STAR WARS WEEKENDS

June 4, 2013 in Guest Blogs, Star Wars by Firebird

A guest blog by Mindless Droid

MDstarwarsweekend

This year was our second trip to Walt Disney World and Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios. As a Clone Wars fan to say that I was more excited last year than this year goes without saying but all in all it was a good time.

Each day we got to the park early around six in the morning to get fast passes for autographs this year it was for Ashley Eckstien, Dee Bradley Baker and James Arnold Taylor. The other two celebrities were Jeremy Bulloch and Ray Park. Some of the OT celebrities like Peter Mayhew or Billy Dee Williams actually have people lining up at midnight with lawn chairs and cots. It’s like back in the day when you would camp out for concert tickets. On the days we were there Ray Park’s line was the longest.

After they hand out the passes they let the guests into the park but have the main street roped off half way in. Here is where they have the opening show with the two Storm Troopers doing their skits like previous years except this year they were not standing on the entrance but on mobile platforms. They had a cool pyro blaster effect as one of the Troopers shot his blaster at a building with the pyro blaster bolt hitting the building and smoke coming from it the only complaint there was he hit what he was aiming at. After a short comic routine by the Storm Troopers they open the park.

After the park opens about half the guests head over to sign up their younglings for the Jedi Training Academy were they get training by a Jedi Master, some get to confront Darth Vader while others face off with Ventress with a little help from Ahsoka. Most of the rest of the crowd heads over to the large merchandise tent, Darth’s Maul were you can have your picture taken with a life size Rancor and shop the store. It gets pretty crowded and the line for limited edition items can reach an hour long. Ashley Eckstien also has a Her Universe booth there and does an hour signing autographs. We saw her there one day and her husband David had the coolest Plo Koon shirt on. I finally got the nerve to ask him about it and he said it was a Dave Filoni original and only ten were made. Poodoo. Skipping the early crowds at Darth’s Maul and since I’m too old to begin the training at the academy we headed to Star Tours which we got to ride seven times in a row with little wait.

Star Tours is what a Disney ride should be. From the Endor themed queue complete with Imperial Walker to the audio animatronic C3PO and R2D2. They even have the Star Tours flight schedule written in Aurebesh. The ride itself is a lot of fun with the random sequences it is different every time. It may be the only place where you can actually feel the force as you try to escape from Lord Vader he reaches out and grabs the ship with the force it is a cool effect. My favorite planets are Genosis featuring a trip through the under construction Death Star while being chased by Boba Fett (and no that leaked pic from last year was not from the ride) and Kasyyyk which had me dreaming of what Dave and company at The Clone Wars could have done with that environment.

The park is decked out with character banners and there is Star Wars music playing throughout. We walked past the Clone Wars meet and greet as Ahsoka was signing autographs and her theme was playing. The main stage under the sorcerer Mickey’s hat has a large video screen were they play scenes from the movies and TCW alternating with various little shows with the above mentioned Storm Troopers to Boba Fett and a frozen in carbonite Han Solo. They also host the opening ceremony there after the Legends of the Force motorcade featuring The 501st and Disney cast members as various characters. It is where The Hyperspace Hoopla is too which we skipped this year. The area in front of the stage slopes down as you get further back and to get a good vantage point you need to stake out a spot about an hour and a half before the show.

Disney does a great job of casting the Star Wars characters each of the ones I met or observed were true to their character. The makeup and costumes are also very well done the only thing was they didn’t update Ventress but I can’t complain the cast member playing her was spot on and even sounded exactly like Nika Futterman. It must be tough for some of the cast members in the Florida heat especially Kit Fisto Chewy and the Clone and Storm Troopers. At each character meet and greet there are several characters who rotate every twenty minutes or so as to deal with the heat and I also missed Ahsoka as a rain storm was moving in and they held her back probably because of the makeup. Once again big props to the performers and handlers of the characters they do a great job.

James Arnold Taylor is a great host I don’t know where he gets his energy from. He does an autograph session in the morning hosts the parade and kickoff ceremony for the day’s events. He even wrote the schedule as lyrics to SW themes and sang it he is actually quite a good singer. He then does two shows of Behind the Force with Ashley Eckstien and Dee Bradley Baker. Then does another show Stars of the Saga with Ray Park. He then ends the day with his own show Obi-Wan and Beyond which is simply amazing. It is a great insight to voice acting. At the show I was at he got two standing ovations. The part when he does different celebrity voices back to back is just incredible. He also did the “You were my brother” scene from ROTS while it played on the big screens gave me chills. His story of losing his voice and regaining it is truly remarkable. Just a great show it would be worth the price of admission just to see it.

Ashley Eckstien and Dee Bradley Baker are very nice as well they both participated in autograph signings and the motorcade plus the Behind the Force shows. The three of them were very nice to all the fans chatting with everyone who came for an autograph not just signing and saying next. James Arnold Taylor recorded a bit as Doc Brown for a fan’s cell phone message. Ashley Eckstien really remembers all the fans she meets and you can tell Dee Bradley Baker is just a fan at heart. He chatted with me about Fives in the upcoming episode. Someone made him Numa’s tooka doll he had it at his booth I believe he posted a picture of it on twitter. I just read that at the Denver comic con he donated all his appearance fees and revenue to charity. They are all class acts.

We didn’t get to meet Jeremy Bulloch or Ray Park but having met Jeremy Bulloch at our local comic con he is also very nice. Ray Park is cool as well. I saw him around several times talking with fans and he came to see James Arnold Taylor’s show the day we were there. I also heard he showed up early in the morning to greet everyone waiting outside the park for the autograph fast passes.

Oh and the Darth Vader cupcakes taste as good as they look and they are huge.

This upcoming weekend is the last of the four. Last year Dave Filoni appeared with the now in limbo Embo clip from the Clovis arc. I can only hope he would appear this year with some info on the episodes they still plan to release. Disney really should come out and tell us what’s up with these episodes instead of leaving us hanging. It would be the perfect setting to do so.

Here is a link to my flickr photo stream if you have any questions or comments about the event please post them in the comments Thanks for reading and

May The Force Be With You