stopher1's Father-Sons Adventure: Star Wars Weekend - May 2009

momsully

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Mar 15, 2003
Sounds like fun. We are planning a trip for SWW next year! Love the pictures!
 

stopher1

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 26, 2008
Whew! What a full day! We just got back to the resort after staying ALL day at the Studios. I need some time to recharge the camera battery before I can upload any photos, but I've got it plugged in now. I'll be getting some more photos and details posted later tonight. We're changing and then heading down to the pool. We may enjoy the famiy movie night too. That just started.

More to come...
 
  • Sandy321

    <font color=darkorchid>Crazy enough to want to do
    Joined
    Oct 22, 2007
    if you think of it, and if you ride Tower of terror - do try and get a shot while flying down and the windows open! Love that scene!!

    Great pictures, seriously thanks for sharing them with us!
     

    ccigliano

    DVC Member WLV
    Joined
    Oct 10, 2006
    Enjoying your trip report. Thanks for taking the time to post it. Love the pictures too.
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    Ok, so I just got back from walking down for a final drink from the refill station before working on a new update. The boys are asleep, and the photos are uploading. Hopefully by the time I finish typing the photos will be up so I can then start adding some more.

    It was a beautiful morning, but a hot day. I am the type of person who can stand hot weather, even though I don't like it, and most levels of humidity without complaining too much. My DW thinks I'm nuts because she'll complain about how hot or humid it might be outside and I'll turn to her and say, "Really, it's humid today?" I really don't notice it that much... and I grew up in Southern California where humidity is nowhere near the same levels as anything east of the Rockies. Out there most folks prefer the heat because "it's a dry heat"... and I say, yeah right, that's the stuff that cracks my skin and burns me that much easier. BUT, I can definitely tell when the heat and humidity are really bad.

    I've been here at WDW for a day or two by myself several years ago in July and August while on business here in Central Florida and that is HOT, HOT, HOT... and oh yes, HUMID, HUMID, HUMID. Those two factors alone are the primary reason we won't set foot here in those months. Today didn't rival that time period, but it was very, very warm, and yes, it was a bit humid. My lovely DW would have been grumbling so very much, so yes, it was quite good she stayed home. And she posted as such on her Facebook page today! :rotfl: To which, of course, I had to agree with her. She actually said she'd ruin our trip... I didn't agree with that part, just that she'd be grumbling. ;)

    We got up this morning and had cereal in the room. The boys finished watching the movie they got from the Community Hall, and then we were off to catch the bus for the Studios. We decided to fill our mugs with water and then bring them with us to keep refilling throughout the day with ice water from the counter service locations... a VERY good idea it was. I then decided that since I didn't want to be carrying them around in my hands, along with the camera and videocam, I'd bring the backpack. Another very good idea. The boys had printed out a couple of photos that they wanted signed, so those were able to go in the backpack as well and later on not get scrunched up throughout the day. Normally I like to keep it simple with what goes into the parks with me...but today the backpack was a necessity. And since our DD was not there, no stroller to put junk in!

    We arrived at the Studios at about 8:20ish. It was a non-EMH day, so it didn't open til 9 and closed at 8. I knew from reading on here and other Disney websites I follow that getting there early was important for SWW - especially if you wanted to get the featured actors' autographs. I don't remember if I ever read exactly how it worked or not, so we didn't realize exactly what needed to be done or happen. Thankfully we figured it out in fairly short order - especially since the line outside the turnstiles was already past the ticket booths, and growing my the moment.

    FOR THOSE OF YOU STILL COMING TO AN UPCOMING SWW... and in case you don't know it either (because again, this is our first time ever at a SWW event), you have to get a Fastpass in order to actually be entitled to get an autograph from the featured actors. There are 2 types of Fastpass for this event. The regular timed ones, and Standby ones. The timed ones will guarantee you an autograph, provided of course you return within one of the 3 autograph sessions. The standby ones will ony guarantee you the POSSIBILITY of getting an autograph IF there's still room/time within the autograph session. Today the sessions were at 9:45, 2:25 and 4:15. Each one lasted for about an hour, though the 2:25 one I think was more like an hour and 15. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FASTPASS - YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET THEIR AUTOGRAPH. Period.

    Today we were able to get PETER MAYHEW's autograph, or Chewbacca. The other featured actors were MATTHEW WOOD (the voice of General Grevious) and Superivisng Sound Editor for all 3 of the pre-quels; ASHLEY ECKSTEIN, the voce of Ahsoka in the new Clone Wars animated film; and JAY LAGA'AIA (Captain Typho) from Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Jay is also the host of the weekends this year, as for whatever reason Warwick Davis is not.

