Tuesday, June 17, 2014

May the Force Be With You: SWW 2014

This phrase was used over and over again during the Star Wars Weekend events at Hollywood Studios.  Each year on designated weekends in May & June, Hollywood Studios is completely taken over by Jedis, Siths, and Storm Troopers.  It is truly a fun, energetic atmosphere!  I had never attended a Star Wars Weekend, but it turned out that one coincided with the 24 Hour Rock Your Disney Side event.  So of course, we took full advantage of the opportunity!

We made sure to be there at rope drop (and not just because we had early breakfast reservations).  Imagine my surprise when the rope drop ceremony was different!  We were welcomed by Storm Troopers ...

After the video (which I shut off because I thought the skit was over), they actually continued speaking, and they were hilarious!  Oddly, after rope drop, people did not just run to Toy Story Midway Mania, as is usual.  People were definitely there for the event itself!

We headed past the stage, redecorated with Hans Solo frozen in Carbonite:

And then we headed to our destination: The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for a special Star Wars breakfast!  Now, there were two version of a breakfast offered this year.  Hollywood & Vine offered a breakfast with Mickey, Minnie, and the gang dressed as characters from Star Wars.  We chose to dine at Sci-Fi, because we got to meet the characters themselves.

When we were escorted in, we immediately got to meet Darth Vader and Boba Fett.  After posting this pic on Facebook, we were reminded that we probably should have looked more frightened, what with a Sith Lord and a bounty hunter surrounding us...

We were seated, and we were given our menu:

And while we were waiting, we were treated to scenes from Star Wars movies on the big screen.  It was so odd to see a different montage, but I really enjoyed it, especially the sing-a-long!

And now, the food:

I love the C3PO chocolate muffins especially!  

Why yes, that is a honeydew shaped like Yoda!
And what would a character breakfast be without... characters?  They were very interactive, and I had SO much fun meeting these characters.

All in all, I would definitely recommend the breakfast.  Of course, there were other great goings-on as well!  There was a special store selling all sorts of Star Wars merch.  People were sporting R2D2 dresses, special ear hats, full-out Jedi and Princess Leia costumes... it was really fun.  The park was decorated, and there were special maps.

There were other meet and greets throughout the park as well.  I just missed getting a picture with Princess Leia, as it was too close to parade time.  I did manage to snap a pic of Chewbacca:

And of... Ewoks?!

I snagged what I thought was a great place for the parade... only to discover at the last minute that it was NOT such a great place.  Tip: get there early for a good spot along Hollywood Blvd or near the stage!  I did manage to get a couple of good pics, though, of Jedi Mickey and the real live Star Wars Stars who were on hand visiting guests!

So many events, and each weekend was slated to be slightly different!  The evening are wrapped up with a fabulous fireworks display; a Symphony in the Stars.  If you are a Star Wars Fan, you simply must try to attend one of these weekends next year.  

Of course, all of your favorite attractions are open as well, so don't forget to ride those while you're at it!  :)  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

24 Hours at Disney?!

So, here is a conversation I've been having a lot recently:

Them: "Did you really spend 24 hours in Disney?"
Me: "Absolutely!  We stayed in the Magic Kingdom for 24 hours straight!"
Them: "What did you do?  Didn't you get sick of it?"
Me: "Are you kidding?! I loved it... and we did everything!"

My fellow Disney Fans will completely appreciate how awesome a 24-hour event like this is.  And for those of you who have not gotten to experience such an event, I documented the highlights from our day to share with you!

So first, a little history.  Two years back, Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts offered "One More Disney" day as a campaign over Leap Day.  It was (to my knowledge) the first 24-hour event.  I watched people's videos and read blogs about it, wishing to be a part of the magic.  The next year, they kicked off the "Monstrous Summer" season with another 24-hour event.  This time, it was on my birthday (May 24)!  Alas, it was not to be for me.  So this year, at the announcement of the "Rock Your Disney Side" 24-hour event, scheduled for May 23, my awesome hubby booked us a trip so we could at last be part of the fun.

Now, the stuff you really want to read:

Our morning started very early.  Not runDisney early, but we were up by 4:00 am to get ready for the day.  We wanted to make sure we caught rope drop, so we were on the first bus out of Saratoga Springs at 5:15am; this meant getting to the bus stop a bit before 5 in case there was a line.  There really weren't too many at our particular location (the first of 5 stops), but it was great to check out everyone's costumes and chat about the day to come.

