May the 4th be with you…

For you Star Wars fans out there, tomorrow is the big day…May the Fourth be with you! may4001836SMALLNow that Disney owns Star Wars, they are capitalizing on this popular day among the geeks. (No offense, this includes me too!) As part of this year’s Limited Time Magic, tomorrow Hollywood Studios will be celebrating “May the Fourth be with you”. The plans are special Star Wars entertainment, merchandise, dance party and fireworks (which are a rare occurence in Hollywood Studios).

There will be Star Wars characters greeting guests and even riding on Star Tours occasionally. I can imagine what my kids would do if we went to sit on Star Tours and Boba Fett was sitting there! Characters will appear from 9-7:30 and expect to see Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Boba Fett and many more surprises.

Jedi Training AcademyJedi Training will also be changed for the day with parents being able to join their children on stage (ages 4-12) for training and fighting the Empire. Oh, how I wish I could be there to wield a lightsaber at Darth Vader! Shows will be every 30 minutes from 9-7:30. Get to the park before opening to sign up for Jedi Training.

After dark, a Star Wars themed dance party will take place with DJ Lobot from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. Expect Star Wars characters to be dancing as well. This will be from 6-7pm & 7:45-12am.

The day will be capped off with a special Star Wars themed fireworks show at 9:45.

So, put on your best Star Wars gear and head out to Hollywood to celebrate May 4th. This is a good way to pump yourself up for the upcoming Star Wars weekends!


Star Wars Weekends 2013

stm736501SMALLI love Star Wars and I love Star Wars Weekends. The artwork has been released for this year’s Star Wars weekend and I love it. Return of the Jedi is my favorite of the original trilogy and I have a soft spot for the Ewoks. This year is particularly special because it is the celebration of the 30th anniversary of Episode IV: Return of the Jedi. I don’t know about you but I remember seeing this one in the theatre when it was released, so now I feel old… It is also going to be interesting this year because it is the first Star Wars Weekend in which Disney now owns the Star Wars empire.

But know that this is not for the first time Disney traveler. Star Wars Weekends are hot, crowded and confusing if you don’t know your way around Hollywood Studios. If you are a seasoned veteran of WDW and you (or your children/spouse) are a fan, this is the weekend for you to visit!

The full schedule is not released but here is what is available now. Star Wars Weekends will take place May 17-June 9, every Friday, Saturday, & Sunday.

Celebrity Guests: You can get a fastpass to meet and get autographs from the celebrities.

  • James Arnold Taylor: The Official Celebrity Host for all 4 weekends. The voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Clone Wars series. He performs a one man show about voice talent.
  • Ashley Eckstein: Also a Celebrity Host for all the weekends. She is the voice of Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars. She hosts a talk show about the cartoon series. We had the privilege to meet Ashley a few years ago at SWW and she made a wonderful impression on my daughters and made them feel like it is ok for girls to like Star Wars. (I keep telling them that the boys will think it is the coolest thing someday!)
  • Ray Park: Darth Maul from Episode I: The Phantom Menace for Weekends 1 & 2. He is also a martial arts expert and in X-Men & GI Joe. He does a martial arts show during the weekend.
  • Warwick Davis: Wicket W. Warrick (my favorite Ewok) for Weekends 2 & 3

The schedule should stay the same for the most part. Character greetings and autographs from the bunches of characters from all the movies and cartoon, specialty merchandise, Jedi Training, Padawan Mind Challenge, Hyperspace Hoopla, Star Wars Stars Motorcade Parade with stormtroopers and various characters.

I will update more as soon as the information comes available, so stay tuned!

Disney Buys Star Wars Franchise

LOS ANGELES –  A decade since George Lucas  said “Star Wars” was finished on the big screen, a new trilogy under new  ownership is destined for theaters after The Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday  that it was buying Lucasfilm Ltd. from him for $4.05 billion.

The seventh movie, with a working title of “Episode 7,” is set for release in  2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will follow. The trilogy will continue the story of Luke  Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond “Return of the Jedi,” the third  film released and the sixth in the saga. After that, Disney plans a new “Star  Wars” movie every two or three years. Lucas will serve as creative consultant in  the new movies.

“I’m doing this so that the films will have a longer life,” Lucas, the  68-year-old creator of the series and sole owner of Lucasfilm, said in an  interview posted on YouTube. “I get to be a fan now … I sort of look forward  to it. It’s a lot more fun actually, than actually having to go out into the mud  and snow.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger said Lucasfilm had already developed an extensive story  line on the next trilogy, and Episode 7 was now in early-stage development. He  said he talked with Lucas about buying the company from him a year and a half  ago, but they didn’t decide on a deal until very recently as Lucas set in motion  his retirement.

“The last `Star Wars’ movie release was 2005’s `Revenge of the Sith’ — and  we believe there’s substantial pent-up demand,” Iger said.

The blockbuster deal announced Tuesday will see Disney pay half the  acquisition price in cash and half in newly issued stock. The company expects it  to add to earnings in 2015. Along with the cash, Lucas will end up owning about  40 million Disney shares, which is about a 2.2 percent stake of the 1.83 billion  shares that will be in circulation when the transaction closes.

