So you’d like to know where you can find some Star Wars characters at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts these days?
The answer on the West Coast is sadly a bit more limited than on the East Coast.
Both coasts have the Jedi Training Academy – in Tomorrowland at Disneyland and at Echo Lake in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There you can see Darth Vader, Darth Maul (Note: he may not always appear at Hollywood Studios), Stormtroopers and Jedi Knights on stage.
Sadly, however, they rarely seem to do Meet & Greets. In fact the only time I recall seeing Darth Vader and Darth Maul out in Tomorrowland doing photo ops was on a rainy day when the Academy was canceled due to the weather. I would have RACED down to get those photos, had I not already been in line at the time for an Annual Passholders’ special first opportunity to meet Captain America at Innoventions. That line was so long it was winding outside the building which was how I happened to look down at Tomorrowland Terrace and see the Star Wars characters out meeting the guests.
That said, I’ve noticed the Stormtroopers do periodically roam Tomorrowland, especially near the Star Tours building and they will stop and pose for pictures, which is great!
But that is pretty much it as far as character appearances or Meet & Greets go for the Disneyland Resort.
If you’re a Star Wars fan visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, however, especially during weekends in May and June, you’re in for a real treat: Star Wars Weekends!
This amazing experience is one of the biggest annual events for Star Wars fans. Each weekend features talks and appearances by actors in the franchise, motorcades, and specially-themed fireworks. There are limited edition collectibles and specialty food items offered as well. And best of all for fans looking to meet their favorites, not only are many characters out doing Meet & Greets during the event, but there are also special character meal offerings where one can meet either the Star Wars characters or Disney characters dressed in Star Wars costumes! You can book these meals (if not already sold out) by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
And when it comes to characters, it’s probably one of the largest varieties you’ll find anywhere! It’s not just the major characters that are represented, but during Star Wars Weekends you might run into anyone from Jawas to the Cantina band of musicians!
This year’s event takes place during weekends from May 15-June 14.
I have not yet had the chance to attend a Star Wars Weekend but it is definitely on my “Disney Do” List!
In the meantime, I’ll just have to enjoy my Disneyland interactions with the local patrol of Stormtroopers!
Have you met any Star Wars characters at Disneyland? Or were you lucky enough to experience a Star Wars Weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios?
Update 5/14/16: There have been new disturbances in the Force since I wrote this original article. The Star Wars Weekends have been suspended, however, the Star Wars Launch Bay has opened.