Jedi Mickey Dinnerby Al Jardines

One of the things that many visitors to Disney World resort look forward to is getting to meet their favorite characters. One of the ways that guests meet their favorite characters is at the various character dining meals available around the resort. They offer all of the kids in the family – both young and young at heart – the opportunity to unwind, enjoy a meal and meet some of the characters.
It is no surprise to me that many WDW visitors flock to these meals as a great way to take a break from the chaotic and frenetic pace of the theme parks and getting some nourishment without completely stepping out of the magic. So when Disney announced earlier this year that special Star Wars character meals would take place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the time period that included Star Wars Weekends, online Disney fan groups were abuzz and phone lines were jammed at 7:00 a.m. the first day these character meals were open for booking.

There’s always fan talk around Star Wars Weekends events, but I cannot recall the last time such a diverse cross section of Disney fans was lit up by a character meal like they were over these two. The excitement of palpable across the fan sites and social media – fans of all ages were energized by the announcement. My family and I had already planned to try to make it to a Star Wars Weekend, and these character meal announcement cinched the deal. Fortunately, we were able to get reservations to both meals, the Jedi Mickey Dinner and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast.

Details after the jump.

The Jedi Mickey Dinner at Hollywood and Vine was a typical buffet dinner with the familiar character dining format. Upon being welcomed, guests take a photograph with a “host” character, receive a Photopass card to facilitate download of the photo, and are shown to their table, where additional characters make the rounds and visit them. The Hollywood & Vine restaurant itself didn’t really create a Star Wars vibe, but the decorations and the Star Wars-inspired DJ went a long way towards making any fan of Lucas’s trilogy feel at home. We were given paper lightsabers to roll up into our choice of blue or red (light side or dark side) and told that regular votes would be called for by the DJ, where we would hold up our lightsaber to indicate our vote. However, I do not recall this happening more than once.

The buffet consisted of the typical dishes found at Hollywood & Vine during its regular dinner service, but they were given names that referenced the Star Wars films. The food itself was plentiful and tasty, as one would expect at any of the Disney buffets. The interactions with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy – all dressed in Their Star Wars costumes – was great I did not find it to be kitschy, as some hardcore Star Wars fans had feared. The real star of the evening’s meal however was the dessert area, inspired by the light and dark sides of the force. The pastries and cupcakes were fabulously decorated, with such a variety that even those of us who are not the least daunted by an “all you care to enjoy” dessert table would find it difficult to find the room to be able to try everything. That being said, my son and I agreed on our favorite item on the dessert table: Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk. It was offered in Ice Cream form, and I have since found a recipe for it and plan to surprise my little Padawan with it for breakfast one weekend.

The second meal, the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast, was where things really kicked into overdrive for me and the young one. Friends and family will tell you that Star Wars and Disney are equally big deals for me and my son. Last year’s hit Christmas present was a pair of Darth Vader Mickey Ears from my wife and son. Even my wife has become a Star Wars fan (either that, or she just really enjoys indulging her boys). We knew that this breakfast was going to elicit a big reaction, but as a parent I could not have been happier with the reaction we got.

We arrived for breakfast with our son, who had no idea what was in store for him. We checked in, waited for our name to be called and then waited on line for our photo. As we got closer to the front of the line, our son suddenly stopped the usual queue-waiting chatter midsentence and asked, “Is that Boba Fett?!” (Boba Fett is probably his favorite Star Wars character). After taking our picture with Darth Vader and Boba, we entered the restaurant and were shown to our “car” for breakfast. While I saw no immediately obvious changes to the décor of the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre, the restaurant’s regular look fit right in, and I could feel the Star Wars vibe already. The dark, dusk-like, setting of the drive-in theater with Star Wars clips playing on the screen was the perfect place to meet Stormtroopers, Greedo and Jawas. Unlike dinner, the breakfast was not a buffet. The choices were typical breakfast fare with a bit of Disney flair again, with names paying homage to Star Wars characters. Everyone greatly enjoyed their meals and this time we were able to enjoy Aunt Beru’s Blue Milk as a drink. The highlight of the interactions with the characters was when my son was able to trade with the Jawas that came to our table. Granted, the trade did not result in more than trinkets changing hands but that’s the nature of the game when you trade with Jawas, they’re shrewd traders.

Overall, the food was really good. We enjoyed both meals, but really the food was mostly irrelevant. What was important was that the food wasn’t awful, because these meals were not really about the food. They were about the opportunity for kids of all ages to interact with their beloved characters, and these meals did that very well. They were classic Disney memory creating opportunities. Each of the Star Wars character dining experiences offered something unique. The Jedi Mickey Dinner subtly validates the idea that it’s okay to have fun and dress up like your favorite character – even the classic Disney characters are into cosplay! And the Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast creates a hip and cool atmosphere, where you can approach these “bad guys” in a way that is not so scary and maybe even see them in a different light. I hope that these meals will be available again next year and will become a regular part of Star Wars Weekends, expanding with the Star Wars Universe as “Rebels” debuts this Fall and the next big screen installment arrives next year.

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