Disney’s Star Wars Weekends

If you are a Star Wars fan and are visiting Disney during May or June, be sure to take advantage of Disney’s Star Wars weekends! These are special weekends in which Hollywood Studios is taken over by the Force. The weekends the event is running this year are May 17-19, May 24-26, May 31-June 2, and June 7-9. No special tickets are required – just admission to Hollywood Studios!

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Welcome to Star Wars weekend!!

During these special weekends, you’ll find:

· Celebrity autograph sessions (past celebrities have included Ray Park who played Darth Maul in Episode I and Warwick Davis who played Wicket the Ewok in Episode VI)

· Special character greetings (think Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, Princess Leia, Leia Minnie, Vader Goofy and more!)

· Special Star Wars merchandise only available during Star Wars Weekends,

· Star Wars trivia (for kids AND for adults!)

· Star Wars Parade

· Q&A sessions

· “Behind the Force” presentations

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Leia Minnie meets Sarah and Jenise

Be sure to arrive EARLY (90 to 120 minutes before the park opens if you want the Celebrity autographs) and get in line for the Celebrity Autograph FASTPASSES. If you’re going to skip the Celebrity autographs, plan on arriving 60-90 minutes before park opening. But you won’t want to miss the Stormtroopers skit that happens before park opening.

If you see merchandise that you like, buy it. You never know how quickly some items will sell out. There is usually some great limited edition merchandise available. One awesome souvenir last year was the “Freeze Yourself in Carbonite”. Panoramic pictures are taken up close of your face from all angles (so no face paint on children), and about 6 weeks after the event, you receive a block of Carbonite but instead of Hans Solo trapped, it’s YOU. (I’m still awaiting an announcement from Disney about merchandise available to see if this will be offered again this year but I know it was VERY popular and advanced reservations were offered). There are multiple locations set up around the park besides Tatooine Traders to purchase Star Wars merchandise.

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Having fun with Star Wars themed merchandise

Don’t think that the Character Greetings are just for kids! Interact with the characters. The “dark-siders” tend to be a bit more fun if you egg them on.

If your children want to participate in the children trivia contest, Jedi Training Academy or any other event, head to the sign up table EARLY in the day as these slots are limited. Study the Star Wars Park Map as soon as it’s available so you know where to go.

Be prepared for long lines. Not just for attractions but for parades and merchandise too. The Star Wars parade is at noon. Avoid Tatooine Traders after the Star Wars parade (it ends right near the shop and the crowds are SUPER CRAZY then).

Remember that you’re in Florida in May and June. It will be HOT. Be prepared for the heat and be sure to stay hydrated. Consider a lunch or dinner at one of the table-service restaurants inside Hollywood Studios to escape from the heat! (Be sure to get your reservations for these ahead of time; ask your travel planner for more information).

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Enjoy a R2D2 Icee while you wait to watch Hyperspace Hoopla!

I’d like to thank Sarah and Jenise for letting me use their pictures!! Sarah and Jenise are long time clients of one of our Travel with the Magic planners. Their big tips – “Don’t miss the Hyperspace Hoopla show at the end of the day. And keep a camera ready at all times – you never know who you’re going to see!!”

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Is that Vader or Goofy?!

Want to freeze yourself in carbonite!? I cannot wait to help you plan your MAGICAL vacation to Disney World! Contact me via email at Amy@travelwiththemagic.com, or call me at 1-800-670-4312, x129. You can also find me on Facebook!

My First Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

 

This year I was lucky enough to cross off one more item on my Disney bucket list – I went to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.  I love Christmas time and of course, I love Disney, so combining them was something I have long dreamt about.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a separate hard ticketed event meaning that even though it takes place at the Magic Kingdom, your Magic Kingdom admission alone does not gain you entrance into the party.  The party lasts from 7pm to midnight and admission tickets can be purchased for about $54-$68 depending on dates attended and the age of the guests.   Check out http://www.travelwiththemagic.com/2012-mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party.html for more party information.

