Star Wars Weekends with a Personal Touch
“We can’t give in,” I told Sarah again and again with each passing year that Star Wars Weekends came to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. We were hoping our absence would mean a lower attendance number and Disney would think about bringing this event here to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. We even started a Facebook Page to bring Star Wars Weekends here. Every year we suffered as we heard all the amazing stories from other fans meeting the stars and taking pics with their favorite characters.
So after all that torture do you know what we did? We gave in and went to Star Wars Weekends in Orlando,
and it was THE BEST TIME EVER!
(Listen along to this Blog Post here as you look at all the fun pics)
We were there there for the second of five Star Wars Weekends which was held May 23-May 25th. We arrived very early Friday morning, got off the plane, dropped off our luggage at the Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort and raced to Hollywood Studios. Sarah and I planned to meet up with our new podcasting friends and were very excited to get there.
We weren’t inside the park 2 minutes when we met with familiar voices Tricia Barr and Teresa Delgado from the podcast, Fangirls Going Rogue, and who have been guests on our show many times. Now, it was great to put a face with a voice.
What’s the first thing Star Wars fans do when they all get together at Disney? Ride Star Tours of course. Our group got even bigger before we boarded the Star Speeder 1000 with the likes of Jimmy Mac of Rebel Force Radio, Jedi Shua from TechnoRetro Dads and many others. (Comment on this post if we missed you – we’ll add you in)
I’m glad someone had the sense to take a group photo of all of us before our intergalactic adventure. We all hooped and hollered as the ride began taking us to planets and battles from Star Wars. It was like a frat party gone rogue (that one was for you girls) and, appropriately, Tricia Barr was our Rebel Spy!!
Time was ticking and we had to depart from the group. “Sorry we have to leave, we’ve got to go and interview Jeremy Bulloch.” The last time someone angered this bounty hunter they ended up in carbonite.
Our hearts beat faster and faster as Jeremy was escorted over to us in the cast member/VIP lounge. We only had 10 minutes so we got right to work hoping to fit in most of the 25 questions (some from us, some from listeners) we had compiled. As he answered our first question my mind went to, “I’m sitting across from Boba Fett!”
I quickly snapped back before I felt like a Bantha-butt and continued my questions. He was very soft spoken which made him a little hard to hear in this noisy lounge. I was happy to hear him pull out obscure Boba references which meant he really knew his character to keep up with fans expectations.
Luckily Sarah kept us on track with the time even though her attention was split as she noticed Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor buzzing around and Warwick Davis at the next table being interviewed by Jimmy Mac. The entire interview can be heard on our Podcast Episode 32.
Unfortunately our time had come to a close with the fearsome bounty hunter. He had answered a good amount of our questions including a listener question by @DarthTaxus and was whisked away to his stage show, Stars Of The Saga.
How could this moment get any better? By having James Arnold Taylor stop by for a photo op, that’s how! To quote The LEGO Movie – EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
And THEN having James Arnold Taylor tweet about meeting you!!
Ran into @SkywalkingPod at #SWW2014! #MTFBWY pic.twitter.com/STo7HOpqt2
— James Arnold Taylor (@JATactor) May 23, 2014
Big shout-out and thanks to Gary Buchanan who is the keeper of the stars at Disney for making this happen at the last minute for us. We then had FastPass wristbands to meet the newest member of the Star Wars family and Rebels voice actress, Tiya Sircar. It’s great meeting the stars at the ground level and seeing their reactions to all this attention and craziness. We tried to slip in a few questions which would have revealed some Rebels plot secrets but she was quickly on to our grift. So unfortunately we have no new Rebels news 🙁 We did try. What happened next was pretty thrilling for us. As Sarah and I were walking to get into line for the Behind The Force: Star Wars Rebels show, we were called out. “Hey, it’s Skywalking Through Neverland,” Daniel Berry (@thedeebear) said as he saw our new podcast T-shirts. I’m not sure he knew it was us so we went over and introduced ourselves. It was an honor meeting Daniel and his fiancé Lindsay (who we met later on at the Symphony In The Stars fireworks show) and was a highlight since we all became good fast friends. Rebel Force Radio had been planning a meet up for weeks and I was very excited we were part of it. This was where we were going to meet other podcasters, many whose shows I was a big fan. I am a podcast junkie so I was excited to meet Aljon Go from Sorcerer Radio, Eric Gellar from ForceCast and of course Jimmy Mac. Excitement was buzzing in the air as everyone gathered. We knew this would be a great opportunity for interviews so we brought our mics and recorder. I’m so glad we did since we talked to so many people from all over the world. This is what fandom is all about, one common interest that brings everyone together and spreads happiness.
