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Anyone else underwhelmed by Star Wars Weekends this year?

#1 User is offline   Ignohippo 

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:23 AM

My apologies for starting a new thread when there's already one devoted to SWW, but I thought this deserved it's own topic. I've started this same thread on a different WDW message board but I respect the folks on this board and wanted to get your impressions as well.

It may just be me, but the whole thing seemed to be almost like a afterthought. Absolutely everything about it was been there, done that. It's really time they gave the event some thought and re-designed it to make it fresh and work better.

They're rotating way too many characters at one location and the lines have gotten ridiculous. It can't be that expensive to have two copies of some of the main characters (Boba, Jango, Rex, Cody, Ashoka, etc) and give them their own locations. I went to take my son to see Jango and the attendant said by the time we got to the front of the line, they'd probably have 3 or 4 shift changes - way too long for a kid to wait in line for in the hot Florida heat.

Characters were kind of here and there - many were in the same places as years past, but the additions of the Cars area and Phineas and Ferb have spread them out too much. Surely they could use areas like Streets of America, the Animation Courtyard or along Sunset Boulevard to put the characters in a more cohesive area.

What the heck was up with the merch tent being located all the way at the end of Sunset Boulevard? Great location, but there were no signs to let anyone know where it was and it was ridiculously too far away from everything else. Why not have some meet and greets or SOMETHING along Sunset Blvd. to make the tent not seem so far out of place? And please, please get some new merchandise. It's gotten to be the same stuff every year!

The shows. Love Behind The Force, but my heavens, it's the same performers doing the exact same schtick we've seen them do year after year.

And the biggest gripe: the parade. New stage = great! Cutting the parade in half = EPIC FAIL. We passed by tons of people waiting along the former path not having any idea that it now stopped at the stage in front of the hat. And the Main Street is WAY too small to accommodate all of the people who want to see the parade. Solution: have the performers stop at the stage but have the characters and the 501st continue on to Star Tours like they used to.

For an event like Star Wars Weekends (which has to be one of WDW's biggest draws of the year), it really seems like they are putting it on auto-pilot and not giving people enough new to justify coming back every year.
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#2 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:55 AM

I agree about the character shift changes. No real way to guarantee seeing someone.

I have to disagree about the merchandise tent. First, there were signs all over the place, including at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard and then again in front of Tower of Terror to let you know where the tent was. In addition, the tent was on the park map. While the merch tent was a hike, it was a VAST improvement over the merchandise situation last year where it was in the outdoor shop across from Studio Catering Co.

I understand the issue about the parade length being too short but I'll take that if that's what it takes to get the stage.

Personally, I found this year's event to be the best ever from a logistical perspective. The Hat stage was a godsend and it made watching Hoopla and Kids trivia so much more convenient and easy. I found the fact they spread things out more to be a plus. Hollywood Studios is a small park compared to the other parks, so it works. In years past, SWW was relegated more to Echo Lake, Streets of America and near Backlot Tour but I enjoyed having more space for the event.

If your gripe is the events aren't new enough from year to year, fair enough. I think it's the price we pay for the budget Disney works with. Disney pays the celebs and doesn't do the whole pay for an autograph thing like you'll find at nearly any other Star Wars convention. And while they may not be A list celebs, they are incredibly nice, funny and a pleasure to speak with (aside from perhaps Anthony Daniels). I'll take James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein and Dave Filoni over other more famous celebs who think they are doing us a favor by meeting us.
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#3 User is offline   Ignohippo 

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 12:23 PM

View PostQuickGold, on 13 June 2011 - 10:55 AM, said:

I agree about the character shift changes. No real way to guarantee seeing someone.

I have to disagree about the merchandise tent. First, there were signs all over the place, including at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard and then again in front of Tower of Terror to let you know where the tent was. In addition, the tent was on the park map. While the merch tent was a hike, it was a VAST improvement over the merchandise situation last year where it was in the outdoor shop across from Studio Catering Co.

I understand the issue about the parade length being too short but I'll take that if that's what it takes to get the stage.

