Star Wars Weekends is just a few weeks away and already people are planning their strategy on how to tackle this very popular annual event. More so than perhaps other events, Star Wars Weekends has its share of good "horror stories" that involve people recommending arrivals at 2 or 3am. So what time exactly do you really need to arrive?
The first question you need to ask yourself to determine what time to arrive to Disney's Hollywood Studios is are you interested in getting celebrity autographs. If you have no desire for an autograph, then you can show up right before park opening like any other day. However, if you do want an autograph then you will need to arrive earlier than that.
For much of Star Wars Weekends, Disney's Hollywood Studios will open at 8am officially. Who you want to meet will dictate when to arrive. If you want to meet one of the Star Wars Weekends hosts (Ashley Eckstein or James Arnold Taylor), you don't have to arrive as early as the other celebs. The reason is these two hosts are there every weekend so there's more opportunity to meet them and the die-hard fans aren't as interested in meeting them.
For those who are attending Star Wars Weekends for the first time, lines form for each celebrity autograph prior to Disney's Hollywood Studios officially opening for the day. Prior to the park opening, Cast Members go down the line and hand out tickets to guests in the order they are lined up. These tickets assure guests of an opportunity to get a FASTPASS for the celebrity autograph they are in line for once the park opens. At park opening, guests go to the celebrity autograph FASTPASS distribution area (usually the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular) and exchange their ticket for a FASTPASS.
There are two types of FASTPASS available: guaranteed and standby. If you arrive later, you may get a standby FASTPASS which means if there's time and/or the celebrity wants to, you may get an autograph. Most of the time the celebrities honor the standby line but there are a few celebs who may pass due to personal or scheduling reasons.
So what time should you arrive? In my opinion, there's the "magic" time of 6am. Arriving prior to 6am is nice, but you'll see a trickle of people and anytime before 6am will garner you "pick of the litter" in terms of which celebrity autograph line to hop on. After 6am, you start to get the more casual Star Wars fans showing up and by 7am, you'd think it was already 9am with the line that will be there.
Certainly weekend one (especially that Friday) will garner the biggest lines of the whole event and so what time you arrive depends on how determined you are to get an autograph. If an autograph would be nice, but not essential, then you can try showing up at 7am and seeing what's available. But if you're dead-set on getting an autograph, you're going to need to wake up mighty early to get a spot in line.