We pulled into the Magic Kingdom at 5:43 (7 minutes before rope drop), and since we do not carry bags, we were able to snag a spot in front of Main Street Station to catch the pre-show.  It was very similar to the normal opening ceremony, but made several references to the Rock Your Disney Side 24-hour event.  My video turned out choppy, but here are a couple of pics from the morning:

Once through the tunnels, it was packed!  Main Street, of course, looked awesome, and I stopped to snap a quick pic before heading into the Emporium for some event merchandise.

They had special Hero or Villain glow in the dark tees along with my favorite, the commemorative ear hat.  I am somewhat of an ear hat collector, so of course, we made sure to purchase some.

Afterward, we headed back into Fantasyland, because we had yet to see the Seven Dwarves Mine Train in its finished state.  And lo and behold, it was open for business!!!!  Needless to say, we immediately got into line.  Although the wait was ostensibly 2 hours or more, we didn't hesitate to jump into line (hey, that's STILL shorter than the wait for Elsa & Anna.  I think their wait was 300+ minutes at that point...).  The best part?  We only had to wait about 45 minutes, as the line moved a lot faster than it looked like it would.  I think I'll do a whole separate post on the ride itself (which is AWESOME), but here are some little teasers:

Haha I rode it on May 23!!

From the queue

Up the first hill!
And we loved it so much, we got right back into line and rode it again!  It did not disappoint, and we walked away extremely happy.  And then, we discovered the first of many special photo spots.  As you probably know, people dressed up for this event as heroes or villains.  There were some absolutely amazing costumes.  I dressed as Pocohantas, as you can see from the pic below:

Although I was a bit pale after an atrocious Pennsylvania winter, I actually had people stop and pose for pictures with me.  This was actually an occurrence I saw several times throughout the day; people who appreciated others' costumes would ask them to pose.  I loved seeing everyone Rock their Disney Side, and I loved seeing the camaraderie among Disney Fans.  And in answer to your question, no, my hubby did not dress as John Smith -- who to my knowledge didn't wear a polo shirt.

So at this point, we were hungry, and a trip to the Crystal Palace was in order.  During the fabulous meal, we were able to get a selfie with Tigger!

Oh, and since it was my birthday, I was treated to a card from the characters and a little dessert!

Now, fueled up for more Disney Magic, we headed for the Mountains: Space, Splash, and Big Thunder.  And I was finally able to get a decent pic of the Revival Chickens (as my friend Mark calls them) at the end of Splash Mountain.

After more attractions (and shopping), it was time for a tasty treat.  Cue Aloha Isle and the Dole Whip Float:

I just made you hungry, huh?
And we also got to schedule more Fastpasses, thanks to the enhancements to Fastpass+.  There are several kiosks, but we went to the one between Adventureland and Frontierland, which was sporting a Disney Side Banner.

With our new Fastpass in hand, er, I mean, on our Magic Bands, we headed to grab a spot for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  Again, that's a whole other blog post, but it was my first time seeing it -- and it was amazing!

I got to see Anna & Elsa!
So so CUTE!
Maleficent = AMAZING

We tried to pace ourselves, knowing that we were in the park until 6am.  We stopped at magical tree stumps to recharge our batteries (for our phones and ourselves!), and discovered the hidden Pascals in the area.  We rode attraction after attraction, and we took time in all of the shops before dining at the Liberty Tree Tavern for yet another delicious meal.  

We rode the Peoplemover in the evening, and stumbled on another cute photo op:

As the night wore on, I have to admit that we got tired.  Very tired.  Mind you, we were loving every minute, but we are used to sleeping at 2 in the morning.  Instead, we rode "it's a small world".  

We waited in line for the Mine Train again, which woke us up a bit, but finally, at about 5:15am, we were so tired that we headed back to Main Street and walked up to the top of Main Street Station to watch the Dance Party and the people milling about.  We thought we'd wait around for the "Kiss Goodnight", and then we'd be able to make a quick exit to the buses.  I am so glad we were up there, because we caught the Big Bad Wolf on camera dancing to "What Does the Fox Say?"!  

This went on for the whole song.  It was absolutely amazingly funny, especially at 5:30 am.  And then finally, we made it!  At 5:50, they started the farewell ceremony for the "Kiss Goodnight".  

And thus, sleepy and in need of a shower, we ended an amazing 24-hours in the Magic Kingdom.  Would we do it again?  In a heartbeat.  

Please note, we definitely did not look this awake when we left!