Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 2016 Disney Trip - Day 4, Star Wars Day at Hollywood Studios

The fourth day of our vacation dawned bittersweetly, as there was a voice in the back of my head saying "you do realize you're past the halfway point of your Disney trip, don't you...?"

Only one thing to do, and that was to enjoy it!

Hollywood Studios was our destination on Sunday the 8th. I dressed in my Frozen Anna and Elsa dress from Hot Topic, my blue flower crown ears, and a shrinky dink necklace I made with all of the snow creatures from Frozen (Marshmallow, Olaf, and the Snowgies), all in honor of meeting Olaf at the park.

Necklace shot!

We almost didn't get to meet him though: a few days before our trip, I lamented to Tom that of all the delays that pushed back things past the time of our trip (Rivers of Light at AK, the Frozen pavilion and meet and greet at Epcot...all at some point were supposed to be open by our trip but weren't) the one that made me the saddest was that Olaf wasn't doing meet and greets yet. Then on Wednesday...the day before we left...Character Queen posted on Facebook that Olaf's first meet and greet was that day. Yaaaay! My themed outfit would still be on-point!

There were extra magic hours in the morning at Hollywood Studios from 8-9 for resort guests only, so we walked into the park and took a few pictures

Boy, that Tink seems to be traveling right along with us, doesn't she?
...then got in line for Minnie and Mickey (second in line behind a mother and her two was Mother's Day and they were giving out carnations to all the women at the front of the park, but I somehow didn't see this and missed it!). Jeff texted us shortly before 9 to say that they were outside the entrance and on their way in.

Minnie and Mickey's new meet and greet area was so very new, it still smelled of paint when you walked in. The first room belongs to Minnie, and she greeted us with arms wide, wearing a gorgeous and very glittery pink evening gown. It's strange: her dress doesn't look glittery in photos or video, but in person it sparkled glamorously.

Here is Jeff's video of the Meet and Greet areas!

Next, you walked down a corridor lined in fictional movie posters for all the movies Minnie and Mickey have starred in. At the end of the corridor was Sorcerer Mickey's room. We've met Sorcerer Mickey twice before, and this is by FAR the best set up for him. The whole room, all four walls, are covered in a castle stonework, and he has all sorts of wizard-ish looking props around him. I asked him if the scrolls on the chair were spells, and he put a finger to his lips to shh me, pointing out the open spellbook on the stand. Mickey several times did a little "yess" motion with his arms, which I found adorable and highly amusing, like he was so proud of his new meet and greet area, he couldn't help but express it. A great experience.

After Tom and I met Minnie and Mickey, we waited at the exit for Jeff and Denise, and then we walked around the other side of the same building to get in line to meet Olaf. It was still early, only about 20 minutes after 9, so it only took us about ten minutes to meet Olaf. Jeff's video of him meeting Olaf features a cameo by us at the end.

I never considered how careful I had to be hugging him to avoid his rather long and pointy nose! But he loved my necklace and dress, and I told him "HI OLAF. IT IS NICE TO MEET YOU." (like in the movie) and he laughed.

After we met Olaf, we asked Jeff and Denise to come back in so that we could get a photo of all four of us together. Then we said our goodbyes outside the exit to his meet and greet area, as Jeff and Denise planned to do a quick walk around the park to look for anything new or different, and Tom and I had another priority in mind:

Meeting Chewbacca.

Chewie has been meeting in the new Star Wars Launch Bay area of Hollywood Studios since late last year (we just missed him last trip!) and we were so excited to meet the big guy on this trip. I'd seen some adorable pictures of guests giving him big hugs and getting fun attention from him. So we decided to do something special for Chewbacca. We brought buttons for some of the characters on this trip, and on the last trip, I made shrinky dink necklaces for some of my favorite princesses. We love giving back to the characters for all they do to give to the public day after day.

For Chewie, we decided to make him a medal for the Battle of Yavin (at the end of episode IV: A New Hope, Leia awards medals to Luke and Han, but Chewie, standing there with them, gets nothing. They tried to later cover their backsides by saying that he got one later in a private ceremony because Wookiees don't like public displays, but it all seemed a bit fishy). I made a medal out of fimo clay (which I'd never used before!), and we engraved "To Chewbacca from Tom and Grace Nuth" on the back of it, found a ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics in a color that looked like the original, and had mom sew up the ends of the medal ribbon nicely. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, actually, but it really didn't take that long to make...not even close to the amount of time that it took to make the necklaces for the princesses.

