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Are you a Star Wars fan?  Then the epic journey to Walt Disney World should be in your future.  Star Wars Weekends have been announced and you will want all the hints/tips for making this galactic journey to the outer rim.  Star Wars Weekends will be held every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from May 15 – June 14, 2015.

  • Weekend I: May 15 – 17, 2015

  • Weekend II: May 22 – 24, 2015 

  •  Weekend III: May 29 – May 31, 2015

  • Weekend IV: June 5 – 7, 2015 

  • Weekend IV: June 12 – 14, 2015 

“Help me, Me and The Mouse Travel!  You’re our only hope!”   No need to worry Princess Leia, we have all the data you need to have a memorable and epic adventure.

 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Arrive Early!!  Often the parks will open earlier than the times listed.  You will be greeted by Stormtroopers as you make your way down  Blvd.

  • If your Padawan hopes to be part of Jedi training, you will need to head there first.  Be sure to have your Jedi with you.  See more details on this memorable experience at our blog:  http://www.meandthemouse.com/learning-the-ways-of-the-force-jedi-training/

  • The character you get in line to see, may not be the one you get to meet.   You will find the character meet-n-greets in various locations throughout the park. (Be sure to grab  your special Star Wars Weekend map when you arrive at Hollywood Studios).  If you get in line to see the Bounty Hunters, Jango Fett may be posing for pictures, but when you get to the front of the line it may be Bobba Fett.

  • Wookies and Ewoks get very thirsty!  Chewbacca has one of the longest lines and he will come and go every 10 – 15 min.  If you need your picture with Han’s right-hand Wookie, get in line early.  You may even get a surprise Ewok in the picture.

  • Start in the back of the park.  Most guests will stop at the first character they see.  We had a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania, then had an intense encounter with both Darth Maul and Darth Vader with very minimal waits as their meet-n-greets were in the back portion of the park.

  • Special event merchandise is available only on Star Wars Days.  You find a selection t-shirts, special trading pins, toys and wide assortment of Star Wars treasures.

  • The Star Wars parade occurs once a day and guests will starting staking out their places along the parade route well over an hour before the parade.  A special motorcade of celebrities will be in the parade and the lineup of those special guests change for each weekend.  (Be sure to check back on the Me and The Mouse Facebook page for updates on the special guests in attendance for Star Wars Weekends)   You won’t want to miss this parade so plan accordingly.

  • Special Star Wars treats are available on these days and many are included on the dining plans.  Our little Padawans loved their R2-D2 power snack pack with yogurt, water, granola bars, apple slices and carrot sticks.  All of this was a counter service credit on our Dining Plan.  Healthy lunch and souvenir all in one!!!

Star Wars Weekends are a wonderful way to visit a galaxy far, far away and have memorable encounters with your favorite Jedis, Bounty Hunters, Sith Lords and Padawans.  You’ll be sure to have a “Most Impressive” time on your Star Wars journey at Hollywood Studios.  

May the Force Be With You!

Tressa Krippel

Travel Specialist

la brea tar pits

Are you and your family heading to California to visit Disneyland?  Do you have a few extra days after enjoying the parks?

Here are some great recommendations from an L.A. native to help navigate you through the city to some of the more popular destinations as well as some local favorites! (A car is a must to freely experience the city.*)

Obvious Los Angeles attractions: (read: “Where you will likely be in good company of camera-wielding tourists!”)

Where to Stay:
Santa Monica is a good-sized city with tons of choices for accommodations near the beach. Traffic on the west side can be a bit heavier than in the Hollywood area, but if you are planning a lot of beach time, this is a fun place to be!

Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows (www.fairmont.com/santa-monica) $$$
DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Hotel Santa Monica (www.doubletree.com) $$

Museums:
The Natural History Museum has incredible displays, including the Dinosaur Hall, dioramas, and the Gems and Minerals exhibits.  (www.nhm.org)

Beach:
Santa Monica offers a lot in entertainment and walking out and about with the pier, popular restaurants, people watching, and shopping on the Santa Monica Promenade.  (www.santamonica.com)

Movies:
The Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd is one you will recognize from many films and tv shows. Check out the footprints and handprints of some of film’s biggest stars, and take a stroll down the boulevard and see their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!  (www.tclchinesetheatres.com) (www.walkoffame.com)

Shopping:
Window shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and keep an eye open for stars!  (www.rodeodrive-bh.com)

Restaurants:
The Cheesecake Factory is a highly popular chain of restaurants throughout SoCal (and beyond!). With an enormous menu and fabulous desserts, you’re sure to find something for everyone! Keep in mind the wait can be long at peak times, so schedule lunch or dinner around the rush!    (www.thecheesecakefactory.com)

 Hidden Gems:

Where to Stay:
Universal City offers a great location for everything Hollywood, and it’s also a good base for any trips around the Greater Los Angeles area. Walking distance to Universal Studios and CityWalk makes it a great choice for those looking for more entertainment and eating!

