Our family loved every moment of the Star Wars Disney World experiences we encountered. For myself and husband, it was the fulfillment of that sentimental yearning to return to our childhood. Don’t you remember when Star Wars came out, and you had to mow every lawn to save pennies to see it “just one more time, mom?”
And now, with children of our own, seeing them cheer on the newest generation of the Galactic Rebellion…and falling in love with it just like we did…well that’s the magic of Disney! Here are 13 ways you can reminisce over the forces of destiny with your young padawans.
Train Like A Jedi
Months have passed since our visit to Disney, but if you ask my kids about their favorite moment, they scream without hesitation “Jedi Training Academy, of course!”
Kids 4-12 years old may participate in the training – and yes, it’s free with your park ticket! You cannot register for this beforehand (though we will tell you how to get guaranteed access below) but there are a number of shows throughout the day, so your opportunities are plentiful.
When you get into Hollywood Studios for the day, run straight to the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost to sign up. Availability is limited, and it’s first-come, first-served.
At the appropriate time, you’ll usher your kiddo to the same spot where you signed up for training. They’ll be ordered by height and offered a Jedi robe and lightsaber (just for their training adventure.) Parents, you’re going to want to hang around and not leave your kiddos.
After that, you’ll watch as the young Jedi march to the staging area for training. It’s not a long march (to the side of the Star Tours ride) and the crowds will gather ’round to cheer them on!
Once at the stage, they will receive training in the ways of the force with the lightsaber. Don’t worry – if your kiddo can follow simple directions, they’ll easily be able to defeat the enemy! Be sure to grab a spot near the stage: as far to your left as you can if your child is on the upper part of the stage… and as far to the right as you can if they are on the lower stage.
Each child will get a chance against either Darth Vader or Kylo Ren…you can see both my kids taking on Vader above. The first child is 9 and the second one is 5 – just to give you an idea of age ranges.
After each child battles, there are a few more opportunities to exhibit a show of force, and then kids are dismissed to their parents after giving back their robes and sabers. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes.
Don’t forget to pick up the photography card from the staff member taking photos…and heed her directions about using the park kiosk to find your kid’s picture…otherwise you’ll have to download all 250 kids’ photos that day. Yikes.
Splurge On The Star Wars Guided Tour
Friends – I know you’ve already pinched every penny for your Disney experience…but I’m imploring you to save just a tad more to heighten your Star Wars Disney World experience 50-fold with the Star Wars Guided Tour! Seriously. Even if it means putting off your vacation a month or two longer, make the tour part of your plan!
Logistics: The Guided Tour is an all-day tour inside Hollywood Studios. You’ll meet your group just inside the gate, so be sure you have purchased a park ticket. The tour is $99 per person, but that is over and above the cost of park entrance.
I could literally write a book about all the amazing things we encountered on this tour…but let me try and pack the excitement into something more manageable for you…
9 Reasons We Think The Star Wars Guided Tour Is EVERYTHING
Star Tours Sneak Peek. After pre-ordering lunch, hearing the ground rules, etc we headed to Star Tours for a ride! The park hadn’t opened yet, so we were the first in line.
What was nerdy-awesomeness to us was that they turned on all the lights around the ride before we stepped inside. We were able to see all the “nuts and bolts” about how Star Tours was constructed, and how it differed from other similar rides in the park.
From there, we stepped on board and enjoyed an incredible adventure! I must say, Star Tours is still one of my favorite rides in the Disney galaxy.
No-Wait Jedi Training. You read about Jedi Training above, but did you also see that there is no way to register before-hand? No fear. With the Guided Tour, all kids 4-12 move to the front of the line for Jedi Training after lunch!
Additionally, parents are ushered to the VIP section of the stage to ensure you get the very best placement for photos and videos of your padawan’s experience.
VIP Character Meet Ups. Within Launch Bay, after you ogle over actual props borrowed from Lucasfilm, you have the chance to meet and be photographed with amazing Star Wars characters. Skip those long lines and head straight to the front.
Give Chewy a hug, pose with BB8, and let Kylo Ren know you will never join the Dark Side!
Character Spotting Insights. Want to see Darth Maul up close? Maybe grab a selfie with Rey? Our guide planned “resting stops” throughout our tour, in special locations where she knew cast members would be walking by. Squee!!
