3pm
    • Stormtroopers: 3:10pm – 3:25pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 3:15pm – 3:30pm
    • Stormtroopers: 3:30pm – 3:45pm
    • Aurra Sing: 4:10pm – 4:25pm
    • Zam Wesell: 4:10pm – 4:25pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 4:10pm – 4:25pm
    • Stormtroopers: 4:20pm – 4:35pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 4:30pm – 4:45pm
    • Stormtroopers: 4:50pm – 5:05pm
    • Aurra Sing: 5pm – 5:15pm
    • Zam Wesell: 5pm – 5:15pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 5pm – 5:15pm
    • Stormtroopers: 5:10pm – 5:25pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 5:20pm – 5:35pm
    • Stormtroopers: 6:20pm – 6:45pm
    • Aurra Sing: 6:40pm – 6:55pm
    • Zam Wesell: 6:40pm – 6:55pm
    • Tusken Raiders: 6:40pm – 6:55pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 7pm – 7:15pm
    • Stormtroopers: 7:10pm – 7:35pm
    • Aurra Sing: 7:30pm – 7:45pm
    • Zam Wesell: 7:30pm – 7:45pm
    • Gamorrean Guard: 7:50pm – 8:05pm
    • Stormtroopers: 8pm – 8:25pm
    • Aurra Sing: 8:20pm – 8:35pm
    • Zam Wesell: 8:20pm – 8:35pm
    • Stormtroopers: 8:30pm – 8:45pm

    Jawas, Clone Troopers, etc.

    More characters appear in the Streets of America near the Jedi Council Meet and Greet beginning at 11:30am and continuing through 8:50pm.

    The Jawas may attempt a trade – maybe you can pawn off that Muppet Vision 3D FP+.

    Darth’s Mall and Star Wars Weekends Merchandise

    The Mall is located in between Toy Story Mania and Backlot Tour this year:









    There is far more stuff inside.

    Other Star Wars Touches

    Disney offers two Star Wars drinks for the event – each $4 more expensive than last year and now including a themed glow-cube.

    They’re available all over, including temporary bars outside Animation Courtyard, Sci-Fi Dine-in, 50′s Prime Time Cafe, and Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano. Get it from High Octane Refreshments next to Studio Catering Co. or risk a drink that’s been sitting out in 90+ degree heat for hours.

    A $13.75 “The Force” with Wildberry Lemonade, Grey Goose, and Chambord is quite refreshing, though pricey – $16.75 with tax and 15% tip. “The Dark Side” is sweeter and less boozy.

    The $5.19 Vader Cupcake returns to Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, ABC Commissary, Studio Catering Company, Sunset Ranch Market, Starring Rolls and Darth’s Mall. Yoda is available only at Backlot Express, Starring Rolls, and Darth’s Mall.  Better, you can get them as a dessert or snack credit on the Dining Plan.

    New this year is the “Stormtrooper Stein” available with soda or a frozen drink for $9.99.

    Getting one with a frozen concoction is a bit more intelligent as they cost more ordinarily. Either way, you’ll receive a plastic cup that’s put inside the helmet to keep it clean. Disney was selling these hand over fist and they’re actually pretty cool – there’s a button on the handle that lifts the top of the helmet.

    Darth Vader helmet buckets replace R2D2, which should still be available in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.

    A face painting station is added near the Chip & Dale meet and greet with additional Star-Wars-inspired styles. It costs around $15.

    Star Wars Character Meals

    Two new character meals are available every day of the week through June 15th – so they’re not relegated only to Weekends dates. The first is the Galactic Breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine-In from 8am – 12pm with a price of $47.99 for those ages ten and up and $29.99 for kids ages three to nine. No discounts. Reservations should be largely gobbled up, but check availability here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/hollywood-studios/sci-fi-dine-in-theater/.

    Jessica was nice enough to send in a review along with some pictures:

    Hey Josh — here’s some pictures from this morning.  We waited about 5 min after checking in to be called.  Then you do photos with Boba Fett and Darth Vader (they don’t sign autographs but they have a presigned sheet to hand out).  Once you’ve been seated they bring pastries.  You can choose fruit or yogurt for an app and a main course. We got one fruit, one yogurt parfait, kid’s French toast, and the egg white omelet.  Everything was pretty good, I’d say a little better than most character breakfasts. At the end everyone is served the same dessert.  Characters inside do sign autographs.  Clips were both from the movies and some looked to be filmed just for the breakfast. They also played a cartoon from the 1978 Holiday Special which was fun.


