So all Star Wars fans should get pumped because Disney has huge plans to add a new Star Wars section to Hollywood Studios that looks incredible! They also are adding a Star Wars themed hotel! Sadly, though, it won't open until 2019. But, while we're all patiently waiting for these fantastic new additions, I thought that I'd count down my top seven favorite Star Wars themed attractions that are already in the parks.
I should start by pointing out that all of these are located in Hollywood Studios. So, if you're a Star Wars fan that only has time to see one park, Hollywood Studios is the one for you!
7. Tatooine Traders
This is the stop for all of the Star Wars merch that you could ever want! It's located at the end of Star Tours, because, of course, all rides must end at a gift shop!
And what a gift shop this is! They've got everything - clothing, action figures, LEGO sets, Star Wars Mickey Ears... they even have a backpack shaped like Yoda, so you can carry him around like Luke does during his Jedi training! I love it!
One thing that makes this stand apart from other stores in the parks is that at Tatooine Traders you can build your own souvenir! They have stations set up where you can design your own droid action figure or build your own lightsaber!
(These interactively designed souvenirs must be paying off for Disney, because they included them in their new Pandora park, where you can design an Avatar to look like you! Read more in my post about what you can't miss in Pandora)
6. The Path of the Jedi
This is a short 10 minute montage of clips from all the Star Wars films. It's nice and nostalgic, and it's narrated by Alec Guinness. I recommend going to it before hitting up all of the other Star Wars attractions in the parks because it will get you so excited to meet all the characters and tour the galaxy on Star Tours. I don't know about you, but just hearing the Star Wars score that get's me pumped!
5. March of the First Order Parade
Every hour between 10 and 4, Captain Phasma marches her Storm Troopers down Hollywood Boulevard while the Imperial March plays through the park speakers. They stop occasionally along the way to interact with onlookers, and recruit them into the first order!
Phasma also makes a stop to deliver a speech from the Main Stage in front of the Chinese Theater. The whole thing is extremely intimidating, but it's also kind of funny to see both kids and adults jump out of their way! Definitely try to see this "parade"... it's honestly kind of hard to miss it, since it happens every hour!
4. Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
What's the only thing that can make the Star Wars score more dramatic? Fireworks!
In this new nighttime show, scenes from every Star Wars film are projected onto the Chinese Theater and paired with lasers and fireworks to create a beautiful spectacle!
It's truly incredible to look up and see a full size imperial walker projected above you, or to see Luke hold his lightsaber up and a laser emerge, stretching infinitely towards the sky! It gives me goosebumps! And, as is the case with most of the Disney World shows, video recordings just don't do it justice... if you're a Star Wars fan, you need to get to Hollywood Studios and see it for yourself!
3. Jedi Training Academy
This is probably the attraction that I'm saddest that I can't participate in, since it's only for kids ages 4-12. But, it's still an incredible experience if you have younglings! If you manage to get them signed up for the training program early in the day, they'll be given Jedi robes, a lightsaber, and taught several martial arts moves.
Then, the main event - Darth Vader appears and the young padawans, with the aid of their Jedi Master Cast Members, have to use the force to defeat Vader and his Storm Troopers.
It's an adorable sight to see twenty tiny kids fight off a six foot villain! And honestly, I don't know how the kids keep it together, because if I came face to face with Vader at their age I would freak out and run the other way!
2. Star Tours
This was the first collaboration between George Lucas and Disney, and it was created back in 1987 - long before Disney bought the Star Wars franchise. It's always been one of my favorite rides, and until the Star Wars expansion comes in 2019, I think that it is still one of the best Star Wars attractions in the parks.
In this simulated ride, you are taken on a "tour" of the galaxy with C-3PO as your guide. But, of course, things inevitably go wrong and you're thrown off course, prompting some very British worrying from 3PO. The best thing about this ride is that, while the simulation is created through a 3-D video, C-3PO is an actual animatronic that rides along with you in your car. This mix of digital and physical media really brings the simulation to life! It's truly an incredibly immersive experience, especially when you consider that it was created thirty years ago!
One of my favorite things about Star Tours, though, came in 2015, when Disney updated the ride to include references to "The Force Awakens." Not only do you now get to see Rey, Finn, Po, Kylo Ren, and BB-8, but the ride's storyline now changes every time you ride it. It's incredible! When we were there, we only got to ride it twice, but the first time, we ended up on Endor, and the other time on Hoth! I could've honestly ridden it twenty more times to see all the different storylines!
Also, pro-tip: They always flash a photo on the screen at the beginning of the ride of one of the guests, and they call them a "rebel spy" that C-3PO has to get to safety, so if you want to be picked as the spy, immediately sit down once you board the ride and look directly at the screen so that the cast members have a chance to snap your photo. Sometimes making a funny face helps too!
1. The Star Wars Launch Bay
This is by far my favorite place to stop by because it totally immerses you in the Star Wars universe... well the 2019 expansion probably will even more, but this is the next best thing!
The launch bay is a series of gallery spaces the hold all sorts of Star Wars props, costumes and memorabilia. They have a collection of every famous lightsaber from Luke's and Vader's to Mace Windu's! My favorite exhibit had Rey's costume and her speeder.
Scattered in among these exhibits are spaces to meet various Star Wars characters. Currently they have BB-8, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren. All are super interactive character experiences, but I have to say Chewbacca was my favorite! Plus, as you can see in the photos below, I was wearing my Star Wars shirt, and my Chewbacca Mickey Ears, so as soon as we saw Chewy, he wrapped me up in a hug and asked to take a selfie with me!
While these three main characters keep to their designated meeting spots, there are also Storm Troopers and Jawas wandering around and interacting with people throughout the galleries. While we were there, the Storm Troopers "captured" us and held us hostage until we converted to the dark side!
Overall, the Launch Bay is the current Mecca for Star Wars fans, but I have a feeling that, come 2019, it'll easily get overshadowed by the new expansion. Still, everything that they're planning for 2019 looks so cool, that I don't think anyone has a problem with that!
So what do you think? Are you as excited for the Star Wars expansion as I am? What other Star Wars experiences do you love in the parks? Let me know in the comments below!
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