Star Tours, the Star Wars themed simulator ride in Hollywood Studios, is one of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World. Everyone in our family (in-laws included) is a big fan of the movies, and this is the one ride we don’t argue about going on, since everyone wants to. At one point during a recent trip to Disney World we must have gone on the ride about 6 or 7 times, one after the other. We were at the park in November, just after Thanksgiving, so the park was relatively empty and we had no problem walking onto any of the rides. But like I said, this one was our favorite. During the ride, your pilot Rex, aided by R2D2, attempts to take you to the moon of Endor. Unfortunately, Rex is not the best pilot and once you manage to make the leap to hyperspace, it’s a short trip through a meteorite, get caught in a tractor beam, help the Rebel assault on a Death Star, leap back into hyperspace, and before you know it you’re back safe and sound (without ever having reached Endor). But that’s just the ride.
After the release of the Prequel movies, Disney Replica lightsabers added the Jedi Training Academy live stage show, which performs on an outside stage to the left of the attraction entrance. Here, young Padawan learners are selected from the audience to train under the supervision of a Jedi Master. But all is not well. Training is interrupted by Stormtroopers and the Sith Lord Darth Vader, so the Padawan must use their new skills to defeat the Dark Side. In addition to the photo-op on a speeder, across from the attraction entrance (next to stroller parking), Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers will make unscheduled appearances for photos outside the entrance of Tatooine Traders. You will need to be lucky, and fast, because Vader typically will only stay out for ~15 minutes of photos. So if you see him, get on line fast.
Tatooine Traders, by the way, is the Star Wars gift shop that you will pass through after you end your trip to Endor. Originally named Endor Vendors, this is the place to get all of the best Star Wars merchandise. They have everything from stuffed Ewoks to character masks, autographed photos to replica lightsabers, clothing, books, and a whole lot more. As an added bonus, during certain times of the year, Walt Disney World hosts Star Wars Weekends. This is a celebration of all things Star Wars, and features special parades, autograph sessions, discussions, and special live events like the Star Wars Dance-Off. If you’re a Star Wars fan and are visiting Walt Disney World, Star Tours has something for every Star Wars fan to enjoy.