The Walt Disney World Resort debuted several new experiences on June 17th, my favorite of which was Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the past several months may have noticed a lot of walls up near The Great Movie Ride as two large projection towers and fireworks launch sites were installed. While “Seasons of the Force” may have been cancelled, it feels like all of the intended offerings are now available to guests with the premiere of this show.
With The Great Movie Ride‘s Chinese Theater exterior as the main focal point, the projections begin by transporting guests back to 1977 as the building becomes decorated for Star Wars‘ original Hollywood premiere. A few lines of dialogue from the films concerning destiny and history repeating itself are played before John Williams’ Star Wars theme starts the show. The Star Wars logo appears on the top of the building, etched by a laser as it scrolls up and off the building.
The “stars of the saga” appear in the projections as the main theme plays out. The rest of the show is organized by themes, similar to the way Wishes at Magic Kingdom has sections devoted to romance, villains, magic, etc… I’m calling the first theme of the show “invasion.”
During this section, various Star Wars vehicles and a barrage of Storm Troopers lay siege to the park’s courtyard, with perimeter fireworks adding to the effect. Even the trees come to life as red and white lights flare up any time a blast from the screen is directed at the crowd. It’s a multi-generational battle, with characters and ships from the original trilogy, prequels and The Force Awakens.
As “Rey’s Theme” begins to play, a section devoted to the heroes of the saga begins. After Rey comes Luke, Leia, Padme and Han Solo. The finale of this montage features our heroes engaged in space battle with the same ships that attacked in the last section.
BB-8 fills the Chinese Theater and leads the show in a round of “Mad About Me” by Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes, aka the Cantina Song. During the piece, various aliens from Tatooine make appearances including Jabba the Hut and jawas.
One of the most impressive effects in the whole show is projections on smoke, which is used to kick off the force theme. Force ghosts of both Obi-Wan and Yoda appear in the smoke as Luke and Rey learn the powers of the force.
Next up is the love section of the show, using Leia’s theme as the music. Images of Han Solo and Leia take up the majority of the screen, with Padme and Annakin becoming the other featured couple. I know what you’re thinking and no, Po and Finn do not appear in this section.
After finding love, the show turns to the dark side. One of the most amazing moments of the show is when the Emperor electrocutes the courtyard, sending flashes of lightning crackling through the trees via rope lights timed to his blasts. Kylo Ren ends this section and Darth Maul makes a quick appearance as well.
For the finale, the Star Wars theme returns as the projections celebrate characters from all seven films, finishing with A New Hope and taking it back to the original poster art. For the chilling last image, two hands grab the hilt of a lightsaber at the top of the Chinese Theater and a spotlight directed straight up forms the blade. Chilling.
For the full experience, be sure to check out our video from opening night on YouTube.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.