March With The First Order. Not only are you given premium viewing opportunities for the stage show, March of the First Order…you can actually march with the First Order!
You’ll gather at the meeting spot where the procession toward the stage begins….as Captain Phasma leads her legion toward the center of the park, you’ll fall in line behind them!
Once you’re near the stage, they veer one direction for the show, and you head toward the VIP viewing space! What’s more? You also get VIP viewing of Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, where you see all your favorite Star Wars characters on stage – at once!
Lunch with Storm Troopers. Lunch and snacks are included on this journey. When you arrive in the morning, you will place your order for a Backlot Express lunch…BBQ, chicken, hamburgers – you name it!
During lunch, you’ll be escorted to a private area of the dining room where lunch is brought to you. But keep your eyes peeled! Storm Troopers will crash your lunch experience, and of course they welcome a ton of photos.
Special Souvenirs. When you book your tour, you will let them know if you are on the dark side or the light side….confused? Take this quiz to find out.
At lunch we were given official “fancy” Star Wars name tags (my boys still wear them to this day) with your name embossed in English and Aurebesh.
You are also given a lanyard name tag immediately with you name and the entire Aurebesh alphabet displayed on the back. Pro Tip: Bring this with you throughout your entire Disney experience (and thereafter.) If your lunch is taking a while the next day….or the ride home gets boring, you can give your children sentences to translate into the language.
What else? Special mugs that we drink from all the time. Ours were of Phasma, but I’ve seen other guided tours offer Chewy mugs.
Insider Info on Galaxy’s Edge. Galaxy’s Edge is the new Star Wars themed land, coming in 2019. It’s being hailed as the most immersive theme park experience ever built!! You can even pilot a Millennium Falcon – holy cow!
Additionally, the new Walt Disney World Resort housed within this land is opening at the same time. It will be a luxury experience that is supposed to offer even MORE immersive experiences.
Our guide showed us where to get the best view of the new Star Wars Land’s construction…she shared a few details about the hotel (bunk beds! views of the stars! costumes for guests!) … and a few other secrets you’ll have to find out for yourself.
VIP Fireworks. Your guided tour will end in the mid-afternoon, just after the Jedi Training…but with your special lanyard, you will return to the VIP section of the fireworks viewing area for premium seats of Star Wars: Galactic Spectacular in the evening.
I should note that previously the Guided Tour included the Star Wars Dessert Party – you might see that in other blog posts that are a little older than this one. Not the case any more. If you want to attend then you’ll need a ticket. It’s $45-80.
Also, if you want to skip the Guided Tour (no, I beg you!) you are able to buy just Dessert Party tickets, and they include VIP fireworks seating, as well.
Visit Batuu In A Starspeeder
I said it above – I’ll say it again….Star Tours is my favorite ride in the parks! What I love about it is that you travel to three different planets…but there are multiple planets available in the game. They rotate! So you can ride multiple times and not experience the same space journey.
So what is it? Hop aboard a Starspeeder 1000 in a 3D motion-simulated trek across the universe. You’ll bound through hyperspace as C-3PO guides you across scenes familiar to you from the movies…the cruiser is intercepted by Imperial forces and you have to escape!
The last planet you land on, safely? Batuu – which is the SAME land which the new Star Wars Land is modeled on. Is this our Easter Egg into the world we’re all anxiously awaiting?
Can the kids ride it? It was a favorite of my 9yo and 5yo also -both of which were a little too frightened on Pandora’s Flight of Passage ride. It’s great for kids (or those of us who get motion sickness) while still being sensational for adults.
Witness TWO Star Wars Stage Shows
Your family can and should experience both Star Wars stage shows – each with their own amazing magic.
March Of The First Order features Captain Phasma and her Stormtroopers. You’ll see her demonstration of unrelenting strength, and the supreme obedience from her minions.
Want to be near the stage for the show? Head up there while everyone else is watching the parade procession…want to see the march?? (And that was my favorite) then head over near the first aid station near the entrance (the parade route is marked on your Hollywood Studios map.)
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away was my favorite show, and I highly recommend trying to get a seat up front, near the center. (Want VIP seats? Read about the Guided Tour above.)