Personally, I found this year's event to be the best ever from a logistical perspective. The Hat stage was a godsend and it made watching Hoopla and Kids trivia so much more convenient and easy. I found the fact they spread things out more to be a plus. Hollywood Studios is a small park compared to the other parks, so it works. In years past, SWW was relegated more to Echo Lake, Streets of America and near Backlot Tour but I enjoyed having more space for the event.

If your gripe is the events aren't new enough from year to year, fair enough. I think it's the price we pay for the budget Disney works with. Disney pays the celebs and doesn't do the whole pay for an autograph thing like you'll find at nearly any other Star Wars convention. And while they may not be A list celebs, they are incredibly nice, funny and a pleasure to speak with (aside from perhaps Anthony Daniels). I'll take James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein and Dave Filoni over other more famous celebs who think they are doing us a favor by meeting us.



I agree with much of what you said but there are many easy ways to make things much, much better. While the stage was great improvement, the rest of the event was a mess.

The Merch Tent: The location, while not optimal, really wasn't the problem. It was more that the event didn't flow down Sunset so the tent seemed way out of the way and out of place. I'd also disagree about the signage. Two signs are simply not enough. There were absolutely no signs along Sunset or anywhere near any of the meet and greets. If you didn't know it was there ahead of time or didn't really, really study the map, you wouldn't know it was there. The only sign we saw was the one actually within the Rock n' rollercoaster area. And, the merchandise was the same we see every year.

The Parade: There's no reason the parade can't drop off the celebs on the stage and then continue down to Star Tours as it used to. They drive the empty cars that way after they drop the celebs off at the stage anyway.

The events: I really enjoy the celebs they have but they could do a better job of changing the format of their talk shows from year to year. Also, it'd be really nice if they'd start getting some of the old special effects masters like Phil Tippet, etc. there.

And why not make the Indy/Star WarsStunt Show mash-up a permanent addition during Star Wars Weekends? If they could do it for one day last year, they could certainly do it for four weekends each year.

The Meet and Greets: like I said, they really need to separate the lines for the different characters. Popular masked characters ought to have a constant presence rather than alternating between 4 characters at one spot for example. There's nothing going on down New York Street. Why not utilize that area? It's also time to incorporate some new characters like Bossk, Greedo, Padme (not in ceremonial garb), Jar Jar, Count Dooku, etc.

IMO, the event's just getting very, very stale. With the way it was laid out and the amount of crowds present, I honestly don't think there were many guests this past weekend that could've called the event an enjoyable experience.
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#4 User is offline   yulilin 

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 02:15 PM

The 501st did walk down the whole parade route to Star Tours.
I do agree with the characters, they need new spots (maybe some shade or canopies) and not all the rotation.
The event tent was great and there were alot of signs pointing toward it. The merchandise was unimpressive.
Hoopla at the hat stage was great and then when they started showing the show on the Diamond screen of AIE was more enjoyable. Asked a manager of the event why they can't tell people to sit down for the front portion of the area around the stage and he said that they can't make people sit down if they don't want to. Also was asked if they could do Hoopla in the Indyana Jones theater and he said more people fit around the Hat than inside Indy.
Great addition of James Arnold Taylor's show, very entertaining and inspirational.
As I always say there's always room for improvement.
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#5 User is offline   Figaro 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 06:49 AM

Our biggest thing was the characters. There used to be so many just walking around the studios. We used to have great interaction with them , especially the stormtroopers. My son really enjoyed meeting the "lesser" characters, like Zam Wessel and Aura Sing (my SW expert is at school so forgive the misspellings! LOL). My kids are now old enough to realize the characters aren't "real" so waiting on long lines for a photo op is not appealing to them.

I had mixed feelings about the tent. I like that it's not in the middle of everything. If we wanted, we could have avoided it without the kids knowing. (Although, that would have never happened!) It was large and the CM's really did a good job at keeping lines moving. A little surprised to see the CM's selling beer at 10:30 am walking around like it's Yankee Stadium.

Using the big stage for the Padawan Mind challenge was a good choice, the kids loved it! I'm not sure it was necessary though since the only ones watching were the families. DS, being the ham that he is, really loved being up there...especially when he won ;)

Parade, we skipped it for exactly the reasons mentioned. There was no way we were going to cram into the crowds up Hollywood Blvd. We went Memorial Day weekend, a first for us, usually we go the 1st weekend. It's always been crowded before and twice as many people in half the space was a little crazy to me.

