Today is the first May the Fourth since the theatrical release of the final film in the Skywalker Saga, so we’re celebrating Star Wars Day with a look at some of our favorite Star Wars characters as seen at the Disney theme parks.
Currently, all theme parks, cruise lines, and other attractions are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We at The Unofficial Guides hope all our readers and their loved ones, as well as all attraction employees, remain healthy and safe. Without intending to trivialize the current crisis, we will continue to post positive stories about the parks, in hopes of bringing their magic into your home as a welcome distraction during these trying times. For the latest updates, read our guide to cornoavirus and the theme parks.
The Star Wars franchise became a global phenomenon in part on the strength of its storytelling and special effects, but mostly because of its endearing collection of iconic characters. Those memorable personalities have been making a home at the Disney theme parks since the opening of Star Tours in 1987. But ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, characters like Darth Vader and Chewbacca have become as much a fixture of the Disney parks as Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Since its opening last year, the Galaxy’s Edge expansions in Disneyland Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios have naturally become the go-to spots for spotting Star Wars characters, just so long as they fit into the land’s sequel trilogy timeline. That means you’ll find Rey, Chewbacca, and the Resistance spy Vi Moradi, along with Kylo Ren and members of the First Order, but you won’t bump into Obi Wan or other old-school characters.
The catch is that characters in Galaxy’s Edge don’t hang around waiting to pose with queuing guests on a set schedule; they’ve got their own agendas and can only be encountered randomly as they pass through the Black Spire Outpost.
On the plus side, this spontaneity can lead to some wonderfully unexpected interactions, especially where a certain Wookie is concerned.
Watch this video featuring a few of our favorite Star Wars character interactions inside Galaxy’s Edge:
However, if you are looking for a more traditional meet & greet experience, you’ll want to depart Batuu and set a course for Star Wars Launch Bay, where characters from the Prequel and Original trilogies are still featured.
Chewbacca has his second home here, where he poses for pictures inside a hidden Rebel base. Like the character who stalks Galaxy’s Edge, this one also has an articulated mouth and library of authentic grunts and growls to communicate with.
Fans of the Dark Side will find either Darth Vader or his petulant grandkid, Kylo Ren. Both characters boast a vast vocabulary of villainous quips to intimidate guests with. Tip: If you have a Disney Visa credit card, there’s a special Sith meet & greet with a shorter line just for you.
As an added bonus, the Launch Bay at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offers an encounter with everyone’s favorite orange astromech, BB-8.
Although the parks offer numerous opportunities to encounter Star Wars characters, one of their more intriguing appearances recently went extinct. A Galaxy Far, Far, Away was an outdoor show held daily on a movable stage set in front of the Chinese Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Large screens showed clips from all 11 Star Wars films, while costumed characters walked on and posed amid brief bursts of pyrotechnics.
While not as absurd as the old Hyperspace Hoopla musicals staged during Star Wars Weekends, the Galaxy Far, Far Away show was more like a bizarre beauty pageant than a typical theme park performance. It did, however, provide a rare opportunity to see a wide array of Star Wars characters in the flesh, including some fan favorites (like Darth Maul and Captain Phasma) who are otherwise absent from the park.
Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away permanently closed shortly before the grand opening of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but you can enjoy the show with this video of one of its final performances. May the Fourth be with you!
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. If you are visiting Batuu’s sister planet, you might want to get The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.