From the day Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, the blockbuster franchise has been getting more of the House of Mouse treatment with every passing year. Movies, video games, books, comics, and of course, Star Wars at Disney World. For a true Star Wars fanatic, it’s an exciting time to be alive.
If you love Star Wars, and you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, this guide is for you. We’ve put together all of the things you need to know, so you can squeeze every little BB8-sized morsel of Star Wars goodness out of your vacation. As things change (and they definitely will, it’s WDW after all), we’ll update the content here so it’s always the latest and greatest info.
Oh, and one more thing before we blast off into hyperspace. At the moment, pretty much all of the Star Wars stuff worth doing at Disney World is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (everything in this guide in fact), so plan on spending a good chunk of time at that park if you want to do it all.
Well, flying through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops kid, but i think it’s time to punch it, so let’s dig in.
Star Tour: The Adventures Continue
This first one is a classic, sort of. The original “Star Tour” ride opened over 20 years ago and was one of the flagship attractions at what was then known as “MGM Studios”. The ride was overhauled in 2011, becoming a 3D experience with all new scenes from across all of the films. It has been updated regularly, even incorporating scenes and characters from the most recent film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
- Now that Hollywood Studios has become a larger park with much more to do, the line for this ride tends to be pretty manageable. Back when it was the only game in town, you could easily wait for over an hour on standby, but now it’s pretty common to be able to walk right in or wait for only 10 minutes. The takeaway here is, if you’re only spending one day at Hollywood Studios, you might not want to bother using a FastPass, as there are many rides with routinely longer waits (looking at you Tower of Terror) where that pass would be better spent.
- Shorter waits is good news, because the post-2011 version of this ride is made up of 18 random segments that combine to form 384 possible experiences. You can pretty much ride it over and over, and over again, and not see the exact same sequence.
- One of the ending segments includes an easter egg reference to the planet Batuu, which is the Star Wars universe location for the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge park.
Star Wars Launch Bay
A relative newcomer, Star Wars Launch Bay opened in 2015. This is a pretty laid back experience, fairly short on waiting, loaded up with Star Wars fun, and air-conditioned. It’s a great place to recharge for an hour, and a must visit for any Star Wars nerds. Inside you’ll find:
- The Launch Bay Theater. At the time of this writing, it is showing a short film about Star Wars fandom, including interviews with some of the creators and voice actors from the Clone Wars and Rebels series. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly worth it, as there are frequent showings, and again, AC.
- Dedicated character meet areas for the following Star Wars favorites:
- Kylo Ren (featuring Captain Phasma)
- Possible floating appearances by:
- Boba Fett
- Roving First Order Storm Troopers that will stop and interact with guests
- Film movie props in display, including miniatures and light sabers
- All the lines in this area are pretty light on waiting, so not likely worth using a FastPass on.
- The character meets are very themed, specifically the Kylo Ren area, which is complete with Storm Troopers and Captain Phasma directing you through. This one could be a bit much for youngsters, so be aware before going in.
- The characters that float around the park, such as Rey and Boba Fett, originate at Launch Bay. If you catch them on their way out, they will stop and pose for photos, so if you’re looking to meet either of those characters, it’s worth a few visits to this area throughout the day.
- The First Order Storm Troopers that loiter around this area are a riot. They’ll walk up to you and play all sorts of pre-recorded sound clips (“Good day, citizen!”), so be sure to interact with them and have some fun.
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
For guests visiting the park with children between the ages of 4 and 12, the Jedi Training: Trials of the Jedi Temple experience is an absolute must-do. Held several times every day, a group of around 15 – 20 children get to participate in a stage show where they get to role play as young Jedi in training.
It’s all fun and games until Darth Vader and Kylo Ren show up, clad in their life-sized movie garb and wielding signature red lightsabers. With the guidance and help of a few Jedi trainers, each participant gets a chance to take a few swings at either villain. Generated smoke, intense sound effects, and an authentic John Williams musical score turn this into a truly immersive Star Wars epic. And all while brimming parents and random passers-by get to watch from the sidelines.
- If you want your children to be a part of this show, arrive early! There are limited spots and the show only runs a few times a day, so get there at park opening and sign up.
- The signup location can be a bit hard to locate, so it might be a good idea to grab a cast member on your way and ask about where to go. Once you sign up, you’ll get an assigned time and location for the show prep.
- The minimum age here is 4, but whether or not your kid can handle the entire experience is really a judgement call. Disney has very well-trained cast members running the whole thing, but if you have any doubts, it might be good to sit it out. Worst-case scenario, it doesn’t cost a dime, so if you get into the show prep and your child doesn’t fee like moving forward, you can drop out and try again when they are older.
- If however, your child does take part in the show, you’re going to want photos and videos to remember it. One adult has to accompany the child to the pre show, but if you’re visiting with another adult, they might want to stake out a spot early, 15 – 20 minutes should be plenty.
- Finally, if you’ve purchased Disney’s Memory Maker photo pass plan, know that this event features several professional Disney photographers that slide around on swivel chairs and snap tons of photos. After the event, they’ll be right there in your My Disney Experience account for you to enjoy (if a professional action shot of your kid hacking at Darth Vader isn’t enough to convince you on Memory Maker, please turn in your Star Wars fan card now).
