With Star Wars Weekends 2006 blasting off today at MGM, I thought fans might get a little boost into hyperspace by reading this sound-enhanced account of last year’s visit to the galaxy far, far away. Enjoy . . . and may the Force be with you!
Another day of flying (Han) solo at the parks while DW is out of town . . . and while I avoid chores around the house . . .
. . . It’s the first day of the second Star Wars Weekend, so MGM, here I come. I get a late start and don’t arrive at the park until 2 p.m., but what does it matter when you don’t have an itinerary? I can tell by where I have to park – in the far reaches of Music – that it’s going to be CROWDED.
Sure enough, Hollywood Boulevard is jammed, but it’s not long before I’m transported to a galaxy far, far away. As I approach Star Tours, I pass park guests dressed in their Star Wars finery. There’s Princess Leia, complete with cinnamon-bun hairdo. And young Luke (nah, he couldn’t have been that short). And Darth (uh-oh, seems like you’ve put on a few pounds).
I pick up a FastPass for Star Tours (it seems kind of obligatory to do the ride considering it’s a Star Wars Weekend) and notice the long lines to my right and left. One line is for people waiting to get into Tatooine Traders so they can buy new Star Wars merchandise and the other is for people waiting to have their picture taken with Chewbacca, that noisy Wookiee. Yikes!!
Although I’m far from being a Star Wars fanatic, I do enjoy the movies. That being said, I decide to see what all the merchandise fuss is about and take my place in the Tatooine Traders line. I learn from others around me that last weekend it sometimes took more than 30 minutes just to get into the store. Yikes, again!! My wait, though, is only about 10 minutes. The store is packed (made worse because people exiting Star Tours do so through the store) and it’s difficult to move, much less look at anything.
I see lots of plastic blasters and landspeeders and finally ask a Cast Member if there are any Star Wars pins. Hey, that I can relate to. She tells me the store has only new merchandise and that Star Wars collectibles like pins and official T-shirts are located in the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost. Huh??? Who knew Indy and Darth were in the same galaxy?
Off to Adventure Outpost I go, where I find the pins aren’t actually on display. They’re behind the cash registers, and you have to ask to see them. So, I stand empty-handed in a cash register line, in a store that has nothing to do with Star Wars, waiting to see something I’m not even sure I’m going to buy. Thankfully, the CM behind the register is very nice. She shows me the three pins that are being sold this weekend – I don’t take the bait and ask her about pins of past or upcoming weekends – and decide on a pin that features a menacing Chewy pointing a very formidable weapon. Finally, I own a piece of The Force.
I spend the rest of the afternoon taking pictures (here’s the link to the photo slideshow) of the character lunacy, choosing to forgo the Star Tours FastPass because I don’t want to have to dodge the crowd in Tatooine Traders again without support from an AT-AT walker. See, I told you I was feeling The Force.
I watch young Jedi volunteers open their lightsabers while being trained in the use of the weapon as they battle Darth Vader himself. I watch the performance of an alien band straight out of the Star Wars cantina. And then I find Mickey Avenue.
Home to such MGM staples as Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – Play It!, Mickey Avenue has been annexed into the Empire. Photo-op stations for Star Wars characters are on both sides of the street, but other than a long line waiting to see Darth Vader at one end of the avenue, it is far-less crowded and frenetic here. New characters seem to arrive every 30 minutes or so to interact with the adoring human clones.
The Force is strong here. I’m feeling the power of a Jedi Knight. Do I want to have my picture taken with a Star Wars character? Should I have my picture taken with a Star Wars character? I’m alone, though. Surely a Cast Member will snap a photo if I ask. But wait, I notice people using the new PhotoPass cards while a Disney photographer clicks away. Hmmm, didn’t one of those cards come with an issue of Mickey Monitor? Did I put it in my wallet? Yes, here it is.
Hypnotized by the power of The Force, I slowly take my place in line to have my picture taken with Boba Fett. Thankfully, the fearsome bounty hunter is more interested in the photo shoot than shooting me, and I am spared. The Force is unrelenting, though, and suddenly I’m swept across the street to another line – this time heading for Chancellor Palpatine and his palace guards.
Now, just like Han Solo frozen in carbonite, I’m hopelessly ensnared. Do I tell DW? Maybe I just should say I spent the day at Pirates of the Caribbean and It’s A Small World.
Testing my allegiance to the Rebel Alliance, a Cast Member tells me not to miss Hyperspace Hoopla, the day’s closing event at the Star Wars stage. But I had planned to go to Epcot for the Flower Power concert to see Eric Burdon and The Animals. I’m torn between two masters, but suddenly there’s a great disturbance in The Force.
I break the spell and quickly leave MGM, arriving at Epcot just in time for The Animals’ last show. They’re terrible, the worst I’ve ever seen at Epcot.
The Dark Side has played a cruel trick. I’ve been deceived. I should not have strayed from the power of The Force.
But if I rise tomorrow before Tatooine’s twin suns break the horizon, perhaps I can be first in line to see Darth Vader!
DW and I will be heading out to MGM later today to check out this year’s version of Star Wars Weekends. In some ways I’m sure it’ll be like braving Mos Eisley spaceport, where, as Obi-Wan once said, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”