Friday, May 17, 2013

Star Wars Weekends 2013: Top 5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Visit

Star Wars Weekends is plenty of fun, especially if you know what to expect. During SWW Disney's Hollywood Studios is very busy and for some first timers, can be quite overwhelming. So here are a few tips (in no particular order) so you can maximize your enjoyment during a party of galactic proportions.

If you plan on getting autographs you've got to get there super early! Disney's Hollywood Studios opens at 9 a.m. and the earliest  you'll be allowed into the park is generally around 8:30. Hardcore fans have camped out the night before the park closes to be the first in line to secure an autograph FASTPASS. You won't be able to get over to the Star Tours area until the official rope drop at 9. Getting there early doesn't just apply to autographs, but to shopping and attractions which I cover in more detail below.

Sorcerer Radio's Kristen Hoetzel getting a Her Universe shirt signed by designer/Star Wars voice actress Ashley Eckstein. Photo by Aljon Go.

As in years past there are no additional charges for the celebrity autograph sessions at Star Wars Weekends. Autograph lines will be using a FASTPASS-type system. FASTPASS tickets will be extremely limited and are distributed on a first-come, first served basis at Disney’s Hollywood Studios main entrance, to the right of the turnstiles. For the past few years distribution has been done prior to the park opening. So get there early!You must have a FASTPASS ticket to receive an autograph. To receive a FASTPASS ticket:
  • Join the line of the celebrity you would most like to meet. You may not save a place in line for other party members.
  • While in line, you will receive a wristband. Your Theme Park admission media and wristband allow you to receive one FASTPASS ticket. Only one autograph FASTPASS ticket per Guest. Each Guest must be present to receive a FASTPASS ticket. You may not get FASTPASS tickets for other members of your party.
  • After receiving your ticket, continue to wear your wristband. You will need to be wearing your wristband to get an autograph. Your FASTPASS ticket will have a designated autograph return time. Until that time, you may enjoy other Star Wars Weekends activities.
  • At your designated time, proceed to the Celebrity Autograph Location at Echo Lake to show your wristband and present your FASTPASS ticket. Once FASTPASS tickets for visiting celebrities are distributed, we may distribute a limited number of stand-by tickets with a return time. Stand-by tickets do not guarantee you an autograph.

Here's a look at last year's Darth's Mall.

Darth's Mall is back for another year. Unless you really really want to get some of that limited edition merchandise like pins, Vinylmations and collectibles you may want to wait until after lunch when the crowds die down. I prefer to wait until the evening hours where I don't have to spend hours in line in the hot sun. There are significantly less people shopping inside the tent as well. It makes for a much better, non-claustrophobic experience. The only drawback to this would be if you were looking to get a piece of merchandise signed like art or books. If you do want to ensure your shot at exclusive merchandise be sure to arrive as soon as the park opens and head straight to Darth's Mall. To get certain artists signature, check your park map/guide for times and try getting there at least an hour (or more) ahead of time so you can work your way through the line. Once again, it all depends on your priorities. Darth’s Mall  is located in the courtyard between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror .

Boba Fett and Kristen have captured a Jedi.

Many children and adults come dressed as their favorite Star Wars characters during this event. It makes for great pictures with the characters, especially with the entire family. Just be sure to pack extra clothes in case you get too hot. You can save a lot of money and perhaps surprise your kids by purchasing them costumes ahead of time. Please visit our friends at Halloween Express where you can take 15% off site-wide with NO minimum purchase!

Bounty Hunter, Aurra Sing, looks like she is staring some trouble!

Be sure to take your camera. You never know when you might run into some random Star Wars character walking about.

Characters you may run into are: Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker, Aurra Sing, Boba Fett, Cantina Band, Chewbacca, Clone Troopers, Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Ewoks, Gamorrean Guard, Jango Fett, Jawas, Jedi Mickey, Kit Fisto, Leia Minnie, Mace Windu, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Queen Amidala, R2-D2, Shaak Ti, Stormtroopers, Stormtrooper Donald, Tusken Raiders, Vader Goofy and Zam Wesell.

Check your daily Guide Map for the best times and locations to meet these characters. I've found that times are very loosely held so please be flexible and keep in mind that characters will need to take breaks and often times be switched out. There will also be several PhotoPass opportunities as well, however by my account they will be few and far between. Your best bet would be to have character handlers to use your camera to take your picture. I generally make friends in long lines and offer to take their picture if they will do the same for me. It's a great way to get your entire party in the picture and do something nice for someone else!

Jedi Mouseketeer and the Sorcerer Radio Network will be covering Star Wars Weekends 2013!

Special thanks to our Star Wars Weekend 2013 event coverage partners:
Halloween Express - Take 15% off site-wide with NO minimum purchase!
Jedi Mouseketeer - Geeky news from universe of DisneyMarvel and Star Wars!
Kristen Hoetzel of Magical Journeys Travel - Book your Disney vacation or cruise today!
WDW After Dark - Weekly Webcast for Adult Disney Fans!
Sorcerer Radio Network - All Disney Music, All Day Long!

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