This will, indeed, be a day long remembered.
We splurged on the Ultimate Day VIP Tour Experience for our first time experiencing Star Wars Weekends, and we certainly did feel like VIPs while we hit all of the high points of the event, including the Celebrity Motorcade, talk shows and the dessert party and fireworks that end the day.
The day started out with a whirlwind. We met at Guest Relations at 6:15 a.m. — yes, it was still dark when we walked past the line of people who had camped out overnight to get FastPasses for celebrity autographs.
By 10 a.m., we had: gotten our itinerary, had our picture taken with Darth Vader, shopped at Darth’s Mall before the park even opened, eaten breakfast and ridden Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Tower of Terror. And our day was just getting started.
Goofy Vader at Star Wars Weekends.
At about 10:30, it was time to find our place along the parade route. We were on the sunny side of the street, but our tour guides provided big umbrellas, ice-cold wet washcloths — and soda, water, ice cream and popcorn to cool us off and give us a bit of much-needed energy.
Thankfully, the rest of the day was a little slower-paced. We shared lunch at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano and then had front-row seats for the Star Wars Rebels and Stars of the Saga shows. After that, it was time for us to go our own way for a few hours. Some folks went back to their hotels for a rest, but we made a bee-line back to Darth’s Mall, where we got “light speed” access — no waiting. Our only disappointment: Our fast access to shopping was only good the day of the tour; we really thought it should be good for the whole weekend.
We spent our few free hours in the afternoon using FastPasses we had scheduled in advance, knowing we would have the late afternoon free. We skipped the Obi-Wan and Beyond Show, although we would have had the same front-row seating for it, in favor of one more spin on Toy Story Mania.
© Mary Liebman
Amy Allen, Ian McDiarmid, James Arnold Taylor
and Jedi Mickey Mouse at the Stars of the Saga Show at
Star Wars Weekends 2015.
Our group met up again for the Feel the Force dessert and dance party at 8:45 p.m., where we shared space with people who had purchased the “Deluxe Premium Package” for the event. The dessert buffet included mini versions of the Star Wars themed cupcakes you can buy elsewhere in the park, plus alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. And DJ Lobot kept everyone moving to a great mix of classic rock, current hits and some unexpected sampling of music from the Lion King, Game of Thrones and, of course, Star Wars. If you’d asked us at 11 a.m. if we’d be dancing at 9 p.m., we would have laughed. But there we were, doing our best to pick up our feet to the beat.
Another benefit of the tour: We spent time getting to know some really great people (hi Sydney and Chris!). Who knew that in addition to t-shirts and memorabilia, we’d go home with new friends?
Following the dance party, we had a great view of the Summon the Force show prior to the Symphony in the Stars fireworks. The fireworks are short but great — really, John Williams’ Star Wars score was made for fireworks. Unfortunately, we were so close to the stage, a good portion of the fireworks were blocks. We thought the view would be better further toward the park entrance.
Is the VIP tour worth the cost? It really depends on your priorities. The tour costs $399 per guest (not including park admission); a 15% discount for annual pass holders, DVC members and Disney Visa cardholders brings the price down to about $339.
If your priority is getting autographs and having your picture taken with the characters, this probably isn’t the experience for you. The tour didn’t allow a lot of time for that — not even for stopping to snap off a quick picture of a character on the way past. Of course, if you’re serious enough about Star Wars and Disney to consider a VIP tour, it’s likely you’re serious enough to come to Hollywood Studios two days in a row. (We are.)
But it’s worth it if your priority it having a buffer against the crowd most of the day and being well taken care of for the day.
Do you feel like a VIP? You sure do, especially when you overhear other people asking, “Who are they? And why do they get to go in first?”
Here’s a look at our official itinerary for the day, with a few added details from our experience:
Guided portion of the tour
6:15 a.m.: Meet at the Guest Relations Window
7:30 a.m.: Character Meet & Greet (Darth Vader) and Shopping at Darth’s Mall
8:15 a.m.: Buffet breakfast at The Hollywood Brown Derby (including scrambled eggs, breakfast meat and potatoes, as well as fruit and baked goods)
9:15 a.m.: Visit some of our most popular attractions (Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Tower of Terror)
11:00 a.m.: VIP Viewing for Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade
11:45 p.m.: Lunch at Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
1:45 p.m.: VIP Seating for the Star Wars Rebels Show (center aisle, first three rows)
3:15 p.m.: VIP Seating for the Stars of the Saga Show (center aisle, first three rows)
Optional evening events
7:00 p.m.: VIP Seating for Obi-Wan & Beyond Show (center aisle, first three rows)