Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Disney

While it's true I did not attend Star Wars Celebration this time around, I am proud to announce I finally took a real vacation. And best of all, it was Star Wars themed. Over Memorial Day, my friend Layla and I stayed at the wonderfully posh Swan Resort at Disney World. And as Qui-Gon Jinn so eloquently put it, "Nothing happens by accident" so, yes, it just happened to correspond with Star Wars Weekends.

That weekend, Ashley Eckstein, Warwick Davis, Silas Carson, and Vanessa Marshall were all in attendance, with the whole event hosted in style by the irreplaceable James Arnold Taylor. It was a fabulous time, albeit hot and humid and uncomfortable on the morning of the opening parade, and let's just say it's best to shy away from Downtown Disney on Memorial Day weekend. All in all though, our primary complaint was simply that we only had three complete days to spend down there. 

Still, the experience is highly recommended. And it did help with my conversion to the Disney era of Star Wars. May the Force be with them. Please. 

So on a not so long weekend ago, in a state not too far away ...

Not exactly staring off into the twin suns of Tatooine, but the view from the hotel did offer a tantalizing promise of taking our first step into a "larger world" ...  

Our own version of Docking Bay 94 and, might I add, the only way to travel. I don't know if she can reach .5 past lightspeed, but she's definitely got it where it counts.

Our entrance to Hollywood Studios was clearly under tight Imperial supervision.

Fortunately, since we're both librarians, this did provide the requisite "Chewie, we're home" moment. 

And while there may be no such thing as "luck," we did happen upon a few familiar faces. Even if some of them were wearing masks.

And we ran into some new friends, too.

And I may have to agree with Han here. Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side. Having a toy one again made me far happier than perhaps it should have. Not to mention it made a really cool noise. Pew pew!

Speaking of merchants, beware Tatooine traders bearing gifts, because they're usually expensive.

So merchandising may be more on the "dark side" of the Force, but there was no way in Mustafar we weren't going to snag those The Force Awakens t-shirts faster than an angry wampa swatting at a tauntaun. And we hadn't even made it to the aptly named Darth Mall yet!

Suffice to say, we did eventually. So one of the best things about Disney? All the shops will ship your loot back to the hotel so you don't have to carry it around with you all day. One of the worst things about Disney? Same thing.

Still, Layla was understandably proud of her fashionable R2-D2 hat, not to mention patriotically sporting those Rebel Alliance colors.

But nothing like a giant walker stomping through the woods to get your mind off the inevitable credit card bills.

Escape was made possible, courtesy of Star Tours and C-3PO.

So we blasted into hyperspace and scored a trip to Hoth and Naboo, but on the last Star Tours trip, I'm fairly certain I visited three planets, not just two. Every now and again, my faith in Disney does bounce too close to a supernova.

Along those lines, here's Han to remind us that texting in hyperspace ain't like dustin' crops, boy!

But at the end of the day, all you need is a good strong hug from a Wookiee. As if a Wookiee would or could hug any other way.

Let's face it. Naboo was probably far more cool and tranquil than Orlando at the beginning of summer, but props to the queen for balancing that headdress and keeping all the makeup on in humidity that was probably far more comparable to the swamps of Dagobah.

Admittedly, it would have been nice that day had we gotten a taste of the snow plains of Hoth as opposed to simply a snow speeder, but it was still nifty and pretty screen accurate.

Eventually though, we found some shade and sat down for "An Ewok's Tale" with none other than the Ewok rock god himself, Warwick Davis. And we even got to see clips from his most impressive home movie, Return of the Ewok, which he had shot on the set of Return of the Jedi back in 1983.

Always entertaining, at one point Warwick reenacted his attempt to sabotage Kenny Baker so he could snag the role of Wicket and have a scene with Carrie Fisher. "Food poisoning." Right!

As usual, that bundle of energy and talent and enthusiasm known as James Arnold Taylor seemed to be everywhere. Much like with the celebrity interviews at Celebration, he handled all the ones here with style and grace, and also performed his legendary show on voice acting, "Talking to Myself."

And there he is interviewing Silas Carson. Carson played both the Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi and the trade baron Nute Gunray in the prequels, and thus had the awkward experience of filming two death scenes in the same day during the shooting of Revenge of the Sith.

During his interview with Vanessa Marshall, there was a screening of the epic trailer for season two of Rebels, not to mention a scene after the crew of the Ghost encounter Vader. Never, ever pass up a chance to see Star Wars on the big screen. 

There were all kinds of tasty snacks at the Galactic Dance Party, though these were the only ones guarded by the Inquisitor. Rounding out the fesitivites was arguably the greatest firework display this side of Endor after the second Death Star was destroyed.

But alas, all good things must come to an end, whether it be the Clone Wars or Star Wars Weekends. Clone troopers were there to escort those of us out who needed that extra bit of coaxing ...

Fortunately the rest of the year is not exactly going to be skimpy when it comes to all things Force-related. New Rebels, new tie-in books, and no doubt a final movie trailer at some point. I for one am counting down the days until The Force Awakens midnight madness sales in September. 

All I can say is, if they're going to be marketing a Kylo Ren and First Order stormtrooper bedspread, a Force Awakens alarm clock seems obvious. As a co-worker noted, it already has a built-in tag line. "Let the Force awaken YOU." 


  1. I remember the AT-AT from when I went almost 17 years ago. Does it still fire a cooling mist on the queue?

  2. Hey, Adam. No, unfortunately it doesn't. We certainly could have used it, though. The parade was killer, not too mention standing in line to get the photos with Ashoka and Captain Rex!

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