Out and About: Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 26, 2013

CitySurfing Orlando popped into Disney’s Hollywood Studios this holiday weekend and managed to catch the Star Wars Weekends version of Motorcade of Stars. Celebrity guests in the parade included Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok).

Here are some photos:

Star Wars Weekends 2013 - Ray Park
Star Wars Weekends 2013 – Ray Park
Star Wars Weekends 2013 - Warwick Davis
Star Wars Weekends 2013 – Warwick Davis
Star Wars Weekends 2013 - Jedi Mickey
Star Wars Weekends 2013 – Jedi Mickey

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Walt Disney World Announces 2013 Star Wars Weekend Dates and First Guests

starwarsweekends2013Star Wars Weekends is only a few months away, so Walt Disney World has announced the actual dates, as well as the first two guests, and this year’s logo.

This year’s event will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from May 17 through June 9, 2013. It will once again take over Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The first guests announced are action star Ray Park (Darth Maul), who will appear the first and second weekends, and Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok), who will appear the second and third weekends.

Since 2013 is the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, this year’s Star Wars Weekends poster pays homage, with Jedi Mickey and Chip and Dale escaping the Stormtroopers on Endor.

For more information, visit StarWars.com or DisneyWorld.com/StarWarsWeekends.

2011 Star Wars Weekends Start May 20 at Walt Disney World

As a life-long geek, one of my favorite events at the theme parks is Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World.

It’s held over four consecutive weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, starting the weekend before Memorial Day. This year, Star Wars weekends start May 20, 2011.

Every year, thousands of fans gather to enjoy Star Wars shows, motorcades, a Jedi training academy for the kids, and photos with the characters.

But the two main reasons legions of Star Wars fans attend are to meet actors and other important people from the films and TV show, and to ride Star Tours, the Disney attraction based on Star Wars.

Celebrity Hosts for the event this year are James Arnold Taylor (voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi on The Clone Wars) and Ashley Eckstein (voice of Ahsoka Tano on The Clone Wars). Eckstein will host “Clone Wars: Behind the Force,” a closer look inside the popular animated TV series. Taylor will present another event-first: he will star in a one-man show that showcases some of the many voices he has performed throughout his career, including those from The Clone Wars.

This year’s special guest list is as follows:

May 20-22

  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett)
  • Dave Filoni (Supervising Director on The Clone Wars)

May 27-29

  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • Bruce Spence (Tion Medon)
  • Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Captain Rex on The Clone Wars)

June 3-5

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)
  • Matt Lanter (voice of Anakin on The Clone Wars)

June 10-12

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • Tom Kane (voice of Yoda on The Clone Wars)

All of the above will be available for autographs and photos for those who are lucky enough to grab a FastPass first thing each morning.

As for Star Tours, it will kick off the SW Weekends with a grand re-opening celebration to mark the updating of the attraction. Rumors are Star Wars creator George Lucas will even be in attendance. Don’t worry if you can’t get to the park, though, as the ceremony will be streamed live on the web.

If you’d like to attend Star Wars Weekends, the event is free with any Walt Disney World admission ticket or pass.

[Star Wars Weekend poster image courtesy of Walt Disney World]

Traveling to a Galaxy Far, Far Away – Celebration V in Orlando

I was nine when I saw Star Wars on opening day in 1977. Ever since then, I’ve been a major fan of the Lucas-created universe. So when I heard that Celebration, the big Star Wars fan convention, was going to be held this year in Orlando, I knew I had to be there.

Star Wars Celebration V :: Darth Vader & StormtrooperThis year marks the 30th anniversary of the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, so of course, Celebration V was dedicated to everything ESB.

I was first excited at the opportunity to see Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), along with George Lucas, himself. The reality? After standing in line for over an hour to see Hamill, I was three people from the door when they declared the theater full. Fisher didn’t even do her scheduled panel, so I ended up staying in line to see the next guest Ray Park (who is a super nice and funny guy). And since people were lining up at 11pm the night before to see Lucas, I decided not to even try. Kudos to those diehard fans, but I won’t wait twelve hours in line for anyone.

Out of six actor panels I wanted to see, I only got into two. The lines were so big for each one, that with only a 30 min break between panels, it was just too hard to get out of one and go all the way to the end of the next line waiting to get in.

Star Wars Celebration V :: Robot Chicken PanelThe first panel I saw was on Friday, August 13. It was a panel with the creators of the animated TV comedy show Robot Chicken, which has two DVDs full of Star Wars skits – Robot Chicken: Star Wars and Robot Chicken: Star Wars – Episode II.

I’m not only a fan of the show, but of co-creator Seth Green, whom I first knew as “Oz” the werewolf on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Imagine my surprise when Joey Fatone joined them onstage! I first met Joey when NSync was first starting out here in Orlando. Of course since then, he’s branched out into acting and TV hosting.

During the panel, the guys talked about what it was like to get that phone call from Lucas about their show spoofing the Star Wars universe, and just being mega-fans of Star Wars themselves. They also showed some hilarious clips of past and future spoofs, then took questions from the audience. It was a great panel with lots of humor and info.

Star Wars Celebration V :: Ray Park & Jay Laga'aiaThe second panel I saw was the Ray Park panel on Sunday. Besides playing Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Park has appeared in films like Mortal Kombat, X2 – X-Men United and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, as well as the last season of Heroes.

Park showed off some of his martial arts moves, talked about training for various roles, including Darth Maul (accompanied by video clips) and discussed how he’s still such a fanboy, despite his impressive resume. It was a lively panel, even though it was a bit rushed.

The rest of the weekend, I just wandered the convention center. The exhibit hall was full of vendors with lots of great Star Wars merchandise to buy.

Star Wars Celebration V :: WampaThere were also life-sized replicas of everything from Jabba the Hut to an AT-AT and a Wampa. Lots of places for great photo-ops. There was even a commitment chapel, for fans to renew their vows. A Lucasfilm employee took advantage of the opportunity to make an honest droid out of R2-D2, and I was witness to a renewal ceremony with Darth Vader officiating.

Probably the best part of the event, though, was meeting all the fans who dressed up as characters. Yes, there were plenty of Vaders, Stormtroopers, Leias and Jedi, but there were also some really creative costumes, too.  I saw bounty hunter Boba Fett in a 70s leisure suit, complete with gold chains. I saw a  guy with a backpack, and inside the bag was a little pug puppy dressed as Obi-Wan.

It was truly glorious to see all these people showing their devotion to Star Wars.

There’s no real set schedule to these Celebration conventions, but the 30th anniversary for Return of the Jedi is only three years off. Most likely, that’s when the Powers that Be will decide to reunite the Star Wars universe once again…and I will be there, too.

[Photos by Michelle Snow – see more at my Flickr acct.]

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