If you're headed to Disneyland this year, Star Wars fans in your family will find a lot of fun changes. Star Wars has taken over Tomorrowland, and we were invited to check it out before it opened to the public.
Want to know what to expect? Here is what you need to know to make the most of your visit.
Space Mountain has been a favorite Disneyland attraction at Disneyland for generations. In Hyperspace Mountain, it gets a Star Wars makeover with familiar music from the movies playing in your headrest, laser blasts and tie fighters flying around you in the darkness and cast members greeting you with, “Welcome aboard, Pilot.” Hyperspace Mountain was my son's favorite Star Wars attraction.
New scenes in Star Tours
Star Tours celebrates Star Wars and Star Wars: The Force Awakens with new scenes featuring Finn and BB-8. Finn appeared on the side screen as the ride careened through an abandoned star ship. BB-8 appeared in a hologram where we've seen Yoda in the past. Star Tours was a close second to Hyperspace Mountain for my son, and it was his top priority when we returned to the park the day after our Season of the Force preview. Since there are several movie possibilities, it's a different ride every time.
Star Wars Launch Bay
The new Star Wars Launch Bay was our last stop on our Season of the Force tour and we enjoyed exploring this multi-faceted attraction. Launch Bay is on the first floor of the old Innoventions building. Here, you can see museum exhibits from all parts of the Star Wars universe, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Darth Vader and Chewbacca will be available for character greetings and photos all day, every day in Launch Bay via two separate lines. Nearby, my son found his second wind in a room full of video game stations, featuring Disney Infinity 3.0, Star Wars Angry Birds and others. Near the front of Star Wars Launch Bay, serious collectors will find a high-end gift shop where you can buy art, signed memorabilia, studio models and more. There is also a short video featuring Star Wars creators, and a replica Cantina.
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is the new 4-D film in the Tomorrowland Theater. It's a mash-up of all your favorite Star Wars feature films, with scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the end. Alas, there were no scenes not already released in movie trailers. Our seats rumbled, flashes of light exploded around us, and we felt wind in our faces during the exciting scenes in this short film.
Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple
The popular Jedi Training show near Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland recently got a makeover. There are new actors and a new stage. Kids will have the opportunity to fight Darth Vader or the Seventh Sister and Kylo Ren is featured at the end of the show.
Participants are no longer chosen from the audience. If you want your child to participate in the show, sign up to the left of the Launch Bay entrance. Your child must be present and able to answer a few simple questions. Thirty-six kids between the ages of 4-12 can participate in each show. Participation is available on a first come, first served basis and spaces for all six shows usually run out in the first 2-3 hours of the day.
The spectator space closest to the stage is reserved for families of participants. However, the best seats are on the patio of the Galactic Grill. You don't need to show up very early to see the show from the patio unless you want the tables and chairs in the front.
Tomorrowland restaurants are rolling out all new Star Wars themed menus. My son and I sampled a number of fun new menu items from the Galactic Grill, which is a casual, quick service restaurant. I chose the new First Order Specialty Burger, which has a dark bun and spicy toppings. It was more flavor than I am used to in a theme park burger and I liked it!
My son ordered a mac-n-cheese kids meal. It was not Star Wars themed, but came with fresh fruit and veggies, which I really like about all the kids meals at Disneyland. We tried both the Light Side and Dark Side lemonades, and vote for the Light Side. The Dark Side is a fairly standard strawberry lemonade, while the Light Side is a green apple lemonade with yogurt bobas. Yum!
Finally… desserts! Darth by Chocolate, pictured above, is the dessert that launched a thousand Instagram posts on press night. It is a dense, layered chocolate dessert in a cup. The Pastry Menace is a chocolate-filled eclair with a little kick to it. The Force Awakens is represented by a BB-8 Droid Crisped Treat.
Season of the Force Souvenirs
If collecting new Star Wars souvenirs is your priority, Disneyland aims to please. Gift shops and food vendors are loaded with unique Star Wars merchandise. On our recent family trip, my son saved his money to build his own light saber in the big gift shop between Hyperspace Mountain and Star Tours and brought home a unique Kylo-Ren-meets-Count-Dooku souvenir to add to his light saber collection.
We can't wait for the new Star Wars section of the park to open, but in the meantime, the Star Wars attractions in Tomorrowland have been a lot of fun for our family.
Disclosure: We received complimentary admission to Disneyland and California Adventure, lodging and travel assistance for the purposes of this review. As always, all opinions are my own.
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