May the Force Be with You! by Jennifer Romano

Star Wars Weekends are now underway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if you want to enjoy all of the events that are offered, I have a few tips for you and your younglings. First, if you want to get signatures from the celebrities who are visiting for the weekend, it is vital that you arrive very early in the morning in order to get a fastpass. Some people actually sleep at the entrance to Hollywood Studios in order to snag a coveted autograph time. Each weekend plays host to a different group of Star Wars celebrities, but James Arnold Taylor of Clone Wars fame will be present for all five weekends as well as Ashley Eckstein. The fourth weekend is going to be extremely crowded because Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, will be visiting. As far as Disney has announced, he will not be signing autographs, but he will be present for the Stars of the Saga Talk Show and the Motorcade. Regardless, if you want to see Luke, you would do well to arrive very early for this weekend.

Arriving early does not only apply to getting signatures. If you want to see the talk show or any of the entertainment offerings, you must give yourself plenty of time to wait in line, and prepare for disappointment if you do not make it into the show that you want. I was at DHS for the first weekend, and the entire park was super crowded. So, if you are not interested in Star Wars, avoid DHS during the next few weekends. In addition to celebrity visitors, many characters from Star Wars populate DHS during Star Wars Weekends. If you are excited about meeting some of these fantastic characters, then consult the special edition Star Wars park map for DHS, which will give you information about when and where these characters will be meeting throughout the park. These are awesome character encounters because this is the only time during the year that you really have the opportunity to meet these characters. If you are traveling with a young padawan, then you need to make a visit to the Jedi Training Academy, where your younglings can learn the power of the Force. Again, if you want to participate in this experience, you should make it a priority when you enter the park in the morning. If getting into Jedi Training Academy is super important to your family, then you should go there immediately upon entering DHS. Remember that this experience is offered year round, not just during Star Wars Weekends, so you can still do this during the week.

It wouldn’t be Star Wars Weekends without fantastic limited edition merchandise! This year, Darth’s Mall has been relocated to Soundstage 1, which is right next to Toy Story Midway Mania. The line to enter this store can get quite lengthy, so it is important to spend your time wisely. If you have already seen the motorcade or the Talk Show, then you should head to the store while everyone else is lining up for those shows. Also, some of the merchandise will sell out, so if you see something that you want, buy it the first time you see it because it may not be available later in the day. Some of the most popular merchandise selections are the Star Wars nametags that are custom made while you wait. It usually takes about 15 minutes for the nametag to be made, so order it first, then walk around the rest of the store while you wait. In addition, the Darth Vader popcorn buckets are quite popular as are the Stormtrooper mugs.

Finally, to cap off your awesome day, you have to make an effort to attend the Symphony in the Stars fireworks that can be viewed from many locations on Hollywood Blvd. You might be tempted to stand right next to the stage near the Sorcerer’s Hat to view the fireworks, but don’t do it. You will be too close to see the fireworks. You should stand farther back down Hollywood Blvd for a better view. Now if your goal is to see the characters that appear on the stage right before the fireworks, then definitely stand close to the stage and come back another night for fireworks viewing.

I hope these tips aid you in visiting DHS during Star Wars Weekends, and I hope that the force is strong with you this summer! Until next time, have a magical day, and keep moving forward!

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