There were more shows and more new friends to meet including Joe Pfab, who marched in the motorcade parade as Clone Trooper Capt. Boomer, who we met at James Arnold Taylor’s show, Obi-Wan and Beyond. There was also a fun moment during the show that we tweeted out and he responded:
High five from @JATactor at ObiWan and Beyond! pic.twitter.com/HBzRNK5Znd — Skywalking Neverland (@SkywalkingPod) May 25, 2014
After that it was time for the Symphony In The Stars Fireworks Finale. We ate ourselves silly at the dessert party where there as many Yoda and Darth Vader cupcakes as you can eat. And what is a cupcake buffet without Star Wars specialty adult beverages? It was a good thing we weren’t driving.
DJ Lobot was on stage getting the crowd ready for the finale show which was incredible. James Arnold Taylor brought up all the meet-and-greet characters from heroes and villains to Jedi and bounty hunters. Seeing prequel, original trilogy and Clone Wars characters all together was thrilling, unifying and heart-warming.
Our third and final day at Star Wars Weekends was reserved for taking character pics. Sarah was especially excited to see Mickey, Minnie, and the Chipmunks dressed in their Star Wars best. For the occasion, Sarah wore her own Star Wars/Disney creation – JediTink!
Sarah’s favorite character pic was the Chipmunk Ewoks who were incredibly adorable.
However it was her pic with Chewbacca and Wicket the Ewok that blew up on Instagram.
I, myself, have an affinity for Tatooine inhabitants so I had fun taking selfies with Jawas and being attacked by Tusken Raiders.
When it came to select which pieces of merchandise to add to our collection, we threw caution (or our credit cards) to the wind and pretty much picked up mostly everything (including the give-away for our current contest. We’re sure the winner will be very, very happy). Sarah headed right for Ashley Eckstein’s Her Universe section and grabbed her Han Solo-inspired dress. We also lucked out to find Ashley at the Her Universe booth, and of course we had to say hello!
The fun didn’t stop there. We were there to make the most out of every second and, against our better judgement, we park-hopped with Tricia, Teresa and several other of our new friends over to the Magic Kingdom for their 24-hour party. And, after only a 45 minute wait (out of a projected 90), we got to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster ride. (You can hear the review on our Episode 32).
This was so an unexpected surprise since it wasn’t due to officially open until the day AFTER we left. SPOILER ALERT: Definitely worth the wait.
Then, Star Wars Weekends was all over and all our new friends had gone home to their part of the world. We were there an extra day so we relaxed by going to the Magic Kingdom again and eating lunch at the new Beast’s Castle which is a great replica from Beauty and the Beast.
I even got to watch Gaston, the big muscle-headed jerk from Beauty and the Beast, flirt with Sarah. (I think she liked it. Watch the video.)
We tried to Get on the on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride again but after an hour waiting time, the ride closed due to impending lightning and rain. On the up-side, we had a dry place to wait out the storm. On the downside the two little girls who were with the family we became fast friends with welled up with tears and started crying. It’s hard to tell two young girls that the ride they’ve been looking forward to the most is closed when it was just within arms reach.
To say this whole experience was anything short of life-changing would be an understatement. I didn’t think it was possible but this really does rival the Star Wars Celebration conventions in terms of personal experiences. And to think we almost didn’t go. We would like to thank our travel agent Autumn Barnes for guiding us through our journey and making all the necessary arrangements. Listen to Skywalking Through Neverland Episode 32 for more highlights and survival tips. Never land on Alderaan, but always land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Star Wars Weekends!
The companion piece to this Blog is our Podcast Episode 32 with all of our Special Guests. The RebelForce Radio Meet-up is an especially fun listen.
You can also listen on iTunes and Stitcher.
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