The Force Awakens Opening Night Event

Thursday night, after our first showing of The Force Awakens, we traveled to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the big Opening Night after party. All showings at Disney Springs between 7-8 pm were included in the event, which meant DHS was as empty as I’ve ever seen it. We walked on to every ride, and it was so nice to be able to move throughout the park. Not every attraction was open, only the front part of the park, including Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Rollercoaster, featuring Star Wars music!

Brian and I arrived at Disney Springs around 8 am for check in. After waiting a little less than an hour, we picked up our credentials and headed off to run errands and relax at home. We went back to Disney Springs in the afternoon, ate lunch and recorded a podcast at Jock Lindsay’s Hangar Bar, and then went back to line up. We waited another hour before finally getting inside the theatre around 4 pm and settling in for the next three hours.

Before the movie, they played a short video welcoming us to the event and explaining all the cool things we’d be able to do at DHS. I was really impressed with the event organization, and the credentials we were given. We also found out we’d get free photo downloads!

Once freaking out over TFA, we made a beeline to the park, arriving a little after 10 pm, and made another beeline to Star Tours. We took a detour once I saw that BB-8 had a photo op!

 

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We walked on to Star Tours and had the entire shuttle to ourselves. Then we immediately went back on again. After that we went over to Tower of Terror (another walk on), and did Rock ‘n Rollercoaster. I don’t usually go on that ride, but since it was re-themed just for the event, I had to give it a try. It made me sick, but it was totally worth it. I hope they re-theme the ride permanently!

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After that we got a late night snack (Darth Vader waffles and chicken) before getting in place for the premiere of the Galactic Spectacular fireworks. After a brief presentation with Phasma (YAY!), the fireworks started. They were similar to the fireworks from last year’s Star Wars Weekends, but with a few added TFA cues, and they were absolutely brilliant. I got emotional and may have teared up.

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We went over to Launch Bay, took a few more photo ops, and by then it was close to 2 am and we were ready to crash. Not to mention being kicked out of the park.

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It was such a great event, and I would gladly pay more money for another one after Episode VIII.

 

So You Want To Go To Disney World: Space Mountain

Welcome to the first installment of our ongoing series on traveling in the Orlando area, home to numerous theme parks and attractions. This series is intended to provide geek-focused recommendations for places to visits, events to see, and attractions to ride. 

­­Space Mountain was introduced first at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 1971. Like the Matterhorn Bobsled ride at Disneyland, it’s a steel-tube coaster but with a twist: it’s indoors and in the dark. Two separate tracks send cars and riders down a fast-paced course with sudden twists, turns, and drops that you can’t see coming. The best part? You’re riding through a starfield as if you were in a starfighter.

Over forty years later, it’s still one of the most popular attractions in all of the Disney parks.

The Geek Appeal

Space! Let’s say that again. SPACE! You’re flying through a projected star field in a car designed to look like a rocket with dramatic music blasting in the background. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re in the cockpit of an X-Wing and caught in the middle of a wild run through asteroids and obstacles, this is the ride for you.

Even the queue is full of geeky and spacy charm. The line leading towards the loading area is modeled like a space station corridor you’d expect to see in the likes of 2001. Additionally, the standby line features team-based mini video games that task you with stocking space freighters or blasting away dangerous asteroids. It’s a clever feature, and a life saver since Space Mountain will feature some of the longest lines in all of Disney. Which brings us to…

Attraction Strategy

The easiest thing you can possibly do is grab a Fast Pass+, which you can book online with a MyMagic+ account or at the park the day of. If you can book online, do that, because the available slots can vanish in a hurry the day of and FP+ will allow you to book weeks in advance of your arrival. With FP+, you can expect to be blasting through the ride within 10-15 minutes of entering the line.

If you don’t want to use one of your available FP slots on Space Mountain, or if you’ve already used up your allotted amount for that day, plan on getting to the park as close to rope drop (opening) as you can and doing this ride first. Later in the day, you can try riding during one of the bigger night time events like the Electrical Light Parade or the Wishes fireworks show. Otherwise, you can expect to be in the standby line for anywhere from 60-90 minutes.

Is This Attraction For You?

Ask yourself a few quick questions. Are you okay going downhill really fast? Are you okay with quick turns and drops you can’t see coming? Are you okay being strapped into a car and doing all of that in the dark? If the answer is yes, go for it!

Rumor: Star Wars expansion to be largest in recent Disney parks history?

As always, thDisneyis is a rumor so use as many grains of salt as you need.

According to the Orlando Business Journal, Disney World will be getting a Star Wars expansion. It’s doubtful that anyone would be surprised if this happens. Why wouldn’t Disney use one of the most valuable intellectual properties in entertainment in their parks? What may be surprising is the scale Disney is considering for this expansion.

Guess what, Disney fans? That rumored Star Wars land/expansion at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will dwarf any other Disney-related expansion in its recent history.

At least that’s what a source with close connections to the park told me about all the growing chatter about a new Star Wars land project coming to Walt Disney World.

It’s expected that any type of Star Wars expansion could easily be north of $200 million in new investment at Mickey’s house, but the thought of something bigger is quite impressive.

Another interesting rumor is the expansion wouldn’t be contained to just Disney’s Hollywood Studios or any single park.

To find out just what that expansion might entail, I reached out to yet another source who seems to have a magical way of knowing things about Disney.

“My understanding is the Star Wars expansion will be similar to the Harry Potter expansion featuring new attractions, new creative merchandise and food and beverage options, as well as re-purposing older rides with the Star Wars theme,” said Chad Emerson, a Disney author and expert.

“There also have been conversations of re-themeing the Fantasmic! night show and introducing a new fireworks show with a Star Wars theme,” Emerson told me. The Fantasmic! show is on the opposite end of the theme park from its current Star Wars-themed area. He said that thought process by Disney shows the Mouse doesn’t see Star Wars as a ‘single area’ type of addition, but rather, as playing a larger role in the entire park.

“It’s not just an isolated land I hear they have in mind, and they are not just seeing this as a way to revitalizing a part of the park. Disney is seeing this Star Wars brand as something that will be sprinkled elsewhere throughout Hollywood Studios and elsewhere through out the resort,” he said.

Not so sure how keen I am about re-theming Fantasmic, which is perhaps Disney’s most iconic daily show at their parks. Expanding the presence of Star Wars to more than one area is interesting, though. Perhaps the Swiss Family Robinson Tarzan treehouse is going to be re-skinned to an Ewok theme.

Obviously here at Tosche Station, we’re keen on new Star Wars themed park developments. A few weeks ago we did a podcast on this very topic.

(Via Club Jade)

Disney World gearing up for a Star Wars addition?

This is very much in the rumor phase, but I suppose I give this one a little more credit because it would fall under the “well, duh” category. According to Theme Park Insider, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is gearing up for a major expansion that will include the Cars Land also seen at California Adventures and a Star Wars-themed expansion

Get ready for history to repeat itself. It looks as though [George] Kalogridis and his team have gotten the green light for a project to remake the Disney’s Hollywood Studiospark on a scale similar to what Disney just finished at California Adventure.

The projects will share one very large component — Cars Land, the highlight of the California Adventure makeover, will come to Florida as part of the Hollywood Studios revamp, according to multiple insider sources. But it won’t necessarily be the highlight of the changes coming to the park.

That’s because Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also getting…

Star Wars Land.

Star Wars land in Orlando? Yeah, sign me up for an annual pass.