The minute Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise, we all knew that the galaxy far, far away was about to get so much closer. If you have even one Star Wars fan in the house, you’re marching orders have already been set. Schedule your next family vacation for Walt Disney World and plan on spending plenty of time at Hollywood Studios.
If this is your first time to Hollywood Studios, there is a lot you need to know . . . especially if traveling with young Jedi who have big expectations. How do you make the most of your day? What should you do first? Do you really have to get to the park early if you want to do Jedi Training?
Here is what you need to know and what you can expect during your visit to Hollywood Studios. I have included many tips, including those things you should know to avoid disappointment (like what you need in order to trade successfully with the Jawas).
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
The Jedi Training Academy (for children 4-12 years of age) is a fun, interactive 20-minute show where kids get in on the story. The young Jedi learn a brief fighting/training routine and get to battle either Darth Vader or the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels. It is awesome!
Here is what you need to know:
Get there early. Registration begins when the park opens and availability is limited. Jedi Training is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. We arrived at Hollywood Studios 45 minutes before it opened and there was already a crowd. It also happened to be an Extra Magic Hour day which meant 7:15am park arrival! (Good thing my husband is game for the fun!)
We went through security and waited awhile in line for admission where you scan your magic band or ticket. They did open those lines early and then held everyone at the base of Hollywood Blvd. This helps congestion at park opening. At 8:00am (Extra Magic Hour opening), they let us go.
I’m not going to lie – it was crazy. We were close to the front of the “rope drop” line and people made a mad dash towards sign-up for Jedi Training. We were walking fast, very fast. Go with the crowd and hold your babies’ hands.
Good To Know: If you are not a Disney hotel guest and it is an Extra Magic Hour for resort guests, I do wonder whether you stand any chance of getting registered before all space is filled. You are entering the park an hour after the resort guests. My suggestion is to check the park calendar and avoid these days. Extra Magic Hours generally happen for Hollywood Studios in the morning once a week.
How and where to register: Registration is past the 50’s Prime Time Cafe and before Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! However, for the early morning crowds, they use the queue lines of Indiana Jones for the large number of guests.
When you get closer to the registration kiosks, a cast member will give you a show guide and ask you to be ready with your time choice. When you get to the kiosk, you will give your kids’ names and pick a show time.
Good to Know: First, YOUR KIDS MUST BE PRESENT WITH YOU TO REGISTER. Second, you will be told to arrive 30 MINUTES PRIOR to show time. Check your Fast Pass times so that you can be sure to make your Jedi Training Show time. You will be given registration slips for each registered child. Don’t lose them.
Arriving Prior to Show Time: When you arrive, there are two rows of circles for the kids to sit on. While there is a chance that the cast members will move your children around (especially taller kids), the front row of circles will fight Darth Vader and the back row will fight the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. Once the cast members check in the children with their registration slip, they will receive a Jedi robe.
Good To Know: While we arrived right at the 30 minute prior mark, most of the circles were already claimed. You don’t have to worry about being locked out of the show because you are registered. However, if your child has their heart set on fighting Darth Vader, you will probably want to arrive early enough to claim a front circle. (And hopefully, this process won’t change in the future.)
Closer to show time, the group of kids and parents will parade to the temple. Yes, parade needs to be the verb in this case because it is so cute . . . 20 younglings in Jedi robes with the front two kids carrying a banner. It is a fun picture moment. Parents will stay with their kids until arrival at the temple stage.
Good To Know: This show is outdoors and if there is inclement weather, the show does get cancelled. Pray for good weather!
The Show Itself: The show is a fun story of courage, patience and teamwork. I’m not going to tell you who all makes an appearance, but it isn’t just Vader. The kids are called on to use the force and work together, as well as individually getting to fight the villains.
Be sure to get the photo pass card from the photographer. Each line of kids gets a different photographer and different photo pass card. The front row of kids (from the circles) goes to the upper level stage and the back row of kids goes to the lower stage. Parents and viewers stand against the rope to watch the show.
The stage is in a very open area with no shade. We had a morning time slot and my kids were on the lower stage. To look up to the temple was challenging. I made sure they were wearing their sunglasses, even though it isn’t my favorite when it comes to photos.
At the end of the show, each participant receives a JEDI TRAINING pin (a large one, not the trading pin kind). It is a great experience and not one to miss.
The Star Wars Launch Bay
The Launch Bay is home to a theater, galleries and exhibits, meet and greets with favorite (and non-favorite) characters and trading with the Jawas. It also has a Star Wars store for the fan looking to pick up some new gear. Here is what to expect for each part.
The 10 Minute Behind-The-Scenes Movie: Dan and my son went and saw this short film and really enjoyed it. It reminded Dan of the longer feature on the making of Star Wars that comes with the boxed set of movies.
Good To Know: The Star Wars characters do NOT sign autographs. They only know the Star Wars realm.
Meet & Greet with Chewbacca: This was probably my most favorite Meet & Greet of the entire trip. There is something super cool about stepping into the same room as Chewbacca and giving him a hug. It was surreal and so fun.
