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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Star Wars Weekends 2014

Another Summer, another Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios! This was my 5th time to experience Star Wars Weekends since my first in 2008. Every year seems to get better and better with more guests, more events, and even more surprises! This years' theme "Join The Rebellion" coincided with the announcement of Disney XD's newest animated series Star Wars Rebels, premiering this Fall. Leading up to Star Wars Weekends, Disney hosted an exclusive Rebel Rendezvous on May 15th to give fans an early preview of Star Wars Weekends merchandise available! Although Star Wars Weekends takes place from May 16 to June 15 this year, I was only able to go to the parks on May 23-25. Hosted by James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on Clone Wars) this weekends guests featured Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ashoka Tano on Clone Wars), also Warwick Davis (Wicket (Ewok) Star Wars Eps. VI), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, Star Wars Eps. V & VI) and Tiya Sircar (voice of Sabine Wren, Star Wars Rebels). I got to meet Jeremy Bulloch and got a picture and autograph from Boba Fett himself! Since the acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney has some big plans for Star Wars but it has very little affect on the already successful Star Wars fan event. If anything, we shall no doubt see even more additions and special events to future Star Wars Weekends. One of the biggest draws for Star Wars fans and Disney collectors alike is of course all of the exclusive merchandise available at "Darth's Mall". Some of this year's items included special pin lanyards that look like the medals Luke and Han (but not Chewbacca!) were awarded in Eps. IV. Also available at "Ackbar's Snackbar" were limited edition Darth Vader popcorn buckets and Stormtrooper mugs, (which unfortunately sold-out very quickly!). One of the most unique additions to this year's Star Wars Weekends was through the augmented reality app Aurasma where you can view special animations and videos just by scanning certain images on Star Wars Weekends merchandise.
Surprisingly, Disney added another weekend  to Star Wars Weekends which featured a VERY special celebrity guest: Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamil from June 6-8. Also appearing was Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) and Ray Park (Darth Maul, Eps. I) and Taylor Gray (voice of Ezra Bridger, Star Wars Rebels).
Unfortunately, I was unable to go to this weekends' event. The unfortunate thing about Star Wars Weekends is they don't announce the weekends where specific celebrities are scheduled to appear until only a few weeks before the event which makes vacation planning for those who live in other states virtually impossible and only the luck of the draw (or belief in the Force!) will you be able to see the celebrities you want. I had already met Warwick Davis in a previous events along with Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Ray Park. Star Wars Weekends has many events and special shows to see during the weekend including Legends of the Force: Celebrity Motorcade, the Padawan Mind Challenge, celebrity talk-shows, and more! Not to mention the other Star Wars events available year-round such as the Star Tours ride and the Jedi Training Academy. Possibly the best event for this years Star Wars Weekends was the addition of a nightly music and fireworks show called "Symphony in the Stars", which was an impressive and wonderful end to Star Wars Weekends!