There's just one week left in Star Wars Weekends and it's shaping up to be another great year of intergalactic fun. I've enjoyed spending part of my weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios to indulge in my Star Wars obsession and from the look of it, so have lots of other people too. With the event winding down this year, it's easy to draw a few conclusions as to what is and isn't working at Star Wars Weekends.
Sorcerers Hat Stage
Ever since Disney added a stage in front of the Sorcerer's Hat for select Star Wars Weekend events, it's been a bonus for guests. Previously these events were held on the Jedi Training Academy stage and it just lead to incredibly crowded conditions. With the Sorcerer's Hat stage, there's far more room and everything but the Hyperspace Hoopla affords plenty of room.
The popularity of Star Wars Weekends continues to increase the crowds we see, but having the Sorcerer's Hat stage host the Padawan Mind Challenge, Hyperspace Hoopla and other events helps more guests see the shows.
Whoever thought up the idea to stick snacks like churros, ice cream and corn dogs in R2-D2 buckets deserves a raise because guests are buying these up everywhere I see. The line for the frozen lemonades in them at Peevy's Polar Pipeline always seems to be quite long. It's a simple idea but people really seem to respond well to it.
Cast Member helpfulness
I think the Walt Disney World Cast Members always do a tremendous job but this year I really felt like the Cast Members as a whole that were working Star Wars Weekends really had a good handle on what was going on. Between my personal experiences with them and observing others interacting with them, it seems the Cast was on top of what was happening around the event and had answers.
With an event as large as Star Wars Weekends, there's always going to be questions or concerns and it was refreshing to see so many knowledgable and helpful faces to assist with them. Kudos to the Hollywood Studios team for doing a great job again this year!
I love the Hyperspace Hoopla but it's become the event to come and see and as a result, it's really, really crowded. I do think one easy solution is to show the Hyperspace Hoopla on the large screen that hangs above the stage. Right now, that screen just shows images and occasional videos to suppliment what's happening on the stage.
Speaking with other guests, it seems most people don't even watch what's on the screen but for those people further in back of the stage, having the screen used to show what's on stage would be a major benefit. It's like when you're at a concert or football game and they show what's happening in front of you on the huge video screens in the stadium.
I hate to be the guest that complains about long lines at Walt Disney World, but the lines for characters seemed to me to be the longest I've ever seen at Star Wars Weekends. I don't know what can really be done about it, but I dont remember seeing such long lines for even the less popular characters. Darth Vader, Darth Maul and the Disney characters always have always had long lines but this year the bounty hunters, jawas and others have had gargantuan lines.
With the exception of the storm troopers, the other walk around characters seemed to have fared better with managing wait times but it just goes to show you popular Star Wars Weekends have become.
Shorter parade route
One biproduct of the addition of the Sorcerer's Hat stage has been the Star Wars parade around noon time has been substantially shortened and frankly, that needs to change. I've never seen the crowd for a parade like I have this year. Usually you can at least find a few bad spots to watch the parade, but there wasn't an inch of pavement to be found and I noticed guests snagging up spots up to two hours before the start of the parade!
Officially the parade route is down Hollywood Boulevard and ending at the Sorcerer's Hat, although some characters do continue down Echo Lake after reaching the hat (just the celebs get off at the Sorcerer's Hat). I think they should resume doing the parade from Hollywood Boulevard to Star Tours and drop the little post-parade show at the Sorcerer's Hat.
The good news is Disney is always listening and looking to improve their events and Star Wars Weekends is no exception. I firmly believe there is always room for improvement but I really enjoyed Star Wars Weekends this year and will relish in one more weekend of Star Wars goodness before it all ends this weekend.