Good to Know: Our waits to meet Chewbacca and Kylo Ren were amazingly short. We arrived early at the park as mentioned, signed up for Jedi Training and then went straight to the Launch Bay. The crowds were low at this point and lines were short. It was awesome!
Meet & Greet with Kylo Ren: Oh boy. This guy. Kylo Ren is in character all the way. He storms around the room. He is not friendly. He is awkward to be around. We had the most uncomfortable 30-45 second stare down which resulted in my 7 year old daughter hiding behind me. This is what comes about when meeting such a villian.
Good To Know: Unfortunately, we did not have the best experience with Kylo Ren in that he refused to take a photo with my son alone. Rather, he told us multiple times, “Leave quickly.” I have spoken with Disney about this in that we purchased the Memory Maker and a character’s refusal to take a photo with a child doesn’t quite meet my happy Disney expectations. Hopefully, your encounter with Kylo Ren will be less awkward. But just in case, I wanted you to know. Thankfully, my son wasn’t disappointed. We were able to play it off in talking about how mean Kylo Ren was and wasn’t that just crazy?!
Meet & Greet with BB-8: BB-8 was not doing Meet & Greets at the time our trip, but I hear he is now. This would be such a fun meet & greet. If you see him, leave a comment below and tell us how it went.
Update: Disney has removed the Jawas from Hollywood Studios. I have yet to hear if they will be returning. It was such a fun meet and greet so I hope they will come back at some point.
Trading with Jawas: At different times throughout the day, two Jawas will be in the Cantina room trading with guests. They made their appearance at 9am when we were there (even on an Extra Magic Hour morning).
There are no lines for Jawas. You simply approach them and offer a trade or snap a photo.
Good To Know: If you don’t have something the Jawas want, they WILL NOT trade. On our first try, the Jawas would not trade with my son. We had brought Star Wars temporary tatoos and a pen. And while the Jawa looked at everything, he shook his head no and moved on.
I asked a Cast Member what they like and he told me Jawas like shiny, sparkly or glowing things. If you have your phone out near them, they will grab it.
So on our next visit to Hollywood Studios, I brought glow sticks and my daughter successfully traded for an R2 part. It was so fun and became one of our favorite things to do.
Now, I will warn you that as dusk approaches, I saw several kids trying to trade glow sticks and either the Jawas weren’t interested at that point or they had run out of their own items to trade. My kids later decided simply to give their glow sticks to the Jawas and were received with warm hugs (which completely thrilled them). It was sweet.
Used with permission: Jedi94 at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues:
Star Tours is a 3D, motion-simulated space flight (and currently, the only Star Wars “ride”). I have never done it because I get motion-sick, but my husband and kids love it. There are multiple story combinations so it is likely that each experience will be different.
The March of the Storm Troopers:
At set times throughout the day, the dark side music will play and the Storm Troopers will march through the center of the park. It is ominous but fun. Check the program guide or the large screen near the stage for times.
I especially enjoyed the random Storm Troopers moving through the park. I stopped to take a photo of one very close to me and he replied in typical Storm Trooper voice, “You’re welcome, Citizen” as if he had done me a great favor.
Star Wars, A Galaxy Far Far Away (Daytime Show):
At this show, many characters come out and make an appearance. There really isn’t a story-line, rather it feels more like an introduction to the characters. Even so, the show is a must-do. You’ll see photos and movie clips on the large screens and enjoy various special effects with each character. Check the program guide for show times.
The Path of the Jedi Movie:
Dan took both kids to see this 10-minute short film and it really needs a SPOILER ALERT warning. My daughter learned things she did not know because she has not yet seen many of the movies. My husband probably enjoyed the behind-the-scenes short film better than this one. The Path of the Jedi was mostly movie clips that quickly took you through the Star Wars saga.
The Star Wars Galactic Spectacular:
If I could do one big thing again at Hollywood Studios, it would be to see this firework, laser and special effect show again. It was truly spectacular.
This show involves large screens and makes use of Grauman’s Chinese Theater (The Great Movie Ride). If you want to see the theater and screens, you need to be somewhere on Hollywood Boulevard. If you want the best seat and to feel like you are in the middle of the action, stand between the stage and the gray/beige pillars. You will be caught up in the dog fights with lasers shooting above your head and so much more. It is awesome!!
Disney is working on a Star Wars land, what will be its largest single-theme expansion (14-acres) to a Disney park. From their site: “The massive new land will transport you to a never-before-seen planet—a remote trading port that acts as one of the last stops before wild space—where Star Wars characters and stories come to life.” It should be complete in 2019.
If you are looking something above and beyond to interest your young rebel, guests at Disney Resort hotels can book an “augmented-reality, smartphone mission to defeat the Empire.” It is very pricey but I am sure it exceeds all expectations. Learn more here.
Have you visited Hollywood Studios? Ask your questions or tell us about your experience in the comments below.