    When you go for an autograph, you are able to get ONE signature per person only. If you have nothing for them to sign, they'll provide a stock photo of themselves and sign it. I had the special SWW map signed by Peter Mayhew for our scrapbook, while my sons each had their photo of Chewie signed that they brought with them.

    More soon....
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    The special maps they handed out were great...we grabbed more than just a handful! need some extras to cut up for the scrapbook, as well as my 13 yr old collects maps from every park we've ever gone to. That and presed pennies.

    The Stormtroopers were on top of the turnstile roof. That was awesome. There was SW music playing throughout the entry plaza area, and recorded voices of stormtroopers talking to the crowd, with the troopers on the room acting along with whatever the dialog was at that time. Finally at about 8:35 or 40 they (the troopers), were announcing that they had been given some super secret data that would allow the locks on the gates to open allowing the humans waiting to enter, but not to let anyone know who was responsibile for opening the gates. It was cool. They kept pointing their blasters at lots of different people. My sons were just eating it all up.

    We got to then herd our way up Hollywood Blvd to almost the plaza area where there were ropes, which of course weren't dropped til 9 am. We chose to get up to Toy Story first to get fast passes, and then hit Wicket's Warehouse which is located right next door while waiting for our return time to see if there was anything they might like to take home with them. They've been saving their allowance for weeks now thinking they might find some cool collectible or souvenir. Let me just say WOW about the Toy Story FP line though... it was HUGE. We were not very far back from the rope, but wow, the FP distribution line alone stretched past One Man's Dream, almost back to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid! Crazy. We love TS, but are honestly more familiar with the DCA version. Out at DL there is no FP option, just a regular line and the Single Rider line. I honestly think that it moves faster without the FP portion. We've done the TS ride at the Studios once last year, with FP, and I recall our return time was like 3:45 or some thing like that. But when push came to shove today, even with the wicked FP distribution line, our return time was 11:30-12:30. Not too bad, except that the parade was at 11:40. And that was something we REALLY wanted to make sure to see.

    Wicket's Warehouse was NOTHING like my younger son expected. He was VERY, VERY disappointed in the merchandise selection. Most, I'd say 65% of it was stuff you could already find in the various shops around the World anyway. Another 20% was NEW Disney characters as Star Wars characters mercandise, which he HATES (something about sacrilege to the Star Wars universe and George Lucas should be very mad at Disney... I don't know, I think Jedi Mickey is cute myself, but he DOESN"T AT ALL). Oh well. Then the remainder was new merch, limited edition merch and a lot of t-shirts. We walked out only with 3 limited edition pins since we're a pin trading/collecting family, though not majorly into it. I get each of us a special pin commemorating the trip each time. Both boys are heavily into collecting/trading for Stitch pins so usually the trip pin has something to do with Stitch. I love to get them dated pins with Stitch - but this time it was strictly the dated limited edition SWW pins. They each got to pick what they wanted (actual SW characters was their rule), and I chose the SWW logo pin with Jedi Mickey & Yoda on it for myself.

    We got in line to meet Darth Vader and get his autograph. We had to endure the changeout 3 times, which meant we were in line for about 45 min. The poor guy(s) could only stand out there in the heat in that very heavy, very black, very hot I'm sure costume for 10 min at a time. But we got our autograph and photo. When asked if they wanted to wait for Boba Fett, initially it was yes, but then after waiting 45 min for DV, the answer changed to a no.

    Misc. characters were walking around here and there. The Luke Skywalker they had giving autographs, was honestly, terrible. He did NOT look right at all. He honestly looked more like he stepped off the beach than the desert planet of Tattooine, or out of the battle scarred fighters of the Alliance. Queen Amidala looked ok, thanks to all that makeup she wears. Darth Maul looked great, and of course the storm troopers all look fine since it's the whole mask situation vs. a face character.

    The events listed on the map include:

    JEDI TRAINING ACADEMY
    I know that this particular show originated right here at Star Wars Weekends at MGM several years back, and the new stage that they built for it next to Star Tours is cool.... but honestly, I MUCH prefer this show at Disneyland on the Tomorrrowland Terrace stage. The little bunker door that they built at DHS looks nice, but there is just something wonderful, magical and futuristic about Darth Vader and Darth Maul rising up from underground on that awesome rising stage. I remember dancing to various bands there growing up and sitting there when my boys were very young watching that awful old Buzz Lightyear show for a number of years... but the Jedi Training Academy at DL's Tomorrowland Terrace stage just is so much more RIGHT for me, than what happens here in FL. I did recognize today that the spacing is a major issue or me... that tiny little corner between Star Tours and Backlot Express definitely dampens the whole experience for me. I don't know... it kind of harkens back to the fact though that Star Tours originated at DL I guess, and so really it (the JTA show) just feels more right at DL to me than at DHS. I still have such fond memories of that 60 hour Grand Opening Gala for Star Tours back in '87... I was there for it, standing in line for HOURS with my brother, as the line snaked up and down through Tomorrowland, then around the Hub, and on down Main Street.....

