When Star Wars Weekends rolls around at Disney's Hollywood Studios, there's a lot going on. My family hadn't been to SWW in several years and wanted to take it all in, so we decided to splurge on the Feel the Force Premium Package.
This dining package costs $69 per adult and $39 per child. Here's what you get:
- reserved viewing area for the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade.
- unlimited mickey bars, soda bottles, and popcorn while waiting for motorcade.
- reserved seating for one of the celebrity talk shows in Theater of the Stars.
- reserved viewing area for the Symphony in the Stars fireworks (the same one used for motorcade viewing) with...
- a pretty epic dessert party with Star Wars themed treats and alcoholic beverages included.
We're looking at the pros and cons of the premium package in today's review!
The Disney website says you should check in near Min & Bill's at 10am. But if you want to get a curbside seat for the motorcade, you need to be there by at least 9:30 - or even earlier. We arrived at 10, and there was already a looong line of fellow Feel the Force guests waiting to get in - they open the waiting area at 10, but the smart people had lined up early and of course snagged all the best spots along the rope.
CON: It is frustrating that you book the Feel the Force package because you get this reserved viewing area so you can presumably save time that you would have had to spend sitting on Hollywood Blvd to save a spot for the parade...but really you *still* need to arrive more than an hour early if you want a good seat.
You'll get your Feel the Force badge and a packet of celebrity photos when you check in. We also selected which celebrity talk show we wanted reserved seating for - Stars of the Saga or Behind the Force: Star Wars Rebels. These are subject to availability, so if you check in later you might not have as much choice in terms of showtimes etc.
PRO: Mickey Bars - YES PLEASE. The free snacks were quite nice, and you could go back up as many times as you liked. There were frozen bananas and frozen fruit bars as well as the Mickey Premium Bars. When the snack carts first opened, there was quite a line, but it did gradually calm down.
Here's the ice cream and soda carts and popcorn rack set up by the Hollywood Studios sign.
They also had a lightsaber ring toss for the kids to keep busy with.
We picked a spot facing the stage, as that's where the motorcade hosts would be standing and where the abbreviated show would take place at the end. The Feel the Force viewing area turned the corner, so there were some spots along the Hollywood Blvd side as well. Before the motorcade starts, you're kept entertained with clips from the movie playing on the screen over the stage. The motorcade is also broadcast on the screen, which is nice if you have heads blocking the view directly in front of you.
It's Jedi Mickey on an x-wing car leading the way!
...and all his pals bringing up the rear. The characters make their way from the parade route up to the stage.
The 501st Legion marches past next. This is a volunteer group of fans that participates in the procession. While they were super cool and the costumes were quite impressive, I wish Disney would invest a little more of their own Imagineering into the motorcade. This is such a popular event, it deserves a longer parade. And there are so many awesome things they could do with a Star Wars float...I have about ten ideas already. ;)
CON: This was my view for most of the motorcade. Le sigh. Ah well.
Keep in mind that once all the cars make it down the route, everyone crowds up to the stage for a "photo op" - the characters and actors stand together and there's a short show - essentially an extended commercial for the events going on at Star Wars Weekends. It was when James Arnold Taylor started singing to John Williams' classic movie score that they lost us. We just looked at each other in mute, unbelieving horror and moved away. Your mileage may vary of course, but there's a certain dignity to the Star Wars soundtrack, and adding the lyrics just...didn't work for us. ;)
PRO: Soon it was time for Stars of the Saga, and we didn't have to worry about rushing to the theater to get a good seat.
Waiting for the show to start...
They had polls going on the screens that you could tweet or text to vote in. The audience was really into it and would react as the numbers changed - really fun.
PRO: The Feel the Force seating was front and center and better than the fastpass plus seating. You can also book a fastpass plus for many of these shows.
We all hugely enjoyed the stormtrooper pre-show. There were lots of Star Wars jokes, and everyone in the audience was in on the references which made it really fun. I wish they'd give us a longer show like this!
They did a great job with the set - it's just a huge screen, but the scenes changed to fit the actors being interviewed...
When Silas Carson came out, it was like they were sitting in the Jedi Temple (since he plays jedi master Ki-Adi-Mundi).
PRO: The last - and best - event of a Feel the Force Premium day is the dessert party, which I've already posted about in detail here, and it was just stellar. The reserved area is the same corner where the motorcade was, but I believe it's larger (since they don't need to save space in front of the stage for the cars to go by). It felt much less crowded and easier to get a good spot to watch the fireworks.
There were plenty of cocktail tables (I wish there had been tables during the motorcade!), and the treats were just fantastic. Alcoholic beverages were included as well. The music made it feel like a fantastic party, and the fireworks just blew my mind. :)
I like the idea of the Feel the Force Premium Package, and I am so glad we got to experience the dessert party...but in the end, I'm not sure it was worth the price. It would be if there was just a little more included. The deluxe premium package is about $30 more and gives you priority access to Darth's Mall, but I think the standard premium package should get the priority access too. And wouldn't it be great if they had a private meet and greet for the Feel the Force people? The character lines can get so insane - that would definitely add value. Rob commented on Facebook that he wished you could book the dessert party separately - I completely concur!