The deal includes Lucasfilm’s prized high-tech production companies,  Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as rights to the  “Indiana Jones” franchise.

Lucas was hailed as a cinematic visionary when the original “Star Wars” came  out in 1977. But he had become an object of often-vicious ridicule by the time  he released 3-D versions of all six films in the Star Wars franchise earlier  this year.

Die-hard Star War fans had been vilifying Lucas for years, convinced that he  had become a commercial sell-out and had compounded his sins by desecrating the  heroic tale that he originally sought to tell.

They railed against him for adding grating characters such as Jar Jar Binks  in the second trilogy and attacked him for tinkering with the original trilogy,  too. Any revision in special edition or home video releases — such as making  the Ewoks blink or having a green-skinned alien named Greedo take the first shot  at Han Solo in a famous bar scene — were treated as blasphemy.

The criticism grated on Lucas, who vowed never to make another Star Wars  movie.

“Why would I make any more when everybody yells at you all the time and says  what a terrible person you are?” Lucas told The New York Times earlier this  year.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the fourth film in  another lucrative franchise, subjected Lucas to even more barbs when it came to  the big screen in 2008. Fans of those films were especially outraged about an  opening scene that featured Indiana Jones crawling into a lead-lined  refrigerator to survive a nuclear bomb blasting.

Lucas was fed up by the time he released “Red Tails,” a movie depicting the  valor of African-American pilots during World War II, earlier this year. He told  the Times he was ready to retire from the business of making blockbusters and  return to his roots as a student at USC’s film school, where he once made a  movie about clouds moving in a desert.

Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become the  division’s president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. She  will serve as executive producer for the new movies. Directors for the new  movies have not yet been announced.

In the YouTube video, Lucas said the decision to continue with the saga  wasn’t inconsistent with past statements.

“I always said I wasn’t going to do any more and that’s true, because I’m not  going to do any more, but that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to turn it over to  Kathy to do more,” Lucas said.

He said he has given Kennedy his story lines and other ideas, “and I have  complete confidence that she’s going to take them and make great movies.”

Kennedy added that she and Lucas had discussed ideas with a couple of writers  about the future movies and said Lucas would continue to have a key advisory  role. “My Yoda has to be there,” she said.

The deal brings Lucasfilm under the Disney banner with other brands including  Pixar, Marvel, ESPN and ABC, all companies that Disney has acquired over the  years.

A former weatherman who rose through the ranks of ABC, Iger has orchestrated  some of the company’s biggest acquisitions, including the $7.4 billion purchase  of animated movie studio Pixar in 2006 and the $4.2 billion acquisition of comic  book giant Marvel in 2009.

Coincidentally, Lucas owned the startup that later became Pixar, before he  sold it to Apple’s Steve Jobs in 1986 for about $5 million. When Jobs sold Pixar  to Disney, he became Disney’s largest single shareholder with a 7.7 percent  stake. Those shares are now held in a trust.

Disney shares were not trading with stock markets closed due to the impact of  Superstorm Sandy in New York. They closed on Friday at $50.08.

Read more:

Hidden Benefit of Rider Swap

The rider swap (also known as baby swap) is a feature offered by Walt Disney World to allow both parents enjoy a ride that is not appropriate for young children. This can be because a child doesn’t meet the height requirements or they are too young for the ride. The parents receive a rider swap pass that will allow the other parent to ride without waiting in line again. Continue reading

What is a Fastpass?!

UPDATE: The old Fastpass system is gone the way of the dinosaurs…Extinct! See my updated post on the new Fastpass + system here!

I have so many people ask me…what is a Fastpass?

Fastpass is a system used by Walt Disney World to help guests avoid long lines on the most popular rides. This is open to everyone in the park, not just resort guests.

Here is how it works: Continue reading

Keeping the kids happy while waiting

Disney is a world of hurry up and wait. Rush through the morning to get to opening and wait at the turnstiles. Race to a ride then wait in line for 20 minutes. Head to the airport hours before your flight to learn that it is delayed. Walk to the bus stop and find your bus pulling away. The list goes on and on. Disney is a great lesson in patience for both children and adults!

I have a few tricks I use to keep the kids busy while waiting in line, for transportation or in a restaurant. Continue reading

Star Wars Weekend

I will admit…I am a huge nerd. On top of being a Disney nut, I LOVE Star Wars. It isn’t just me, my husband and girls are equally crazy!

Star Wars Weekends is an event at Hollywood Studios that consists of 4 weekends (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) in late May & early June. This isn’t a special ticket event like Magic Kingdom’s Halloween Party and Christmas Party. Basically, Hollywood is taken over by Star Wars characters, scenery, parades, etc but all the rides and shows operate normally. There are different Star Wars celebrities each weekend, speakers and Q&A sessions. Fastpasses are distributed for celebrity autographs and all the Jedi Training Academy shows are filled in the early morning. A specialty store near Rock N Roller Coaster is full of the normal Star Wars merchandise, specialty items & only found at Star Wars Weekend things. There is a stage set up for a Jedi Quiz Show for kids in the afternoon and the Hyperspace Hoopla to cap off the night. Continue reading