    This picture will save you two or more hours in line in one way or another and eliminate a lot of stress, whether you arrive at 7am and sprint for the characters or show up late and wait. The included digital picture would be a higher quality shot of this scene.

    A plate of pastries to start.

    This is not exactly all-you-care-to-enjoy, but you can pick a second entree if you find yourself still hungry. “Blue milk” is slightly blue raspberry flavored. Considering what you’re going to be up against after breakfast, you might want to double down on those mimosas.





    Too cute.

    Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine

    For those of you with iron stomachs, Hollywood & Vine serves a character dinner buffet featuring Chip & Dale, Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and Stormtrooper Donald from 4:30pm – Park close. Pricing is $55.99 for adults ages ten and up and $33.99 for children ages 3-9. Include reserved seats at Fantasmic for $4 more per person, which is worth it if you’re planning to see the show.




    Jessica says:

    “It was much more chaotic than breakfast. We waited probably 40 minutes for the last character to come by but that might be opening night issues. Food was the same as normal H&V with SW desserts. My server let me know that her manager was allowing the Disney Visa discount but only if you ask. My daughter’s favorite part was the paper light saber place mats you get.”

    Both meals are expensive, but worthwhile if you’re after the pictures with the characters and both will save two or more hours in line.

    Crowds and Attraction Wait Times

    Studios’ crowds are among the largest of the year on Star Wars Weekend dates.

    This not only affects wait times, but every other line as well.  This is the line for ABC Commissary for lunch, which spills out the door and into Commissary Lane.  Indoor seating is full, so you’d either be waiting to pounce on a table or sitting outside in the heat.  I highly recommend making a dining reservation for lunch and dinner.

    This is an extended queue for Pizza Planet.  You can’t even enter through the normal entrance.

    Wait times are also significantly higher than recommended days.  This is a two hour wait for Toy Story Mania.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror also hit triple digit waits throughout the day.

    That’s a 30 minute wait for Voyage of the Little Mermaid, an attraction that you can usually walk right into.

    FastPass+ more than Star Wars Weekends pushes up Star Tours wait times. Expect 40 to 60 minute waits from 11am – 7pm.

    With that said, you can do very well in the morning with the early open and most people headed for a Star Wars priority.  Waits will be short at the major attractions through about 10am, with the exception of Toy Story Mania, which takes off immediately.

    This shows wait times on the first two days of Star Wars Weekends over the first few hours. Look over the full day here: http://www.easywdw.com/reports11/0518waits.pdf. Note that waits will be longer during future Weekends because the overall crowd level is higher for Memorial Day Weekend and then the busy summer.

    Keep in mind that Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and other attractions most likely won’t begin operating until 8am.  Toy Story should be operating at Park open.

    The regular characters also tend to have shorter waits.  The characters that ordinarily meet at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat (Stitch, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy, Donald) don’t appear during the day and Characterpalooza is not scheduled on Weekend dates.

    In Closing

    Star Wars Weekends can be a hot, frustrating experience with the long lines and waits.  Armed with the knowledge above, you should be able to put together a plan that works for your group.  Have sensible expectations and be prepared to show up early and you can have a great time.

    <h2><strong>Arrival</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd01.jpg” alt=”" /> 

    Hollywood Studios officially operates from 8am – 10pm on Star Wars Weekend dates.  Despite the official 8am opening, the turnstiles will begin letting guests inside the Park between 7:15am and 7:30am.  There are two sets of bag checks.  The two on the far right are designated for those seeking celebrity autographs.  However, anyone can use these bag check lines if they’re shorter and simply go underneath the ropes to enter the regular turnstiles if you don’t want an autograph.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd02.jpg” alt=”" />

    Each guest is allowed one autograph FASTPASS and each celebrity has an individual line.  This is the scene at 7:42am on Friday May 17th.  Celebrity autographs were available for every celebrity other than Ray Park.  If you wanted an autograph for Mr. Park, you would have needed to arrive by 3:30am.  For the others, an arrival around 7am is fine.

