It was a dark time in the Star Wars Universe.
Podracing existed, for no real reason.
Luke and Leia’s mom had a thing for young guys. Uncomfortably young guys.
The most powerful being in existence decided to create Jar-Jar Binks.
And that we needed to know that Darth Vader hates sand.
But help arrived from an unexpected source; the mighty Disney empire purchased Star Wars.
Then they began the long journey to right the ship of this franchise we know and love.
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since my first theater experience with the series. Return of the Jedi (original release, cause I really am that old) started a love affair for me that has spanned decades. It even influences even those around me. My kids all love it. Beth loves it. We’re just a Star Wars family. Thankfully, Disney was kind enough to buy the franchise, and breathe new life into it in all sorts of ways. Even if you’re not a fan of the newest entries to the filmverse, you can’t deny that Star Wars is in the middle of a golden age the likes of which we’ve never seen before. So if you want a bit more than just to wait for the next movie, there’s plenty to see at Disney World for Star Wars fans, so you can scratch your Star Wars itch any time you like. And of course, by Disney World, I mean Hollywood Studios.
Disney World for Star Wars Fans
Hollywood Studios at Disney World in Orlando, Florida is the premiere location for the Star Wars fan. There are rides, attractions, shopping, food, and even a museum! Plus, at the time of this writing, Star Wars land is currently under construction as an annex to this park, as well. Now, while each Disney Park has tons of great offerings for people of all ages, Hollywood Studios is where you can get your Star Wars fix. So for the superfans, this park day is your day.
Let’s jump right in with an attraction that has actually been with Disney much longer than the Star Wars license. You get to enter their revamped Star Tours ride under the threat of an At-At walker crashing through the trees of Endor. If you want to get a photo here, go first thing. There will be too many people in line later in the day.
Of course, Star Tours is a motion theater ride, but there is so much going on that you ‘ll need to ride it more than once just to take it all in. Make sure to wear a magic band and pay close attention while in line; a little bit of magic just might happen. The ride itself currently features locations from all over the Star Wars universe, so you’ll have good reason to ride it multiple times throughout your day. There are so many options that you get a different experience every time. We recommend jumping on early in the day, and booking a fastpass time a little later, so you can get at least a couple rides in. And keep an eye out for that Rebel spy!
After leaving, you’ll walk out through Tatooine Traders, a shop that features some of the greatest Star Wars merch you’ll find anywhere, including a certain Boba Fett Hoodie that I’ve been eyeing for awhile. Your kids (or you,) can purchase and build a droid and/or lightsaber here, that you then get to take home. Simply put; it’s the best store around for the Star Wars fan.
You’ve safely delivered the Rebel spy (or maybe you were the spy) to the Rebellion. Now it’s time for the younger ones in your group to learn all about the ways of the Force. That’s right, it’s Jedi training. You’ll need to sign them up ahead of time for this free event, and it’s known to fill up, so we recommend hitting signups first thing. You’ll find it on the way to Star Tours, so you can enter the park right as they open, sign up for Path of the Jedi, and then catch Star Tours before the lines get too long. Your young padawans will learn some basic lightsaber techniques, which will soon be put to the test when a Sith invades the training! The enemy encountered will vary, and there’s no telling for certain who you’re going to get, so I wouldn’t promise that they’ll get to fight Vader or anything. However, it’s a lot of fun for the kids, and they get a button proving that they made it through Jedi training.
Star Wars Launch Bay
The Launch Bay is a combination exhibit hall/character meet/shopping spot/movie theater where you can immerse yourself in all sorts of things Star Wars. They have a series of intricate and detailed displays of replicas, artwork, and even actual props from the movies! The lightsaber displays are my personal favorite. After you’ve had your fill looking around, you can go meet up with Chewbacca or Kylo Ren. BB-8 is also nearby, and should not be missed. You’ll know if you happen to come on a day that we are there, too, just listen for the sound of Bug squealing. That’s the easiest way to find BB-8. We haven’t made it to the theater yet, but it’s on the list for our next trip. The Launch Bay is a must-visit for kids and adults alike. Also, you can purchase some really expensive but totally worth it merchandise on your way out.
Throughout the day, there are a variety of shows and live events. While these do tend to change seasonally, the First Order will stage parade marches throughout the day. Additionally, you’ll need to watch out for pairs of stormtroopers patrolling through the park. Keep your droids hidden! Finally, make sure to stick around for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks at the end of the day. Hollywood Studios does rotate their fireworks show, so make sure to get out there for this one.
There are Star Wars themed photo spots scattered throughout the park as well. My personal favorite is the speeder bike from Return of the Jedi; I think we get a picture of Bear riding that every time we go.
While there are plenty of places to eat Star Wars themed foodstuffs here, our personal favorite is the Backlot Express. Besides having amazing food, (and free drink refills!) you can watch the Jedi Training. Just make sure you come at the right time, and sit outside. I recommend the Royal Guard burger, although everything we got here was delicious. These cupcakes are out of this world, and if you got the dining plan, they only cost you one snack credit each!
Star Wars: Galaxy’s edge is the upcoming Star Wars themed land that will be built as an addition to Hollywood Studios. It’s projected to be complete in 2019, which cannot get here soon enough. There will be interactive events all over this area including a chance to explore and pilot (!) the Millennium Falcon. Your choices and experiences made while in this area will affect what happens to you during your stay, so make sure you have a Magic Band to get the most out of the park. There are some sneak previews available in Hollywood Studios right now, so if you go, make sure to check them out and then tell me how awesome they are.
Well, there you have it; there’s plenty to do at Disney World for Star Wars fans in this park. Plus, there’s even more to come, including an immersive resort themed after Star Wars that promises to keep the experience alive even after you leave the park. So if princesses aren’t totally your thing, make sure your family sets aside one day to spend soaking in all the Star Wars you can handle.
And may the Force be with you.