Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Star Wars Weekends 2012

The best part of opening day at Star Wars Weekends last week was definitely all the great Kodak moments - if you were quick enough to catch them. You never knew when a character would come waltzing around the corner, a lot like a con, and trying to get a clear shot through the crowds makes it a real photo safari. As an added bonus, though, at Disney the cosplayers are actors, too, so there's lots of fun to be had just watching them interact with the guests.

Take this guy, for example:

He developed an unusual interest in John:

After an extended staring contest (during which John couldn't stop giggling), he then made a big show of examining John's "Couldn't-Care-Less Bear" shirt:

It was hilarious, and it made John all cute and flustered. THAT'S A WIN.

Usually Disney doesn't allow guest costumes - or at least nothing they don't sell for the kids - so I was pleasantly surprised to see these girls:

Two Anakins & his droids.
 (Note that C3PO even has one silver shoe. Nice!)

Even more surprising, I spotted another girl in a Slave Leia bikini at one point - and she was definitely a guest. Maybe Disney relaxed their policy for the Weekends?

Here's an example of a photo quick draw:

She came striding around a corner, and her costume billowing out in the wind was just gorgeous.

It's hard to tell with the slight motion blur, but her nails are an amazing metallic pink foil.

And now, Darth Vader signing a pink Princess autograph book:

It just never gets old.

Those autograph books are *everywhere* at Disney, and often provide the only time you can snap a good close-up of the characters. (When they're not signing they're posing with guests, so it's hard to get them alone.)

This Tusken Raider would pause to bleat at people on occasion - a fun touch, considering most of the characters aren't allowed to speak or make any sounds.

Of course, the king (Sith lord?) of guest interactivity has to be Darth Maul:

We camped out in front of his photo spot for a while, watching him give guests a hard time about those autograph books:

"Homey don't PLAY that."

After glaring at the offending person for ages, he'd snatch the book and sign it with his back turned. He also did some hysterical poses for the camera:

Stuff's about to get real.

I later learned through some friends-of-friends that this Darth is a big cosplay enthusiast, and I *think* I've even seen him in an epic God of War costume at MegaCon or D*C before. It's awesome to know these guys are doing what they love, don't you think?

My favorite character at SW Weekends, though, is Zam Wessel:

It has nothing to do with her character in the movie (I've never actually seen Attack of the Clones. Terrible, right?) - I just love her costume and how she acts here in the park. Not only is she gorgeous, she has a really fluid way of moving, and interacts with guests in an aloof-but-still respectful manner. (She's also the best dancer at the Hoopla. Just sayin'.) 

When we were there with my friend Tim a few years ago, Zam went out of her way to drape herself around his wheelchair for a really fabulous photo. And, as you can see here, she went out of her way this year to give me some fantastic poses - even though I was the only one taking her photo at the time. (Still not sure how that happened, given all the crowds.)

I took nearly a dozen shots from two different angles, and for every one she was looking straight at my camera and seemed in no hurry to leave. Stuff like this makes me positively giddy. I mean, c'mon, LOOK AT THIS SHOT:


Right? RIGHT?

Ok, let's end with my second favorite SW Weekends character:

D'awwww, Donald!

Oh, and we weren't able to stay for the Hyperspace Hoopla on Friday, but you can watch the whole thing (or just browse the highlight clips) over at Inside the Magic. The Hoopla is arguably the best thing at Star Wars Weekends each year, so I'm looking forward to seeing it when we go back. (And you can expect more photos then, too!)


  1. OMG, how cute is that StormDonald?? A few moments earlier I didn't think that anything could top Darth Vader with the pink book but Donald did it. (Darth is a VERY close 2nd, though.)

  2. SO, I'm a huge Disgeek, but have very little love, but much respect for all things Star Wars. (if that even makes sense)-- SO that being said, I love seeing pictures from SWW, if only because it shows how well Disney can put on a show.. and I've got extended family who've never EVER been to WDW (I can't fathom that life) but are obsessed with SW who I always make a point to show the Hoopla to every year.. They still won't go to the parks. but whatever..

    I think one day I'll brave the crowds just to experience it.. besides.. even if I'm overwhelmed and don't get any of it, a bad day at Disney's still better than the best day almost anywhere else!

    Great photography.. LOVE the one of Darth Vadar with the pretty pink princess book.. heheh!

  3. I really have to go one year. It would totally be worth the road trip. Great photos and I love Zam's boots!!

  4. Are you guys going to Celebration 6 in August? I am!

  5. I went to disney world for the first time a couple of weeks ago (I know, crazy, right?), and while I was waiting in line to meet Donald in Mexico (I told him I liked his sombrero), and the attendant told me my camera looked like a storm trooper (I use a white Pentax K-R) and that I should come to the SW days. If only I could...

  6. I want to live at Disney.
    Now I must go buy things on my Disney Visa! ;-)

  7. Man, your last photo of Zam with that background is just gorgeous. The colors just flow so well. I mean, you'd expect some kind of spacey background or something, but for some reason she really seems to fit in next to a pruned bush and the aluminum wall with a barn window. I just love it. Did you do any after photoshopping type work at all? Just curious.

  8. My wife and I were out there this past Sat morning... it was super packed (as always). Did you do the "frozen in carbonite" scanning?