    <!–more–>

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd04.jpg” alt=”" />

    Your FASTPASS is good for a small window during one of the celebrity’s autograph sessions.  You should be able to request a later time, but they distribute FASTPASSes for the earlier time first by default  For week two, the times are:
    <ul>
    <li>James Arnold Taylor: 9:45 am</li>
    <li>Ashley Eckstein: 4:30 pm, 5:45pm</li>
    <li>Ray Park – 1:45pm</li>
    <li>Warwick Davis – 9:45am, 4:30pm</li>
    <li>Jim Cummings – 9:45 am, 3pm, 430pm</li>
    </ul>
    Note that Ray Park only has one autograph session, which is one of the reasons why his FASTPASSes run out first.  You should be able to arrive closer to 7am to secure FASTPASSes for the other celebrities.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd03.jpg” alt=”" />

    If the Star Wars Weekend events are a priority and you’re relying on Disney transportation otherwise, consider taking a cab to the Studios.  There are few things more frustrating than waiting for a Disney bus to pick you up early in the morning as you envision all the people arriving in front of you.  Buses begin picking up guests from their resorts around 6:45am, but it’s impossible to know when your bus will arrive.  Buses likely will not get you to the Studios in time for a 7:15am rope drop.  Have the concierge call a cab or call Mears transportation at 1-855-463-2776 to schedule a ride.  Or visit <a href=”http://www.mearstransportation.com/taxi-services/” target=”_blank”>http://www.mearstransportation.com/taxi-services/</a> to do so online.  There is a taxi fare estimator and your ride should cost around $15 – $25 with tip.  It’s well worth it for the peace of mind.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd05.jpg” alt=”" />

    Plan to arrive by 6:45am at the latest.
    <h2><strong>Jedi Training Academy</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd39.jpg” alt=”" />

    Jedi Training Academy signups are at Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular during Star Wars Weekends.  It’s located across the street from American Idol Experience.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd40.jpg” alt=”" />

    If you would like your child to participate, it is imperative that you head straight here first thing in the morning.  The child along with a parent must be present at signup.  Above is the line at 8:06am.  Yes, this is just six minutes after official open and you would be waiting 30 to 40 minutes to sign up if you got in line now.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd41.jpg” alt=”" />

    There are 19 shows during the day.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd127.jpg” alt=”" />

    The show is similar to the one that’s scheduled every day of the year, only there are additional characters to fight in an attempt to increase capacity even further.  Shows are a bit more crowded with more kids participating.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd61.jpg” alt=”" />

    This is the end of the line at 8:38am back at the entrance to Hollywood &amp; Vine.  Guests lining up now are told by this manager that the wait is 30 minutes and all shows will most likely be full by the time they get to the front of the line.  These people are waiting to add their child to the standby list.  Star Wars Weekends are serious business and this should be the first indication.
    <h2><strong>Padawan Mind Challenge</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd37.jpg” alt=”" />

    Padawan Mind Challenge signups are located outside the old Sounds Dangerous Building across from Indiana Jones.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd38.jpg” alt=”" />

    Like Jedi Training, a parent and child must sign up together.  Because of the proximity to Jedi Training signups, it should be relatively easy to sign up one child for both if two adults are present.  Despite far fewer slots, Padawan Mind Challenge fills up slower because fewer people are familiar with it.  I would send one parent and the child(ren) that want to sign up straight for the Padawan signup and then have them join the other parent in line for Jedi Training right after.  If you’re among the first people to arrive at Jedi Training, then it’s safe to sign the kids up there first and then move to Padawan after.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports/mmggg022.jpg” alt=”" />

    Padawan shows are scheduled at 2:10pm and 4:30pm daily at the stage in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat.  The show is basically a trivia challenge among the participating kids.  Questions are asked and the kids hold up their blue or green lightsaber depending on what they think the answer is.  Most questions are easy, but they do become more challenging as it goes on.  By the end, all kids are invited back to the front of the stage and receive a small prize.  The show is not particularly entertaining unless your child is participating and there’s no hurry to arrive for a spot as the show is sparsely attended.
    <h2><strong>Star Wars “Legends of the Force” Motorcade Parade and Celebrity Welcome</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd97.jpg” alt=”" />

    Seeing the Star Wars Parade is one of the two biggest hassles of Star Wars Weekends.  The Parade is scheduled one time daily at 11am and runs from the main entrance to the Sorcerer’s Hat.  This is what you can expect crowds to look like:

