What is there for Star Wars fans in the Disney parks?

We’ve all heard the news: Disney is going to be taking us to a galaxy far, far away with the announcement of two Star Wars lands, one in WDW and one in Disneyland. Now all we’ve got to do is wait another who knows how long for them to be completed. Ugh.

The problem is, with the recent release of Episode VII, Disney has just created a whole new generation of Star Wars fans eagerly awaiting the next installment, and of course these spectacular new areas of the parks, and, clever little people that they are, they have made sure that these fans are not disappointed! So what have they got going?

Star Tours

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Star Tours is a travel company offering destination holidays to everyone in the galaxy, but unfortunately due to some issues on Flight 1401, your trip turns into a bit of a mission, uh-oh! Its a 3D simulator, and the rides have been in the parks for a few years now, but those wonderful Imagineers have given them a little tweak!

Now including scenes from Jakku, and a message from Finn and BB-8, the ride actually has 50 different variations; there are slight differences in the opening scene, ending scene, and a few differences in the middle, and there’s no telling which one you’re going to get! In January, we had about 4 different experiences, I wonder how many times you’d have to ride before you saw them all!

You can ride Star Tours in Hollywood Studios in WDW or Tomorrowland in Disneyland.

Star Wars Launch Bay

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The Launch Bay is one of the newest Star Wars additions to the Disney parks. Inside you can see memorabilia from the movies, such as Rey’s speeder, collections of lightsabers and models of your favourite spacecraft, as well as being able to meet some of your favourite characters.. Was that a wookiee I heard?!

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As well as Chewbacca and Darth Vader, you might also run into a bounty hunter or have an encounter with a trading Jawa, and you never know, Kylo Ren might make an appearance!

The Launch Bays can be found in both Hollywood Studios and Tomorrowland in Disneyland

Jedi Training Academy

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If your little ones dream of joining the lightside, you can sign them up to take part in the Jedi Training Academy shows which happen throughout the day at both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. Its adorable; first each little Jedi gets given a robe and a lightsaber and are walked out to the stage area in a big procession. Once on stage, they’re taught a fight routine which they’ll suddenly have to use against Darth Vader or The Seventh Sister, and the moral of the story is to stand up to your fears.

Each show has limited spaces, so sign up early in the day to avoid disappointment. Your child must be present when you sign them up, and its open to all between the ages of 4-12.

Path of the Jedi

Path of the Jedi is a short film essentially telling an abridged version of the initial six Star Wars films, and a series of non-spoiler clips from Episode VII, summing up the history of the Jedi, and what the future may hold!

Hyperspace Mountain – Disneyland

Disneyland’s Space Mountain has been influenced by the force with a little revamp, and a lot more adventure! Its the same ride as before, but the addition of lights and projections within the ride have transformed this in-the-dark rollercoaster into a rebel mission against the galactic empire, and watch out for those tie-fighters!

Don’t forget to grab a Fastpass early in the day to shorten your wait time!

Force-filled Food

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Disneyland is ahead of the game with their Star Wars inspired food, dedicating a whole restaurant, Galactic Grill, to it. The menu includes First Order burgers and Darth by Chocolate dessert, and you can even have your meal served in a Han Solo in Carbonite bucket!

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Hollywood Studios has a good range of Star Wars cupcakes, but that’s about it for the moment!

Merchandise

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As expected, Star Wars merchandise is everywhere throughout all the parks, everything from clothing and accessories to comic books and annuals, you can even buy a 4ft tall Stormtrooper! As well as being in most shops, there are dedicated stores such as Watto’s Grotto and Tatooine Traders in Hollywood Studios and Mickey’s Star Traders in Disneyland.

Are excited for the new Star Wars lands?

Teppan Edo

If you’re looking for Disney dining with a difference, look no further than Epcot’s World Showcase for a huge selection of international cuisine, and after my trip to Japan last summer, I couldn’t wait to eat here.

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Teppan Edo shares its location in the Japan pavilion with Tokyo Dining, which is a regular sit-down dining experience, but offers guests a much more unique experience as your meal is cooked right before your eyes on the table in front of you!

Each table sits eight people, so as a party of two, we were sat with another family – small groups be prepared for this – but we were so immersed in the experience that it was totally fine, even though the other family was a little dramatic at times..

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We ordered our drinks and starters first, which were brought out to the table really quickly while we waited for our chef to arrive. I had ordered assorted tempura which I shared with Dad, who had ordered sushi which was prepared by the chef when she arrived.

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For the main course, all of the dishes had the same udon noodle and vegetable base, and then you chose the meat – steak, shrimp, chicken, swordfish or a combination – or the vegetarian option, and then they also come with a bowl of rice and a selection of dipping sauces. Our chef prepared the noodles and vegetables on the hot plate in front of us, while simultaneously cooking each of the different meats to perfection AND performing tricks like making an onion volcano; it was completely amazing to watch, and it was delicious!