  9. We were there on Friday, but we're doing a marathon day of all four parks, so we left HS pretty early.

    I think the Disney costume policy is at you can't be dressed as a Disney character as an adult... like, they don't want you to come in dressed as Belle and confuse all the kids that you are a cast member. Because I've seen lots of adults in costumes, just not "accurate" costumes ifyaknowwhatimean.

  10. Zam was amazing. Even during the motorcade she stopped for extended periods of time for people to snap pics and her eyes were gorgeous. My highlight of the weekend was getting my picture taken with Chewie and an ewok though! Yay!

  11. I just about had water sprayed ALL OVER my monitor when I scrolled down to that last picture. Awesome!! Great pics. Thanks for sharing these for us poor unfortunate souls who can't drive to Florida for stuff like this. It's nice to live vicariously through people who can. :D

  12. What great photos! Someday I will make it to a SWW, sigh. Yes, it's one of the only times guests get to dress up.

  13. @ daguru - no, the carbon freezing thing didn't really appeal to me, & it's pretty pricey. Ricky over at Inside the Magic did it, though, and posted pictures & video over on his site if you want to see!

  14. Thanks, katphoti! I edit all my pics in iPhoto - usually just a little higher contrast or sharpening here and there, although for that last Zam pic I actually desaturated it a bit & lightened the shadows. I'm still a newbie at PS, but I did add a vignette on the 1st Zam pic & lighten her eyes in PS, since I can't do that in iPhoto. :)

  15. I saw guests in full costume during SWW last year and the year before that, so I am thinking they have relaxed the rule for SWW for people dressed as SW characters.

    I stood in line for a panel with a guy in a very good Qui-Gon Jinn costume and stood behind a girl dressed up as Ventress while waiting for the parade.

    I saw a couple of Han-Solos waiting for the Hoopla as well. The guy dressed as Qui-Gon Jinn said Disney was fine with his costume as long as he didn't identify himself as the character and didn't give autographs nor generated a line of guests wanting a photo-op.

  16. Hey, I'm in one of your pics! :D I'm going to email you, if that's ok. :)

    We went all 3 days and had a blast!! It was my first SWW, it was hot & crowded, but SO worth it. I met almost all the characters out (28 of the 30), and they were all amazing & in character. I had the hardest time catching Zam Wessel & finally caught her on the last day, so I can't believe she was all by herself when you caught her!

    I saw a LOT of adults dressed up for SWW (and with the heat, I have no idea how they were able to not pass out in the robes most were wearing.) I think for special events (like the Halloween party), they relax those rules, but they still won't let you pose with guests as that character.

    My favorite autograph was watching a guest take off her shoe & give it to Darth Vader. It was hilarious. He made her get on the ground and bow before he signed.

  17. I was un aware that you couldn't wear a costume to SWW. I've been five times and wore one 4 out those 5. My first year, I wore my old Leia costume and got chased by Stormtroopers. The second year I went twice and wore my Padme Picnic costume. Thrid year, I went as a Jedi, and the last time I decided it was too darn hot. I haven't had a chance to go back since 2007 though. I've seen other people dressed up as well. Some were Legion or 501st members. Maybe I didn't get stopped because I was a teenager at the time and looked like about 11.

    But I have to agree on the taking photos, you never know when an opportunity will arise. I've had clone's stare me down when dressed as Padme, one of the Figgarin' D guys kiss my hand (don't remember if I was Leia or Padme), the actors are great and really get into it.

  18. OMG SHAAK-TI! THE SW costume that I want to make/wear THE MOST! Wish I knew how she made her head tendrils; that's the ONLY thing keeping me from doing that costume. I already have costumes for my other favourite female Jedi, Luminara Unduli, and her Padawan, Barriss Offee, but wow, I REALLY wanna do Shaak-Ti; nicely done, whoever you are! Oh, and on my many trips to the now-defunct Star Trek-The Experience in Las Vegas, I would always wear one of my Trek costumes, for all the brilliant scenery photo-ops; I was so often mistaken for a "Crew Member", (i.e., costumed alien worker) that they'd make me wear a sticker that said "Federation Ambassador", so I couldn't get backstage. ;)

  19. I am kind of dissapointed that the show is getting less family friendly. My two year old loves the darth vader mc hammer dance, but there is no way I want her repeating some of the dance moves I saw there.

    I will admit that I have not been to disneyland in over 20 years, and I somewhat see it as something for kids, and for the child inside... however I guess they would have things that appeal more to adults. Just sad that there is so little of starwars to share with a child who loves lightsabers.

    1. Star Wars is not made for 2 year olds. It's made for 40 year olds

  20. omg ima huge SW fan, I've lived in FL for over 30 yrs and I've never ever heard of SWW... how can that possibly be? I'm crushed... must go.

  21. I was there too. It was my family's first Star Weekend ever. We went for our big family Disney trip and it was just happy coincidence that it was one of the Star Wars weekends.

    I asked a cast member about the costume thing and yes they do relax that policy on the SW weekends, not just at Hollywood Studios but all the parks. However, throughout the whole trip, I did see young women who were pushing things "princess" inspired outfits that were either punk or lolita or some other "variation" type costume. Likewise, we encountered a lovely steampunk couple in the World showcase. So perhaps they've lightened up on the costume things as long as you don't look like a cast member?

  22. The older Anakin totally looks like Flynn Rider from Tangled!


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