Usually, each summer, my family and I go somewhere fun. Sometimes it’s just to a beach in North Carolina or a visit to New York City. Last year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we when nowhere. We all stayed home all summer, and my son helped me build a shed in our backyard. Not exactly exciting.
As the vaccines were rolling out this past spring, we decided to do something big for the summer. We booked a trip to Florida to check out Universal Studios and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can read my thoughts about Universal Studios in this earlier article.
Since we made plans before the Delta variant began to wreak havoc, we decided to go and remain masked up and try to stay safe. We were already vaccinated.
We visited Hollywood Studios about eight years ago, and the place has changed a lot. There was no more giant Sorcerer’s Apprentice hat near the entrance for people to pose in front of, and the Star Wars section was entirely new for us. That was why we came to Hollywood Studios — so we could check out the Star Wars-themed new rides. As I am also a fan of Star Wars, I knew I would enjoy.
And I must admit that Disney went all out creating the new Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge area. If you’re familiar with the films, then you will certainly enjoy walking around and looking. The entrance looks like it was carved out of sand, the same way the Rebels created their base on Hoth. Same kind of grooves on the walls.
As soon as you walked a bit, you could see a structure that looked like Jabba’s Palace and a giant Millennium Falcon. I wonder if it was built to scale. They had life-size models of the Gonk droids, and they even served sodas in little bottles shaped like Thermal Detonators!
They had the new X-Wing fighter and a Y-Wing fighter on display for fans to check out and pose in front of. Again, very nice. Throughout this area, fans could interact with Stormtroopers and an actress who looked a lot like Rey (Daisy Ridley).
Just for fun, I wore my Star Trek command gold t-shirt the day we were at Hollywood Studios. I also brought my TOS communicator along to stage some photos. I will tell you that I got many unkind comments from the Disney staff as I walked around.
One guy called my shirt “ugly,” while another said I was “in the wrong place.” I told them both that I hoped that they’d live long and prosper and kept moving. They both laughed. But the stormtrooper who I posed beneath looked at me and said, “No.” He refused to pose in a photo with a guy in a Trek shirt. To quote Jar Jar Binks, “How rude!”
A few Star Wars fans there that day said they liked my shirt, and I even posed with some for photos.
They had a really cool place where young fans could build and customize a droid (like R2-D2 or BB-8). It was $100, and the kids could decide the colors of the droid, customize the lights, and other things. There was a super-long line to build one. Later I saw a kid using his with the wireless remote control… and thought, “dang, I should have bought one of those!”
There was a restaurant in the Galaxy Edge area, which looked great. But the line was just too long.
I can tell you that the face mask requirement is a very serious thing at Disney. My son got yelled at while in line at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror for pulling his mask down for a moment. I think that is a good thing. Universal was much more relaxed about masking.
Another note to all visitors is that the FastPass is not working due to COVID. This allowed guests to check-in at a ride at a specific time and make an appointment to ride. This saved guests a lot of time waiting in line. The last time we visited Disney, we took advantage of FastPass, and it was great. Not this time.
I will write about the three Star Wars rides that fans can enjoy at Hollywood Studios — Star Tours, Smugglers Run, and the incredible Rise of the Resistance.