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Now a few things I will mention if you’re thinking about eating here:

  • Firstly, this is an experience that takes time – it was maybe half an hour to 45 minutes before our main course was served, not that you noticed the time, but if you’re starving hungry I can imagine the wait would be a little torturous!
  • They don’t offer any substitutions – one of the dramas of the family we were sat with was that one of the girls was super fussy and wanted regular steamed rice instead of the rice on the menu, and unfortunately that couldn’t be accommodated, so double check the menu before booking with fussy eaters.
  • As well as being sat with other people if you’re a small group, if you’re a group larger than 8, you will probably be split between two tables.

Now all that said, it was one of our favourite meals of the whole trip – 100% unique! If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it counts as a table service meal, and if not you’re looking at about $40pp excluding tax and gratuity. Oh, and don’t forget to make those reservations 180 days in advance to avoid disappointment!

What’s your favourite World Showcase pavilion?

Dressing for Walt Disney World in January

Die hard Disney-goers like myself rarely visit the parks without carefully coordinated outfits, complete down to the matching Mickey ears; its probably one of my favourite parts of trip planning. I like to believe that if I have one skill in life, its putting together a good Disney outfit, and lord knows I’ve got the wardrobe for it!

Now if you’re visiting WDW any time from March-November, you can rest assured that it will be warm, if not stonking hot, and while there may be rain, its Florida rain – big, heavy and warm raindrops that will dry within minutes of the sun reappearing – so you can still wear what we here in the UK consider to be summer clothes without having to worry too much, and therefore booking a trip for early January posed a slight conundrum for me.

Being Florida, it was always gonna be warmer than it was here in Bournemouth, I could count on that for sure, and after looking up average temperatures in Orlando, I quickly discovered that it would be about the same as a cooler summer day here in England, around 18-20°C, and that became my starting point.

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Long story short, you know those summer evenings when you might warm up an outfit by throwing on a cardigan or a pair of tights? Yep, that’s essentially it right there. I spent pretty much every day in tights and dresses or skirts and shirts, chucked a cardigan on top of whatever I was wearing, and maybe a jacket on cooler days.

We looked a little silly compared to some people; so many people were wrapped up in hats and scarves, but some (including the locals) its pretty cold compared to what they’re used to!

When is your favourite time to visit Walt Disney World? °o°

My Disney Trip Haul!

I’m home, I’m jet-lagged, and something I always hate about coming home from holidays is the dreaded unpacking of the suitcase, am I right?

What made it a little more bearable for me today though was knowing that my case was full of Disney goodies, and who doesn’t love a good haul post?!

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Now a fair amount of this is RunDisney stuff, so that’s where I’ll begin!

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To start off, our medals and race shirts were all included in the entry fee; for the 5k it was just a regular cotton t-shirt, and the 10k, 2 halfs and Rebel Challenge shirts were all long sleeved performance tops. The medals are all 100% awesome, and pretty chunky – weighing just under a kilo for all six!

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As well as our free shirts, we picked up a few extra goodies at the RunDisney expos. To surprise Dad, I had pre-ordered the limited edition WDW race weekend jackets for both of us, and we both ended up wearing them for the majority of the rest of our trip because they were so nice and warm! We also got a Coast to Coast shirt each, because you only get a medal for completing it, and also the Rebel Challenge ‘I did it!’ t-shirts, which also had a map of the courses we ran on the back, then I got a couple of headbands – two WDW half marathon ones and a Rebel Challenge.

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If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I was pretty desperate for a pair of the limited release New Balance trainers, so of course I was super psyched to get my hands on a pair of the Red Carpet Minnie Mouse ones, which also came with a pair of gold shoelaces and clip on bows.

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I was pretty restrained in only buying two mugs, (I had my eye on quite a few!) but Chip was top on my list, and I fell in love with the pastel Disneyland beauty. Obviously I bought the first Cogsworth I found because I had to bring him home with me, although I discovered mine is missing his pendulum yesterday when I unwrapped him, so fingers crossed the lovely Disney team with magic up a new one for me!

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I’m a huge collector of Vinylmations, and somehow came home with 9, oops! I did get two of them at Disney’s Character Warehouse, the outlet store, for only $3 each so that was a bonus.

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Isn’t my new BB-8 dress amazing?! Its by Her Universe, but was sold all over the parks and Disney Springs, and I’m obsessed. I actually wore it to Hollywood Studios one day, and bumped into some Stormtroopers, totally panicked and said ‘this isn’t the droid you’re looking for’..

And lastly, I was really lucky to finally meet the lovely Maggie from Elephant and Mouse, who was staying in the same resort as us and was kind enough to meet me with an order of ears so I didn’t have to pay international shipping! I got two different fluffy Donald Duck pairs, and a pretty purple galaxy pair. She makes incredible ears, so go and visit her Etsy shop here!

Oh, and not forgetting this cutie!

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We came home with a family set!

Are you heading to Disney anytime soon?

°o°

WDW Day 9 – and onto Disneyland!

Today we said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom *sobs*

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After a quick run, and fighting with our suitcases before checking out of French Quarter, we headed into the Magic Kingdom; overnight all the Christmas decorations had disappeared, so Main Street USA was looking a little bare. First up was Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by breakfast at Liberty Square Market, then Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain and the TTA People Mover before our Haunted Mansion Fastpass time.