Celebs, we didn't really see many because it's not a big deal to us. We did see a bunch coming off the stage after the show following the parade. The all waved to the kids, young & old ;) , and my son got excited that Anthony Daniels pointed directly to him and said hello as he waved.
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#6 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:45 AM

Regarding the wandering characters, I think the issue isn't that they aren't still wandering, it's that the guests mob them and bog them down. I've seen plenty of Stormtrooper patrols stopped dead in the tracks by throngs of guests waiting to pose for a photo or an autograph. Heck, Vader gets an escort between his meetings to avoid people trying to snag a photo/autograph.

To Disney's credit, they did claim to have over 60 characters this year, which is up from the usual promise of 50 characters.

I like the idea of SWW taking over Streets of America more so than they do. The biggest issue is the weather and lack of shade. Most of the spots that are being used are chosen, I believe, because they offer some shade although time of the day does matter obviously.

Lastly, the merchandise tent can only really go behind Coaster. Soundstage One, the best location from years past, has been taken over by Disney's NextGen folks (or so we believe) and has been "occupied" for a couple years now. There really isn't an open spot anywhere else that I can think of to stick the merch tent other than where it was this year.

I always believe there's room for improvement, no matter how good an event is. I loved the James Arnold Taylor one man show and I know Glenn liked Anthony Daniels' one man show, both of which were new if I'm not mistaken.
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#7 User is offline   Ignohippo 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 11:42 AM

The easiest way to alleviate mobs around the walkaround characters is to simply have more of them. They should have Clonetroopers, Sandtroopers, Gramorian Guards, Jawas, Sandpeople, etc. walking around all times in different areas of the park. Heck, just give some of the guys in the 501st free hotel rooms for the weekend and I'm sure they'd love to do it (after going through background checks, etc.)!

I noticed this weekend that they had installed covers/awnings at one end over New York Street. Unfortunately, they installed them on the end right in front of the New York backdrop so you can barely see it – making New York Street even more useless than it already was. I imagine it's for Mulch, Sweat and Shears but I'm baffled as to why they didn't put them on the other end of the street. Anyone know?

So yes, Meet and Greets along New York Street could happen and be shaded. It seems like the perfect place to me.

As for the tent, location wouldn't be a problem if the event had more of a presence along Sunset IMO.
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#8 User is offline   sarahzy 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 12:24 PM

Was the parade change to move the crowd away from Star Tours 2 this year? I figured they anticipated larger than normal crowds this year and shortened it.
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#9 User is offline   darthstich 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 01:21 PM

View PostIgnohippo, on 14 June 2011 - 11:42 AM, said:

I noticed this weekend that they had installed covers/awnings at one end over New York Street. Unfortunately, they installed them on the end right in front of the New York backdrop so you can barely see it making New York Street even more useless than it already was. I imagine it's for Mulch, Sweat and Shears but I'm baffled as to why they didn't put them on the other end of the street. Anyone know?

It was installed because they were expecting the new Star Tours to have such a large wait it would extend out the building, and they would make a queue for it that extended halfway down Streets of America. Seriously. They told cast members to expect up to a 5 hour wait for the attraction during the weekends. That never happened, so the awnings became a completely useless gesture.

As for this years Star Wars Weekends, It was more about Star Tours, so the actual weekend events were just the recycled events from years past. Even the new show "Obi-Wan and Beyond" is what James Arnold Taylor did the past two years when he came as a guest during "Behind the Force." And I didn't see Anthony Daniels show, but most people I heard from were not impressed. Events wise, it was a lot of the same old same old.

However I got to agree with QG that this was the best done logistically. Jabba's Hutt by RnR was great and I really don't think it was difficult to find. I do agree, though, that there should have been some more of a SWW presence on Sunset, (Perhaps move the dark side characters to that area next year?). And the event stage for Mind Challenge and Hoopla was a a vvery good decision and one I hope will continue in the future.

As far as the parade, have you seen "Pixar Pals?" World's shortest parade. DHS is under the impression that most guests don't want to see parades, so they are making all parades, including the SWW one, as short as possible.