But oh, his reaction.

It was about a half hour wait to meet Chewbacca. The group ahead of us had a crying kid who didn't really understand what was going on, and when we were up, you could see the exhaustion in the eyes of the photographer and the character attendant. We ran right in and gave Chewbacca huge hugs, and then Tom told him we had a gift for him. He pulled out the medal, and explained what it was, although Chewie definitely recognized it right away.

He started pacing around the room with his arms up in victory, shouting out in glee and clapping his hands.

Tom pointed out that we specifically made the ribbon extra long to fit him (which is true) and his attendant asked if he wanted to put it on, which resulted in a memory of a lifetime for Tom: getting to award the Yavin medal to Chewbacca.

Once he had the medal on, there was no stopping him. He ran around the corner of his meet and greet area to show the people waiting in line, and the Cast Members who were keeping the line in order.

"Look at you!" the CM cried. "You got a medal!"
"Rrrrrrr-ghghghgh!" he cried over and over in happy reply.

When he came back in the room, he ran over to us and gave us both what is seriously one of the most enthusiastic strong hugs I've ever received (I was actually scared for the medal, which is, after all, only baked clay).

We got some photos together

Chewie examined the medal again....

and Tom asked to get a shot of us doing the "Chewie Chill."

"These guys know what they're talking about," the character attendant observed amusedly.

After that, I just asked for one more favor: a selfie with Chewie. "Hold up the medal!" his attendant suggested, resulting in one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip.

When we walked out of Chewie's meet and greet area, we heard his attendant ask if he wanted to keep the medal on, and Chewie nodded.

Well, sometimes if we have a great experience at Disney, we walk away feeling light headed with giddy glee. This was definitely one of those moments. We looked at each other and mouthed "oh. my. gosh." as we found a seat in the corner of Launch Bay to talk about how awesome that experience was.

We walked around Launch Bay some more...there were many neat displays and areas to explore. I asked a cast member where we could find the Jawas, since I had heard about them online and we came prepared.

The Jawas at Launch Bay are an unadvertised meet and greet, and really not that many people know about them. They hang out in the cantina area of Launch Bay, and carry around metal satchels filled with loot given to them (or was it stolen?) from other park guests. They most prefer to take and trade metal items, won't take cash, and only trade cheap items for cheap items, so we stopped by our local Dollar Tree before our trip and picked up a three-pack of matchbox style cars. I walked up to the first Jawa I saw and offered him the car, pointing out that it was metal. He took it quickly, but then took his time digging around in his bag for a trade.

I wound up with this bracelet chain, which is actually a way better trade than I expected. Although Disney was unintentionally sneaky with this one: the enjoyment of trading with the Jawas made me love this bracelet, so I decided to go ahead and build off the charm bracelet chain by buying a few charms during our trip.

The Jawa only traded for one of the three cars we brought with us, so Tom gave the other two cars to families standing nearby lamenting how they wish they had known about the trading thing.

We checked out more of the displays and gift shop at Launch Bay,

and then walked out into the Disney Junior area right outside. Tom was taking some pictures of First Order Stormtroopers walking around on patrol, and as you look at the pictures he took, you can see them getting closer and closer to him. His awesome flocked retro Chewbacca shirt must have caught their eyes, because they decided to detain him, with the possibility of arrest.

Thankfully I got the whole thing on video.

By now it was about time for an early lunch, so we set up our packed goodies on a shaded table right near the Chinese Theater, and we were able to (mostly, when people didn't get in the way) watch the Star Wars mini show they have several times a day right from our shaded spot.

Our next Fast Pass was for Tower of Terror, so we slowly made our way over to that street, stopping by a few gift shops. When we went into the gift shop that used to be Frozen themed, and was converted over to Star Wars, Tom found a shirt that made him laugh out loud. I came over to see what he saw, and the moment I clapped eyes on this shirt I knew I'd found my shirt purchase for our trip. Lunar phases as a Star Wars joke? Yes please. 

