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Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios

By Mary Albright, PassPorter Guest Columnist and Walt Disney World fan

Can you quote from every Star Wars movie made? Are you a walking fountain of Star Wars knowledge? Then a visit to Star Wars Weekends at the Disney's Hollywood Studios might be right up your alley.

My entire family loves the Star Wars universe. When the dates were announced for this year's events and they happened to fall over my husband Bryan's birthday, I knew we'd be making a trip to Walt Disney World.

Our plan was to spend Saturday at Disney's Hollywood Studios taking in the Star Wars Weekend events. As Walt Disney World Resort guests, we had the privilege of Extra Magic Hour at Disney's Hollywood Studios that day, allowing us to enter the park one hour before the general public. As we walked toward the front gate, you could hear the Star Wars theme music being piped through the park. It got us even more excited! As we approached the front gate, off to the right side was the banner for this year's event with Yoda and Mickey back to back in Jedi robes, light sabers ablaze. So of course we had to stop there for a picture!

We entered the park and proceeded to head towards Star Tours, where the majority of the Star Wars events would be happening. As we were walking around the lake, we noticed the roped off areas for the Star Wars celebrities that would be there signing autographs this weekend. Bryan didn't have a clue what was going on and asked me about it. He found out Peter Mayhew (who portrays Chewbacca) was one of the celebrities and he says, "I want an autograph." Luckily, he was number 12 in line. The first 50 people got wristbands for the first autograph session at 12:00 noon. I stopped over at the table to sign up myself for the adult Star Wars Trivia contest and get a flier on the other activities for the day. The table was located across the walkway from the Sounds Dangerous Stage and backed up against the foliage near the Indiana Jones Stunts Spectacular.

While Bryan was waiting in line, our daughter, Caitlin, stayed with him, and I took our son, Stefan, to check out Tatooine Traders to check out the pins. There was the main Star Wars Weekends pin with Yoda and Mickey, along with different sets of pins released each of the weekends. Luckily for us, there were extras from past weekends so Stefan got a few more to fill his pin lanyard. My wallet got a lot lighter. We decided we'd ride Star Tours before joining up with Bryan and Caitlin. It was a walk-on and as enjoyable as ever.

We walked back to join Bryan and Caitlin and he'd just gotten his wristband. According to the schedule, at 9:30am, the first Obi Wanna Be session was going to be held at the stage just outside Star Tours. We were hoping that Stefan would get picked because he is just a Star Wars-loving boy who would so enjoy being a Padawan. Unfortunately, he wasn't picked at the 9:30 am session or the 10:15 am session. The poor kid was in tears, as he desperately wanted to be a Padawan Learner.

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As luck would have it, third time's the charm. After catching the tail end of the Star Wars parade, we headed back over to the stage for the 11:30 am session. The Star Wars music began to play, and up on stage came a figure in Jedi robes, his face obscured by the hood of his cloak. He walked slowly around the edge of the stage as if surveying the crowd, "sensing the force", if you will. He removed his robe and handed it to his assistant. He then drew a "light saber" and demonstrated what I will just describe as a sword dance. The crowd cheered and applauded. He introduced himself as Jedi Master Jonas and he asked, "Who here would like to learn the ways of the Jedi?" Immediately all the kids raised their hands in the air, waved and gyrated, hoping the Jedi Master would select them. Stefan was the third child chosen for this session and ran up on stage with another nine children. All the children were given Jedi robes to don and asked to stand in their positions on the stage to learn today's lesson with the training light saber. Jedi Master Jonas led the class several times through the lesson, which was, "Left Leg. Right Leg, Step Back and Duck, Left Leg, Right Shoulder, Left Shoulder, Cut to the Head." At each point, the students were to swing their light sabers at their imaginary opponent's features.

Then, Master Jonas stopped them." I feel a disturbance in the Force," he said. Suddenly, you could hear Darth Vader's theme music. Two storm troopers came on stage, each brandishing a blaster. Master Jonas and his assistant moved the class to one side of the stage just as Darth Vader mounted the steps. The Dark Lord of the Sith walked the edge of the stage, seeming to peer out at the crowd. He stopped right in front of Master Jonas. (Here I am paraphrasing as I can't remember his exact words.) "You won't find any apprentices here, Lord Vader. My Padawans will not serve the dark side of the Force." Darth Vader paced to the middle of the stage. Master Jonas turned to his class, (again, paraphrasing as I can't remember exact words - too excited!) "Padawans, now you must confront the dark side of the Force. You must face Darth Vader, performing the light saber lessons you have just learned today." Then each Padawan faced Darth Vader and ran through the light saber sequence against him, complete with light saber sound effects. When Stefan came up to face Darth Vader, I could hardly hold back my excitement. Had Stefan not had to keep to the designated moves, I am sure Darth Vader would have been shaking in his boots!

Once every Padawan had faced Darth Vader, Master Jonas said, "As you see, there is nothing for you here, Lord Vader. I suggest you leave." And he pointed off stage. Darth Vader swirled his cloak and stalked off stage. But those two storm troopers were still standing off to the side. Master Jonas gestured with his hand (a la Obi Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars), "Maybe you should leave." Then you heard a storm trooper voice, "Maybe we should leave." Then Master Jonas waved his hand, "Have a nice day." The storm trooper voice was heard again, "Have a nice day." The two storm troopers turned toward the stairs. One storm trooper placed his hand on the other's shoulder and said, "Did you just say 'Have a nice day'?" The other storm trooper stopped, pointed his finger at his chest and said, "Who? Me? No!" and he pushed the other storm trooper before they both finally went downstairs and off stage.

Master Jonas gathered his class together for some final words of advice and congratulated them on completing his class. Each child received a diploma and a goody-bag before leaving off stage.

This event was the highlight of our trip. There are many other activities to participate in during Star Wars Weekends. We have pictures of the many Star Wars characters that roam the parks including Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Sand People (aka Tuskan Raiders), Ewoks, Boba Fett and Zam Wesell, Shaak Ti and Kit Fisto (two of the Jedi Masters from Episode II), Clone Troopers, Queen Amidala and many others.

Star Wars Weekends are generally held on Friday-Saturday on select weekends in May and June. In 2008, the weekends are on June 6-8, June 13-15, June 20-22, and June 27-29. If you're interested in attending Star Wars Weekends in the future, here are some links you may find helpful:

Star Wars Weekends -

Our Star Tours Ride-A-Thon -

This article appeared in our July 3, 2003 newsletter and was last updated on February 14, 2008 -- subscribe to our popular newsletter today for free!

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Updated 02/14/08 

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