We are a family of Disney fans. My husband once worked for Disney and we were Disneyland season pass holders when the kids were younger. Fast forward a few years and a move to San Francisco, and my tween and teenage kids are begging to visit the new Disneyland Star Wars attractions. The resurgence of the Star Wars movies coincides with the new Season of the Force area at Disneyland, and I got the chance to experience a teaser of Star Wars-themed attractions, dining and character visits as a prelude to the Star Wars Land under construction.
Season of the Force attractions are located in Tomorrowland and, as expected, are very popular. The free Disneyland app is an easy way to check wait times throughout the day.
The most anticipated attraction is Hyperspace Mountain. The classic in-the-dark-roller coaster seems made for its Star Wars reinvention. While the ride hasn’t changed, the experience is more intense — riders are in the middle of the action as rebels battle Imperial forces in the darkened galaxy. Go early or use a Fastpass entry; wait time hovered between 40 and 60 minutes on the weekday we visited.
For wannabe Jedis between 4 and 12 years old, there’s Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, a half hour of Jedi “school” that always draws an audience. Registration is located by the exit of the Star Wars Launch Bay and is very limited, so this should be your very first stop after Disneyland opens for the day, if it’s of interest.
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Star Wars: Path of the Jedi is a short film compilation of Star Wars movie highlights. It airs in the Tomorrowland Theater and is a nice respite and another opportunity to get another dose of all things Star Wars.
After all the excitement of the rides, Star Wars Launch Bay, located in the former Innovations building, is the place to come for a bit of calm in a darkened atmosphere. Star Wars movie memorabilia and authentic costumes are arranged in the Light and Dark Side galleries. With a short wait, fans can even meet Chewbacca and Darth Vader.
Star Tours, the rocking and riveting 4-D attraction, has a new and improved Star Wars theme. Star Tours — The Adventures Continue has several different rotating scenes that transport riders throughout the galaxy, but it’s the new souvenir that has little Star Wars fans raving. The build-your-own-lightsaber station in the Star Trader Shop next door is so popular it seems like the staff is always replenishing supplies. A recent Ciao Bambino client commented that this was the highlight of her 8-year-old’s visit to Disneyland.
Even with all the excitement of the new Star Wars attractions, there is one Disney experience that we always repeat. What began as a bribe to sit through yet another show of birds singing at the Enchanted Tiki Room has become our family Disneyland tradition: Dole Whip, a pineapple-flavored soft-serve dessert with a cult following. Many visitors have no idea why there’s a long line near the Enchanted Tiki Room, but this is where in-the-know visitors queue up for Dole Whip treats at the Tiki Juice Bar. Portions are large and easily shared while watching the show or taking a break.
On our last visit, I was so surprised and happy to hear my teen reminiscing about our past Disneyland visits that in a moment of weakness, I said yes to extravagant Dole Whip Floats. This is the genius of Disney: mixing the new with the nostalgic to create memories that embrace all of us.
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Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received two complimentary passes to Disneyland to review the new Star Wars attractions. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Kristi Marcelle unless otherwise noted.
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