Ashley’s Answers: Disney Parks and Star Wars

December 28, 2016

This Week’s Ask Ashley Question

One of the questions this week came from Amber from Chicago, Illinois. Amber asked:

I love everything Disney and Star Wars related. I’m very excited for the new Star Wars-themed lands at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Can you tell me about some of the changes guests can explore prior to the opening of the lands?

Ashley’s Answers:  Disney Parks and Star Wars Experiences

Thank you so much for your question Amber! I love Star Wars too! In this post, I will highlight some of my favorite Star Wars experiences from the past and discuss some of the things we can experience intermittently to satisfy the need for a Star Wars fix before the lands debut in California and Florida and even before the next Star Wars film installment.

Star Wars Weekends – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

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2001 Star Wars Weekends Poster

One of the best Star Wars experiences of the past was Star Wars Weekends. In fact, May of 2017 would have marked the 20th Anniversary of the origination of the event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® (DHS). However, in November 2015, Disney discontinued the event as a result of the increased presence of Star Wars in the park and the preparation for the construction of the Star Wars-themed land. This event was included with park admission and occurred on four consecutive weekends from May to June each year. During this event, guests could experience:

  • Darth’s Mall – A large shopping center which showcased event and franchise merchandise divided among three sections:  X-Wing Collectibles, Watto’s Grotto, and the Prop Shop.
  • Jedi Training Academy – A live show at the Rebels stage that was based on the teachings and practices of the fictional Jedi Knights from the Star Wars films. The show depended on audience participation and had a strong focus on young guests. Each participant was given a lightsaber and a Jedi robe and was taught a routine set of sword fighting techniques.
  • Legends of the Force – A parade which featured the 501st Legion and Rebel Legion (a pair of worldwide Star Wars costuming groups) parading in Stormtrooper costumes, along with numerous other Star Wars characters. The parade also featured Mickey and Friends dressed as Star Wars characters and special guests of the event!
  • Obi-Wan & Beyond – A live 30-minute show that was hosted by James Arnold Taylor. Taylor demonstrated nearly 150 voices that he provided for famous Hollywood stars who aren’t available for projects as well as characters for television shows, animated films and video games.

2017 Star Wars Happenings- Walt Disney World and Disneyland

Stormtroopers from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" Coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios

Starting this month, guests at DHS will have even more to celebrate as their favorite Star Wars experiences are updated and new experiences begin in 2017. Some of the experiences include:

  • Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away: AWR (Advanced Weapons Research) Troopers from the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will debut during a new scene in the existing Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away daytime show. AWR Troopers will be encased in specialized Stormtrooper armor with a dark, ominous gleam.
  • Star Wars Launch Bay Theater:  For those guests who love Star Wars, stop by this screening room to view a 10-minute film, which celebrates the saga’s creation. There are no “show times” as it runs continuously throughout the day; expect exclusive interviews with directors, writers, producers and others responsible for the film series.
  • Star Wars Launch Bay: This location will feature new props from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Making-of footage can be seen in the attraction’s behind-the-scenes film, “Meet the Makers.” Similar updates can also be found at Star Wars Launch Bay in Disneyland® Park in California.
  • Star Wars:  Path of the Jedi:  This 10-minute film located near Commissary Lane retells the saga while hinting at what’s next. It compiles moments from the films to tell the tale of the fall and rise of the Jedi Order.
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue: Voyage changes were released in mid-December, now switching back to randomized beginnings (instead of starting each journey on the planet of Jakku) and final destinations. Expected are:  the Kashyyk, Hoth, and Tatooine sequences with hologram transmissions from Admiral Ackbar, Princess Leia, and Yoda. Guests can also expect to see Jakku and BB-8 mixed into the randomization.
  • Star Wars Guided Tour: Beginning in 2017, this seven-hour guided tour will be led by a Star Wars “all-in-the-know” tour guide. Guests will blast off on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, get an in-depth, insider’s tour around Launch Bay, and enjoy Star Wars-themed menu items at Backlot Express. Plus, guests ages 4-12 will have an opportunity to participate in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. The finale of this unforgettable day includes themed sweets and specialty beverages at Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, which also includes reserved viewing for the show.

Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story Exhibit

The Star Wars Launch Bay attractions at DHS and Disneyland (discussed above) were updated earlier this month to include displays showcasing props and costumes from Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story (which was released in theaters December 16, 2016). Included in the update is also a film that shows an in-depth look at the film and additional insight into the new Star Wars lands coming to each park.

Disneyland Paris

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From January 14-March 26 2017, the brand new nighttime spectacular “Star Wars:  A Galactic Celebration” will take place each night as the sun goes down. According to Disneyland Paris, guests are to “expect dozens of dazzling projections and an explosion of special effects”. It seems Star Wars is sweeping more than just a nation!

A Tribute to Carrie Fisher

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Always a strong and independent woman, Carrie Fisher portrayed Princess Leia in a similar fashion and tough-as-nails. Though she came from celebrity royalty, as the child of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she had even been quoted in Rolling Stone saying, “I was trained in celebrity, so I did the only thing I knew. I went into the family business.” She was truly a feminist icon.

She was a beloved light in any room she entered and a person who would lend advice, a shoulder, or an ear when needed. Through endless tributes and comments on the internet and through social media, the devastation of the loss of Fisher is universal.

“Carrie Fisher was one-of-a-kind, a true character who shared her talent and her truth with us all with her trademark wit and irreverence. Millions fell in love with her as the indomitable Princess Leia; she will always have a special place in the hearts of ‘Star Wars’ fans as well as all of us who were lucky enough to know her personally. She will be sorely missed, and we join millions of fans and friends around the world who mourn her loss today.”

~Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Walt Disney Co.

Through countless articles and videos, Fisher’s wit shines. As she told ABC’s David Muir, she was Leia and Leia was her. Anyone who admired Leia should always remember that she could do what she can do and what she can’t.

Fisher passed away on December 27, 2016. She was 60 years of age.

“I think that this would make for a fantastic obituary. I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

~Carrie Fisher

 

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