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away (Live Show)
A stone’s throw a way from Star Wars Launch Bay, you’ll find a large stage setup that hosts the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away live show several times a day. Featuring characters from across all time periods in the Star Wars films, the show includes live on-stage character sequences, film snippets on massive backing screens, an incredible soundtrack, and pyrotechnics.
- Though the show takes place throughout the day, the best time of day to see it is later in the afternoon or early evening. There aren’t too many shady areas to view from, and the bright sun makes it more difficult to see the screens and pyrotechnics.
March of the First Order
The March of the First Order is effectively Disney’s version of a Star Wars themed parade. Like the stage shows, it happens throughout the day, featuring Captain Phasma leading a squad of First Order Storm Troopers up Hollywood Boulevard. As you’d expect, there’s again a top-notch score and sound effects behind the entire event, and it’s pretty awesome to see that many Storm Troopers marching in time.
- While this is a pretty entertaining sight to see if you happen to be around when it starts, it’s not something to lose sleep over missing. Like the other live events at the park, it happens multiple times a day and covers a large area. If you happen to catch it, great, but we wouldn’t suggest planning your day around it.
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
The Star Wars: Path of the Jedi area is another indoor variety setting, similar to Launch Bay. In this case, there aren’t as many things to do, but still worth a stop if you want to get psyched up about Starr Wars and/or need to get out of the sun. It features a short film “Relive the Hero’s Journey”, that is effectively a hits reel of scenes from the various Star Wars films, as well as a Game Center area where you can play the now cancelled Disney Infinity game.
- There’s nothing at this area you can’t see or do on your own time, so don’t put it at the top of your must-do list by any means. If you’re walking by, have some minutes to kill, and need a break, go for it. Otherwise, don’t go out of your way to visit.
- Since the film is more or less a compilation of scenes, it doesn’t contain anything you haven’t seen before if you’ve watched all of the Star Wars movies (we know you’ve seen them all 528 times).
- The Disney Infinity game was awesome while it lasted, but since it was cancelled a few years ago, it can be had for next to nothing on eBay or other sites that sell used video games. If you really want to play it, and you have nearly any console released in the last 5 years, you can get it on the cheap and spend your valuable Disney World time elsewhere.
Star Wars has always been about two things: amazing storytelling, and of course, merchandise. WDW happens to also be a merchandise machine, so it’s only natural that Hollywood Studios is loaded to the gills with Star Wars products of all types.
The catalog of available stuff changes on the regular, so we’re not going to include an exhaustive list of what you con find, but here are a few higher level tips.
- One of the items that has remained since it was introduced, and that is worth any Jedi’s time, is the build-your-own lightsaber. Found in the gift shop that the Star Tour ride lets out into, you get to construct your own saber from an assortment of colored blades, blade types, and hilt pieces. There are endless combinations possible, and the price is reasonable when compared to buying one of the stock lightsaber toys from your local Target, so this one is a solid value.
- In general, lot’s of the Star Wars merchandise you’ll find around the park can be had elsewhere, so might not be worth buying and lugging home. The best plan is to try to focus on things you can only get at Disney World, such as the previously mentioned saber, or Star Wars themed Mickey ears.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
At this point, it’s pretty standard fare to wrap up a night at any Disney park with a fireworks show. It should come as no surprise then, that Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers a Star Wars themed fireworks extravaganza, the aptly named Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. And it is in fact, quite spectacular.
The show is a hybrid fireworks, projection, and large screen video event that covers some of the best moments from across the Star Wars saga. It’s probably not as impressive as some of the other fireworks shows at WDW, but if you’re even remotely into Star Wars, it will give you the feels, and so is worth sticking around for.
- Like any other fireworks show at WDW, if you want to stake out a good viewing spot, arrive early. An hour or so is probably sufficient to get a good spot, and there is typically a classic movie-themed projection show that precedes this one, so you won’t be waiting all that time with zero entertainment.
- If you have some extra cash lying around, a sweet tooth, and want to get a guaranteed premium viewing spot, you might want to consider the dessert party that goes along with this show. Whether it makes sense to pull the trigger on this ticket or not comes down to your personal situation, but the value prop is similar to that of any other Disney World dessert party. You get unlimited Star Wars themed treats, alcoholic beverages, and a premium viewing spot for the fireworks show.
Star Wars Guided Tour
This one is the big kahuna, or maybe the “Jabba the Hut” would be a more appropriate term. The Star Wars Guided Tour is a 7-hour experience that essentially combines everything Star Wars that Hollywood Studios has to offer into one package. Pretty much everything worth seeing is included, with reserved seating for all of the live shows, Jedi training reservations for your children, snacks, dinner and admittance into the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular dessert party included.
- Whether or not to pull the trigger on this one really comes down to time and flexibility. Given that this tour doesn’t cost that much more than the dessert party alone, and you get a whole heck of a lot more, it’s worth your money. But, it’s really really long. You will probably want to visit everything it offers either way, but you may be more inclined to spreading Star Wars across a day or more, visiting other rides and attractions in between.
And that’s it! At this point you should have a good understanding of everything Star Wars at Disney World. Of course once Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opens, much of these attractions will pale in comparison to what’s on offer there. But for the time being, there’s still plenty available to get your Star Wars fix.
If you have any other WDW Star Wars tips or tidbits, hit up the comments section below. Otherwise, until next time, have a magical trip!
Also published on Medium.