TRIP REPORT: Star Wars Day 2019
Hey everyone! May 4th, 2019 is a special day for nerds everywhere. First of all, it’s Free Comic Book Day where comic retailers around the country have special events and signings and most of all, give out free Comics. Free Comic Book Day was designed to welcome new readers into the wonderful realm of graphic storytelling. Many of the titles are aimed at younger audiences and this year, Star Wars offers up a Star Wars Adventure comic which tells the tale of Han and Chewie before A New Hope hunting for a droid that can lead them to treasure.
More importantly, May the 4th is also known as Star Wars day. What began as a sort of joke, Star Wars Day was born out of the phrase, “May the Fourth Be With You” which is a play on "May the Force Be With You". Eventually it’s led to the 4th of May being almost officially considered Star Wars Day. In fact, in anticipation of the opening of Galaxy’s Edge this year at both US Disney Parks, California has voted to officially proclaim that May 4th is Star Wars Day! The Walt Disney Company has also embraced this, now official, day of celebration of all things from a galaxy far, far away. You’ll often find many Star Wars products on sale or as part of specials. Many retailers offer discounted merchandise and you can always find some great deals on past Star Wars video games. At the Disney Parks, there are special merchandise, park events and of course, food.
As our resident Star Wars Expert, I took it upon myself to make my way to Disneyland to see what all the hullabaloo was about this year. So I put on one of my Star Wars Celebration Chicago shirts, strapped on my Star Wars shoulder pack and head on out.
I arrived just before rope drop, around 8am, as I wanted to b-line to the merchandise. Due to magic hours, where hotel guests get to hit the parks up an hour before opening, there was already a substantial line when I got there.
As with every year, there was a limited edition “May the Fourth” shirt and several pins. This year there was also a tumbler which excited me because I was looking to buy a Star Wars themed coffee cup/mug/thingy. Serendipitous indeed!
Last year, the theme focus was the Millennium Falcon. This year was the Stormtrooper. The shirt, tumbler and pin all featured the same art, a Stormtrooper in a sort of anime style, reminiscent of the Robotech cartoon from the 80s. As jumbo sized pins are on the rise among pin collectors, this year there was an even more limited pin, Vader in the same art style on an almost triple-sized pin. Unfortunately… or fortunately… for my wallet (it was $54!), the jumbo pin was sold out before I was able to snag one. It did look good, but I was quite happy to get my smaller pin.
No trip to Disneyland on Star Wars day is complete without taking a tour… a Star… Tour. (I'll be here all week!) Being the seasoned Disneygoer that I am, once I entered the park I got a FastPass for Star Tours, so after my wait for the merch, I headed across the way to the Star Tours attraction. Normally at this time, the standby wait is around 20-30 minutes… but since it was Star Wars day, the wait at 9am was 1 hour. So I happily bypassed all those waiting in that line and entered through the FastPass line. I briskly made my way past R2 and Threepio and a rather surly inspection droid and boarded my transport. A few minutes later after dealing with Kylo Ren, flying alongside the Falcon on Jakku, getting a message from BB-8, destroying a walker on Crait and landing safely on Batuu I exited my transport and found myself back in Anaheim. I've been on the ride quite a few times, and I still enjoy it every time.
I had a bit of time before my next FastPass was up so I did a little stroll around the parks (As I do, read about it here) before I became hungry. I headed over to the Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland and helped myself to the Loaded Fleet Fries. Check out my “Imma try it” article on those bad boys here. Other than the fries, there were, of course, the classic red and blue lightsaber churros along with a Dark Side Chicken Sandwich, Outer Rim Pasta, Padawan Punch and Rogue Slush. There was also a popcorn bucket featuring AT-ATs (pronounced like the word “at”… fight me!) in the same style as the Stormtrooper and Vader. In hindsight, I should have picked one up. Oh well.
After eating, it was probably not a good idea to immediately go on a roller coaster, so I made my way to Star Wars: Launch Bay, a sort of mini Star Wars museum. While not really doing anything different from it’s normal day to day operations, it does offer a feast for the eyes of any Star Wars fans. They feature props and models from the various Star Wars films, a model of a section of what Galaxy’s Edge will look like, a replica of a Star Wars bar (which I didn’t get pictures of because two girls were busy “graming” and at some point me lurking just became creepy as they were basically holding their own photoshoot and it looked like I was just watching… so I moved on), a lego building area and some video games.
This is also where several meet and greets are located. When I was there you could wait for Rey, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader and Chewbacca. Sadly, Peter Mayhew, the actor who portrayed Chewbacca in all the Original Trilogy, Prequels and in The Force Awakens recently passed away, so there were more fans lined up to meet Chewbacca than the other three. Upon exiting you go through another merch shop, but this one has your more high end items like art, high end collectables, apparel, and a couple life sized statues.
Having rested a bit, I moseyed on over to Hyperspace Mountain only to be stopped by Captain Phasma herself and a squad of Stormtroopers. Seems they were looking for Resistance sympathizers. Luckily, I was sporting my Empire shirt. After they “moved along” it was roller coaster time!
Space Mountain is one of my favorite rides. So, you’d think that the marriage of my favorite ride with my favorite fictional universe would make Hyperspace Mountain my absolute favorite… but no, it’s not. The problem is that it’s not designed to be a Star Wars ride. They had to work within the confines of the existing attraction so they can only do so much. Not to say it’s not fun. It is. It just doesn’t seem complete. The story is that you are trying to take down a Star Destroyer as a member of Blue Squadron. Upon starting the ride, you hear the Star Wars fanfare, getting you immediately in the Star Wars mood. You also start to hear the chatter from the rest of your squad. Then as you zip around the tracks, you see some Tie Fighters, complete with the classic sounds all set to the John Williams soundtrack we all love. The problem is, the first half of the ride, just looks like… empty space. You hear a lot of stuff going on, but you really don’t see anything. The last half features actual visible laser fire, more tie fighter visuals including one heading straight for you, narrowly missing your head and the ride itself intensifies. If the whole ride featured the visuals of the last half, it would have been a great re-skin. As is, it’s about half one. Still, it’s a good ride and if you are a Star Wars fan, you should check it out.
Other than that, you can head over to where the old Starcade was for a photo op. In past years, you could put yourself in classic scenes like the trash compactor from A New Hope or look like you are hanging upside-down in the wampa’s cave from The Empire Strikes Back. This year though, it was a bit more simple. A sequel trilogy X-wing on the ground… somewhere. Honestly, it was a bit disappointing as in photo ops of the past, you looked like you were a part of a scene… this was more just posing with something. It wasn’t reminiscent of any specific scene nor was it composed to make you look like you were even part of a scene. You stood behind the X-wing, but in a spot that didn’t make sense as it made you look like you were floating beside it. I would have been happy if they had this new scene but also had the other old photo ops… or even just one of them. The line was a bit too long so I didn’t wait.
All in all though, I always enjoy celebrating Star Wars at Disneyland as it’s the closest I could get to experiencing it physically. That of course changes next Star Wars day as Galaxy’s Edge will be fully armed and operational and I can imagine what a celebration it will be in the shops and streets of Black Spire Outpost on Batuu… aka, Galaxy’s Edge! See you all there!