The special Star Wars Galactic Nights event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on April 14, 2017 was an impressive collection of unique events and special photo opportunities for fans of all ages and it delivered on many fronts, though a few tweaks here and there could maximize the comparatively short amount of time to experience it all.
The actual event took place from 7:00pm to 12:00 am but fans could already enter the park at 5:00pm while workers rushed to install and finalizing everything by the official start time. A few of the attractions remained open for the event, such as The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Toy Story Mania!, but really it was a race against the clock to try to enjoy all the unique entertainment options that were being offered for this one night.
Elsewhere, “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” welcomed the addition of the Rey character alongside BB-8 in the stage show that takes place daily at the park. Actor Mark Hamill wasn’t at the event but he did record a special message for Galactic Nights that served as the intro for Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, which shows highlights from the movies in a theater near Star Tours. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson also recorded a special intro for the short documentary that plays at Launch Bay. Walt Disney World also smartly revived the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Star Wars Edition, which was also available during the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Opening Night Event in late 2015, in which the incredible John Williams score replaces Aerosmith’s music. Although all of these attractions are offered to everyone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on a daily basis, it was a nice touch to enhance each of them to add value to the fans that came to this special event.
Fans entering the event were given a special Star Wars lanyard, which also helped to identify regular park guests who had to be ushered out if they didn’t have a ticket for the event, in which they were tasked to collect special stickers at each of the unique photo spots set up around the park. Each of the seven photo backdrops depicted a scene from each of the movies. Once they were all filled in, fans got a special gift upon leaving the event, which turned out to be a cool poster of the same image on the lanyards. The event also featured exclusive PhotoPass opportunities sprinkled around the park as well.
The March of the First Order featuring Captain Phasma and the First Order stormtroopers down Hollywood Boulevard was the same show that takes places on an hourly basis at DHS, but for tonight only it alternated with the Imperial March starring Darth Vader himself and the classic Imperial stormtroopers at the Rebel Base.
The Rebel Base was also where the DJ Dance Party took place to open the event.
Star Wars celebrities participating in the Stars In Cars parade including actors Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Warwick Davis (Wicket), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Lucasfilm’s John Knoll, Vanessa Marshall (Hera Syndulla) as well as Star Wars Show hosts Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni.
It was a lot of fun to spot all the unique Star Wars characters hanging out at the park including Ewoks and stormtroopers at Star Tours, Death Troopers on patrol near Launch Bay, Boba Fett inside Launch Bay and many others. There was even a large collection of droids to hang out with!
With two younglings wearing down as the night progressed in a sold-out event that was packed, there simply wasn’t enough time to enjoy all the offerings in five hours, such as the Inside the Saga: Celebrity Chat Show hosted by Vanessa Marshall as Star Wars cast members discussed the making of “Rogue One”. Perhaps next time there could be some events offered at an earlier time exclusively for those wearing the lanyard while the park continues its normal operating hours leading up to the actual event.
All in all, it was a special night for all Star Wars fans (many of which were in town for Star Wars Celebration) and I hope they continue to offer it while the park continues construction on Star Wars Land. Though Star Wars Weekends will continue to be missed dearly, it makes a lot of sense for Walt Disney World to keep offering this new event in the future, perhaps next time to celebrate the premiere of “The Last Jedi” in December.