FINALLY! We have “Star Wars Weekends” at Disneyland! On November 16th, 2015 SEASON OF THE FORCE officially opened, and Star Wars and Disney fans descended upon the Disneyland Resort – along with a few leftover Avengers Half Marathon participants. It made for a crowded day at Disneyland on Monday, but well worth it! We learned several tips and tricks along the way, which we will now pass on to you. Obi-Wan always told us, “pass on what you have learned…”
Here is a Season Of The Force MUST-SEE List for the Star Wars fan:
1. Hyperspace Mountain
We don’t know how long this overlay of Space Mountain will last, but let me tell you, it is AWESOME! THIS is how Space Mountain should always be!
The overlay thrusts you into an X-Wing Starfighter battle in space. There’s a new soundtrack that includes familiar Star Wars themes, recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra!! The ride seems faster, the soundtrack is infinitely better, and it is well worth the 85 minute average wait. Plus, you can get a picture like this:
TIP: Grab a FastPass and you’ll be ahead of the game! In fact, my advice is to head straight for the Hyperspace Mountain Fastpass when you enter the Park, as they are often gone for the day by early afternoon.
2. Star Tours – New Footage
No spoilers here, but let’s just say if you’re a fan of some new characters from THE FORCE AWAKENS, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
TIP: For the next few months, ALL rides will include the new adventure to Jakku that includes scenes and characters from THE FORCE AWAKENS. Star Tours also happens to be a ride you can grab a Fastpass for, but if you have to make a decision between Fastpass for Hyperspace Mountain vs. Star Tours, choose Hyperspace Mountain. The standby line for Star Tours is always shorter.
3. STAR WARS: Path Of The Jedi
This 15-minute short film compiles scenes from all six existing STAR WARS films, following Luke Skywalker’s journey. It is NOT 3D, as I thought it would be. However, it does add some extra-sensory “4D” elements, including lightsaber flashes throughout the theater. My favorite part was seeing iconic scenes with a different soundtrack.
TIP: Listen for Duel Of The Fates in a very unusual spot. And if you haven’t seen the official THE FORCE AWAKENS Trailer in a theater, this is a good place to do it! The trailer (with added elements from other trailers) is shown as a finale to the film.
4. STAR WARS: Launch Bay
Launch Bay is located on the lower level of the Tomorrowland Expo Center (formerly Innoventions). Out of all the new STAR WARS elements in Tomorrowland, Launch Bay was my least favorite. Actual props and costumes from THE FORCE AWAKENS were nowhere to be found. Replicas of props and costumes were everywhere.
If you like seeing that sort of thing up close, then you will really like it. If you’ve been to Star Wars Celebration and other conventions and see these things a lot, it’s not as exciting. But don’t miss the 10-minute video which includes Behind-The-Scenes discussion with filmmakers J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Gareth Edwards and more. Great insight into the making of our continuing STAR WARS saga.
TIP: Enter under this sign on the right side to view Launch Bay. Enter on the left side if you want to wait for pictures with STAR WARS characters.
5. Hug A Wookiee, Battle A Sith
Launch Bay includes Dark Side and Light Side Meet-n-Greets! On the light side, you get a picture with everyone’s favorite Wookiee, Chewbacca! And you meet with the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader, on the dark side. If taking pictures with characters is your thing, don’t miss this.
6. Hang Out In The Cantina
No, this Cantina in Launch Bay does not include food, but it does include great photo ops and surprise visits by Star Wars scum and villainy.
Boba Fett was spotted on opening day of SEASON OF THE FORCE for a short time. Those lucky enough to be in the area snagged a picture with him. But when I asked a Cast Member if he would be back, she would neither confirm or deny. Lines would form in anticipation of another appearance by the Bounty Hunter, but I’m not sure if he ever returned that day.
TIP: You have to be in the right place at the right time to meet certain characters in the cantina.
7. Superhero HQ
Head up the stairs in Launch Bay to enter Superhero HQ, where there are more meet’n’greet opportunities. NEW to the West Coast, you can now meet your friendly neighborhood Spiderman! Unfortunately, Captain America is on leave since Spidey’s arrival. Guess they didn’t get along?
And not to worry, THOR is still available to ooh and aah over as a Meet ‘n’ Greet character. Thank Asgard!
8. First Order TIE Fighters and BB-8s
These aren’t your average Journey To The Force Awakens Toys, they are premium popcorn buckets and drink sippers! Let’s start with the BB-8 sipper cup. This thing is too cute not to get, and is amazingly durable. Each one also has smudges in different places that are meant to be there. I guess they are fresh off of a sandstorm on Jakku?
The TIE Fighter popcorn buckets are HUGE! Like the Cinderella Carriage popcorn bucket, they come with a lanyard which makes it easy to carry on your shoulder or across the body.
TIP: You may want to hang it around your neck like a medal, because if you wear it on your side people bump into it and the wings detach and fall off. The wings ARE detachable so you can fit the TIE in your suitcase, but it’s annoying when you’re in the Park.
Overall the Disneyland Resort team has outdone themselves in creating these replicas. People are going crazy over them and I can see them selling out. If you see a BB-8 sipper or TIE Fighter bucket and think you want one, grab it or they may be gone.
TIP: BB-8 sippers are available at a kiosk outside of Launch Bay, but if you are an AP or DVC member, get your BB-8 sipper in Pizza Port where you get a 10% discount. TIE Fighters are only available at the Tomorrowland popcorn kiosk. You can still get Han Solo in Carbonite buckets at the Galactic Grill, as well as Chewbacca steins.
9. Galactic Grill
For SEASON OF THE FORCE, Tomorrowland Terrace has turned into Galactic Grill. It still serves similar foods to the burgers and salads it had before, but with a dark and light side twist. Here’s the menu:
I’m not a big spicy food fan, and didn’t try any of the savory items. “Darth By Chocolate,” however, caught my eye. I had just run 13.1 miles that morning in the Avengers Half Marathon, I figured it was a good day to try such a delectable treat. “Darth By Chocolate” just may be my path to the Dark Side.
The combination of dark chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse and red velvet cake is gooooooooood. And very addictive. As I sit here writing this, I want another one!
TIP: Pizza Port also has some Star Wars-themed food items, so make sure to check it out.
10. STAR WARS Name Tags!
Previously only available at Disney’s Star Wars Weekends in Orlando, West Coast Star Wars fans are going nuts (myself included) over the 4 different versions of Star Wars Name Tags available for personalization. You can choose Jedi Master, Sith Lord, Star Tours or a special Annual Passholder Star Tours name tag. Each has a different color scheme. Look for the little store next to Galactic Grill to get your totally awesome Star Wars name Tag.
11. COMING DECEMBER 8TH: Jedi Training: TRIALS OF THE TEMPLE
I cannot WAIT for this addition to The Jedi Training Academy! The area around the stage has been blocked off, which means they are working on a whole new set design as well as introducing NEW characters from STAR WARS REBELS. Darth Vader will still be battling kids, but the Seventh Sister Inquisitor will join him on the Dark Side. Look for an update on December 8th!