In this show, you’ll see short performances from the Dark Side, and The (true) Force of the Light. Darth Maul spins fire…and Rey wins hearts. And my favorite thing? At the very end, you see ALL of your favorite characters posing together in the perfect iconic photo moment!
Mark Your Memories With Fireworks
Could there be a more memorable way to close out a day at Disney than with a fireworks finale? A Galactic Spectacular does not disappoint!
You’ll see your favorite moments shining brightly against the Chinese Theatre – both moments from YOUR childhood recollections, and from your kids! With the amazing video projections, this is a show worth making an effort to see!
Pro Tips for newbies: If you want to see the fireworks up close and personal, either go with the Guided Tour or Dessert Party for VIP seats, or plan to find a seat about 45 minutes before the show starts. Listen, just grab some chicken strips to go, plenty of bottles of water, and a bubble wand. Problem Solved.
Craft Your Own Lightsaber Together
If you’re like us, you have a few lightsabers at home (Thank you, Sue!) But no matter – you’re going to need to build your own saber when at Hollywood Studios.
You can do this at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs ….but it just seems more authentic to head to Tatooine Traders for this adventure.
Kids will choose their emitter, their hilt and switches…a sleeve and finally a cap. Now it’s time to assemble. The 9yo put his together himself in under 10 minutes…the 5yo needed a little assistance from the staff eager to help.
I loved that the girl who helped Elliot actually helped and didn’t rush him or do the work herself. She talked to him about how the pieces fit together, guided him and gave him tips about twisting each component together on his own. The construction is simple, but the order is important so that they light up and make the appropriate “saber-style” noises.
I was remiss about taking notes regarding the price, which did vary greatly. I believe they were about $25 on the lower end. Our boys opted for the double sabers (don’t judge….it was their one big souvenir purchase) which were $40 each.
The large ones open up to over 7 feet! I was sure someone was going to get bopped in the head…but they gave us some easy-stick tape to keep them gently (and safely) secured into a manageable 2-feet package perfect for putting in our backpack until we were home.
I learned from a few 365AT readers that you can also build your own Droid for about half the price or less…and someone told me that Disney Springs’ Once Upon A Toy store has Mr Potato Head parts for stormtroopers and a Darth Vader. I didn’t personally experience either of these but they were cool enough to share so that you know to keep an eye out.
Pose With Chewie and BB8
Chewbacca and BB8 aren’t the only Star Wars characters you can pose with – but they were my favorite! Make your way to Launch Bay, where you can celebrate the Star Wars legacy by seeing costumes, models, artwork and more!
Some of the highlights for our family included the Star Wars opening crawl imprinted on the carpet as you enter…and (drum roll!) the pod racer Anakin drove in The Phantom Menace and the bike seen in the Endor Forest fight scene in Return of the Jedi. Not replicas…these are genuine movie props!
We also loved strolling through the Cantina, checking out the game of Sabacc, and wondering what that glass of blue bantha milk tastes like (yes, we did try this at home later!)
Even with all that wonder, our favorite part was taking photos with Chewbacca, BB8, and Kylo Ren. Chewy hugged the boys and replied with his signature Wookiee growl. Kylo Ren tried desperately to convince the boys that the Dark Side was the better choice. Lucky for us they learned from Rey and were not persuaded. Finally, don’t miss winding your way through the Resistance freighter for a photo with BB8.
Dress The Part
The boys love their costumes…the 5yo has Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. But us adults? We can’t don them at Disney, so I suggest you do the next best thing: Disney Bounding!
I’ll admit that before the Disney conference I attended, I did not know about Disney Bounding (aka Disneybounding,) but I now LOVE it! So what is it? It’s creating an outfit that is inspired by a character in a Disney movie.
See our BB8 photo above? I’m wearing white pants, a white and orange strip sweater, a few orange and black accessories…voilà! Oooo – and please note my BB8 purse. It was a splurge, but I love it. Darth Vader and R2D2 models available also!
Star Wars Half-Marathon
I am a number of things, friends, but a runner is not one of them. If ever a race could change my heart, it would be the Star Wars Half-Marathon. Have you done it?
There is also a 10K, 5K, kids races and much more…all races occur (generally) in April each year. And have you seen the Finisher Medals?? They are so cool!
