Use the Force, Orlando!
Star Wars aficionados young and old will be coming in droves to Walt Disney World’s annual Star Wars Weekends event, which heads back to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May.
Every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 15 through June 14, loyal legions from both the Dark Side and the Light will have their lightsabers – and cameras – ready for the more than 60 characters roaming the park, the excitement of the Star Wars motorcade and the celebrity-led events in store.
The villains, in this case Zam Wesell and Jango Fett, are as popular as the heroes for photo ops — Photo courtesy of Mark Ashman / Disney
The latter is a particular thrill for fans, who queue up excitedly for autograph sessions, as well as candid chat-based events about the stars' experiences working as part of the beloved Star Wars franchise.
Exciting options include one in which Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) will be showing off the formidable martial arts skills involved with the role, and Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok from Return of the Jedi) in his exciting one-man show “An Ewok’s Tale,” which recounts this actor’s storied work in Star Wars and his many roles beyond.
Of particular note this year, an exciting, first-time celebrity attendee: Frank Oz, the voice of Yoda. (He'll be in on the weekend of June 12 to 14.)
Actor Ray Park (Darth Maul) signs this little Sith's lightsaber — Photo courtesy of David Roark / Disney
With less queueing and far more Florida sunshine, the Legends of the Force motorcade is a great way to spot your favorite characters and celebrities as they roll past in a pomp-infused, star-studded parade.
And if you prefer your Jedi on the sweet side, you’ll likely have your chance to conquer Master Yoda and other characters in edible form. Specialty food and beverage items themed for the occasion will be available throughout the park.
At Darth’s Mall (arguably the best-ever name for a pop-up themed merchandise outpost, though a close second goes to its food court, the Admiral Ackbar Snack Bar – it’s not a trap, mind you), even the queue offers up interactive fun and photo ops. Once inside, fans will find everything from clothing, toys and barware to original art and customizable figures.
Mickey, donning his finest Jedi robes, enjoys the ride at the Legends of the Force motorcade — Photo courtesy of Matt Stroshane / Disney
After the sun goes down, the park’s usual fireworks spectacle gets a themed makeover into Symphony in the Stars, which will highlight the iconic sounds of these beloved films.
Boba Fett may well patrol the park, but his malevolent presence does little to intimidate guests. In fact, he’s a popular photo op! With new shows, new celebrities and the park’s exceptional “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue” ride, it will take more than a bounty hunter to keep them away.