Jan 9, 2018

Star Wars at Hollywood Studios - Part 1

Last month we took a trip to DisneyWorld. Not a whole lot has changed since we went last year but this go round, we took the guided Star Wars tour at Hollywood Studios. If you're a Disney park fan, these tours are a great way to get something new out of your next visit.

Unless you've been living in seclusion on Ahch-To, you probably heard they're building a whole section of the park that will be Star Wars themed called Galaxy's Edge.

Here it is!

Exciting, eh? I could almost hear the swelling of the Binary Sunset theme as I stood there, imaging what the future Star Wars land will be like.

But enough daydreaming, let's get back to the tour. Check in is before the park opens to the public so you get a few minutes of walking down Hollywood Blvd (the main street) with practically no one else in sight. When you do check in, you get your tour lanyard and a little receiver with an ear piece so you can hear the guide.

The back of your pass details what you'll be seeing on the tour, which is not anything you can't experience on your own, you just get to bypass the lines and get choice seating at the short films. Everyone in the group is assigned a planet, as you can see, I got Coruscant. These are used to break the tour group into smaller groups for some activities. And there's a handy Aurebesh decoder to translate Star Wars-ese.

When you check in, you also have to declare your allegiance to the Light or Dark Side. Depending on your choice, you get a Jedi/IMperial name tag like the one in the left photo with your name in Aurebesh. Weird that the title is in English but whatever.

We had three guides that shared speaking duties around the park, one guy probably just a bit younger than me, another guy and a girl who were both late 20s/early 30s. They each introduced themselves and told us a bit about their history with Star Wars. As you go from place to place in the park, they talk about how Star Wars and Disney came together.

One of our first stops was Star Tours. Surprise!
If you haven't been on it since October 2017, there are spoilers ahead!

The park still hadn't opened yet so we were able to leisurely go through the queue area while the guides pointed out some Easter Eggs, like these pipes on the floor.

The top one references Harrison Ford. 07/13/42 is his birthday and IND is obviously Indy. The second one is James Earl Jones, following the same setup.

Before boarding the ride, they lit up the vehicle is housed in so you could see just how big it is. That was pretty cool and the only real "behind the scenes" stuff we got to see. The ride seems to have changed up a bit from the last time I visited. It's more in theme with the direction the new area will be, which is set during the current series of films.

A lot of the randomization has been removed and it seems like the main sequences no longer change, staying within the current trilogy. I think the only random part to it now is which hologram transmission you see. You travel to Jakku where you fly alongside the Falcon evading TIE fighters (cameo by Finn). You then end up on Crait during the walker assault (cameo by Poe). This was before The Last Jedi was released so it was pretty rad to experience! The final destination is a brief glimpse at Batuu, the planet that is the basis for the upcoming section of the park.

If you have younglings, one of the biggest advantages of the tour is that they can participate in Jedi training. You also get to stand in a reserved viewing area. There are multiple shows each day but if you're a regular park guest, the spots are hard to get unless you arrive early.

The Jedi Master coaches the kids on their routine.
If you're not familiar with this show, groups of kids get basic lightsaber training from a Jedi master and his padawan then put their skills to the test against Force visions at an old Jedi temple. In the current show, kids fight Vader and Kylo Ren. Aw, a family reunion, isn't that nice? Having the villains be "visions" allows everything to stay within canon. I think it's kind of odd they're pushing to keeping things canonical at a theme park but maybe that's just me.

Previous shows have had the Seventh Sister from the Rebels animated series and Asajj Ventress and Ahsoka from the Clone Wars series. It's fun to watch these little kids get their Jedi on. There was one girl who was really afraid but like a true Jedi she didn't let fear get in her way and she confronted Vader like a boss.

Back at the front of the park, not only did we get to watch the March of the First Order but we "infiltrated" their ranks and marched behind them up Hollywood Boulevard.

The march ends at a stage where Phasma drills her troops.

After that display of force, we went over to the Star Wars Launch Bay to see the 10 minute film "Dreaming on a Galactic Scale" which has interviews with people that work at LucasFilm as well as the directors of the recent movies. What's great about this, and the Launch Bay in general, is that they update it when new movies come out.

After the short film you go into the Launch Bay proper which has replica and actual props on display, a small cantina, and character meet and greets. And this is where we wrap up part one of the story. Stay tuned for the next installment!


  1. This is awesome can not wait for part two!

  2. Very cool. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for more.