    **Please don't get me wrong though... I love WDW. But DL holds such a special place in my heart even moreso than WDW since that's what I grew up with, and the years that I spent at DL as a Cast Member too. I have loved going to WDW since my first visit when I was 21. I really hope I'm not coming across as bashing or negative towards WDW. Both DL and WDW are very special and wonderful places - and both have wonderful aspects and things to offer. I would live in either one if I could!! :thumbsup2 **



    PADAWAN MIND CHALLENGE
    We didn't watch this one... but the map says "Younglings, use your SW: The Clone Wars knowledge to pass he trivia trials and become an official Padawan learner (ages 11 & under)." And apparently you have to register for it at the Information desk for a specific show (thoughout the day).

    HYPERSPACE HOOPLA
    We saw part of this, and it was okay, but not really anything we were too excited about. "Join your favorite SW characters as they participate in fun and intergalactic antics of the day's closing event"

    CHARACTER ENCOUNTERS
    Both the "good guys" and the "bad guys", and the Disneyfied guys throughout the park.

    CELEBRITY AUTOGRAPHS
    Autograph opportunities with Fastpass ony.

    BEHIND THE FORCE
    We didn't do this either... "Join Ashley Eckstein in Clone Wars: Behind the Force - a show that explores the excitement of the Clone Wars with a fascinatinglook behind he scenes led by the voice of "Ahsoka" and other guest celebrities"

    STARS OF THE SAGA: CELEBRITY TALK SHOW
    Hosted by Jay Laga'aia (didn't do this either) - "Experience te fascinating life and movie-making adventures of our 3 visiting celebrities. Q&A session.

    MEET DARTH VADER

    WICKET'S WAREHOUSE

    A STAR WARS CELEBRITY MOTORCADE
    We saw this and REALLY liked it. "Visiting celebrities along with the most beloved SW characters, celebrating the entire saga i a grand motocade. Following the motorcade hose Jay Laga'aia presents a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity"


    In the end, while it may not seem we participated in all of the events the day provided, I kind of let my sons choose what they wanted to do, based on what appealed to them. Neither of them were impressed with the Clone Wars film when we saw it in the theater, so instantly anything that had to do with the Clone Wars was out. After the long hot line waiting for Darth Vader's autograph, other character meet and greets were out. Neither was overly impressed with the merch offerings, and both really are too old for the Jedi Training Academy and the Mind Challenge. So - even though we're going back in the morning to try and get a FP for an autograph opportunity for MATTHEW WOOD... our first SWW may just be our last. We sat there having some nice cold ice water after riding Rock-N-Roller Coaster - and all 3 decided that there really was not enough STAR WARS in the Star Wars Weekend for our liking. Since we haven't been in years past, we really don't know if it has been dumbed down or not - or if it has always been like this. The only classic characters (from the original trilogy) giving autographs was the beach-bum Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Boba Fett. Not even a storm trooper. We have Green Army Man autographs for heaven's sake in our Disney character autograph collection...how hard would it have been to have a couple of Storm Troopers giving out an autograph or standing for a photo op? Or R2-D2? He was in the parade...

    Other things that we did today included:

    Toy Story Midway Mania (sorry, I tend to be biased to DL, if you haven't noticed in some of my postings in the past... and that's what it's called out there since it's along the midway of Paradise Pier at DCA)

    Rock-N-Roller Coaster (always a treat!)

    Great Movie Ride (less than 10 minute wait - yes! Great ride, but I don't like a long wait for this one)

    Indiana Jones Stunt Show (even after 20 years - it's still a fun show)

    MuppetVision 3-D (I just love the muppets)

    The American Idol Experience - our household is filled with AI fans, so this was a must do. We enjoyed the experience, but not the 3 guest contestants. It was fun. The boys kept saying how much their mom would enjoy it.

    Sadly... no Tower of Terror. I LOVE it, my sons don't. So, I was a nice guy today and didn't force my desire upon them. (Though I REALLY wanted to).

    ...and of course... Star Tours.

    We ate at Backlot Express for lunch. I was really impressed. Not with the food - but the fact that they have a beverage station now out with the condiments! I either missed that in some of my online readings, or it's new. That was really quite cool. If only they'd get with it and put those into all of the counter service locations. For dinner we ate at Pizza Planet. Always a predictable meal. Not great, not bad. The salad actually seemed fresh tonight. The pizza was once again pretty tasteless. And again... too much food. None of us ate the dessert.

