Star Wars Weekends occur at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during designated weekends in May and June, and it is extremely special time for super fans. Our young family decided to partake in one of the special dining events during SWW, at the Hollywood and Vine with Mickey and Friends. Disney’s favorite characters come together dressed as Star Wars classics. Be ready to see Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, Ewok Chip and Dale, and Storm Trooper Donald.

 If you have visited the Hollywood and Vine under the leadership of Disney Junior, the atmosphere is very similar. When we entered we were treated to a photo opp with Ewok Chip and Dale, with pre-signed autograph cards. We were seated and the characters began rotating around the room and signing autographs and taking pictures.

 The buffet offered is VERY similar to the traditional Hollywood and Vine menu, only the menu items are renamed with a Star Wars theme in mind. However, the dessert bar is where the food experience shines! Among the many Force-laden treats are the ever-coveted Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes.

Star Wars 1        Star Wars 2

Paper lightsabers were given to kids, that could either be green or red and so the Younglings can sport the dark or light side of the Force during special parts of the relaxed programming.

 It should be noted that this meal did take 2 dining credits. Our family was thrilled with the experience and we met some of the characters that my kids would not have had the patience to meet by waiting in lines.

Rider Switch Ticket

Taking a smaller child to Disney World who might not be able to ride the rides that you want to ride? Never fear, the legendary service of Disney has come to the rescue! Introducing “Rider Switch.”

What is RS exactly and how does it work? RS is an option Disney offers to families with children below height limits for rides, which allows the family to wait in line only once when taking turns babysitting the vertically-challenged family member.

Here’s how it works: the entire family gets in the standby line for a ride (unless you have Fastpasses for the ride, in which case you would get in the Fastpass line). Stop and talk to the first Cast Member you see working the ride and tell them you want to do the RS. The members of the family who want to ride first go ahead, and the person who stays behind with the baby gets a paper Rider Switch return ticket. When the first group finishes the ride, they take over the baby duties, and the person with the paper RS return ticket can then enter the Fastpass line with up to two-three additional guests.  The paper ticket will give the details.

Last summer when my family traveled to Walt Disney World, my older child who was five was just tall enough to start riding some of the bigger rides, like Star Tours, Barnstormer, etc. However, we also have a 2-year-old who is unable to partake due to her height. My family loved the RS option, and as a result my 5-year-old got to experience some of the most popular rides back-to-back riding with both my husband and myself. It was a win/win for everyone!

animators academy compressed

Did you know that you have an inner Disney animator hidden within you? If you have ever dreamed about creating Disney’s famous characters with your own hands Animator’s Academy is the place for you!

Located in Animator’s Court in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, this unique Disney attraction is one that will be remembered forever. Arriving just 10-15 minutes early will allow you to enter the next drawing class. Each class lasts only 20 minutes and is taught by a Disney animator instructor. When you enter the class you will be told what character is to be drawn. Characters are rotated and many options are available. If you are particular about what character you would prefer to draw, ask those waiting with you if they know what drawing will be taught in the next class. Often many Disney fans will keep going into back to back animation classes and the instructors will let you know what character will be in the following class for those that wish to return.

Disney’s instructors are very encouraging. While paper and pencil are provided, no eraser is provided but fear not as the instructions are very clear and each step is walked through at a very reasonable pace. In the end, each drawing in the room is unique and the characters are close replicas of their originals.

Once you have finished your drawing, be sure to stop by the gift shop to ask for an elastic and gift bag to carry your free souvenir during the rest of the day. Once you get home, it will look amazing framed and hanging on your wall as a perfect souvenir from your vacation! Don’t worry about perfection with your art – this is your creation and the memories created on your vacation will shine through each time you view it.

Animator’s Academy is also available at DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney in Florida, Disney’s California Adventure, and on select Disney Cruise Line itineraries.  

Michelle Browne

Travel Specialist