During the party you will experience many exclusive experiences including Character greetings not available during normal park hours, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, complementary  hot cocoa and cookies, Cinderella’s castle like you’ve never seen it before and a fireworks show that will stay with you long into the new year.

The party is scheduled to begin at 7 pm when the Magic Kingdom closes to non-ticket holding guests, but on most nights guests with party tickets can start entering the Magic Kingdom at 4 pm.  If you were at another park that day, or not visiting a park at all, you simply present your Christmas Party ticket to enter the park.  Once inside the turnstiles, Cast Members will present you with a special wristband to confirm that you have used your Christmas Party ticket for admission to be in the park past closing.

If you have been in the Magic Kingdom that day, you will need to proceed to one of the wristband stations (one at the main entrance or one in Adventureland) around 4 pm or so to receive your wristband.  Early in the evening we were stopped multiple times by Cast Members asking to see our Christmas Party wristband to verify our admission.

Some of the Christmas Party events actually start before 7 pm (probably to entice those who haven’t purchased the party tickets to think about purchasing them next time!) including Cinderella arriving on the castle stage with her Fairy Godmother to “wish” her castle transformed and then right before your eyes, the castle is covered in icicles.

The holiday themed light show on the Castle is amazing.  Make sure you get a spot near the castle so you can see all the amazing details in the show that happens on the castle.

And what would a party at the Magic Kingdom be without fireworks?  The “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks are everything you expect from Disney and more!  Seeing them over Cinderella’s dream light covered castle brought tears to my eyes.  Holiday Wishes is a fantastic fireworks show.

The Once Upon a Christmastime parade is not to be missed!   But don’t worry, it runs twice during your party.  Prepare for Disney to exhilarate all of your senses – especially sight, hearing and SMELL.  I won’t say more because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but keep your nose open!  We met characters and rode attractions during the first parade hoping that the crowd would thin out for the second parade, which it did somewhat, but was more crowded than I expected.  I would definitely recommend getting to your viewing area ahead of time if you want a good seat with a good view!

During the Christmas party, all park aspects reflect a special Christmas cheer.  There are character greetings that can only be seen during special events including Cinderella, Prince Charming, her Stepmother and Stepsisters all greeting guests as a group.  The Princesses, in special holiday attire, are never far from their Princes and you can even find characters like Uncle Scrooge during the party.

The shops will be open during the party and some of the stores carry special Christmas Party merchandise that is ONLY available during parties, so if you see something you like, make sure you buy it.

There are even character dance parties!  Club Tinsel (inside Cosmic Ray’s) is one of the spots where you can find some of your favorite Disney characters cutting a rug!  We danced with festively dressed Chip and Dale and Goofy dressed in his finest Santa suit.

A lot of guests use the parties as a way to ride their favorite attractions with VERY minimal wait times.  Even on a sold out night we were able to walk on to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Not all attractions operate during the party, but we had a blast riding the ones that were open!

Don’t forget to eat!  Even though the park is open until midnight, some of the dining locations close earlier).  I would recommend eating at a quick service location to maximize your time in the park during this event.  We ate at Pinnochio’s Village Haus and I was pleasantly surprised by their new menu items.  I had a caprese flatbread pizza and tomato basil soup.  The quality was definitely similar to a sit down restaurant back home (rather than a fast food type meal).   Complementary hot cocoa and cookie stations are set up throughout the park and are identified on the map and on an inflatable signpost outside of the location.  Unless you’re exceptionally cold or hungry, don’t rush to get in line for these free goodies – they will be there all night!

One of my favorite memories of the night was walking down Main Street with SNOW falling!  It was such an amazing night and an experience I cannot wait to share with my family.  The Magic Kingdom during this time of year is beautiful (day or night)!

If you would like to attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (or want more information about any of the other special events that happen throughout the year at Disney World), contact me today!  I cannot wait to help you plan your MAGICAL vacation!  Contact me at amy@travelwiththemagic.com, 1-800-670-4312, x129 or on facebook (www.facebook.com/TravelwiththeMagicAmy).