(www.universalstudioshollywood.com/hotels)

Museums:
In the middle of a bustling business district on Wilshire Blvd, you will find the LaBrea Tar Pits (also known as the Page Museum). Great for kids and adults alike, the museum offers numerous displays of animals living in Los Angeles during the Ice Age that have since been unearthed from one of the many pits. View the dire wolves, condors, and the Columbian mammoth exhibits, and be sure to visit an active excavation pit in the park to watch the paleontologists at work. (If you want a day of museums, you can easily visit the Natural History Museum AND the Tar Pits in the same day. Discounted tickets to both museums can be purchased at either location).     (www.tarpits.org)

Beach:
If you are looking for sand and surf, head north on the PCH (Pacific Coast Hwy) which runs beside the ocean. Leo Carrillo State Beach (north of Malibu) is a hidden treasure. Time it right, and you may be lucky enough to enjoy the tide pools at low tide. Wear comfortable shoes with good traction, and don’t be afraid to get a little wet! (There is a fee for entrance and parking)  (www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616)
(Also check www.surfline.com/surf-report/leo-carrillo-southern-california_4953/  ahead of time for the daily tide schedule)

Movies:

Hollywood Blvd does have some great theatres, but to continue your Disney experience, take in a Disney film at the El Capitan Theatre – Disney’s own classic Hollywood theatre, complete with red carpets, ushers and a Wurlitzer pipe organ! For a special treat, VIP tickets are available which include your movie tickets, an escort to your reserved seats by a finely dressed usher, and having your soft drink and popcorn delivered right to you!   (www.elcapitan.go.com)

Shopping:
Locals head to the Grove for shopping and a bite to eat. They do film some entertainment shows here and often have a book signing or cast appearances, so pay attention to whom you may brush shoulders with!  (www.thegrovela.com)
Universal CityWalk has good restaurants (including the Hard Rock Café), some shops, a large movie complex, and entertainment (to include bowling).  (www.citywalkhollywood.com)

Food:
You can find any food from around the world in Los Angeles, and the city is subtly divided into “zones,” such as China Town, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Little Armenia,…  If you love international food, or if you’re the adventurous type, find a little spot in one of these areas to enjoy a meal.
A favorite chain of many Los Angelenos is Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. There is a location on Gower St. in Hollywood, but it is quite small and the line is often out the door. There is a larger Roscoe’s in Pasadena on North Lake Ave. Be sure to order the chicken and waffles plate, or you might as well eat somewhere else! (www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com)
A classic in Los Angeles, Canter’s Deli has been a fixture for decades, and they are open 24 hours a day. Go hungry as their portions are generous! (www.cantersdeli.com)

Nancy Wideman

Travel Specialist

* With the exception of Leo Carrillo State Beach, all these locations are within a 30 minute drive from Hollywood (barring traffic delays).

Nancy Wideman was born and raised in Los Angeles and has continued to enjoy all these spots with her own family over the years.

senses spa

Touch, Taste, Feel, Hear, See

For ultimate pampering at Walt Disney World, adults can enjoy world class spa treatments at Senses Spa. With two locations, at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, the services found here will be ones you come back for time and time again.

Walking into Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs, you are warmly greeted with calming music and a waterfall – a delight to your senses of hearing and sight.  Immediately you will feel the cares of the world start to melt away. Your next indulgence is your choice of elixir that appeals to your sense of taste and allows your pampering to start from the inside out. My scheduled treatment that morning was to be a 50 minute Swedish massage. After a brief tour of the spa, my next stop was the locker rooms. With a whirlpool, carefully chosen beauty supplies, quiet music, and gentle fragrance designed to appeal to the sense of smell, it is not surprising that I could already feel my muscles relax and my mind quiet down. All spa clients await their treatment in the relaxation room – a cozy and inviting room, with reclining chairs and tables, magazines to read, and cucumber water and healthy snacks to partake of. The massage rooms are located just down the hall from the relaxation room. Always striving for impeccable service, the masseuses pay special attention to your specific needs. While my husband was particularly interested in a sports massage, I knew my lower back was aching after 13.1 miles of racing around the parks and in need of special care. My treatment was modified for the tension I was experiencing and with expert care my back was restored and before I knew it my time was over.  

Senses Spa offers a wide variety of signature treatments and packages for relaxing, renewing, and imagining. For anyone interested in any of these services, reservations are required. I highly recommend it to those who are interested in experiencing an extra indulgence to get you in the vacation frame of mind. 

Michelle  Browne

Travel Specialist