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With some time before our next Fastpass, we wandered back into Fantasyland and caught the railroad, doing a full loop of the kingdom, before getting on an entirely different train: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. High speed rides out of the way, we stopped off at Pinocchio Village Haus for lunch.

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A final ride on the carousel, and it was back to French Quarter to catch the Magical Express to the airport, and a 5 hour plane journey and a drive to Anaheim, and we’ve just checked into our hotel! We’re now 3 hours behind Florida time, so 8 hours behind UK, and off to bed for us!

WDW Day 8!

Today was our last full day in the parks, can someone tell me where that time has gone?!

The plan was to have a little bit of a lie-in, then get to the Magic Kingdom for the rope drop. Well, we missed the rope drop, but we did get to do Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder and Space Mountain all within the first hour of park time, so that was pretty impressive in any case! Fast rides out of the way, we stopped at Sleepy Hollow for breakfast: fresh fruit waffle sandwiches in the sunshine, right next to the castle as the first Dream Along with Mickey show was on – kinda perfect, am I right?

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After our late breakfast, we caught the monorail to Polynesian Village; the lobby was under construction on our last visit, so we were curious to see the changes for ourselves, and it made the perfect stop to hop across to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. First on the agenda was Star Wars Launch Bay to hang out with Chewie and Darth, and we even got to see a rogue Jawa hanging around! After another Great Movie Ride (gangster this time, in case you were wondering), we finally caved and bought ourselves a BB-8 sipper cup each as well as some popcorn to see Beauty and the Beast live on stage.

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After the show, we headed across to Star Tours, but as we were a little early for our Fastpass slot, we decided to watch the Jedi Training Academy show, which was pretty adorable. You might have caught my tweet about how it’s been updated to include some TFA stuff, but we asked a CM today and it turns out there are 50 different variations of the simulation, crazy!

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Next up some Muppet Vision 3D, followed by late lunch at Studio Catering Co, then One Mans Dream (all the feels!) before out Tower of Terror Fastpass. You may have heard me talk about my love/hate relationship with this ride before, and it’s pretty simple: I hate waiting for the first drop, after that I’m totally cool, and it works fine because I know that it doesn’t drop until you reach the top and look out over the park. Nope, not this time! The first drop was done totally in the dark; I felt betrayed, but at least it was over. After that we made our way to Fantasmic nice and early because of our Fastpasses, and to avoid the mad rush that happens so often. It was magical as per, when Mickey comes out on the boat as Steamboat Willie..

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After the show, we made our way to our favourite spot to watch Symphony of the Stars for our last time this trip. It was no less magical the second time; you can physically feel the bangs pass through you!

Tomorrow is our last day here (waa!), but I’m getting so excited to return to Disneyland!

WDW Day 7!

Well that’s Four Park Challenge off my bucket list!

We started this morning with Extra Magic Hours in Animal Kingdom, and first stop was obviously Expedition Everest – did you catch it on Periscope? Rollercoaster out of the way, we stopped off at Creature Comforts (the AK Starbucks) for hot drinks – yes it was that cold – and breakfast pastries, then onward to Kilimanjaro Safaris where we got to see two baby white rhinos playing, eek! We decided that for our challenge, we would get photos with Mickey at each of the parks, so we stopped off at Adventurers Outpost to see him and Minnie before catching a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to park-hop.

From AKL we transferred onto a bus to Hollywood Studios, where we first stopped off to see Mickey, this time in his classic Sorcerers Apprentice costume. On a character meet roll, we also got a selfie with a green army man, and went to see Mike and Sully, but as we’re headed back to Studios tomorrow, we decided not to queue for any rides.

Now midday, we caught another bus onto Wilderness Lodge, for a quick look around but also so we could transfer to the Magic Kingdom by the boat that runs direct from the resort, handy right? Again, first things first, we went to see Mickey in Town Hall Theater, then grabbed lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Would you believe we’ve never done Astro Orbiter before? Well we have now! With that experience under our belts, we got a spot near the castle for Festival of Fantasy, which was just as magical as it always is, and finished up out MK time with an obligatory Its a Small World.

 To throw another form of transportation into the works, we obviously had to take the monorail across to our final park, Epcot, and actually it wasn’t Mickey we went to first, it was Baymax. Yes again, no we don’t care. Mickey was next, at the Epcot Character Spot, then we went across to Journey into the Imagination. We had a Fastpass, but there wasn’t much of a line to bypass! Not quite hungry yet, we stopped off to watch Circle of Life in The Land, before dinner at Sunshine Seasons, probably my favourite quick service in the whole of Walt Disney World. From there we went to Spaceship Earth for our Fastpass, but again there was no line so we didn’t even bother scanning them. With time before the fireworks, we figured a 40 minute wait at Test Track (which we discovered a love for the other day) would keep us warm and indoors, but we actually waited less than 10 before we got to the design stage, then another 10 before the ride itself. In fact, we ended up doing it twice! That took us right up to our last Fastpass for the day, for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, which was beautiful as always. It was pretty chilly, so as soon as the display was over, we joined the brisk hoard of people leaving the parks and jumped on our last bus: back to the resort!

How’s that for a busy day?