Episode WDW: The Force Grows Stronger at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars is Awesome! And Disney’s Hollywood Studios is reminding us of that every day. With experiences such as Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, the force is strong. However, today will be a day long remembered, as two new Star Wars experiences have begun to be presented right in the center of the park, giving the entire park a Star Wars presence, teasing us of a Star Wars land that is just now being developed.
The Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away stage show and a First Order Stormtrooper Squadron, now grace the Hub Area of the park, on a brand new, tripped out stage that seems to have been built just for this occasion. Announced back on February 19, 2016 on the Disney Parks Blog along with the announcement of a new nighttime spectacular, these two experiences have already been received with huge success.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away
You stand there, facing the Chinese Theater in the middle of Hollywood Studios. Two large screens frame out the center of the theater, with the anticipation in the crowd certainly being felt. As the show begins, you are treated to a montage of footage that can best be described as “the making of.”
Suddenly there is silence, and on these side screens, the familiar words are presented, and with it, the feeling you get every time those words come on the screen with a new Star Wars film: “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
The music of the Star Wars Main Title theme fills the center of the park, with audio quality and depth that rivals any theatrical venue you’ve ever heard. You are immersed in the sound of John Williams. Now something starts to rise from behind the center portion of the stage. What appears to be a video screen in rising out from the ground, and with it, the opening scene from Star Wars: A New Hope, with the Tantive IV being chased by the Devastator. And for the next fifteen minutes, you are transported into a multimedia spectacular that reminds us all that Star Wars is awesome!
The show is structured not by any sort of timeline, but by groups of characters. We start with an opening montage of characters from all seven star wars films, doing a great job at bridging original trilogy, prequel, and sequel films. As the video winds down, a star field is presented, and Yoda begins talking about the force. The screens then transition to a scene from Tatooine, and none other than C-3P0 and R2-D2 arrive on the scene. A quick dialogue between them brings the scene to a close and we return to a video montage, celebrating everything about the force and the Jedi tradition.
The music changes tune as Yoda proclaims “The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen.” We hear the familiar tune of Duel of the Fates as Darth Maul walks onto the scene and does some fancy lightsaber moves accompanied by flame effects.
We then move into scenes of our favorite non-force users, with Finn, Poe Dameron, Han Solo, and others gracing the screen, which end in a scene of the interior of the Millennium Falcon and Han Solo saying “Chewie, we’re home.” Enter Chewbacca, with bowcaster in hand, proudly takes center stage until Han Solo’s voice says “Chewie, get us out of here!”
We then focus on the bad guys, with characters like Jabba the Hutt, various Bounty Hunters, and even Unkar Plutt screaming after the Millennium Falcon blasts off into space. As we see the Slave I land on Cloud City, we transition into the Carbon Freeze chamber as Boba Fett takes the stage. “You can run, but you can’t hide!” and he blasts a rocket across stage which hits its target with an explosion.
As he leaves, we move into a montage of footage of Anakin Skywalker and his path towards the Dark Side. As soon as the Imperial March is heard, two Stormtroopers enter the stage and fire blaster shots over the crowd as Darth Vader enters the scene. This great picture moment of Vader with his two troopers ends with a bang.
Images of Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens now fills the screens, leading into the banners of the First Order being unfurled on the center screen. General Hux’s voice is heard giving his speech to his troops as two First Order Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma enter the stage. Kylo Ren then enters. Phasma delivers some news that Kylo doesn’t want to hear, which leads him into one of his temper tantrums. The banners on the screen get sliced up as Kylo slashes his lightsaber. Kylo reaches his hand out to the crowd and says “Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way.”
We leave this scene with Maz Kanata talking about how hope is not lost. Rey’s Theme plays in the background as we are treated to a montage of some of the best feel-good moments of the film. As the music swells, the backgrounds shifts to the interior of the Resistance base on D’Qar as… wait for it… BB-8 rises from the center of the stage, moving around and looking at the audience. This droid looks incredible and is met with thunderous applause from the audience.
The video changes again into a “best of” montage, with scenes from all the films coming together to remind us that Star Wars is Awesome. BB-8 has remained on stage and as the video winds down, we see a montage of characters from all the films gracing the three screens as all the characters from the show take the stage, with BB-8 looking at them all as they enter. With Maz Kanata ending the show saying “The Force is calling to you, just let it in,” fireworks blast from all around the stage in a picture perfect moment.
All characters leave the stage, with the droids the last ones to exit, as Yoda’s voice is heard: “May the Force be with you… always.”
This new stage show is quite a site to see, with is large video screens, favorite character appearances, and amazing special effects, you can’t see it enough times.
First Order Stormtrooper Squadron
Every once in a while, we are treated to a platoon of First Order Stormtroopers, led by none-other than Captain Phasma herself. This show, which doesn’t appear to be on the times guide, is announced when you hear the music of the First Order. When the music is played, you have to take a look in the Animation Courtyard, as Phasma is leading a whole squadron of Stormtroopers from the entrance of Launch Bay, to the center of the park. Passing the front of the Chinese theater, Phasma heads up on stage as the remaining troopers continue their march around and line up in front of the Stage. Behind Phasma, the giant screen used for the Stage Show shows the First Order Banners, flying proudly.
Captain Phasma addresses her troops: “I am here under the authority of General Hux. You are here under the authority of me. Stand proud!”
On this statement, the troopers on the ground begin to march in a solid line down the center of the hub. On Phasma’s next line, they continue to advance even further, more aggressively. Lastly, Phasma proclaims “Battle Stance!” and the troopers file in two by two, and march back to the center of the stage, facing Phasma awaiting her next command. The two troopers on stage fire their blasters as the music comes to a close.
“Acceptable.” Phasma is as pleased as she’s going to be, and she heads around to the front to inspect her troops as they fall back in line. On her command, the whole battalion heads back towards Launch Bay, ending this brief show.
While short and to the point, there is nothing like seeing a whole squad of Stormtroopers marching through the center of Hollywood Studios. The crowd parted ways for them and even followed them around to see what was going to happen. It’s a cool moment for Star Wars and non-Star Wars fans alike.
The Force is Awakening
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be the site of Walt Disney World’s version of the announced Star Wars Land. There has been no mention of when we can expect this land to open, but with the closure of shows and attractions on the back side of the park, we can expect ground breaking to be announced soon.
Until then, Hollywood Studios is giving us Star Wars fans something to get excited about. With these two new experiences, and what promises to be a stunning firework spectacular, the force is indeed strong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Hope you enjoyed our look at the Star Wars happenings at Walt Disney World. Let me know your thoughts by posting in the comments below. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me talking about all things Star Wars Canon on Twitter @starwarstce. You can find my coverage of #starwarscanon stories at our YouTube channel Star Wars: The Canon Explained. Any opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and are not reflective of the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates.
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