Magical Memories; How to Build a Lightsaber

The next time you wander the streets of Downtown Disney, take a moment to visit the “Once Upon a Toy” shop. You will not be disappointed. Located in the center of the action figures and blasters, lies a neat activity – Build your own lightsaber! What child wants to pass up the opportunity to create their very own lightsaber. They have the advantage of being able to choose each and every piece. It is a lot of fun!

lightsaber display (2)

My son has a blast doing this. He can choose whether he wants to build a single or double saber. He also gets to choose the color, handles, and more. There is always a cast member supervising the station, offering assistance. They are there to make sure that all of the pieces get locked into the right place.

lightsaber help

There are 2 locations for your child to have the chance to create their own piece of magic from your trip – Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney and at the shop in Hollywood Studios called Tatooine Traders. Tatooine Traders is shop designated strictly for the Star Wars fan on your trip. The shop is located right next to the Star Tours attraction. There is not much difference in price between a single or double saber – $21.95 for a single and $24.95 for a double. After they build weapon of destruction for battling the dark forces, they can climb on this speeder located just outside of the Tatoonine Traders.

lightsaber complete

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

Star Wars the Weekend 2013

Once a year the galaxy far, far away comes to Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios! It’s the place where The Clone Wars and A New Hope unite generations over a beloved saga in the magic of Star Wars the Weekend (SWW)!


In order for you and your family to get the most out of SWW you need to plan!

Hollywood Studios usually opens at 8am. The park traditionally opens at least 30 minutes early to accommodate the large crowds. This year my family got there by 7 and the park opened at 7:28. The Stormtroopers will be guarding Hollywood Boulevard. Stop, take pictures and interact with them. They are a lot of fun.

sww2 (2)

Now once inside the park, what do you do first?

You split up. If you have children ages 4 to 11, you will want to head over to the Epic Stunt Theater to sign up for Jedi Training. Space is limited and your child MUST be with you. Next, head over to ABC Sound Studio to sign up for the Padawan Mind Challenge.


While you are signing up for these 2 events, give a family member your Keys to the World (room key or park ticket) and send them to get fast passes for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania fills up FAST and if you don’t have fast passes, you can be waiting 2 or more hours.

There will be plenty of opportunities to take pictures with SWW characters. You will find the good guys around the Star Tours and Premiere Theater area and the “bad” guys will be hanging around the Back Lot area. Have fun and interact. Ask Queen Amidala questions about the Senate or the weather on Naboo. And be sure to bring something to trade with the Jawas. Any little trinket or small toy from the dollar store is perfect!


And don’t miss the Legends of the Force Motorcade. The parade includes all your favorite Star Wars characters, the Celebrities and the Florida 501st Legion.


As with any Disney parade, you need to get your spot early. The parade travels down Hollywood Boulevard at 11 am. We like to line up around 9 – 9:30 to get a spot in the shade and to get a street view for the kids. Everyone will be crowding in. Take turns saving your spot with other family members.

Your next stop is Darth’s Mall.  A MUST DO for SWW.  Great merchandise that can only be bought during SWW will be here, as well as pictures with C3P0 and R2D2.

Ashely Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano in the Clone Wars, will be at the Mall promoting her line of Star Wars clothing, Her Universe. Ashley is an awesome person to follow and meet. Be sure to purchase your Her Universe merchandise before getting in line for an autograph. She will only be there an hour each day so check the event times and be there early!


There’s plenty more to see at Darth’s Mall, so plan a couple of hours here.

If you need to get out of the heat, consider taking in one of the Celebrity Appearances. These events take place in the Premiere Theater, and you line up across the street in an alley (shaded). You probably don’t need to be there too early, an hour will get you in. This year I saw “An Ewok’s Take” by Warwick Davis, a very funny and entertaining actor. I thoroughly enjoyed it!


A day at SWW is not over till you see the Hyperspace Hoopla! The Hyperspace Hoopla, located on the stage at “the hat”, is a dance-off between The Rebel Alliance and The Empire. A lot of fun! This is a big attraction and the crowd will reach from the hat all the way to the entrance of the park. So get there early!


