Thursday, November 19, 2015

Season of the Force at Disneyland - Opening Day

We had an awesome day being among the first to check out Disneyland's Season of the Force! Warning: spoilers about the rides and food offerings will follow...

We arrived when the park opened at 9:00 AM and there was a short line to get into the park. Many people were dressed in Star Wars outfits. We even saw a Slave Leia who must have been quite chilly as the morning temperature was only in the 50s. I was glad I had my Ewok winter hat.  

Once inside, we headed straight for Tomorrowland, just like everyone else did, although I was tempted to loiter in Main Street and get pictures with Mickey and Donald who were dressed in holiday sweaters. We grabbed fast passes for Hyperspace Mountain and then checked out the breakfast offerings at the Tomorrowland Terrace (now known as Galactic Grill). Dave tried the Bantha Blue Milk Bread (french toast). He felt the food coloring flow through him. I got the Darth Tamale, which was tasty and a bit spicy. We also got the awesome Chewbacca stein. We saw people waiting in a long line for the TIE Fighter popcorn container, but we passed on that. It's a nice design but awfully unwieldy to carry around during a day at the theme park. I expect lockers were full of TIE Fighters that day.

The line to get into the Star Wars Launch Bay was going to take two hours, so we decided to delay that. We rode Star Tours and enjoyed the new segment based on The Force Awakens, as well as a BB-8 appearance. We checked out the Tomorrowland gift shop. I was glad to see a large selection of Her Universe merchandise. There were other cool new items, including lots of BB-8 items. We went into the theater to see "Path of the Jedi," a highlight reel of all the Star Wars films that culminates with the trailer for the new film. As we moved into the theater, the cast member asked us to fill all the seats and said the theater was seeing more people today than it had in quite a few years (the years of Captain EO, where Michael Jackson's bad acting had been slowly digested by crowds on and off over the course of 29 years). We visited Pizza Port to check out the theme menu items including The Fields of Naboo (salad) and Darth by Chocolate (not salad). We were stoked to find the BB-8 sippers that we'd been told had already sold out, and we also got BB-8 rice krispie treats that were packed with orange and brown M&Ms and iced (in case they weren't already sugary enough).  How many times can I mention BB-8 in this paragraph? Well, that is how hard BB-8 is being marketed.

Now it was time for our fast pass return for Hyperspace Mountain, so we eagerly made our way through the line, appreciating some new Star Wars theming along the queue. We got the front seat and the refreshed ride is truly exhilarating, with great visuals, sound effects and dialogue from the films. It actually felt like the ride was faster, but I think this was just an illusion from the stars and ships racing by us. Everyone applauded as the ride ended. It was about noon when we rode it and they had run out of fast passes for the rest of the day. The ride would have a 60-90 minute wait the rest of the day, even though it was a chilly Monday in November. We felt a little nauseous after riding it, so just riding it once that day was good enough for us.  

By this point, the wait for the Launch Bay was only fifteen minutes, so we checked it out. There's a behind the scenes film and a collection of props and costumes. It seems that none of the model ships on display were actually used in the films, but they are still fun to look at and to appreciate for the fine detail. This is also the area where you can have your photo taken with Chewbacca and Darth Vader (not at the same time). There's a video game room with X-box consoles so you can play the Disney Infinity Star Wars game and tablets for playing Star Wars Angry Birds. The store in the Launch Bay has some very high end items including a $4000 Darth Vader costume and a $3000 six-foot tall Boba Fett that looks like the original action figure (for $3000, shouldn't that rocket pack actually work!?!). You can find the Gentle Giant and Sideshow Collectibles figures in this store, along with some autographed cast photos and artwork.  It's kind of a mini Comic Con shopping experience.

We then moved on from Tomorrowland and met some friends for lunch at the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. It was quite crowded as the restaurant will be closing on January 10 to make way for the Star Wars Land that Disney will be building. I will be sorry to see this restaurant go. The ribs just fall off the bone and the service is excellent.  

It's not only the Season of the Force...but also the holiday season...and a lot of the holiday decor is already in place. The big tree is up on Main Street. There's a giant gingerbread house in the Grand Californian, but the tree isn't up in the lobby yet.  I watched the Holiday parade in Disneyland, and tried two of the holiday drinks at Trader Sam's.  The Red Nosed Zebra was a tasty rum punch but the Jungle Bells had too much anise.  Between the anise and the pine branch garnish, it was kind of like drinking Vicks VapoRub.  

We're not sure how long the Season of the Force will be with us (always?) go check it out when you can! 

Check out all my photos from the Season of the Force opening day. 

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