Saturday, September 24, 2011

May 2011 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 - 5/22 - Star Wars Weekend

About a year before our trip, DD started getting into StarWars. I don’t remember how it started, but over that period of time we watchedthe original trilogy together, she watched most of the first season of Clone Wars,as well as the Clone Wars movie, and I found some old Star Wars toys on ebaythat she enjoyed playing with. Santa even brought her a lightsaber and someStar Wars books.

When I told her that Star Wars Weekends would be happeningwhen we were at Walt Disney World, she had no idea what I was talking about.After I explained what Star Wars Weekends were, she got crazy excited.  If you’re unfamiliar, here’s a fantastic sitethat will have all the details:

In preparation for our trip, we made a couple of StarWars-themed shirts for DD.

And so, appropriately dressed, we made our way to Disney’sHollywood Studios. We got there about 7:15, 45 minutes before parks werescheduled to open, anticipating huge lines. Not only was this the openingweekend for SWW, it was the opening weekend for the refurbished Star Toursride.

We were confused when they let us through the turnstiles –apparently they had made the decision to open the park early. DW took DD intothe long line for Jedi Training Academysign ups, while I got Fast Passes for Star Tours. Because of the especiallylarge demand for JTA during SWW, they do signups in the Indiana Jones theater,and run JTAs about every 30 minutes, using the normal stage, where participantsbattle Darth Vader, as well as the space in front of the stage, whereparticipants battle either Darth Maul or Ventress.

DD was really excited to do JTA, but as we got closer to thefront of the sign up line, she started to explain that she only wanted to do itif she could fight Darth Vader. She said Darth Maul would be too hard to defeatbecause he has a double-sided light saber. We explained that there wasn’t anyway to guarantee who she’d fight, and that if she didn’t want to do it, shedidn’t have to. And that even if she changed her mind at the last second anddidn’t want to do it, it would be OK and we wouldn’t be upset.

So with that anxiety behind us, we headed over to the newStar Tours. The standby line was posted as only 5 minutes long, so we got righton, and when we were done, we rode it a second time. They did a fantastic jobwith it. Not only are the effects and sound better than ever, they have arandomized experience. Each ride, there are three separate segments, separatedby two mini segments. When you calculate all of the possible combinations,there are 54 unique rides you can experience.

The loading area isbasically the same as the old one.

After a couple ofrides on Star Tours,it was time to line up for one of the most popular characters, Chewbacca. He’sDD’s favorite Star Wars character as well. We explained that we’d be waiting30-45 minutes to see him, and she said she was OK with that.

After getting inline, I noticed this banner across the sidewalk with Ahsoka and Anakin, so wegrabbed a quick picture. 30-seconds down, 29 minutes and 30 seconds to go…

The line didn’t move fast, but it was moving prettyconsistently, so soon it was our turn, and we got a family picture with Chewie.

After that we went in search of other characters. Mostappear at a specific place listed on a schedule, while others roamed thestreets.

Anakin spent a lot of time chatting…

 Here is what DD thinks an “action figure pose” looks like.Reminds me of the Karate Kid…

DW made the mistake of calling this guy a Storm Trooper.“Moooooom, he’s a CLONE Trooper. Sheesh!”

You can trade with the Jawas. Offer them somethingworthless, like a bottlecap, and they’ll trade you something else useless, likea paperclip. Don’t bother trading anything good, like a pin, because they don’thave anything good to trade.  Pootinee!

After that it was time to queue up for JTA. They asked us togather near the “Sounds Dangerous” stage at 10:15. While we were waiting, DDexpressed her fear about facing Darth Maul again. And we told her once morethat if she didn’t want to do it, she could back out at any time and it would be OK. It was clearly concerning her agreat deal.

Once we were all assembled, they lined the kids up andmarched them across the sidewalk to the JTA Stage. Once we got there, theyexplained that one parent could watch from the front of the stage, and anothercould watch from the side of the stage. I got the closest spot at the front ofthe stage area. I asked one of the CMs if there was any way to get DD into theDarth Vader group, and she said it’s all random.

As luck would have it, she ended up in the Darth Maul group.She realized this well before he ever came out, because we told her that Vaderwas up top, and it would be either Darth Maul or Ventress if you were in frontof the stage.

As the training started, DW and I exchanged concerned looksacross the large group of people that had gathered to watch. DD didn’t show anysigns of wanting to bolt, so we crossed our fingers and watched to see whathappened.

First the kids are instructed on the ways of the Jedi, andhow to use their lightsaber. It’s possible that there have been less enthusedJedi trainees, but I’m not positive about that.

Finally, Darths Vader and Maul came out, and still DD seemedto be holding it together quite well. There were 15 kids in her group, and shegot to see about 10 of them go before her. When it was her turn, she steppedright up, performed the moves she was taught, and fought off Darth Maul.

 After JTA it was about 11am. Since we had arrived so early,we were hungry, so we grabbed lunch at Backlot Express next door. We were aboutthe only people in there, so we got seats where we could see the JTA stage. Thenext show started almost right away, and this time it was Ventress who foughtthe kids down below.

We had to hurry through lunch a little bit because the 12:00parade would be starting soon, and it is extremely popular. Lucky for us, afriend we had made through an online Disney forum had offered to save somespaces on the curb for us. Thanks Brenda!

The curb had been in the shade when we got there, but it gotprogressively sunnier. Stupid Earth!

DD cheered loudest for her favorites, Chewie…

…and Ahsoka.

It was so hot during the parade that we decided to go backto the hotel to rest and cool off before returning to the park for Dinner at50’s Prime Time Café and the Hyperspace Hoopla show.

We really like 50’s PT Café. The food is great, the PB&Jmilkshakes are awesome, and the antics can be pretty funny.  It looks like Grandma’s house! Don’t worry,it doesn’t smell like Grandma.

After dinner we walked around a bit to see what characterswe could find. This cut out was kind of funny. Kind of short for a StormTrooper…

 Captain Rex, from Clone Wars, did a great job of posing eachkid in a different pose, before taking the picture. 
Mace Windu was heading backstage but was kind enough to stopfor another picture.

We headed out to the main stage, in front of the Sorcerer’sHat, where Hyperspace Hoopla would be held. It’s basically a 45 minute danceoff between the different groups of characters. There’s the Rebels, the Empire,the Bounty Hunters, the Ladies usually get a song of their own, and Chewie andDarth Vader each rock out separately.

It was hard for DD to see, so she spent most of the timesliding down my back…

Hyperspace Hoopla was a blast. It’s a little surprising tome that an officially licensed event like SWW is allowed to use the characterslike this. But it’s well worth the waiting and the crowds.

After the show ended, we made our way back to Animal KingdomLodge. I got this picture of the lobby all lit up at night.

Coming up next, a late morning and mushrooms, mushrooms,mushrooms.

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