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Monday, June 3, 2013

Disney's Star Wars Weekends 2013

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to Walt Disney World for their annual Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios! This is the third time I've experienced this event (the first was in 2008 and the last was in 2011), unfortunately I was unable to attend last year, but this year's celebration was extra special since it was the 30th anniversary of Return of the JediStar Wars Weekends is a month long celebration of Star Wars featuring special guests, celebrities, characters and entertainment! This year's special guests included hosts James Arnold Taylor (the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Plo-Koon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Also featured this year are: Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Captain Rex – Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Jim Cummings (voice of Hondo Ohnaka – Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Sam Witwer (voice of Darth Maul – Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and Tom Kane (voice of Yoda – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)!
Warwick Davis
As I was only able to attend the third weekend this time, I was however able to meet and get autographs from Tim rose and Sam Witwer. I have met other guests including Anthony Daniels, Warwick Davis, James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein in previous years.
Star Wars Weekends continues to grow not only in activities and special guests, but also in attendance. Many fans, both young and old, flock to Star Wars Weekends on regular basis. While some of the more interactive activities are meant for younger audiences, such as the "Padawan Mind Challenge" and the "Hyperspace Hoopla!", both hosted by Snig & Oopla at the Event Stage. The whole event starts off with the "Legends of the Force" Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome which features a parade including all the Disney/Star Wars characters, special guests and celebrities and also members of the 501st: "Vader's Fist", Florida Garrison and The Rebel Legion. One of the biggest draws at Star Wars Weekends is of course all the exclusive merchandise and collectibles available only at "Darth's Mall" along with photo opportunities with Star Wars characters and this year features an almost life-size Rancor! One of the most popular (and expensive) collectibles available at Star Wars Weekends is the "Carbon-Freeze Me" and a personalized Stormtrooper available at the D-Tech Me Experience Star Wars Weekends also features several entertaining shows for fans of the Clone Wars show from Cartoon Network including "Behind the Force: Star Wars Voices" hosted by Ashley Eckstein, along with "Obi-Wan and Beyond" and "Stars of the Saga" hosted by James Arnold Taylor. The most entertaining show at this year's Star Wars Weekends has to be "An Ewok's Tale-My Short Story" starring Warwick Davis. In it he tells his "short" life-story including how he got the parts as Wicket, the Ewok in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Willow and the Harry Potter series.
The Rancor!
As popularity for Star Wars never fails to grow even after 36 years, despite the recent controversy over Disney buying Lucasfilm from George Lucas, the upcoming release of Episode VII directed by J.J. Abrams in 2015, not to mention the cancellation of the immensely popular Clone Wars show from Cartoon Network and the upcoming new animated series Star Wars Rebels on Disney Channel XD in 2014! It is an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan and it is both a pleasure and a relief to have annual events like Star Wars Weekends and Star Wars Celebration where fans can come together and revel in all things Star Wars! I hope to attend next year's Star Wars Weekends and hope to see you there as well! "May the Force Be With You!" and See you next year!