Also, I agree with everyone that "Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom" would be an AWESOME SWW addition, and I don't really understand why it's not, other then maybe they wanted to keep the events from "Last Tour to Endor" more exclusive for the people that had the money to spend on it.
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#10 User is offline   RAXIP 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 04:02 PM

Unfortunately separating the characters out to separate locations would add a significant expense. For example splitting Jango and Bobba would require two additional performers, two additional costumes (extremely expensive), another backdrop and another Character attendant (plus some Ops CMs to assist) The Jango/Bobba line BTW is probably the simplest of the non-continuous character line, with the two making 20-min back to back appearances.

While there were no new characters this year, many of them did receive new or updated looks, including Ahoska Tano, Aurra Sing, the Cantina Band, Jango Fett, the Jawas, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Tusken Raiders. Also C-3PO was available all four weekends for M&Gs.

With regards to the character M&G locations, only two M&Gs were moved from last year. Luke, Leia & the droids were moved out of the Ewok Village (Star Tours queue) for obvious reasons and the Jedi Council moved from their old location (where Phineas & Ferb are now) to the end of San Fransisco Street.
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#11 User is offline   Ignohippo 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:38 PM

View PostRAXIP, on 14 June 2011 - 04:02 PM, said:

Unfortunately separating the characters out to separate locations would add a significant expense. For example splitting Jango and Bobba would require two additional performers, two additional costumes (extremely expensive), another backdrop and another Character attendant (plus some Ops CMs to assist) The Jango/Bobba line BTW is probably the simplest of the non-continuous character line, with the two making 20-min back to back appearances.



Heh! I'm building a 501st approved Jango costume now. With absolutely the best stuff, you could get it done for under $2,500 not that big of an expense at all. The CMs are also a minimal expense figuring the Meet and Greets are a main feature of SWW. For the expense, it would be the cheapest and easiest things they could do to make an enormous improvement to the event.
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#12 User is offline   Ignohippo 

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 10:52 PM

View Postdarthstich, on 14 June 2011 - 01:21 PM, said:

It was installed because they were expecting the new Star Tours to have such a large wait it would extend out the building, and they would make a queue for it that extended halfway down Streets of America. Seriously. They told cast members to expect up to a 5 hour wait for the attraction during the weekends. That never happened, so the awnings became a completely useless gesture.

As for this years Star Wars Weekends, It was more about Star Tours, so the actual weekend events were just the recycled events from years past. Even the new show "Obi-Wan and Beyond" is what James Arnold Taylor did the past two years when he came as a guest during "Behind the Force." And I didn't see Anthony Daniels show, but most people I heard from were not impressed. Events wise, it was a lot of the same old same old.

However I got to agree with QG that this was the best done logistically. Jabba's Hutt by RnR was great and I really don't think it was difficult to find. I do agree, though, that there should have been some more of a SWW presence on Sunset, (Perhaps move the dark side characters to that area next year?). And the event stage for Mind Challenge and Hoopla was a a vvery good decision and one I hope will continue in the future.

As far as the parade, have you seen "Pixar Pals?" World's shortest parade. DHS is under the impression that most guests don't want to see parades, so they are making all parades, including the SWW one, as short as possible.

Also, I agree with everyone that "Raiders of the Lost Jedi Temple of Doom" would be an AWESOME SWW addition, and I don't really understand why it's not, other then maybe they wanted to keep the events from "Last Tour to Endor" more exclusive for the people that had the money to spend on it.



As for the tent, you are absolutely right, it's a good location and the large tent is very welcomed. However, iimagine being a guest who doesn't know anything about the event. I bet many never knew it was there.

The awnings weren't a complete waste. They showed it could be done and is a great idea for meet and greets in the future. I just hope they put them at the other end of the street so it doesn't block the backdrop. It's a shame NY Street doesn't have parade access. It would be perfect for parades. Another thing to add to the list of the horrible design of DHS.

