Starting May 16, 2014, and running through June 15, Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, will transform on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays into the vacation destination for Star Wars fans. For Teresa Delgado and me, Star Wars Weekends is one of our favorite events. When we started counting how many times we had attended, the combined total was somewhere near the number of variations you can experience on the Star Tours ride. Star Wars Weekends has so much going on that it really can be what you make of it, from walking around and enjoying the ambiance of thousands of fellow fans to interacting with VIPs one-on-one. During our latest podcast episode of Fangirls Going Rogue, Teresa and I offered our tips and advice for making the most out of Star Wars Weekends. Here are some of our key ones:
1) Arrive Early
Tricia: By “early” we mean “before the park opens.” The opening ceremonies have always been a highlight of Star Wars Weekends. In previous years, Stormtroopers have welcomed visitors who gather at the gates. You then have the added benefits that lines for some of the most popular rides are relatively short first thing in the morning and the temperatures are comfortable.
Teresa: If you’re a person who likes to meet the celebrities and take pictures with them, then getting to the park early is key. The lines for some of the celebrity FastPass tickets, which are required for the autograph sessions, are long by 5:00 a.m.
2) Have a Plan
Teresa: In my experience, having a plan makes a visit to Disney World much more enjoyable. My suggestion is to start with dining reservations. Once you have your meals settled, you can plan your days around them. Another new aspect to Disney World is FastPass+, which allows reservations to be made in advance for three FastPasses per day. Outside of these plans, look over what is offered at Star Wars Weekends and make a list of priorities for yourself. This will help you figure out where you need to be at what time.
Tricia: When all is said and done, sometimes the best laid plans take unexpected turns. Be ready and willing to channel your inner Han Solo and improvise.
3) Use the Force
Tricia: If you have younglings, the Jedi Training Academy is a fun way for them to experience Star Wars, but you will need to arrive at the park early to ensure a slot; even the late afternoon and evening sessions are fully signed up in the morning. If no younglings you have, then observe like Yoda you must. Truly wonderful, the minds and hearts of children are.
Teresa: I enjoy the Padawan Mind Challenge, which will be hosted by Ashley Eckstein this year. I love watching little kids answer Star Wars trivia because they have the best answers. If you are resting for a minute, do it near the stage and let the fankids entertain you.
4) Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade
Teresa: The motorcade is one of the highlights for me. It includes a wide array of Star Wars VIPs and characters, as well as members of the 501st and Rebel Legions. The motorcade ends with a short show at the Sorcerer’s Hat stage. Front row positions start filling up about an hour beforehand.
Tricia: While Teresa snaps her photos of her favorite motorcade memories, I zip around the park and enjoy as many rides as possible. If you’re rebellious like me, just remember to plan your rides around the parade crowds.
5) Connect Through Social Media
Tricia: Star Wars Weekends offers a chance to meet many members of the fandom community. Twitter is one of the best ways to monitor fan happenings like meet-ups at Star Tours.
Teresa: I use Instagram to share pictures. Use the #SWW or #StarWarsWeekends hashtags and people will find you. I have met many of my Star Wars friends through social media while at Star Wars Weekends.
6) Chat It Up In Line
Teresa: Don’t be shy. Use the time you are in line for a show or waiting to ride Star Tours for the tenth time to make some new friends. You won’t regret it.
Tricia: The best part about Star Wars Weekends is that you have easy icebreakers available like “Love your shirt!” or “Wampas rules!” Let the geek conversations commence.
7) Ride Star Tours
Teresa: Star Tours is an amazing ride on its own, but during Star Wars Weekends it is a completely different experience. There is just something about the energy of the ride when it is full of fellow fans. Be prepared for cheers, yells, chants, and lots of fun.
Tricia: I love the amazing details in the Star Tours queuing area. My favorite is the silhouettes of characters that pass by in a viewscreen above the ramp up into the departure gates.
Teresa: Star Wars Weekends offers so much merchandise, from limited edition exclusives to T-shirts and toys. My favorites come from Her Universe. If you see something you like, buy it then because many items do sell out over the course of the weekends. Be sure to check out the personalized phone cases and name tags. Be prepared, though; you can spend hours in Darth’s Mall.
Tricia: I am fond of the personalized memorabilia, like the D-Tech Me merchandise. I am still trying to decide if I want to be an X-wing pilot or Princess Leia.
9) The Shows
Teresa: The shows are the highlight of Star Wars Weekends. Sometimes we even get exclusive sneak peeks. I highly suggest getting a FastPass+ for the shows you really would like to see. Line waits can be up to an hour for the popular shows.
Tricia: You never know what amazing backstories you will hear from the stars who have been part of the franchise. Every guest radiates their love for Star Wars. The Stormtrooper skit before the Stars of the Saga show is on my must-see list.
10) Stay Healthy
Teresa: Make sure you are first and foremost taking care of yourself so you can make the most of the weekend. Drink lots of water. Get a good night’s sleep and plan to go back to your hotel room for a nap if you can. Don’t forget about meals. Have fun, relax, and go with the flow. Remember even if your plans don’t go perfectly, you can still have a great time.
Tricia: One final thought: Wear sunscreen.
Teresa and I hope to see you there. We will be joining the Rebel Force Radio team on Friday, May 23. Many of our fellow Star Wars bloggers and podcasters will be attending that weekend, as well. For more detailed information, check out Fangirls Going Rogue this month, where we share more tips and advice to enjoying Star Wars Weekends.