So, if you want to get prepped for next year like me, then hit up the Runner’s Program section of their blog. There is a 19-week program for beginner and intermediate runners.
Battle The Secrets of the Empire at Disney Springs
Are you ready for a full-body VR immersive experience where you and three others visit Mustafa to recover important information vital to the Rebellion. You’re disguised as stormtroopers, solving problems and fighting lava monsters. Will you make it out alive??
It’s about 30 minutes…and it’s not really at Disney World, but just down the road at Disney Springs. You can also find it in Anaheim, Las Vegas and the UK.
I wish I had more for you…kids must be 10 years old to participate, so we were out…but for families with tweens and teens…or adults on their Star Wars journey, this is a must-do.
Eat a Kylo Ren Cupcake
Chocolate cupcake. Peanut butter icing. Chocolate sprinkles. Topped with a huge chocolate Darth Vader or Kylo Ren mask. It almost looks too good to eat. Almost.
Other treats include the BB9 cupcake and rice krispie treats. We also love the Dark Side chicken n’ waffles, with mini Darth Vader waffles at Backlot Express.
Keep your eyes peeled for new Star Wars food offerings…something new is always on the horizon.
Plan Your 2019 Galaxy’s Edge Escape
Remember Star Wars Weekends? That was just amateur hour. Hollywood Studios Star Wars Land is the real deal.
The Walt Disney Company is planning two new Star Wars themed lands in a galaxy not so far away, specifically at Walt Disney World in Orlando and at Disneyland in California.
Details of the new lands were revealed at D23, the ultimate Disney fan conference. During an Expo panel in 2017 they announced a pair of 14-acre lands featuring creatures, characters and vehicles pulled from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as the older films.
A Mos Eisley-style cantina, as well as two signature attractions: one that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance, and the other that allows you pilot the most famous ship in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, was also announced.
I am most excited about the new Star Wars-inspired hotel. Disney Parks Blog editor Jennifer Fickley Baker explains it as follows:
This first-of-its-kind resort will combine luxury with complete immersion into an authentic Star Wars story. Guests’ journey through space will start when everyone departs together for a multiday Stars Wars adventure by boarding a starship alive with characters and stories that unfold all around them during a voyage through the galaxy.
At the resort, guests immediately become active citizens of the galaxy and can dress up in the proper attire. Every resort window will also have a view into space. The opportunity for immersion at this resort will also stand out among all Disney resorts around the globe, as it will be seamlessly connected to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, allowing guests a total Star Wars experience.
WOW! This just gives me goose bumps. If you’re not already following the Disney Parks Blog, you’ll want to in order to get the latest updates as they come out.
Two Bonuses For Star Wars Junkies
Star Wars Galactic Night is back and AWESOME. This is totally on my bucket list. Tickets are just under $130 with the next time being (as of this writing) May27, 2018. Here’s what’s included:
- Hollywood Studios park entrance from 7pm – midnight
- A relaxation of the rule regarding wearing costumes – adults can don their favorites with a few restrictions.
- New cast appearances
- Limited edition merchendise
- An Imagineers panel discussion about Galaxy’s Edge
- Night-time access to Hollywood Studio’s most popular attractions
- Character meet-and-greets including Rey, Tusken Raiders, The 7th Sister, and more
- The Galactic Experience fireworks spectacular
- A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show (my favorite!)
- Night0time Jedi Training opportunities
- Seize the Saga scavenger hunt and 3D photo opportunities
- Special Star Wars Galaxy bites and nibbles (you’re going to want the Tasting & Viewing Package for $30pp)
- Special Memory Maker pricing with cool Star Wars backdrops
- A special Rebel Base DJ Dance Party
- Meet Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO and Darth Vader during photo sessions
- Run into characters including Boba Fett, Jawas and First Order Stormtroopers and more
- Solve First Order puzzles and join BB8’s resistance in the Oceaneers Club
- Take in spectacular stage shows on deck
- Train to be a Jedi
- Watch fireworks from the deck set to the Star Wars score
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Disclosure: Thank you to Disney for inviting our family to the Disney SMMC conference, which included park entry and a few other perks. We paid for our own Guided Tour experience. Opinions here are all our own. Always. This most may also contain affiliate links. 365 Atlanta Traveler is a Visit Florida Digital Marketing Program Partner.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.