    Well I think my photos have finally finished uploading. Now to pick a few to add as well, and then off to bed for another fun day tomorrow. Tomorrow we're planning on leaving the Studios after securing the autograph, and then hitting Epcot for a while.
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    A beautiful morning!


    I just love the Disney landscaping and horticulturalists... I wish they could come visit my yard! :)


    The weekend logo sign outside the Studios (also the pin selection I made today)


    We were greeted by Stormtroopers on the turnstile roof this morning


    There are various character graphics all over the entry plaza


    Looking back prior to rope drop at a sea of people... but really the crowds weren't that bad today... the longest wait time was for RNR at 40 min. Not bad, really.


    The hat. Personally I prefer seeing the Chinese Theatre as you walk up Hollywood Blvd, but we've got the hat now. So I took a picture of it while standing waiting for rope drop
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    It took a while, but we finally got to meet Vader


    Gamorrean (sp?) guard doing a walkabout
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    With Han in carbonite



    Lightpole banners like these were all over the place...great character images... too bad more characters like these weren't to be found...


    You can't go to SWW and not go on Star Tours! After 22 years, Captain Rex still can't get it right... but it's still fun. I hope the next version that's supposedly being worked on now is here sooner rather than later - although in the back of mind I hope the original is still an option somehow...
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    Following the parade came the special photo opportunity. Many characters on the stage...hard to see them all...too many people in the area in tight quarters, had to just raise the camera in the air and start clicking... I took a bunch, none are all that fabulous, but each one shows a bunch of the characters on stage. (A couple are very bad, being tilted, or totally cutting off the scene! Oh well... it was fun to see so many different characters from different films all in the same place).


    Jedi Training Academy - right before or just after Darth Maul appeared


    Classic imagery of Tattooine Traders


    The AT-AT at Star Tours. I love the extra theming that the imagineers gave to this attraction when they added it to MGM! The Ewok village scene is great.
     

    dvczerfs

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 14, 2008
    nice pics stopher!! im glad to see you got your 5 hours of sleep! who sleeps at wdw!!:thumbsup2
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    nice pics stopher!! im glad to see you got your 5 hours of sleep! who sleeps at wdw!!:thumbsup2
    actually less, but who's counting... now it's time to wake the boys and get them to shower and get ready for another day... my oldest wants to be out the door and over to the bus by 7:20... we'll see. ;)
     

    dvczerfs

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 14, 2008
    actually less, but who's countig... now it's time to wake the boys and get them to shower and get ready for another day... my oldest wants to be out the door and over to the bus by 7:20... we'll see. ;)
    youll make it!! :thumbsup2 its not like getting up for school!!
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008
    We took up a position for the parade that was near the end (Star Tours/Jedi Training stage) because we wanted to be able to see the photo op...but it wasn't the best angle as most of the characters were turning to see the other side at this particular vantage point (on the Backlot Express side right before the final turn), but we stil enjoyed it very much. The boys were excited to see the 501st Legion (my youngest wants to save up and get an awesome costume and join the local chapter of the 501st when old enough). They absolutely loved seeing the 501st in the Rose Parade 2 or 3 years ago, and were even more ecstatic when a few members of the local chapter came out to help open the new mall near our house a year ago... so needless to say, that was one of the primary reasons they wanted to watch the parade.

    The lead item in the parade was a cool vehicle made to look like one a landspeeder, I believe, with Jedi Mickey on it. That was followed by Princess Minnie Organa, Stormtrooper Donald and Darth Goofy...thankfully my older son had the camera so we at least got a couple of photos of this part (since my younger son can't stand the Disney characters as Star Wars characters as mentioned previously)











     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    What impressed me the most about this production was the attention to detail. Disney is always good about that, but with this, there's the double factor of it still being a very active enterprise and the real AI show folks were very protective of their stuff and as such, the set looks very much like the real thing on tv.


    One of my favorites at the Studios (but not my sons'!) No riding for me... oh well, there's always next time.


    Another favorite... this is a family favorite 4 of the 5 of us have been on it and LOVE it. Can't wait for my DD to eventually get on it too and make it 100%


    Still fun after all these years...
     

    stopher1

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2008

    We really enjoyed the pool both days. Last night I got onto the slide. It was just okay to me - both of the boys loved it - but I much prefer the slide at BWV! I went on that one over and over last fall, the OKW one just once. But the boys were on it many, many times.


    I really like how many things there are to do at the resort, activity-wise. I've seen many people riding around and on the little boats. The pool was not crowded last night by any means, nor has Olivia's been each time we've been down there - but it is a very nice resort. I've enjoyed sampling it. We'll see what other fun stuff today brings.
     

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