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/parade2.jpg” alt=”" />

    It’s not a coincidence that I’m on this side of the street – it’s much more shaded and “feels” much cooler.  For front row spots on this side, you need to arrive by 9:30am for the 11am Parade.  Waiting for the parade on the other side is hell on earth with the 90+ degree temperatures and humidity.  By 10am, people are three to four rows back.  And you can see the clusercuss that is 10:50am.  The Parade is simulcast on the screen outside American Idol Experience.  If you don’t want to deal with the crowds, but want to see the Parade as it happens, plan to watch the screen.  Like other Parades, it is imperative that you find your spot and fortify it by standing firm.  People will try to slither around you or put their child in front of you on the curb.

    <object width=”640″ height=”360″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/slYuPoZSUBw?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0″ /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/slYuPoZSUBw?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

    Or you can watch <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slYuPoZSUBw” target=”_blank”>the video I took</a>.
    <h2><strong>Hyperspace Hoopla</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports/mmggg051.jpg” alt=”" />

    Scheduled nightly at 8pm on the stage in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat, Hyperspace Hoopla has your favorite Star Wars characters “getting down” to music.  This show is an even bigger hassle to see than the Star Wars Parade.

    <object width=”640″ height=”360″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/45-QEbqnI_k?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0″ /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/45-QEbqnI_k?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

    Watch the show in its entirety above to get an idea about what to expect.  People begin securing spots as early as 4pm for the show.  I prefer to see it further back – behind the wait times board on Hollywood Boulevard.  No matter how good you think your view is going to be, there will inevitably be parents that put their kids on their shoulders right before show time.  Further back, you can see the full stage and over the kids’ heads.  Also like the Parade, the show is simulcast on the screen outside American Idol Experience and you can see a bit of the stage off to the right from this location as well.  Be prepared to arrive about 60 minutes early to secure a viewing location near the wait times board.  Crowds will back up near the entrance by 8pm.
    <h2><strong>Premier Theater Shows</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/poihasdsbssad8.jpg” alt=”" />

    If you’re present outside the turnstiles around 7:15am, you’ll see stormtroopers take up position overhead and taunt incoming guests.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd06.jpg” alt=”" />

    New this year, stormtroopers appear on Hollywood Boulevard.

    <object width=”640″ height=”360″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Nh1QOTycGiU?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0″ /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/Nh1QOTycGiU?hl=en_US&amp;version=3&amp;rel=0″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

    Later in the morning, stormtroopers patrol on stage, reminding guests of the Star Wars Weekends hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.

    <object width=”640″ height=”360″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/wkbBGgq8iAI?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0″ /><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true” /><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always” /><embed type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/wkbBGgq8iAI?version=3&amp;hl=en_US&amp;rel=0″ allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed></object>

    And Boba Fett returns with his five to seven pre-recorded sayings.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd47.jpg” alt=”" />

    The Premier Theater is located on the Streets of America near Mama Melrose, Muppet Vision, and the Phineas &amp; Ferb Meet and Greet.  The schedule is:

    Behind the Force  with Ashley Eckstein and Celebrity Voice Actor: 12pm

    Celebrity Show (or potentially a second Behind the Force show): 1:45pm

    Stars of the Saga with James Arnold Taylor and Other Two Celebrities: 3:30pm with 3:15pm Stormtrooper pre-show

    Celebrity Show: 5pm

    Obi-Wan and Beyond with James Arnold Taylor: 6:30pm

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd106.jpg” alt=”" />

    People begin lining up for the Premier Theater shows 1+ hours early.  I recommend arriving 20 to 30 minutes early, which should guarantee that you’ll be waiting in the cooler, covered waiting area pictured above.  It also guarantees you’ll be seated in the lower section in a comfortable chair in the front.  The overflow seating is bleacher-style in the back.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd108.jpg” alt=”" />

    The line spills outside down the Streets of America in the sun, which is less than ideal.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd211.jpg” alt=”" />

    I highly recommend the Premier Theater shows because they’re air-conditioned and comfortable.  Remember that highs in May and June are 90+ degrees and it stays hot and humid all day.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd220.jpg” alt=”" />

    The stormtrooper pre-show before the Behind the Force show begins at 3:15pm.  It’s hilarious and one of the highlights of Star Wars Weekends – not to be missed:

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd213.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd214.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd216.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd217.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd219.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd229.jpg” alt=”" />

    Otherwise, Behind the Force is hosted by James Arnold Taylor and features two or three of the invited celebrities discussing their involvement in the Star Wars universe.  I enjoy Star Wars, but am not particularly rabid about it and I’ve enjoyed every Premier Theater show I’ve experienced, if for no other reason than the air-conditioning and darkness.
    <h2><strong>Characters (In Order of Priority)</strong></h2>
    <h3><strong>Chewbacca:</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd236.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location</strong>: Across from Star Tours

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd43.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> Chewie’s line backs up toward Sci-Fi Dine-in and around to American Idol Experience.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8:30am – 10:30am</li>
    <li>11:50am – 1:50pm</li>
    <li>3:15pm – 7:15pm</li>
    <li>All with intermittent breaks</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> Ideally, someone will head here first thing in the morning if you’re interested in the Meet and Greet.  This is an easy line to save spots in because the entire queue is accessible.  Otherwise, plan to arrive around 5:45pm to guarantee a picture.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> You’ll be waiting at least an hour pretty much no matter what.  Wait times by 9:30am will be 100 to 120 minutes from then on.  Seriously.  In the blazing sun.
    <h3><strong>Darth Vader:</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd73.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location</strong>: Across from Studio Catering Company in the Streets of America.  The Monsters Inc. Meet would be behind the blue wall on the right.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd74.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line: </strong>Darth’s queue is at least covered and winds around in front of you.  His interactions with other guests are visible and usually very funny as Darth does not do hugs.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8am – 7:30pm with intermittent breaks</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> If possible, head here first thing in the morning.  Since he arrives at 8am, you should be through and on your way by 8:15am.  Otherwise, arrive around 6:15pm to guarantee a meet.

    <strong>Waits</strong>: Waits hit 45 minutes by 8:30am and peak in the 90 minute range.
    <h3><strong>Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, R2MK</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd12.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Mickey and the Gang greet guests near ABC Commissary and the exit to Great Movie Ride to the left of Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd121.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> Ugly.  It’s completely uncovered in the blazing sun.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8am – 10:40am</li>
    <li>11:30am – 7:30pm</li>
    <li>Mickey/Minnie meet together and Donald/Goofy/R2MK meet together</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips</strong>: Another set of characters that you want to visit first or last if possible.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> 45 to 60 minutes because characters meet continuously.
    <h3><strong>Boba and Jango Fett</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd78.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Across from the entrance to Studio Backlot Tour.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd77.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line: </strong>The line is uncovered and wraps around the bank building off to their right.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8:30am – 10:20am with intermittent breaks</li>
    <li>12:15pm – 7:45pm with intermittent breaks</li>
    <li>Boba and Jango meet separately so one character is out at a time</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> An arrival at 12pm is best and you’ll meet Boba, who is more popular.

    <strong>Waits</strong>: 30 to 45 minutes.  Possibly longer if you have to wait through a break.
    <h3><strong>Darth Maul</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd51.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Maul meets to the right of the entrance to the Studio Backlot Tour

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd50.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line: </strong>Maul’s line will start out in front of him.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd75.jpg” alt=”" />

    Later in the day, the line winds around behind him.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8am – 11:45am on the hour with 30 minute breaks in between</li>
    <li>1pm – 1:50pm</li>
    <li>2:45pm – 3:15pm</li>
    <li>4:30pm – 5pm</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> Line up around 4:15pm for a short wait.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> Unless you meet him first thing in the morning, waits will be 30 to 60 minutes from 8:30am – 11:45am.  It’s best to meet during one of the afternoon sets.
    <h3><strong>Chip &amp; Dale</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd66.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Across from Chewbacca near Star Tours.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd67.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> The line wraps around behind them along the Streets of America.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>9am – 10am</li>
    <li>12:15pm – 12:35pm</li>
    <li>1:30pm – 2pm</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> Chip and Dale greet only during three specific times.  Because they’re new this year, waits tend to be short.  Plan to arrive at 8:50am, 12pm, or 1:15pm.  Because they only meet for a short time <strong>in the afternoon, the line is cut off quickly.</strong>

    <strong>Waits:</strong> Typically 15 minutes.
    <h3><strong>C3PO, R2D2, Luke, Leia</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/poihasdsbssad31.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> The good guys meet inside Darth’s Mall, which is located behind Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.

