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Walt Disney World Photo Trip Report, May 2015 - Part 1: Star Wars Weekends
DisneyDan  Wednesday, June 10, 2015 11:15:22 AM
Hello everyone,

At the end of May we spent ten days at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where we attended (part of) the 24 hour event and two Star Wars Weekends. In this first part of my photo trip report, I'm going to cover the 24 hour event, the Four Seasons breakfast and Star War Weekends. The second part of this report will cover everything else.

This report is very photo-heavy, so be sure you have a good connection before clicking to continue.

Let's start on the big holiday weekend, and the start of the "Coolest Summer Ever", at the Magic Kingdom's 24 hour party.

Coolest Summer Ever

Sadly, that is the only photo I took during the entire event. We didn't arrive early enough for the welcome show, and there was actually nothing going on all day, until the night time. When night fell, so did the rain. The first Electrical Parade, which had a Frozen pre-parade, was cancelled, and the rain was so heavy that our group decided to leave. Of course, after we left, the rain stopped and the second electrical parade happened, but honestly, I don't feel we missed very much at all. The castle float has been in the Magic Kingdom for over thirty years, and we have seen the Frozen characters before, so it was no great loss. It's a shame that the event was such a flop. I really don't feel that Disney put any effort into it at all. If you're going to have an all night event, at least have something for people to do! We were very disappointed indeed.

The following morning, seeing as we didn't stay up all night long, we went to breakfast at the Four Seasons resort in the Golden Oaks community. The food was fairly decent. There were a lot of pastries, which was good since we are vegetarian. There are only three characters present here - Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. They do however wear really nice, unique outfits. The only problem is that the restaurant is really dark and not very good for character photos. Overall we had a good experience.

Breakfast at the Four Seasons

Breakfast at the Four Seasons

I'm not sure what Minnie was doing here. Practicing her golf swing perhaps?

Breakfast at the Four Seasons

After breakfast it was off to Disney's Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends! There is so much at Star Wars Weekends, and we were there for two weekends, so instead of jumping back and forth, I'm going to consolidate it all down into this section, covering both weekends.

Stormtroopers

Let's start with the Legends of the Force Motorcade. For those of you who have never seen the motorcade, it features Star Wars characters, Disney characters in Star Wars costumes, and celebrities from the Star Wars movies and TV shows, as well as the Florida garrison of the 501st Legion and Rebel Alliance (the 501st are a fan organisation). There is a short parade part, and then the characters and celebrities go onto the main event stage and there is a small welcome show, too (the motorcade happens at 11am).

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

Legends of the Force Motorcade

We were really happy to see the new Star Wars Rebels in the motorcade (we weren't able to attend Star Wars Weekends last year), but really wish they were out greeting. For some reason even though the TV show is really popular, and just finished its first season, the characters were only in the motorcade and a couple of other shows at Star Wars Weekends (which we'll discover shortly).

Moving on now to the main event stage, and throughout the day various entertainment offerings are presented here. There are two versions of the Padawan Mind Challenge with Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano), Stormtroopers, Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes (Cantina Band) and Boba Fett, as well as videos and music playing on the big screen. We stopped by as many times as we could to try to catch all these different happenings.

Boba Fett

Cantina Band

Stormtrooper

Padawan Mind Challenge

Padawan Mind Challenge

Padawan Mind Challenge

Padawan Mind Challenge

During Star Wars Weekends there are multiple talk shows with the Star Wars celebrity guests. There are a core line of shows, and each weekend the different celebrities join the shows for varying contributions. Most of the shows are hosted by Star Wars Weekends host, and the official voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, James Arnold Taylor (who you saw a photo of in the motorcade, above). Characters appear in most of the shows, too, which is of course really great.
Let's take a look at some of the shows we saw, including 'Star Wars: Rebels', 'Stars of the Saga', 'Obi-Wan and Beyond', and 'An Ewok's Tale'.

An Ewok's Tale

An Ewok's Tale

An Ewok's Tale

An Ewok's Tale

An Ewok's Tale

Obi-Wan and Beyond

Obi-Wan and Beyond

Obi-Wan and Beyond

Obi-Wan and Beyond

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

Stars of the Saga

We discovered that between the various shows and the stage part of the motorcade welcome, the characters would walk between the stage and their exit back to their space port, so we hung around to take some photos as they came and went. Sometimes it's good to get candid shots of characters as they are passing by. You'll often get a wave, smile and hello, etc.

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

Characters pass by

During Star Wars Weekends you can buy lots of cool merchandise and treats, most of which are featured at Darth's Mall, a special store set up just for Star Wars Weekends. I think they did a much better job of it this year. The lines in the past have been insane to get into the mall, but this year it was much more organised.

