Monday, May 28, 2018

Disneyland After Dark | Star Wars Nite

If you follow Disney at all, you may know that Disneyland announced that they would be doing four Disney After Dark events throughout 2018. The second was announced as a Star Wars themed event on May 3rd. We were considering going as an early birthday for T and Mother's Day trip for me but the tickets sold out in record time. Then, late in April, Disney announced a second Star Wars Nite on May 9th! We promptly ordered tickets, booked rooms, and somewhat foolishly made plans for a rather impromptu Disneyland trip!
We arrived to the parks around 7pm. Honestly, after reading reviews of the previous event, I was expecting long lines and a mad house. Thankfully, that was not the case! The event didn't officially start until 9pm so we took a little bit of time to make a game plan and decide what we wanted to do that evening. These events go all out with themed PhotoPass locations, character meet and greets, themed foods, and entertainment.

Teddy asked that we go to the Tiki Room and ride Winnie the Pooh while we waited for the event to start. As it turned out, one of the PhotoPass locations was set up right next to the exit of Winnie the Pooh in Critter Country. We got to quickly meet the droid Chopper, then headed over to Fantasyland to see BB-8.
The BB-8 and Jakku PhotoPass meet and greet was set up in one of the pathways that will soon connect to the area that is to become Galaxy's Edge in Summer 2019. It was a perfect setting with the Big Thunder Mountain themed rock work. There was a short wait, again nothing like we were anticipating, but it was well worth it for Teddy to meet one of his favorite droids! Also, the photos were amazing!

By the time we were done with BB-8, it was around 9:30pm. The fireworks were set to start at 9:45pm and we made our way towards the front of the castle. As we rounded the corner from Frontierland, into the hub, we got our first look at the castle and the projections. It was pure magic!
Then the fireworks started and we were blown away. I can honestly say that this fireworks show will be top of my list for a long time to come! "Remember, Dreams Come True" was fantastic, and "Together, Forever!" evokes all sorts of nostalgia and emotions, but this special Star Wars themed show was just so much more than I could have ever imagined it!
As the fireworks wrapped up, we had just enough time to hit Plaza Inn for the Red Squadron Wings! Berkeley and I shared the plate which came with five dry rubbed chicken wings, jalapeƱo hush puppies and a yogurt dipping sauce. They were so good!! They weren't your typical sticky buffalo wings. They had a really great spice rub with a subtle kick. I hope they make these wings available once Galaxy's Edge opens!
While eating, we reevaluated what else was going on and what we wanted to do and decided to head into Tomorrowland. We were soon greeted by a wandering Jawa! This Jawa was on the more playful side and initiated a quick round of Peek-a-Boo with Teddy, then fawned over Eliza. It was a ruse though as the Jawa tried to sneakily lure them away. Silly Jawa, younglings and babies aren't droids!

As we approached the Launch Bay, we noticed Imperial Guards keeping watch from the Tomorrowland Terrace. We made a quick trip through Launch Bay to see what all was going on in there. We decided against meeting Darth Maul as we felt he may have scared Teddy. We also wanted to catch the March of the First Order with Captain Phasma so we decided to leave. However, before leaving, Teddy noticed Boba Fett. We have "met" Boba Feet several times but Teddy wanted to get a little closer. We stood nearby the line and Teddy continuously was saying "Boba Fett, is that you?" Then, in between guests in line, Boba Fett drew his blaster. Teddy giggled, then tuck behind my legs. Boba Fett responded "Excellent!" Teddy loved it!
We headed to Galactic Grill for a snack and that is when we discovered that Beru's Special was Disney's take on Blue Milk! It was a light blue Jasmine Milk Tea with tapioca pearls. We grabbed one blue milk and a Galactic Red Slush. After grabbing our drinks, I was waiting with Eliza while the boys ran to the bathroom, I pulled out my nicer camera to take photos of the Imperial Guards. The orange light from the camera, that gauges brightness, caught the attention of one of the guards and he watched me intensely as I tried to get the best shot. That attention to detail is what makes events like this worth it for me.
After pursuing the Launch Bay, we took some time to slow down, let Teddy dance to the DJ in the Tomorrowland Theater. Soon it was time for the March of the First Order. The lighting and music changed and all eyes focused on the Tomorrowland Terrace. The Imperial Guards were replaced by a huge entourage of Stormtroopers led by Captain Phasma. They marched from terrace, down around the outside of the Launch Bay. Then she led the  troopers through Tomorrowland and back to the ramp to the right of the Launch Bay exit. The March of the First Order was part parade, part show and it was fantastic! Teddy was amazed to see all of those troopers and Phasma up close!

The March ended around 12 midnight and we decided to move along from Tomorrowland. We head up around the east side of the Matterhorn and came across the Sarlaac pit. Ultimately we decided to jump over to the Forest Moon of Endor to party down with the Ewoks. Both littles fell asleep in line so they were a little grumpy when they first woke up. Despite that, the Ewoks were so sweet with the kids.

As we departed our Ewok dance party, it was nearing 1am. Instead of trying to do more in what little time we had left, we slowly made our way back down Main Street. The buildings still had the projections and it was just a magical way to end the evening. Little did we know, there was one last surprise waiting for us toward the main gates. In the Town Square area of Main Street, there was a small fleet of R2 units rolling, roaming, and interacting with guests as they were leaving. Again, the perfect attention to details to make the event. Teddy was so incredibly tired that he could not even wake up to see R2D2!

There were a lot of other things that Disney After Dark had to offer that we ultimately chose to skip for some reason or another. We both would have enjoyed the Galaxy's Edge panel but as a family it wasn't feasible with the kids. One thing I did not talk about was rides. We were able to walk on to most of them. We were the only ones on Buzz AstroBlasters and our ride scores were insane compared to a normal ride through.

Overall, we felt that this event was definitely worth the money! We are a family of Star Wars Fans. We appreciated and enjoyed all integration of the Star Wars franchise across the parks. Outside of the specific Star Wars theme, one thing I found super cool about these events are the PhotoPass locations. Not only did they provide these fun photo opportunities, but they provided the PhotoPass photographers and PhotoPass+ with your ticket for the night!

It was fantastic! We had a blast! If you may be at all interested in the next After Dark event, I highly recommend going! These events are just that good!!

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