    <strong>Line:</strong> Depending on the length of the line, it will be inside Darth’s Mall or potentially spill outside to the outdoor queue.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8:30am – 7pm with intermittent breaks.  Luke begins meeting at 8:30am.  R2D2 and C3PO meet together beginning at 9:15am and Leia arrives at 12pm.</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> The characters are best met in the afternoon or evening, ideally after 5pm.  The building is nicely air-conditioned and Darth’s Mall is less busy in the afternoon after the majority of the merchandise collectors move through.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> Generally 15 to 30 minutes.
    <h3><strong>Queen Amidala</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd99.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Queen Amidala meets to the left of the old Sounds Dangerous building.  You’ll see her on the right before arriving at Star Tours.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd100.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> Wraps around the old Sounds Dangerous building in front of her.

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>9:15am – 10:30am</li>
    <li>11:20am – 12:30pm</li>
    <li>1:15pm – 3pm</li>
    <li>4pm – 4:30pm</li>
    <li>5:20pm – 7:10pm</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips: </strong>She’s best met in the afternoon or evening.  Plan to get in line about ten minutes before she’s scheduled to reappear after a break.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> 15 to 20 minutes
    <h3><strong>Anakin, Kit Fisto, Shaak Ti, Mace Windu</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd71.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Streets of America.  The entrance to Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show is to the left.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd70.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> The line wraps around to the right of the meet and greet.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/poihasdsbssad181.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports/ig211.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd206.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>9am – 7pm</li>
    <li>One or potentially two characters meet mostly continuously throughout the day</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> The characters are best met at your leisure, sometime after the priorities.  Get in line around 11am, 1:45pm, or 4:30pm.  Try to avoid 12:30pm – 1pm, 3:15pm – 4pm, and 6pm – 6:30pm because crowds from nearby Lights, Motors, Action increase waits.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> Usually 15 minutes.
    <h3><strong>Ahsoka Tano, Asajj Ventress, Captain Rex, Commander Cody</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd209.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location: </strong>Streets of America in between the Premier Theater and Phineas and Ferb Meet and Greet.  The Cars Meet and Greet is on the left.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/poihasdsbssad175.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> The usually short line winds around whatever character is currently appearing.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports4/poihasdsbssad179.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>9:30am – 6:45pm mostly continuously.  Ahsoka Tano first appears at 12:10pm and Asajj Ventress appears first at 12:40pm.</li>
    </ul>
    <strong>Tips:</strong> The characters here are best met in the afternoon or early evening after the priorities.

    <strong>Waits:</strong> Typically 10 to 15 minutes, if that.
    <h3><strong>Aurra Sing, Gamorrean Guard, Greedo, Stormtroopers, Tusken Raiders, Zam Wessel</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd197.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Location:</strong> Backlot area outside of Pixar Place on the Studio Backlot Tour side.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd198.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Line:</strong> None.  These casual meet and greets are simply first come, first served.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd114.jpg” alt=”" />

    ANDY’S COMING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports/ig179.jpg” alt=”" />

    <strong>Meet Times:</strong>
    <ul>
    <li>8:30am – 7:30pm</li>
    <li>Stormtroopers appear beginning at 8:30am.  Gamorrean Guards appear at 11:30am.  Zam Wessel and Aurra Sing appear first at 12:20pm.  Tusken Raiders begin appearing at 2:20pm.  Greedo appears only from 6:20pm – 6:40pm and 7:20pm – 7:40pm.</li>
    </ul>
    <h3><strong>Jawas, Cantina Band, Clone Troopers, etc.</strong></h3>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd107.jpg” alt=”" />

    More characters appear in the Streets of America near the Jedi Council Meet and Greet.  The Jawas may attempt to trade you for something.
    <h2><strong>Darth’s Mall and Star Wars Weekends Merchandise</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd09.jpg” alt=”" />

    Located behind Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Darth’s Mall is shopping central at Star Wars Weekends.  On the first day, there is typically a 5+ hour wait to get inside due to Disney offering artificially limited merchandise to the eBay resellers.  Waits are much shorter to nonexistent after the first two days.  Here’s the merchandise you can easily find throughout the event:

