It's hard to believe, but we're just two weeks away from the start of Star Wars Weekends 2012 and I know there are lots of families that are gearing up for their annual pilgrimages to Disney's Hollywood Studios. While overgrown kids like myself love to spend time at Star Wars Weekends, the truth is there is a lot for the kids to enjoy at this annual gala. So if your little padawans want to learn the ways of the force, then try some of these fun opportunities!
If I were a kid, there's no question the single coolest thing to do at Star Wars Weekends is be part of the Star Wars parade. Disney takes children that volunteer to march along the Storm Troopers, Rebel Alliance, and everyone else in the 11am(ish) parade.
If you want your child to be a part of the parade, you'll need to head to the Star Wars Weekends information desk (usually at Sounds Dangerous) as soon as possible and sign your child up. Ideally, do this as soon as Disney's Hollywood Studios opens for the day because spots for this fill up fast. Disney provides the kids Jedi robes and lightsabers for use during the parade. It's a really fun and unique thing to do.
While you're signing up your child for the Star Wars motorcade, step to your right and sign them up for the Jedi Training Academy. While the Jedi Training Academy is offered every day at Disney's Hollywood Studios, there's something extra cool about the show during Star Wars Weekends. There's more energy in the show thanks to a larger-than-usual audience and Disney also adds either Darth Maul or Asajj Ventress to compliment Darth Vader as the enemy the young padawans will face.
Like the motorcade, you will need to sign up as early as possible in the day. Sign up occurs at Sounds Dangerous as well, where a Cast Member will give you a time to return for their show. Your child should be between 4-12 years old to really be able to enjoy and understand this fun attraction. I'm still working on getting Disney to let me try out.
Be sure that your child doesn't end up like this little girl who clearly was raised with some different values.
Sure it'll be hotter than Mustafar during Star Wars Weekends, but kids love to dress up for the event. Find your child a costume to wear to the park and it will definitely help get them in the mood for the event and excited. You can purchase commercially available costumes or make your own. Lots of guests (young and old) wear costumes and your child will fit right in.
I did mention that it can be very hot in May and June in Orlando, so if your child does dress up, bring a spare set of regular clothes for them to change into once the novelty is replaced with lots of sweat. With the multitude of Star Wars characters in the park, dressing up can make for some really great photos.
If your child is more than a casual fan of Star Wars and knows his/her stuff, enroll them in the Padawan Mind Challenge, which is a kids Star Wars trivia contest. For the kids, it's a great way to show off their knowledge. For the adults, it's entertaining to see the kids flagrantly cheat off each other and see who is left at the end.
Having seen this event many times, it's okay if your child doesn't know it all. It's just a fun and light-hearted contest that isn't taken too seriously. You'll see lots of kids up there just enjoying being on stage so as long as your kids know the basics, they should enjoy it.
You'll find a wide assortment of Star Wars characters all around Disney's Hollywood Studios to meet and kids love it. The characters are more than just stand and pose. Jawas offer to trade your junk for their junk, Storm Troopers roam the park looking for Jedi, the Gamorrean Guard will hassle anyone suspicious and there's plenty more. For kids, especially those that dress up, this will be the opportunity to live out some fantasies of interacting with these classic characters.
With regards to meeting the characters, there are two basic types: roaming and fixed. Roaming characters (Storm troopers, Jawas, etc) will appear throughout the park and walk around and stop and meet guests on demand. Fixed characters (Darth Vader, Luke & Leia, etc) have a spot you can line up to meet theme.
In addition to the Star Wars characters, there is also the Fab 4 Disney characters that dress up in Star Wars garb that guests can meet. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy are all dressed up and even the most casual Star Wars fans will enjoy this opportunity. A word of caution, there is one line for all four characters and so the characters regularly change so the Disney character you see when you get on line may not be the character you meet.
Have you brought your children to Star Wars Weekends before? What did they enjoy?