Make your dinner reservations for around 9. The Hoopla is only 30 minutes, and you will need to re-fuel from a busy day. We love the Sci Fi Theater and a cold milkshake for then end of our day! How about you?

Planning is the key to a great SWW, and I have many more tips to make it smooth and enjoyable! You will not only want to catch your favorite Star Wars characters but also want to include all the fun at the other parks. It’s easy to get it all in if you know what to do – and it’s time to plan your 2014 SWW Adventure! I’m here to help!

Magical Memories – Building Mr. Potato Head

toy store editted

When you visit Downtown Disney on your next trip, don’t forget to stop by “Once Upon a Toy”. It is a huge of store that every child dreams of – Disney themed toys and gadgets everywhere. There are several things that offer “hands-on” play stations.

potato head display

One of the stations has Mr. Potato Head. Here your child can create their own Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head with a wide array of accessories to choose from. These are accessories that you will not find anywhere else, other than at Walt Disney World. The themes include, but are not limited to Star Wars, Buzz Lightyear, Perry the Platypus, Goofy, Princesses, and so much more. There are balloons, eyes, blasters, helmets, funny shoes, ears, glasses, smiles, duckbills, etc. to go along with their new creation. There are so many bins and trays overflowing with parts. Everything is laid out for the children to easily access – very open, clean and easy to see all of the options. You all will have so much fun playing and creating.


princess parts

Your child can have fun creating his/her own special Potato Head that they will always remember as being a special keepsake from their trip. The store offers 2 types of containers to bring home your potato and its accessories. Now you don’t have to buy the potato – if you choose not to buy the potato that will give you extra room in the box for more goodies! The box may be filled to the top, but must be able to be closed. This box is only $19.95. There is also a large plastic Mr. Potato Head case that you can purchase for $46.95.

box of goodies

plastic case

robert creation

If you have any questions and would like to use a planner for free – contact me at or call me directly at 1-800-670-4312 ext 125. I have an unexplained passion for Disney and making sure that everyone is getting the most that they can out of every visit!

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!


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


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.


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).


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!!”


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, or call me at 1-800-670-4312, x129. You can also find me on Facebook!

Build your own Droid in Hollywood Studios

During a recent Mom and son trip to Disney, I was thrilled that my 8 year old son was excited to ride Star Tours in Hollywood Studios. He has been slow to catch on to the awesomeness that is Star Wars and I was beginning to wonder if he was truly part of my family (I kid!). After exiting Star Tours, we poked around a store called Tatooine Traders (Stores at the exits are just pure genius but take such a horrible toll on my wallet!).

In the middle of the store is something fairly new – Droid Factory. Here, you can build your own droid. Yes, all you Sci-Fi fans… create your own. That means you – Dads, Grandpas, Uncles… You’re safe from judgement. Here, anyway. There are 71 different pieces you can use to create your droids. Choose a dome, body, legs and novelty hats (Mickey ears on my droid? Yes, please!). When finished, they will stand around 4 inches tall. 71 pieces… This means lots of different combinations. This also means that your child (or adult) will likely have a one of a kind droid to call their own!

Once you are finished building your droid you can select the packaging. Single ($11.95) and double packaging ($19.95) is available. Note that if you plan to keep one for yourself and give one as a gift, you must put each one in a single package for purchase. We found out from personal experience that they will not give you 2 single packs and charge you the double value price. It ends up costing a few dollars more to do it this way but hey, what’s a few dollars? This way we were able to give one as a gift including packaging and we have one with packaging as well. Who knew that packaging was so important to an 8 year old?

Every droid needs a name. Not sure what to name yours? Take your time. A sticker sheet is given to you at checkout so you can flash your droid’s name right on the front cover of the packaging!

This is such a great and unique thing to do with the kids…especially the boys who have already made lightsabers and are looking for something new to do.

Contact me for more info or for a free quote today!

Erin Santamaria 1-877-377-0505 or

You can also find me on Facebook or Pinterest.