In fact, I was ready for a wardrobe change, so I just took off the Frozen dress and necklace, and switched it out for my new Star Wars shirt. My only mid-day wardrobe change of the trip!

We saw a Photo Pass photographer down near Tower of Terror, and decided to get a photo in front of our favorite Hollywood Studio ride.

and of course Tower of Terror was super fun, as it always is. I just love how this ride gives you a different experience each time.

Our next Fast Pass was for Toy Story Midway Mania, where I actually beat Tom!! He says that his controller was acting up, but whatever the reason for my victory, I'm still celebrating it.

We went over to our next Fast Pass, Star Tours, and Tom was excited to get a really cool flight with elements from the new movie.

We then went to the Frozen Singalong, which we did last trip and it was a highlight. It was really great this time around too, with a few new jokes, and one or two jokes specific to Mother's Day.

Looking at the list of characters to meet at Hollywood Studios, I saw Pluto's name, and we decided to go meet Pluto at his new meet and greet area (Minnie was meeting here before that day)

Then we decided to go back to Launch Bay to watch the Force Awakens featurette and look around a little more. I'm so very glad we did, because we wound up hanging out and watching (and interacting with) the Jawas for about 20 minutes or so. I traded a Jawa for a silly Star Wars metal pin Tom had gotten as a giveaway with something he'd ordered online, and he gave me a droid part (midsection) from a "build a droid" toy. They were being so hilarious with their interactions with guests (stealing their Disney store bags, their keys, etc) I decided to do a Facebook live video of their antics. At the beginning, you can see a Jawa standing by a woman's scooter and beeping the horn repeatedly. The other Jawa steals a double-Kylo Ren lightsaber from a park guest and decides he likes it.

One of the Jawas saw my flower crown mouse ears and pointed to them. I took them off for him to inspect. He took it over to his character attendant, at first trying to see if he could wear them on his arm like a bracelet. The character attendant asked if he wanted to try them on, and he did.

And so I got another favorite picture from our trip.

We had used all of our Fast Passes by this time, but you're now allowed to keep adding Fast Passes once you're past your first three, one at a time, until there are no more left. So we scheduled another Fast Pass for the Tower of Terror after dinner, and went to see the Beauty and the Beast stage show, always fun.

Dinner was at the 50s Prime Time Cafe.

 The first time we went to Disney, we ate at the Sci Fi Dine in Theater, which we weren't too keen on. The tables were too small, the lighting too dim, and there was another couple right in front of us in the "car." Not to mention the food itself wasn't anything great. So last trip we tried 50's Cafe. I have to say, based on our experience last time and this time, we are probably going to try something different next trip. Maybe Mama Melrose's?

The thing with 50's Prime Time is that it's a great concept: the whole place is decorated like a 1950s kitchen, and the servers are supposed to treat you like family, which means keep your elbows off the table, eat your vegetables or you might have to clean dishes in the kitchen, and by all means keep your walkie talkie off the table during dinner. The problem is, there's a very distinct "luck of the draw" when it comes to whether you get a server who plays along with the theme, or one who recites the rules in a bored voice and then just acts like a normal server the rest of the time. The food is decent, but not really worth it if you're not going to get the full experience. And unfortunately, both times we ate here, we had servers who didn't get enthusiastic about the experience, even when we tried to set up a situation where they could say something.

So dinner was fine, but nothing too memorable.

One more visit to the Tower of Terror

and we were ready to meander over to the Fantasmic show stadium. Fantasmic is the one evening show that we DO stay for, despite the crazy crowds afterward. Since we are both "character people," it's our favorite of the shows. I mean, where else can you see Sorcerer Mickey, classic tux Mickey, Brave Little Tailor Mickey, Steamboat Willie Mickey, and shirtless/pants only classic Mickey all in one show?


As we were waiting for the show, Tom leaned over and asked much would I pay for a special meet and greet to meet Steamboat Willey Mickey? Quite a bit, love. Quite a bit.

After Fantasmic, we walked slowly back to our bus and back to the resort, where I started shopping for charms for my charm bracelet (those sneaky Jawas, starting a new collection), and we collapsed into our so very comfy beds to sleep and get ready for day 5 of our trip.

Next, Day 5 of our Disney vacation, including an early morning guided tour of Magic Kingdom!

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