February 25, 2015 – Every year brings changes – some big, some small – to Disney’s annual Star Wars Weekends event. Here’s what we know so far:
1) The SWW 2015 official logo and poster (photo above) omits all references to Star Wars Rebels‘ animated characters, which was the single focus of last year’s event. Instead, the poster prominently features Vader’s visage and, for the most part, classic Star Wars vehicles. The two exceptions are the Starspeeder 1000 (from Disney’s Star Tours ride) at lower right and The Ghost (from Star Wars Rebels) at middle right.
To brand this as a Disney event, the poster features a traditional Jedi Mickey in his familiar combat pose. Curiously, the artists have included a drawing of the Earful Tower – the sometime-symbol of Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in Orlando.
We say “curiously” and “sometime” because the Earful Tower is no longer visible in the park. (To see it, you had to take the Studio Backlot Tour, which was permanently closed late last year.) Moreover, for 13 years, the 122-foot tall Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat greeted guests at the end of Hollywood Boulevard and became the unofficial symbol of the park. But as of today, the last remnants of the Sorcerer’s Hat have been finally removed after seven weeks of deconstruction.
With the Hat now gone, SWW fans will be greeted by this sight at the end of Hollywood Boulevard – a replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which was the original design when Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously called Disney-MGM Studios) opened in May, 1989. The temporary construction walls will be gone long before the start of Star Wars Weekends.
2) Another Change: Disney’s press release states that “Darth’s Mall is also moving to a new and expanded complex near Streets of America, where you can find Star Wars-themed and exclusive event merchandise just for Star Wars Weekends 2015.” This is a change for the better.
Last year’s location was the cramped and crowded Sound Stage 1, located just past Toy Story Midway Mania. And the year before, Darth’s Mall was in a wonderfully gigantic and air-conditioned tent – but somewhat of a trek, located in the Cast Member parking lot next to the Hollywood Tower of Terror. The new location will be somewhere near Streets of America, but the press release doesn’t state exactly where. Streets of America consists mainly of facades and empty pretend storefronts. We suppose Disney could erect another giant tent at the end of the street or over one of the dead-end side streets.
3) Glad to hear that voice-actor James Arnold Taylor will be returning again to host another Star Wars Weekends event. Taylor is the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as many other characters. He will host the “Stars of the Saga” talk show at Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard. (This is the same theater where the musical live show “Beauty and the Beast” is held several times a day.)
To this change of venue, we say “Uggggh!” While the Theater of the Stars is larger and can accommodate more people, and while there is a roof covering, the first-time SWW venue might fail for one simple reason: It’s not air-conditioned and the line to get in is exposed to Florida’s regular summer downpours. We’ll be good troopers and give the location a chance … but we have a bad feeling about this.
4) Admission Price Increase: No surprise here. Disney raises its prices at least once (and sometimes twice) a year. The newest rates, effective 22 February 2015, are:
1-Day to Magic Kingdom
Adult: $105 / Child: $99
1-Day to Animal Kingdom, Epcot, or Hollywood Studios
Adult: $97 / Child: $91
2-Day Ticket: Adult: $192 / Child: $179
3-Days: Adult: $275 / Child: $256
Added to 1-day Magic Kingdom or up to a 3-day ticket: $50
Added to 1-day Non-Magic Kingdom: $58
Added to 4+ day ticket: $64
Regular Annual Pass: $654
Florida Resident Annual Pass (Regular 365-days): $529
While nobody likes a price increase and while some are screaming “bloody murder”, these rates are what the market will bear. Attendance increases over the last four years bear this out. In addition, attending a sports event or concert can easily cost you $100 for three hours of entertainment (while Magic Kingdom is typically open 8:00 or 9:00 AM till midnight during peak season). And nobody goes for just one day. A three-day adult ticket to Hollywood Studios now costs $275. A ten-day adult ticket is $365. The more days you attend, the smaller the incremental increase per day.
5) Fortunately, Disney will continue to offer five (5) glorious weekends of Star Wars celebrities and events. Prior to 2014, SWW covered four (4) weekends. Here are the dates for 2015:
Weekend I: May 15-17, 2015
Weekend II: May 22-24, 2015
Weekend III: May 29-31, 2015
Weekend IV: June 5-7, 2015
Weekend V: June 12-14, 2015
Check out Disney’s Star Wars Weekends site for any updates, including confirmation of celebrity appearances.