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd13.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd14.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd15.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd16.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd17.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd18.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd19.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd20.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd21.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd22.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd23.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd24.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd25.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd26.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd27.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd28.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd29.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd30.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd31.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd32.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd33.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd34.jpg” alt=”" />
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd35.jpg” alt=”" />

    Star Wars Weekends merchandise is only available on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday that comprise one of the Weekends.  Remaining merchandise that’s dated is discounted on the last Weekend.
    <h2><strong>Other Star Wars Touches</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd191.jpg” alt=”" />

    Disney offers two Star Wars drinks for the event.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd192.jpg” alt=”" />

    They’re available all over, including temporary bars outside Animation Courtyard, Sci-Fi Dine-in, 50′s Prime Time Cafe, and Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd239.jpg” alt=”" />

    I recommend picking up your drinks from Studio Catering Company High Octane Refreshments across from the entrance to Studio Backlot Tour.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd233.jpg” alt=”" />

    Otherwise, your booze has been sitting out in the 90 degree heat for who knows how long.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd112.jpg” alt=”" />

    A $9.75 “The Force” with Wildberry Lemonade, Grey Goose, and Chambord – tres refreshing.  The dropper comes with a taste of the other beverage.  In this case, “Dark Side” is much sweeter and a little lighter on the alcohol.  The drink was tasty, but at $12 with tax and tip, on the expensive side for what you receive.  But you can say that about every drink on Disney property.  I recommend The Force if you’re in the market.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd113.jpg” alt=”" />

    The temporary bars and High Octane also serve other drinks, beer, wine, and can concoct something to your specifications.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd234.jpg” alt=”" />

    Last year’s Vader Cupcake returns to Pizza Planet, Backlot Express, ABC Commissary, Studio Catering Company, Sunset Ranch Market, and Darth’s Mall.  Better, you can get them as a dessert on the Dining Plan.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd44.jpg” alt=”" />

    An additional face painting station is added near the Chip &amp; Dale meet and greet with additional Star-Wars-inspired styles.  It costs around $15.
    <h2><strong>Crowds and Attraction Wait Times</strong></h2>
    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd130.jpg” alt=”" />

    Studios’ crowds are among the largest of the year on Star Wars Weekend dates.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd123.jpg” alt=”" />

    This not only affects wait times, but every other line as well.  This is the line for ABC Commissary for lunch, which spills out the door and into Commissary Lane.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd104.jpg” alt=”" />

    This is an extended queue for Pizza Planet.  You can’t even enter through the normal entrance.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd196.jpg” alt=”" />

    Wait times are also significantly higher than recommended days.  This is a two hour wait for Toy Story Mania.  Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror also hit triple digit waits throughout the day.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd118.jpg” alt=”" />

    That’s a 30 minute wait for Voyage of the Little Mermaid, an attraction that you can usually walk right into.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd237.jpg” alt=”" />

    With its healthy capacity and plentiful FASTPASS opportunities, Star Tours remains a low priority, even with the Star Wars contingent in full force.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd07.jpg” alt=”" />

    With that said, you can do very well on the rides with the 7:30am open.  Waits will be short at the major attractions through about 10am, with the exception of Toy Story Mania, which should hit 45 minutes by 9am.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd08.jpg” alt=”" />

    Keep in mind that Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and other attractions most likely won’t begin operating until 8am.  Toy Story should be operating at Park open.

    <img src=”http://www.easywdw.com/reports8/glpoasasd105.jpg” alt=”" />

    The regular characters also tend to have shorter waits.  The characters that ordinarily meet at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat in the morning appear inside the Animation Building from 8:30am – 1pm and 2:10pm – 3:30pm.  Characterpalooza is not scheduled on Weekend dates.
    <h2><strong>In Closing</strong></h2>
    Visiting the Studios for Star Wars Weekends can be a significant hassle.  Add the crowds, heat, humidity, and too few Star Wars activities and you have a recipe for a frustrating experience.  I wish Disney would do more for Star Wars Weekends.  People may be paying $90+ per person on admission, only to find 90 minute waits for the most popular characters and only a couple special shows and events.  The Parade requires a 90 minute wait unless you want to be three+ rows back.  Thousands of people are completely shut out every day or so far back that they only get a glimpse of Chewbacca’s head.  People line up 4+ hours early for Hyperspace Hoopla.  For whatever reason, Disney sticks Chewbacca out in the smoldering heat where he can only stay out for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.  And they only have one, so you’re waiting 30 minutes in between those sets while Chewie takes a well deserved break.  Disney doesn’t use the Animation Building, Sounds Dangerous Building, or any other indoor, air-conditioned space.  They don’t schedule the Hoopla four times a day and stick it in the comfortable, air-conditioned American Idol Experience building.  They don’t do special Star Wars shows in lieu of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Lights, Motors, Action, Beauty and the Beast, or anything else.