As for the Raiders show, I can see that, but there were plenty of other things for the Last Tour. i'm really surprised they didn't do another hard ticket event for the opening of the new Star Tours as well. At this point, they need to do everything they can to make SWW something special as well. To me, it's really losing it's luster.
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#13 User is offline   QuickGold 

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 10:42 AM

View PostRAXIP, on 14 June 2011 - 04:02 PM, said:

Unfortunately separating the characters out to separate locations would add a significant expense. For example splitting Jango and Bobba would require two additional performers, two additional costumes (extremely expensive), another backdrop and another Character attendant (plus some Ops CMs to assist) The Jango/Bobba line BTW is probably the simplest of the non-continuous character line, with the two making 20-min back to back appearances.

While there were no new characters this year, many of them did receive new or updated looks, including Ahoska Tano, Aurra Sing, the Cantina Band, Jango Fett, the Jawas, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Tusken Raiders. Also C-3PO was available all four weekends for M&Gs.

With regards to the character M&G locations, only two M&Gs were moved from last year. Luke, Leia & the droids were moved out of the Ewok Village (Star Tours queue) for obvious reasons and the Jedi Council moved from their old location (where Phineas & Ferb are now) to the end of San Fransisco Street.

Thanks for the explanation Paul. I dont mind the rotating character meet, mostly because the alternative is to have to wait 20 mins or so for the character to come back out again. It's not perfect, but I think it's a fair trade, so to speak.
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#14 User is offline   ADP 

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 01:03 PM

As someone who went to the very first Star Wars Weekends and a few in between I have to say I thought this was the best Star Wars Weekends ever. You have to consider the buzz of the refurbished Star Tours attraction, the appearance of George Lucas, and the opening weekend ceremony was pretty awesome.

I also enjoyed how the entire park seemed to be part of the event. Moving the merchandise tent and some characters over to the Coaster Courtyard really helped spread the crowds out. The merchandise selection was better than I can remember beyond any SWW event in past years. Maybe I'm wrong, but there seemed to be more characters walking around the park and interacting with guests.

I wouldn't go as far as saying this year's event was way better than past years, but I thought it was well done this year and better than any other year I can remember.
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Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:47 PM

First of all, i'm very surprised this thread seems to be serving as the defacto wrap up for SWW. And while i agree with several points outlining some shortcomings, "underwhelmed" is hardly the word i would use to describe this year's event.

Guess i'll start with what didn't work first, the parade. This is, for many reasons, the highlight of the day. It is viewed by more people than any other SW event, has "audience participation", and really sets the whole park on notice that Star Wars is the theme of the day. This year's was a major disappointment. The short route was poorly conceived. Even some CM's were unaware of the route. I was told the parade would continue over to Star Tours, but the celebrities would stop at the Hat Stage. Obviously i was misinformed. But beyond that, Disney should understand this is the big event for many fans, who are less interested in celebrity shows or autographs. I sincerely hope it is fixed.

I was less than thrilled with the merchandise selection this year. No cool hats, and the "passport pins" just didn't have the "I Have to Have That" appeal the "weekend pins" of years past had. There was some O.K. stuff. Mostly T-Shirts. But the majority was very unexciting. In all fairness, this is not the first year i have felt this way. As far as the location, if Soundstage One is occupied, this is a fine substitute. And as a side note, i had a much harder time finding Soundstage One the first time.

As far as the celebrities are concerned, i wish there could be more A-list actors. But as i see it, you kinda have to dance with the girl thats there. It's a pleasure to meet the actors, whoever they are. That said, i didn't try to meet the man in the golden suit.

More characters is a plus. That's a big part of the event. The revolving door is nothing new. Hard to deal with if you have that one character your youngling has to meet. But understandable.

Although i only saw the webcast, the opening ceremony on Friday was spectacular. With all the special apperances, t's hard to say how that could have been better. Which leads me to the greatest improvements of all.

Star Tours was a large part of the focus this year, and especially the first weekend. The ride is greatly improved. That this attraction has reopened, and begs to be experienced multiple times, made this year's SWW special. I have to say i couldn't wait to attend this year, just because of Star Tours.

Lastly, Disney finally listened and came through with a major upgrade. The Hat Stage is most impressive! Unlike so many in years past, no one should have come away from the Hoopla disappointed. This end of the day event, has been transformed by the move from it's former, very flawed location. The new stage makes the Hoopla a must see event, and a pleasure to experience.

So to finish, was i less than impressed this year? Not at all. Best SWW ever? Maybe not, but with some tweaks to the parade route, next year's event might be.
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