It’s no secret that any Walt Disney World guest looking to add a little magic to their vacation has countless options. From the Keys to the Kingdom Tour to the Fireworks Dessert Party to the Wild Africa Trek, there are specialty tours and events available to cater to whichever aspect of Disney World you’re most passionate about! This weekend, we got a firsthand peek at just one of these amazing offerings: the Star Wars Guided Tour, an immersive, in-depth journey provided at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Monday through Saturday. Let’s take a look at exactly what this incredible experience includes!
The Star Wars Guided Tour begins at 8:00 a.m.–early enough to enjoy the calm serenity of having Disney’s Hollywood Studios all to yourself. The first stop on the tour is none other than Star Tours–complete with a full story of the ride’s creation.
Not a detail was left unexplained as we made our way through the queue–from pointing out Imagineer Easter Eggs to explaining the reason the outdoor set is left unfinished (it’s to mimic the way movie sets work: only what is seen on camera is created!).
Before boarding the attraction, we got to check out the ride system with the lights on (no pictures, sorry–Disney magic!), and learn a bit about the technological design of the attraction. Guests with a strong interest in Imagineering, ride design, and theme park history will definitely adore this part of the experience!
Our next stop was Path of the Jedi, a ten-minute film retelling of the Star Wars canon thus far, from The Phantom Menace through The Last Jedi. This nostalgic offering is only open seasonally for non-tour guests, so getting to view it outside of peak season (in a private theater, no less!) was a real treat.
The longest segment of the tour takes place in the Star Wars Launch Bay–and for good reason. We were given a private screening of The Stars of Star Wars–which introduces the creative minds behind the franchise as it exists today–and were given back door access (no lines for us!) to meet Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, AND BB-8!
Many guests rush right through these areas after enjoying their meet and greet, but we were given a guided tour of what turned out to be a veritable museum. Launch Bay is chock-full of props, costumes, and pieces used in Star Wars films from the prequels to Solo, including the Millennium Falcon model used in flying shots, real prop light sabers from the franchise, and yes, even the ice cream maker infamously carried by an extra in The Empire Strikes Back when George Lucas realized the man needed a prop and grabbed the first high-tech looking device he saw in his trailer.
Remember when I said this tour was immersive? Well… part of that immersion involved joining the First Order ourselves, as we became surprise members of the daily March of the First Order parade! Walking in line behind Captain Phasma, just a few feet from the Stormtroopers… is there any better dream for a fan of the Dark Side? We followed this march all the way to the Chinese Theater stage, where we had VIP viewing spots for the finale of their show waiting for us.
When lunchtime rolled around after the March, we headed off to the Backlot Express, where our food had already been ordered and was ready for us to enjoy in a private room (lunch is included in the price of the tour). We were also surprised to find a few gifts: a Star Wars “traveler” badge, a personalized memory sheet, and a Darth Vader drink holder! More surprises came when our lunch was crashed by more stormtroopers, who harassed us to no end (but made sure to stop for pictures). Lunch was followed by a light saber churro dusted with red sprinkles–yum!
Next, we headed over to One Man’s Dream, gaining some interesting knowledge about the making of Galaxy’s Edge along the way. Did you know that the planet Batuu, where the new land’s outpost is set, was conceptualized as a trading port that became neglected once lightspeed was created, meaning it doesn’t attract many visitors anymore and is falling into abandon? Kinda sounds like another Disney-created city we know of… Radiator Springs, maybe?
We got to check out the scale model of the new land situated inside One Man’s Dream and learn a bit more about the various rides and restaurants that will be offered. I’m interested to see how this aspect of the tour will change once Galaxy’s Edge officially opens in Fall 2019.
Our final experience was a prime viewing location for Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, a show directly in front of the Chinese Theater that features all of your favorite characters–Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Chewbacca, BB-8, Stormtroopers, and even Rey! Getting a good view of this stage can be difficult in Disney crowds, so it was nice to have a reserved spot right next to the rope.
All in all, this was a remarkably personalized, thorough look at all of the Star Wars experiences Hollywood Studios has to offer, made even more magical by our incredible tour guides, Hannah and Darion. Their funny anecdotes, high-energy personalities, and limitless knowledge of all things Star Wars gave an already interesting tour that extra dose of magic! Most of the offerings included in this experience can be achieved on your own in an average park day, but a few aspects validate the price of the tour:
- Back-door access to experiences, resulting in a zero-minute wait: no waiting in line for Star Tours, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, or BB-8, VIP viewing locations for two live stage shows, and a private screening of two short film offerings.
- An included lunch valued at around $20, including an entree, fountain drink, and dessert.
- A witty, high-energy, informative VIP tour experience that offers a plethora of Star Wars-related information impossible to easily find from other sources, including behind-the-scenes information about the films, attraction creation stories, and funny anecdotes (Did you know that the sounds of one Disney World attraction can be found in The Force Awakens? You’ll have to go on this tour to find out which one!).
Star Wars Guided Tours are offered for $99, but a current promotion offers a 15% discount to Annual Passholders, DVC members, and Disney Visa cardholders. This exceptional experience is a must for any Star Wars fan!
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