    Now that Disney owns Star Wars and loves hyping the new trilogy, we can hope that better things are on the horizon next year.

    { 66 comments… read them below or add one }

    Hoosll May 20, 2014 at 6:30 am

    And Disney is building Avatar land instead of Star Wars land – WHY!?! – This all looks like great fun and would definitely be a wonderful permanent addition now that Disney has the rights.

    Kelsey May 20, 2014 at 6:32 am

    DH and I were there Friday morning (the 17th). I was really dreading it after reading this post from last year, but it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. BUT – we didn’t wait for the character greets or anything like that. DH wanted pics of the decor (we stopped by DHS Thursday evening and he took photos of all of the backdrops that were up) and he wanted to go to Darth’s Mall. We were actually able to get through the Mall in 40 minutes. We skipped the meet and greet and the collectibles lines inside, though. We also had lunch ressies at Prime Time (we missed getting the character meals – DH was disappointed about that), and we left about 4:00.

    wongck May 20, 2014 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for the detailed photos of the event.
    I always wondered what it is like and hope for a chance to attend…. ;-)

    Psac May 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Agree with Hoosll, Disney is wasting a huge opportunity by not building a Star Wars land. It would take an incredible capital outlay, but they should look over at HP-land and see what a game changer that has been. Avatar-land will not be that game changer.

    Lisa marie May 20, 2014 at 8:02 am

    On the first friday (15th) people were reporting there was a seperate line for darth mall merchandise that was let in before standby people for the park. Is this still continuing?

    Pete May 20, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Andy’s coming!!!!!

    Jennifer May 20, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Is Darth’s Mall only open on the weekends?

    Joy May 20, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Looks like Star Wars weekends are not for the faint of heart.

    Rachelle May 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    This does not look even remotely fun. So stressful!

    Christine May 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Since I never plan on attending this, I appreciate the detailed review.

    Shannon May 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I guess Disney execs don’t read your site, Josh. I see someone else already said it, but I wish they would explain to me why they are wasting time and money on Avatarland, when they could be building an entire park around Star Wars. I AM a rabid fan and would love to meet at 75% of these characters and see the shows. It’s only going to get bigger after the new films start, which is the earliest I plan on doing these.

    I’d love for them to hold a Avatar weekend and see how crowds compare, lol.

    Kay May 22, 2014 at 10:09 am

    We will be there June 6th (Friday) and June 8th(Sunday). On the 6th we have both reservations for the character dinning meet up thing lol, so i believe that will cut our waiting time for characters by more than half and no need to wait under the hot sun :) . Also, I think Mark Hamil will not be signing autographs which is a bummer would love to meet him. This will be our first time of Starwars Weekend and I am super excited and nervous, coz i am a person born with no patience, so i think im gonna give this my all. I do hope merch will still be available when we come. Thank you so much for all the tips! :)

    TriSeb May 24, 2014 at 6:17 am

    I thought for a second that somebody else posted using my screen name until I realized you refreshed a previous post and they are my own comments from last year, duh! As always, thank you for the updates… Things are heating up!

    Rebel Alliance May 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    This is a great review. Thanks for the tips. Especially the Premiere Theater shows as we likely would have skipped these otherwise. We agree the Stars of the Saga pre-show with the Stormtroopers should not be missed, it was great! We also loved the ObiWan and Beyond show as well. We thoroughly enjoyed our Star Wars weekend. If you are a Star Wars fan, I wouldn’t worry about the crowds, because the whole experience far outweighs the hassle, just follow this guide and have a plan!

    laribrook May 29, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Great review. When my kids are a tiny bit older, i think they would love SWW. Especially the Star Wars character meals! Now, that should be a year round thing. There are almost no meals for boys! They would ADORE That and i would probably shell out for it too.

    star wars mom June 5, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Thank you such a thorough review and all of the great information. definitely makes planning for our upcoming star wars weekend easier.

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