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Darth's Mall

Exploring down by Darth's Mall

Exploring down by Darth's Mall

Boba Fett mugs

Of course, Star Wars Weekends would not be complete without meeting the characters. Meeting characters at Star Wars Weekends can be both a great experience, and an infuriating one. Many of the most popular characters have lines set up and switch with their co-stars intermittently, and the lines are so long (like Tokyo Disney Resort long in some cases), that it's near impossible to time it right, which can be quite disappointing. Nonetheless, here are the characters we managed to see, plus a few "from the side" (while in line) shots of ones that missed by just a few families.

Aurra Sing and Zam Wesell

The Empire patrols the Studios

Darth Vader

Darth Maul

The Jedi Council

Queen Amidala

Anakin Skywalker

Aurra Sing

Jango Fett

Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress

Jawa

Boba Fett

Imperial Officer

Commander Cody and Ahsoka Tano

Captain Rex

Clone Trooper

Clone Trooper and a Jawa

The Cantina Band

The Cantina Band

Chip 'n' Dale

Luke Skywalker

Princess Leia Organa

R2-D2

C-3PO

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Paploo and Chewbacca

Goofy and Donald Duck

The popular and long running Jedi Training Academy features some additional characters during Star Wars Weekends, including Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress. We only got to see Ahsoka in it while we were there.

Jedi Training Academy

There are three dining experiences this year during Star Wars Weekends, all of which we got to experience. There is Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine dinner at the Hollywood and Vine, the Galactic Breakfast at the Sci-fi Dine-In and the Rebel Hangar at the Backlot Express.
The Jedi Mickey's dinner (it is dinner only) features Mickey and friends in their Star Wars costumes. The meal is, as is always with Hollywood and Vine, a buffet.

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine

The Galactic Breakfast (which, of course, is breakfast only), is at the Sci-fi Dine-In and features Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Jawa, Stormtroopers and Greedo. The movie screen plays clips from the movies and TV shows as well as neat, specially made clips and "commercials" for things within the Star Wars universe. You might see ads for Greedo's bounty hunting services, or the Cantina Band, for example.

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

The third dining experience is the Rebel Hangar, which was a new addition this year. I have mixed feelings about this. On the outset, it's an excellent idea. They did a really good job of theming the inside of the Backlot Express restaurant, giving it neat touches that make it feel like a hideout for the Rebellion. They also have some great food options, and while not really full meals, there are some good choices that all have neat Star Wars designs and themes. Then there are the characters. Being a rebel hideout, you never know who may be passing through; but that's where the greatness stops. Annoyingly, Disney won't acknowledge this venue as "character dining", and you may get a very inconsistent experience from anybody else who dines there. The characters might stop at your table, they might not. If they do stop at your table, they might take a photo with you, they might not. The people on the table next to you might get all the luck, and you might not. The biggest annoyance about this is that they have Sabine and Ezra there (as well as a Rodian mechanic and a Bith pilot), none of which can be met anywhere else. So if you're big character fans like us, you're sitting there on tenterhooks hoping that they come to you, because if they don't, they certainly won't stop, and the character attendants are likely to tell you, "Sorry, this is not a character dining venue, you can't get a photo." Yes, that happens. Fortunately, we got lucky with Ezra and Sabine, who stopped for us to get a photo of them and with them. We also got a photo with the Rodian mechanic, but he and the Jawa wouldn't really pose on their own for us, and the Cantina Band left before we were seated. The Bith pilot wasn't there on either occasion we ate there, but was there at other times before and after our visits.
Let's take a look inside.

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar

As night falls on Star Wars Weekends, there is a dance party at the main event stage; basically a DJ playing outdated "music" to fill the time until the finale of the day, the Symphony in the Stars fireworks.

DJ Lobot Dance Party

The Symphony in the Stars fireworks are proceeded by a short stage show presented by James Arnold Taylor and featuring many of the characters from Star Wars Weekends. This year for the first time, because of the new movie coming out (The Force Awakens), Han Solo made an appearance! It was really great to see him, I just wish that he wasn't
just in the fireworks pre-show. It's crowded and the lighting is bad, so it's not that great for photos, and who wouldn't want to meet Han anyway?! This year, again for the new movie, the new style Stormtroopers appeared too, which were cool to see. After the characters are done on stage, the fireworks start, and I have to say, they are amongst my favourite fireworks displays; it's a really good show! Of course, fireworks are a very immersive audiovisual experience, and photos can never do them justice.

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

Symphony in the Stars

And that's a wrap for Star Wars Weekends! We had an awesome time, and my only wish is that we could have done all five weekends this year, because two certainly wasn't enough for me! I love all the shows, and the fireworks are awesome; it's just that these things take up so much time waiting around for them, as it's so crowded.

In part two of this report, I'll share with you the rest of our adventures that aren't Star Wars Weekends, 24 hour event or Four Seasons related.

Have a great day everyone,

Dan.
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