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First timers guide to Star Wars Weekend

 Of all of the annual events at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Weekends is my favorite and the event I look forward to every year and one that I encourage all of my friends and colleagues to attend because of how much fun it can be. The truth is that despite how much I enjoy it, there is a bit of a learning curve to the event. That's not to say you can't show up with no research and not have a good time but there are some guidelines and suggestions I like to give to first timers who attend Star Wars Weekends to help make their experience all the better.

The most important portion of planning to Star Wars Weekends and the key to the event is prioritizing. People go to Star Wars Weekends for different reasons; Some want to meet the celebrities in attendance while others want to participate in the events and still others just want to soak up the experience. If you have your heart set on meeting a celebrity or buying one of the cool, exclusive pieces of merchandise, then you need to prioritize that. What I mean by that is if you want to get an autograph, make sure you get a FASTPASS right away for the celebrity you want to meet and get all of that taken care of immediately. Likewise, if you want to buy some merchandise, buy it right when the park opens so that you don't have to worry about something selling out. Have multiple priorities, like you want to participate in the events while also getting an autograph? There's a reason why the event is 3 days per weekend and you should take advantage of that by going on multiple days to make your life much easier.

I mentioned the merchandise and the reality is that you should only worry about getting merchandise that is available in limited quantities. Some merchandise, like pins or big figs, are only available in limited editions and if that's something you want, buy it early. If you're interested in only a Star Wars Weekend shirt or a lightsaber or something else that doesn't have a number tattooed on the bottom of it, you can pick that up really at any point in the day and you can lower that priority.

Earlier in the article, I mentioned prioritizing is the most important thing you can do and the second most important thing you can do is arrive early. There will be some fans who arrive literally at 2 or 3am (if not earlier) and that sort of dedication (or craziness, depending on your disposition) isn't required. That being said, you can't really roll into the Studios at 10am either. I would arrive at least an hour before the park is set to open. If you really want to get a good spot in line to be in front, then perhaps 90-120 minutes in advance would be best. The good news is that there are storm troopers who perform a fun skit on top of the entrance to the Studios to help pass the time.

The importance of arriving early is to help with crowds and the crowds will definitely be there. Autograph lines will be by far the longest and worst lines, with merchandise locations and events coming in close with their lines. Beyond simply repeating to yourself "patience is a virtue" over and over again, you should again remember the event is held on 3 days each weekend for good reason. While you can get a lot done in one day, you may find yourself pushing yourself (and your family) a lot to get it all done. If you spread it over 2 or 3 days, you will find the event much more relaxing and enjoyable.

As first timers, it can be daunting to simply attend the event and express your inner love of Star Wars but the real fun is immersing yourself in the event and the best way to immerse yourself is to dress up for the event. Lots of fans dress up for the event to make it more fun and it certainly creates talking points with other guests. For kids, dressing up can be a lot of fun, be it getting their face painted (which is available in the parks) to donning a Jedi robe or similiar outfit to wear around the parks. Keep in mind that June is a very hot month in Florida and while a replica costume may seem like a good idea at home, you may find heavy costumes will result in your melting in the parks so try to keep your costume summer friendly or bring a change of clothes if you feel at some point that changing might be a good option.

Beyond anything else, as a first timer I really recommend taking time to enjoy the various events and people and sounds and sights. There's a lot to do but I really like to take it all in by walking around the park and people watching and seeing the shows. Sure actively being a part of the events is also fun and going that route can be great, but there are a lot of first timers who are going to the event with a bit of hesitantcy and you really can enjoy the event by being passive and just taking it all in. You might take your first day to just watch and then if you decide you really want to meet a celebrity or participate in a particular event, then you can go to the next day and have a plan of attack. Regardless, I think first timers will love the event and mark it on their calendar for next year as soon as they get home.


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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 by