If you’re going to Star Wars Weekends this year, you will be going to a park that will be absolutely brimming with park guests and something many park guests do not know beforehand is the need to plan out what you want to do with Star Wars Weekends. I wish I could say you could simply walk in one day and do and see it all, but you can’t and that’s because of the crowds associated with the event. Therefore, it’s imperative you have a plan of attack and your plan will follow one of three “tracks” based on what your priority is.
Priority is a key word, because you need to prioritize what you want to do while at Star Wars Weekends. As I mentioned earlier, there are three tracks: merchandise, events and celebrities. Ideally you would use the three days per weekend to break the event apart and do all three on each day. Likely, you cannot, which is why I emphasize prioritizing what you want to do. If you’re going to Star Wars Weekends, I would suggest sitting down and thinking to yourself, “Ok, what is most important to me?” It’s not to say you can’t do all three of those things in one day, but it will be exceedingly difficult and whatever is most important to you is what you should emphasize in your planning so you can get it done.
If merchandise is your priority, then you’ll likely want to go on the Friday you’re down there as merchandise sells out quickly. And when we’re talking about merchandise, we have two kinds: limited and regular stuff. Regular stuff is easy enough to get your hands on, such as Star Wars Weekend shirts and general Star Wars merchandise that you could get at any Toys R Us or Wal-Mart. The limited edition merchandise is very tricky. These limited edition items go fast and so you’ll want to make sure you can go buy them as soon as the park opens. The mecca of Star Wars merchandise is Tattoine Traders (the shop at the exit of Star Tours), however this store will be flooded with people looking to buy something. If the item you’re looking for is sold here, it’s crucial that you get there as the park opens to ensure you get whatever it is you’re looking for. And remember, you don’t have to carry the item with you all day. If you’re a Disney resort guest, you can have the item sent back to your room, otherwise anyone can have the item delivered to the front of the park to be picked up as you leave.
Be aware that not all Star Wars merchandise needs to be purchased at Tattoine Traders. If you’re looking for regular Star Wars Weekend merchandise, try Golden Age Souvenirs (store next to Sounds Dangerous). Much of the limited edition art work can be found at the Animation Gallery store (exit to Magic of Disney Animation in the Animation Courtyard) and in the past they’ve had the artists themselves there to sign the art and to talk to.
If events are what is most important, you’ll want to sign up for any event you want to participate in right as the park opens. In years past, the desk to sign up as been near Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Here you can register yourself or your kids for the trivia trials, your kids for the Star Wars parade or get information on any other event going on. By signing up right as the park opens, you will ensure yourself (or your kids) of a spot in the event.
If your child wants to participate in the Jedi Training Academy, you cannot sign up in advance for it and I would suggest showing up with your kid to the stage (to the “left” of Star Tours) 20-30 minutes before the start of the Jedi Training Academy. Make sure your child is right up front and when the Jedi Master comes to select volunteers, make sure your child knows he/she needs to show lots of enthusiasm to get chosen (i.e. jumping up and down, waving the arms, etc). For the other events, you will want to show up about 10 minutes early to ensure you can get a good spot to view the shows and with the busy schedule of events throughout the day, you will likely be going from one event to another.
The celebrities at Star Wars Weekend are very popular and if you want to meet them all (two celebrity guests + Star Wars Weekend M.C. Jay Laga'aia), you will need to take advantage of the FASTPASS system in place to get autographs. There are usually 3 autograph sessions per day (basically allowing you to see each celebrity). You will want to be at the park before the gates are opened to make sure you will be in prime position. When the Studios opens, head directly for the FASTPASS line of the celebrity that you want to see. A great strategy is to have someone else in your party split up to get a FASTPASS for another celebrity at the same time, allowing you to get two celebrity’s done in session.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s very important to be at the Studios well before the park is slated to open. I would advise 45-60 minutes before park opening, both to get a good spot as well as to see the funny Storm Trooper bit that occurs before the park opens on the roof of the entrance. You don’t have to do anything I’ve outlined here to enjoy Star Wars Weekends, but if you want to buy something special or meet a celebrity or participate in an event, these tips will all but guarantee you of accomplishing your goal.