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Star Wars : The Force Awakens at The Walt Disney World Resort

Welcome back to UNIGLOBE Ohio Valley Travel’s Disney Blog, part of the Magical Concierge Services! I am comfortably settling into this newly created role, already helping clients with their Walt Disney World Resort® vacations catered to their individual desires. I look forward to helping you with your own Magical vacation.

I just returned from my own trip to the Walt Disney World Resort® and since it is now EVERYWHERE, I wanted to devote this second blog entry to talk about Star Wars!

In October 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise. With the recent release of motion picture Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, new movies expected every two to three years, AND a whole new generation of fans, you can bank on the staying power of Star Wars at Disney Parks. Its presence is everywhere from the moment you arrive on Walt Disney World® property. You will see advertisements in the complimentary bus transportation and nearly every gift shop has some form of Star Wars merchandise: t-shirts with C3PO and R2-D2 wearing mouse ears, Darth Vader riding Dumbo, and Wookiee hoodies are everywhere, to name just a few! You will notice Star Wars in all four parks at the Walt Disney World Resort®; yet, one park in particular has become the hub of all things Star Wars.

The perfect location for such an iconic movie franchise, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has amped up the Force in many areas of the park, as it develops a new Star Wars Land, slated to begin construction this year. Already open is the Star Wars Launch Bay. Located in the former Animation Pavilion, your first stop is the Launch Bay Theater featuring a 10 minute behind-the-scenes movie that includes exclusive interviews with Star Wars writers, directors and producers. (You can bypass the movie and head on into the main event if you wish.) The Launch Bay houses highly themed character encounter areas featuring Chewbacca and Darth Vader - both of whom talk in their native language and familiar voice. Wait times were a reasonable 10 - 30 minutes. Also located here are movie memorabilia, a section resembling the Mos Eisley Cantina complete with blue beverages and a holochess table great for

taking photos, and even a chance to occasionally meet Jawa! A gift shop located within has customizable and personalized magic bands for purchase, along with light sabers, detailed costumes and helmets, remote control BB-8 droids, and so much more.

Also within the Launch Bay is a game center where guests can try out current and upcoming video games, including new Disney Infinity 3.0 content created exclusively for this location. Another new merchandise haven inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Watto’s Grotto. Apparel, light sabers, and other unique items can be purchased here. It is worth venturing in just to enjoy the theming, which includes a wall sized Sandcrawler. And just outside you can see a T-47 Airspeeder as seen in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. At yet another vending cart, you can create your own bracelet featuring Star Wars characters and your name in English or Aurabesh!

Special Star Wars themed souvenirs can be found at many of the counter service dining locations and snack carts. These include a BB-8 sipper cup, Boba Fett or Chewbacca Stein, Tie Fighter or Dark Vader popcorn buckets and a Han Solo in Carbonite container bucket. In addition, they also have specialty cupcakes and rice crispy treats of the Star Wars character variety. It is an exciting time for collectors of Star Wars merchandise and fans of the movies!

As for attractions, the already fan favorite Star Tours, which has been around in some form since 1989, has once again been updated to include an exciting initial sequence from The Force Awakens. Featuring both Finn and BB-8, this fantastic addition will be the first scene for all tours for the next several months. After that time period, it will be randomized with the other many exhilarating storyline options. The giant AT-AT outside of this attraction is ever present, with a mountable speeder bike just across the way. Both great photo opportunities!

Also updated, the Jedi Training Academy has now become Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. Located right next to Star Tours, children ages 4 - 12 may sign up for Jedi training and face off against Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister (villain from Star Wars Rebels). Please note: You must arrive at the park very early to sign up for a spot to participate in Jedi training as they fill up quickly. They will give you a return time for your child’s training. This is an outdoor stage show viewable by any Disney’s Hollywood Studio guest where the children are the stars. Shy children may not enjoy this opportunity, but the vast majority of Star Wars fans will love it!

Amidst all these compelling inclusions, my absolute favorite addition is the Symphony in the Stars: a Galactic Spectacular, an epic fireworks show set to iconic music from the Star Wars movies. As a fan of any fireworks, this has quickly become my absolute favorite display ever! Masterfully timed and

creative usage of fireworks lends to a visually dynamic experience for any Star Wars fan. For an additional fee, now through March 19th you may watch from a special viewing area while also enjoying a selection of desserts and specialty drinks. It is hard to predict how long this daily fireworks display will continue, but I do hope they extend this amazing viewing opportunity.

Whether you grew up watching the movies as they were initially released, just started watching yesterday, or if you are even remotely interested in Star Wars, you will absolutely enjoy all that Disney’s Hollywood Studios now has to offer! So book your Magical vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort® to begin experience all things Star Wars!

As always, a reminder that booking a Walt Disney World Resort® vacation though UNIGLOBE Ohio Valley Travel is FREE for you and there is no additional cost or hidden fees to use our services. Give us a call (304-232-5171 or 800-825-7314) and let us help plan YOUR Magical Disney vacation.

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